Letter to the Editor

Bill compromises our freedoms

Saturday, July 22, 2006

To the editor:

The deal reached between the White House and U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) concerning the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program is a compromise only in the sense that it compromises our fundamental freedoms as Americans.

The Cheney-Specter bill ratifies the president's illegal spying and uses the disclosure of this illegal activity as a springboard to authorize even broader spying on Americans.

This bill is worse than the Patriot Act. It gives the president vast new powers, including a blank check to spy on Americans without an individualized warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

If the Cheney-Specter bill passes, President Bush and future presidents will be able to wiretap without showing a court that an American is conspiring with al-Qaida or any foreign power -- eliminating the mandatory judicial check required by federal law to protect constitutional rights.

Under the bill, warrantless wiretaps would not be limited to Americans "talking to al-Qaida," which current law already governs, but would sweep in innocent Americans who have done nothing wrong.

The bill eliminates the statutory requirement that the government get a warrant from a court to search Americans' homes or businesses in times of war.

ELISA AURORA, Advance, Mo.