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Friday, June 13, 2008


If you want to reinstate George W. Bush’s tactics of wiretapping the international telephone conversations and e-mails of innocent Americans, then you have a choice in candidate John McCain. According to the New York Times, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a top McCain adviser, says McCain “believes that President Bush’s program of wiretapping without warrants was lawful.” McCain says it is authorized by Article II of the Constitution, which pertains to those powers vested in the President. Bush did it and McCain supports the National Security Agency wiretapping, despite the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 which requires court oversight.

How did the public feel about the NSA spying? In an NBC/WSJ poll in January of 2006, “51 percent approve of the administration’s use of these wiretaps — without a court order — to monitor the conversations between al-Qaida suspects and those living in the United States, compared with 46 percent who disapprove. However, 56 percent say they’re concerned that such wiretaps could be misused and could violate a person’s privacy.” McCain also doesn’t think an apology is necessary from the telephone companies to their customers for giving up our private information in support of the illegal wiretapping.

The key to the above statement is “conversations between al-Qaida suspects and those living in the United States,” my emphasis. Unfortunately millions of innocent telephone and Internet customers were spied on to accomplish this ill-planned, emergency action. On the one hand McCain says sometimes the statutes don’t apply to the president, but on the other hand he says, “I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law.” You can’t have it both ways, but, then, if that’s what he wants, we can be assured of a continuation of the policies of the Bush administration.

A New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues comments that the latest McCain statement is a contradiction of what he said six months ago to the Boston Globe. At that time the Republican candidate “strongly suggested that if he became the next commander in chief, he would consider himself obligated to obey a statute restricting what he did in national security matters.” Greg Craig, Obama campaign adviser, suggested that anyone reading this would be “totally confused” about John McCain’s position on the issue.

McCain most recently voted for legislation to hold telecommunications companies unaccountable for their action in the NSA spying. The bill also legalizes a form of surveillance without warrants. Salon columnist, Glenn Greenwald, thinks all this is just another ploy by McCain to bring back support of the right-wing-extremists.

And on yet another flip-flop at a conference on computer policy, McCain spokesperson Chuck Fish said the Senator wanted to temper his attitude toward those NSA spying cooperating telecoms saying “they should feel free to disregard communications privacy laws in the future if a president tells them to.” When Wired magazine published the remarks, the McCain campaign said Fish was mistaken. Further, that the Senator’s position—whatever that was—had not changed. Again, my emphasis.

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