Sunday, August 05, 2007

Domestic Spying - Walberg Votes Yes

By now, you've probably heard that the House and Senate passed the "Protecting America Act of 2007," which amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Depending on who you ask, this piece of legislation is either a needed fix to reflect new technology or a terrible failure on the part of Congress to stand up to the Bush Administration.

A quick review:

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act grants the government various powers to spy on foreign powers and their agents in the United States. It includes emergency provisions to allow electronic surveillance-- that is, wiretapping-- without a court order, but with limitations and under the supervision of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

However, the Bush Administration ordered the National Security Agency to conduct secret, warrantless wiretapping outside the authority of FISA. Thus ensued a long debate over the constitutionality of the program, with the Bush Administration arguing that that FISA is antiquated, failing to take into account new technologies. Congress eventually passed an amendment making the NSA program illegal (which Congressman Walberg, shockingly, voted for), but the issue was never resolved.

Which brings us to this most recent bill. After Democratic versions failed, the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed a six-month "fix" that addresses the concerns of the Bush Administration.

From Congressional Quarterly:
The bill would immediately allow the administration to begin conducting warrantless surveillance of foreign targets, regardless of whether the target is communicating with someone in the United States. It would require the attorney general, in consultation with director, to write procedures on how the executive branch collects that information. Those procedures would be subjected later to the FISA court for approval. The bill would expire after six months, giving Congress a window to work out a longer-term FISA overhaul in the fall.


Others said they had concerns about the Republican legislation, but voted for it anyway.

“I’m not thrilled,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. “There are some changes we need to make to make sure that American citizens are protected. But it’s a lot better than a lot of things that have been forced down this Congress’ throat right before recesses that trampled on American’s liberties.”

Still, several Democrats opposed to the Republican bill said it would endanger the civil liberties of Americans too much.


But Democrats said their bill gave the intelligence community all the tools it needs while protecting the civil liberties of U.S. citizens. “Do you want to fix the problem, or do you want it as a political issue?” asked House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.

It passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 227 to 123.

Tim Walberg voted Yes. Joining him were 41 Democrats (though none from Michigan), while two Republicans voted against the bill.

Of course, no one can really claim a complete victory or a complete failure. This issue is going to come up yet again in six months.

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Tim Walberg's staffer who is also a radio show host is "explaining" the warantless wiretapping vote right now.

That same staffer attacked warantless wiretaps in the past as invasions of privacy. Now, his "opinion" has changed for some reason. I wonder if it has anything to do with the unethical practice of serving two masters.

I am all for someone working hard at two part time jobs, but when one is for a politician and the other is for a supposed news outlet, I see an ethical conflict.

We already know Walberg is able to morph and flex his morals and ethics if he needs to get out of a jam, but it seems like the radio station would be interested in preserving jounalistic ethical standards. It seems like they could fix the problem real easy, but then again, maybe they are just trying to balance out the liberal media bias.
Walberg won't be able to morph and flex his way out of voting NO on the Kellogg Airport funding. He can explain all he wants about how he supported it by voting against it, but Calhoun County voters are much smarter than he realizes.

This will haunt him in 2008.

The man simply is not a man of integrity. Period. His actions speak far louder than his words.
Warrantless wiretapping: literally unwarranted.
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