In yesterday’s hearing, attorney general nominee Eric Holder made it clear he intends to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act and reiterated his support for FISA’s Protect American Act, which permits warrantless wiretapping.
Alternet, By Liliana Segura, January 16, 2009
Excerpt: …Holder’s responses to the question of warrantless wiretapping gave even less to be optimistic about. “There are certain things that a president has the constitutional right that the legislative branch cannot impinge upon,” Mr. Holder said, stressing that wiretapping had proven to be a critical intelligence tool. Like Obama, he said he supported the immunity provisions for telecoms as provided for by the Protect America Act of 2007….
Coincidentally, Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing came on the same day that a federal intelligence court released an unprecedented ruling — made last August — that validated the Protect America Act. As Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times: “the decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers. In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.”