September 18, 2007

The Protect America Act

Law expanding the U.S. government's eavesdropping power is needed to protect not just against terrorists but also against more traditional potential adversaries, such as those two Cold War foes.

The new law will also enable the intelligence agencies to identify "sleeper cells" of terrorists in the United States. Congress last month hastily adopted the Protect America Act just before it went on summer vacation. Some lawmakers are now having second thoughts as the complicated law — intended to make it easier for the government to intercept foreign calls and e-mails — has come under attack by civil liberties and privacy advocates who contend it gives the government broader powers than intended. The Protect America Act allows the government to listen in, without a court order, on all communications conducted by a person reasonably believed to be outside the United States, even if an American is on one end of the conversation.

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