The Combating Terrorism Act (CTA) and Mobilization Against Terrorism Act (MATA) are being rushed through Congress, in what could threaten to be the largest erosion of U.S. civil liberties since the McCarthy era. Despite the efforts of John Ashcroft and Congressional sponsors to curtail debate on or disclosure of this legislation, civil rights groups are organizing on a large scale to publicize and hinder CTA and MATA.
What's particularly striking about the proposed bills, in my opinion, is the heavy emphasis on expanding surveillance over all Internet communication, even though there has been no evidence presented that the Internet played any significant role in recent "terrorist" activity.
One of the most controversial provisions of MATA would, according to the DOJ analysis accompanying the Act, allow that "United States prosecutors may use against American citizens information collected by a foreign government even if the collection would have violated the Fourth Amendment."
Other provisions of MATA and CTA (as summarized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation):
-make it possible to obtain e-mail message header information and Internet user web browsing patterns without a wiretap order;
-eviscerate controls on roving wiretaps;
-permit law enforcement to disclose information obtained through wiretaps to any employee of the Executive branch;
-reduce restrictions on domestic investigations under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA);
-permit grand juries to provide information to the US intelligence community;
-permit the President to designate any "foreign-directed individual, group, or entity," including any United States citizen or organization, as a target for FISA surveillance;
-prevent people from even talking about terrorist acts;
-establish a DNA database for every person convicted of any felony or certain sex offenses, almost all of which are entirely unrelated to terrorism.
more info from the EFF (off site).