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Pull the plug on new FISA law

February 08, 2009

Re "Ruling did not vindicate Bush's wiretapping," editorial, Feb. 2

The Times is right that the recent decision by the FISA appeals court is narrow, and that it does not ratify the warrantless surveillance program that the Bush administration inaugurated in 2001. But you are off the mark in suggesting that the FISA Amendments Act, enacted in 2008, includes adequate privacy protections.

The act gives the executive branch virtually unchecked power to intercept Americans' international e-mails and telephone calls. Not only does this law essentially legalize the Bush administration's original program, it invests the government with new authority to conduct dragnet surveillance that has implications for the privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans.

The new law gives the government far too much power. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of journalists, human rights groups, attorneys and others who depend on an expectation of privacy that the act eradicates. We are hopeful that the new law will be overturned.

Jameel Jaffer

Melissa Goodman

New York

The writers are director and staff attorney, respectively, for the ACLU National Security Project.

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