What will be Obama’s stance on warrantless wiretapping?

Back in the early stages of the presidential election campaign, US President-elect Barack Obama repeatedly came out against the increasing use of warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA). Eventually he switched sides and voted for the continuation of this program, which many in the legal profession condemn as essentially unconstitutional. Today The New York Times has published an article reminding the President-Elect’s transitional team that the Obama administration is likely to have to make some early decisions about the legal standing of the NSA’s domestic communications interception operations. This is because a number of groups have challenged the Justice Department’s sanctioning of warrantless wiretapping. Under directives from the Bush Administration the Department has so far blocked these challenges by claiming broad and undefined “national security and national secrets” clauses. Is the Obama Administration likely to continue this policy? His transition team has so far denied all requests to discuss domestic surveillance, or even how the President-elect plans to deal with this issue. It is indeed too early to tell. Yet considering some of the people Obama is thinking of appointing to high-level intelligence establishment positions, one may be excused for thinking the Bush Administration’s policy is likely to survive mostly intact the change of guard in the White House. [IA]

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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