Surveillance Bill Comes Under Fire

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WASHINGTON - Barely before the ink was dry, America's new surveillance intelligence law is under fire.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit saying it is unconstitutional. The law is also playing a role in the 2008 presidential race.

Click play to hear Gordon Robertson weigh in on the issue of surveillance following CBN News Correspondent David Brody's report.

The FISA Bill

President Bush may have low approval numbers and lame duck status, but there he was in the rose garden signing a key piece of national security legislation.

The White House says the FISA bill, short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, will be crucial in fighting the war on terror.

"This law will protect the liberties of our citizens, while maintaining the vital flow of intelligence. This law will play a critical role in helping to prevent another attack on our soil," Bush said.

The bill is a reauthorization of the existing law on the books and will put certain rules in place as to how government surveillance and wiretapping of potential terrorists takes place.

This has been a year-long battle in the Democratic controlled Congress.

The key sticking point involved whether telephone companies should be protected from lawsuits when they cooperate with government surveillance programs. The White House wanted that protection for the companies and got it. It's part of the new law.

But civil liberty groups are not happy about the law.

The ACLU has already filed a lawsuit calling the FISA bill unconstitutional.

They believe the new law gives the government the power to conduct surveillance on any American regardless of whether they are a potential terrorist or not.

The Candidates on FISA

While the courts figure that one out, the FISA bill is playing a role in the race for President.

The presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama voted for the bill even though he said previously that he would try to prevent it from passing because of his objection to the telephone company provision.

Some analysts believe Obama had to vote for the bill so as not to appear weak on national security in a general election match-up.

But opponent John McCain is claiming this is part of a recent flip flop pattern by Obama.

"The fact is he's changed his opinion on FISA, on public financing, on his agreement that he said he'd go anyplace any time to sit down for a town hall meeting with me," McCain charged.

Regardless of Obama's position, the FISA vote shows that national security remains a potent issue with the public - and in this election year.

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CBN News
David Brody

David Brody

CBN News Sr. National Correspondent

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