Cheney demands ‘permanent’ wiretaps

The US Vice President, Dick Cheney calls on Congress to ‘permanently’ allow warrantless wiretaps on foreign electronic communications.

During a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Wednesday, Cheney said it is ‘urgent’ to renew and update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ‘immediately and permanently’.

The 30-year-old FISA is a federal law allowing physical and electronic surveillance and the collection of ‘foreign intelligence information’ coming from and going to territories under US control.

In a modification made last year that will expire on February 1, the Congress empowered intelligence agencies to tap into telephone conversations and emails, without first obtaining the permission of a special FISA court.

Cheney warned of ‘serious consequences’ if the Congress fails to provide protection for telephone and Internet carriers from lawsuits for alleged complicity in privacy rights violations in the US ‘war on terror’.

“The challenge to the country has not expired over the last six months,” he said, referring to the so-called war on terror launched in the aftermath of the 9/11.

“It won’t expire anytime soon, and we should not write laws that pretend otherwise,” said the US Vice President.