June 18, 2009 | By Kevin Bankston

Hear, Hear: New York Times Editorial Board Calls for Repeal of FISA Amendments Act

Responding to repeated reports that the National Security Agency's surveillance dragnet is continuing to intercept Americans' purely domestic communications in the millions, the New York Times editorial board is calling on Congress to repeal the deeply-flawed FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which broadly expanded the government's spying powers while immunizing the phone companies that illegally cooperated with the NSA program. Here's an excerpt of the editorial, entitled "The Eavesdropping Continues", but we encourage you to visit the Times' site to read the whole thing:

[L]awmakers should be clear about how this happened: last year, 293 members of the House and 69 senators voted for a dangerous and mostly unnecessary expansion of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected Americans from unwarranted government spying for 30 years....

Many critics of the legislation, including this page, said that the powers given to the government to eavesdrop were too broad, that the limits placed on them were too vague and that the remedies for error or deliberate violations were too weak.

We do not believe that Mr. Obama is deliberately violating Americans’ rights as Mr. Bush did, and it is to his credit that the government acknowledged part of the problem in April. But this nation’s civil liberties are not predicated on trusting individuals to wield their powers honorably. They are founded on laws.

The 2008 expansion of FISA is a deeply flawed law. Congress needs to repeal it and re-examine, carefully this time, what powers the government really needs to eavesdrop on Americans and what limits and safeguards need to be placed on those powers.

EFF is proud to stand with the Gray Lady in calling for the repeal of the FAA, and hopes that more editorial boards will join in the call. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for one, pledged last year when the FAA passed that the Senate would revisit the issue this Fall as Congress considered whether to renew USA PATRIOT Act provisions that are set to expire. House Speaker Pelosi has also said that FISA may have to be revisited during the PATRIOT debate, and we aim to turn that "may" into a "must".

We have a fighting chance at fixing the NSA spying problem once and for all, this year. But the government won't give up its new power without a fight, and we'll never succeed without your help. So please help get the ball rolling: for all of you Deeplinks readers who've never taken the opportunity to make your voice heard on the NSA spying issue, now is your chance: mail, fax or email a copy of the New York Times' editorial to your representatives in Congress and let them know that you want the NSA's domestic spying to stop!


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