Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Michael Hayden
From: Riz Khan

The wiretapping debate

A law allowing companies to put people under surveillance without a court order.

Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence and Michael Hayden, Director, CIA [AFP]

Anand Naidoo sits in for Riz Khan this week.

More than two years ago, Americans learned from an article in The New York Times that the National Security Agency was spying on citizens without warrants or court orders.

Since then, a debate has raged in the United States about the government’s powers to spy on people, and how to balance the Constitution with the new demands of the “war on terror”.

This month Congress allowed a law called the “Protect America Act” to expire. The law shielded telecommunications companies from lawsuits brought by people who were put under surveillance without a court order. George Bush, the US president, has been urging Congress to renew the act.

Supporters of the administration contend that with every day that passes, US intelligence agencies are losing valuable information about terrorists’ plans. But opponents call these “fear tactics” and vow to fight the administration’s request for “overly broad” powers.

On Wednesday we speak to two lawyers who approach the topic from different angles. Michael German was a special agent for the FBI for 17 years, and now advocates the curbing of wiretapping and he is the policy counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy at the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Our second guest is Kamal Nawash who is an Arab-American who is an ardent supporter of Bush’s post-9/11 policies. He founded the Free Muslims Coalition in 2003.

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This episode of Riz Khan aired on Wednesday, February 27, 2008

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