The 114-page wiretapping bill looks like it's going to be passed -- and when it is, private communications will be at the mercy of whatever twit happens to be in the Whitehouse:
- There doesn't seem to have been any kind of 'compromise' between the Whitehouse (and by extension, Republicans) and Dems; Dubya is getting pretty much anything and everything he wanted -- if not more.
- The bill doesn't add anything to the capabilities of the National Security Agency, CIA, or any of the other similar or related organizations. The NSA has always been able/willing to keep an eye on any communications that 'exited' the United States; all that's really changed is that now they can use a bigger vacuum cleaner to suck up all the data.
- Now the telecoms are given an advance blanket protection against being sued by the customers they're betraying -- all they have to do is tell a FISA court "The President said it was okay!", and they're off the hook.
- No guarantee (or even vague promise) that this law is the One True Way of dealing with the issue of surveillance, wiretapping, and the like -- after all, the FISA system was supposed to be the One True Way, until Dubya decided he didn't like it and went on to violate it (and, incidentally, the Constitution). So the next "We know what's best for you" government we get could scrap this abomination in favor of something even MORE intrusive.
- The law isn't even clear about who's supposed to be doing what, or what the limits are. One report on it declares
To be fair, wiretapping is so classified, and the language of the bill so opaque, that no one without a "top secret" clearance can say with any authority just how much surveillance the proposal will authorize the government to do. (The best assessment yet comes from former Justice Department official David Kris, who deems the legislation "so intricate" that it risks confusing even "the government officials who must apply it.")
Why are we allowing our own government to do to us the very same things that we used to slam the former Soviet Union used to do?