At a time when Congress is balking at government encroachment on individual liberties, it was startling to learn that the top-secret National Security Agency has been conducting domestic surveillance without court approval. The agency's charter is to monitor international communication circuits, but it apparently got the go-ahead in an executive order signed sub rosa by President Bush.
The revelation came on the day the U.S. Senate wisely rejected reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement broad new powers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Key provisions of the law will expire Dec. 31 without action from Congress. We again urge the president and his loyalists to adopt revisions of the law passed unanimously by the Senate this summer. The so-called Safe Act contains safeguards meant to ensure protection of civil liberties.