For Immediate Release Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Libertarian Party rejects President Bush’s claim that warrantless wiretapping is essential to United States security
The Libertarian Party rejects President Bush’s claims that the “Protect America Act” needs to be made permanent, citing that the bill fails to live up to its name and only limits American civil liberties. The controversial Act that was passed by Congress last August altered the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretap program, which many civil liberties organizations had strongly protested. “Every American should be fundamentally opposed to the ‘Protect America Act,'” says Shane Cory, executive director of the Libertarian Party. “Despite its catchy name, the Act does nothing of the sort.”
“The Bush administration has done its best to distract Americans from the true nature of the FISA amendment by saying its permanency is paramount to the protection of the United States,” says Cory. “But if you get past all of the smoke and mirrors, you quickly realize how far this bill goes at undermining the level of privacy every citizen should expect. When you weigh the unsubstantiated claims of the Bush administration against the threat to liberty this amendment has created, the answer to the question of whether or not it should be made permanent is clear: No way.”
“The law that Congress passed less than two months ago purported to simply ‘fix’ a technical aspect of the 30-year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in order to restore the law’s reach to persons overseas, but whose communications were routed through the U.S.,” says Libertarian National Committee member and former U.S. Congressman, Bob Barr. “In fact, the legislation went much further. The law, mis-named the ‘Protect America Act,’ in fact opened the door to the government being able to surveil literally any and every call a person in the U.S. makes to any person overseas, without any link whatsoever to any terrorist or terrorist organization. Thankfully, the Congress placed a six-month sunset on the amendment to FISA, so it could properly and rationally address the specific problems with FISA in a way that does not destroy its very foundations and purpose, which is to listen in to suspected terrorists, not law-abiding citizens in this country.”
Congress passed the “Protect America Act” to fulfill Bush’s requests for an update to FISA. However, the changes made by Congress went far beyond the requests of the Bush administration. As a result, the Federal government now has the power to surveil any communication by an American citizen with persons “reasonably believed” to be outside of the United States. Qualifications for who can be surveiled and for what purposes were never clarified in the amendment. The amount of power the vague amendment grants to the Federal government is the main objection the Libertarian Party has to the “Protect America Act.”
“This amendment to FISA should not be made permanent,” says Cory. “It erodes the sanctity of privacy for the average citizen by vastly expanding the surveillance power of the Federal government to unprecedented levels. This is yet another civil liberty taken away in the name of the ‘war on terror.'”
‘The administration of George W. Bush is once again shamelessly and disingenuously scaring the American people–and their representatives in the Congress–into greatly expanding the power of the federal government to surreptitiously surveil citizens’ overseas phone and Internet communications,” Barr continued.
The Libertarian Party is America’s third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting www.lp.org . The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.