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Civil Liberties Protections Sought


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#1 spy1

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 01:49 PM

(Read article here: http://www.foxnews.c...,236145,00.html ) -

"WASHINGTON Americans who say civil liberties have been marginalized or are even under attack during the Republican-dominated, post-Sept. 11 era have some newly empowered champions for their cause now that Democrats are taking over Congress next year.

Democrats taking the majorities in the House and Senate will be in charge of the legislative committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the Department of Justice, home to the FBI, and other agencies responsible for enforcing civil rights.

"This election was an intervention," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the next Judiciary Committee chairman.

Under Leahy's seniority, the panel plans to consider, among other issues, ways to put a leash on President Bush's warrantless surveillance program at the National Security Agency, which critics say invades the privacy of innocent individuals in the U.S. who merely want to communicate with family and friends abroad.

"Security and liberty are not mutually exclusive values in America," Leahy said. "We should have both, and we can have both with adequate checks and balances and with the extra effort it takes to chart the right course."
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

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#2 spy1

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 10:49 AM

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi unveiled her agenda Thursday for the first 100 hours of what she promised would be "the most honest and open Congress in history."

Among her priorities are an ethics "enforcement mechanism" and an intelligence oversight panel.

"There is no question that the ethics process in the past couple of years has lost the confidence of the American people," Pelosi said.

"I honestly believe that you cannot advance the people's agenda unless you drain the swamp that is Washington."

Pelosi also touted the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, which will reside in the Appropriations Committee and "will have the responsibility to hold hearings, to consider the budget for the intelligence."

Pelosi said she will push for more openness in intelligence matters -- "budget and otherwise" -- and ideally would like to see "significant information" made available to all members of the intelligence committee. There are even instances in which information should be shared with the entire House, she said.

"There are some things that relate to sources and methods and covert operations and the rest that have to be held very closely, but I don't think we should sweepingly say, 'Because they have to be held closely that other items should be withheld from the members,' " she said, quickly noting that the view is not shared by others in Congress or President Bush.

The oversight panel also will remove barriers between the House Appropriations subcommittee that approves funds for intelligence and the intelligence committee that oversees operations. The move, Pelosi said, will satisfy one of the criticisms of the 9/11 Commission, which dubbed intelligence oversight by Congress as "dysfunctional" and called for a reorganization.

The incoming speaker said it's imperative that Congress quickly OK all the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.

"We'll go them one better on port security, where we have even tougher proposals to screen 100 percent of the containers long before they reach U.S. shores," she said.

"It's about the issues that are relevant to the American people's lives. It's a new direction. It's what they sent us here to do," Pelosi said.
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

#3 spy1

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:56 AM

(Read the rest of the article here - http://www.foxnews.c...,237046,00.html ) :

"Dems Consider Limits to NSA Wiretap Program

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal agents continue to eavesdrop on Americans' electronic communications abroad without warrants a year after President Bush confirmed the practice, and experts say a new Congress' efforts to limit the program could trigger a constitutional showdown.

High-ranking Democrats set to take control of both chambers are mulling ways to curb the program Bush secretly authorized a month after the Sept. 11 attacks. The White House argues the Constitution gives the president wartime powers to eavesdrop that he wouldn't have during times of peace.

"As a practical matter, the president can do whatever he wants as long as he has the capacity and executive branch officials to do it," said Carl Tobias, a legal scholar at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Lawmakers could impeach or withhold funding, or quash judicial nominations, among other measures.

The president, however, can veto legislation, including a law demanding the National Security Agency obtain warrants before monitoring communications. Such a veto would force Congress to muster a two-thirds vote to override."
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
--George Washington

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