URGENT: Action Needed Today to Prevent Legalization of NSA Spy Program

August 02, 2007

DETROIT -- President Bush has launched a “fear offensive” to pressure Congress into legalizing the warrantless wiretapping program of the National Security Agency. In 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled in Detroit that the NSA’s program to spy on innocent Americans without ever seeking warrants before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court was blatantly unconstitutional. Read more and take action today.

As the tide turns against his Attorney General and his NSA wiretapping program, the president has launched a “fear offensive” — a desperate push to change the laws that govern spying. On Saturday, President Bush told Congress that if it doesn’t gut the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week, the Democrats will be putting our nation at risk in a “heightened threat environment.”

The president’s proposal to “modernize” FISA is audacious, manipulative, and a direct assault on the checks and balances that Congress has tried and so far failed to restore. Shockingly, it looks like Congress and its Democratic leadership are about to cave in and give the President what he wants.

We must make it clear to every member of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — that we won’t allow timidity and political calculation to win out over justice and the rule of law. Your representative needs to hear from you today.

Bush lied by omission when he called on Congress to "modernize" FISA. In his Saturday radio address, he said, “this important law was written in 1978, and it addressed the technologies of that era. This law is badly out of date — and Congress must act to modernize it.”

What Bush conveniently failed to mention is that FISA has been updated more than 50 times since 1978, including multiple times since Bush was elected president, to keep up with changes in technology and the needs of the intelligence community. What President Bush is proposing is not an update or even a modernization — it’s a complete overhaul that will strip Americans of their rights.

The FISA “modernization” bill is actually an administration power grab — expanding the National Security Agency’s access to all of our international telephone and email communications — regardless of any known connection to terrorists. And the plan rubberstamps the illegal warrantless wiretapping program the Bush administration has been engaging in for the past six years.

The president is lying to the people, spinning his proposal as a modest reform to allow spying on calls from one foreigner to another foreigner. But the White House has repeatedly rejected bipartisan legislation to do just that. The administration won’t be satisfied until it’s torn down FISA’s sensible legal safeguards. President Bush wants to monitor every U.S. citizen’s calls and e-mails, without a warrant or any court oversight — whenever you call or e-mail with someone overseas.

The Bush administration has lied and deceived the American people since 2001 to get what it wants. It’s time for our allies in Congress to stand up to an administration that will try anything to push its agenda.

Many members of Congress regret voting to pass the PATRIOT Act in 2001 under a climate of fear. They need to be reminded to vote their principles and not give in to fear-mongering.

With your help, the ACLU is standing strong. Please, stand with us today as we call on Democrats and Republicans in Congress to stand up to the Bush administration, protect our privacy and stop rolling back the rule of law. It’s time to start defending the Constitution.

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