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Democrats and Republicans cut a deal in Congress on Thursday to rewrite controversial surveillance legislation. It's being billed as a compromise, but civil rights advocates are groaning over concessions including virtual immunity for telecommunications companies and the ability to spy on Americans without a warrant.

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As if 100 years in Iraq wasn't enough, a top adviser to John McCain claims that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee supports and believes lawful Bush's infamous warrantless wiretapping program.

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At the request of House Republicans, Congress on Thursday held a closed-door session to debate the FISA warrantless eavesdropping bill. The last time a closed-door session occurred was in 1983, when lawmakers convened in secret to discuss clandestine U.S. support of Contra paramilitaries in Nicaragua.

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This might be a moment when Democratic supporters wonder what all the "changing of the guard" fuss was about when Dems took control of Congress in 2006: On Tuesday, the Senate effectively voted in favor of granting telecommunication companies retroactive immunity for their cooperation in the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.

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Sen. Chris Dodd is preparing to take to the Senate floor with a filibuster to thwart the legislative advancement of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act if it doesn't include his proposed amendment, co-sponsored with Sen. Russ Feingold, that would prevent the Bush administration from retroactively letting big telecom companies off the hook for allowing the government to conduct warrantless surveillance on their networks.

Truthdiggers

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Truthdig salutes Ann Beeson, the American Civil Liberties Union officer and lead attorney for the plaintiffs in ACLU v. NSA, the case that persuaded a Detroit judge to order a halt to the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

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From CNN: Sen. Arlen Specter revealed a bill that would require a court to review the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's controversial intelligence-gathering program, saying the deal was negotiated with the Bush administration's cooperation, and that Bush would sign the bill if it doesn't change dramatically.

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Constitutional expert and best-selling author Glenn Greenwald reminds us that the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision not only outlawed Bush's military tribunals, but also removed any conceivable argument to support Bush's illegal wiretapping programs.

  • Greenwald: "Journalists should begin asking the Justice Department every day what their legal justification for warrantless eavesdropping is now that Hamdan has rendered frivolous their prior legal arguments in defense of the President."
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