At midnight on Saturday, certain statutory authorizations for the interception of terrorist communications were allowed–by congressional inaction–to expire. See the National Review article with the headline: When the Clock Strikes Midnight, We Will Be Significantly Less Safe; also President Bush’s radio address here.
A couple of months ago, Shannon Love addressed some of the issues involved in commuications intercepts. This seems like an appropriate time for some additional discussion on the topic.
Some other useful resources:
1)The White House fact sheet
2)A fairly long article (PDF) which discusses some of the technical complexities which affect this debate.
UPDATE: Robert Novak says: The true cause for blocking the bill was the Senate-passed retroactive immunity from lawsuits for private telecommunications firms asked to eavesdrop by the government. The nation’s torts bar, vigorously pursuing such suits, has spent months lobbying hard against immunity.
The recess by House Democrats amounts to a judgment that losing the generous support of trial lawyers, the Democratic Party’s most important financial base, is more dangerous than losing the anti-terrorist issue to Republicans.
I’m not much of a Robert Novak fan, but in this case, I’m afraid his statement contains a strong element of truth.
UPDATE 2: William Kristol on Orwell, Kipling, and the responsibilities of governing, with particular reference to the communications-intercept issue.