[Clips] White House Accepts Review on Eavesdropping, Specter Says

R.A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Thu Jul 13 19:14:30 PDT 2006

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  Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 22:01:34 -0400
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  From: "R.A. Hettinga" <rah at shipwright.com>
  Subject: [Clips] White House Accepts Review on Eavesdropping, Specter Says
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  The New York Times

  July 13, 2006

  White House Accepts Review on Eavesdropping, Specter Says


  Filed at 9:07 p.m. ET

  WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush has agreed conditionally to a court
  review of his antiterror eavesdropping operations under a deal that, for
  the first time, would open an important part of his once-secret
  surveillance to a constitutional test.

  The disclosure of the agreement on Thursday came as the White House sought
  to end an impasse over a six-month-old dispute with Congress on the
  National Security Agency's program. It monitors the international calls and
  e-mails of Americans when terrorism is suspected.

  Breaking with historic norms, the president had authorized the monitoring
  without a court warrant.

  Under a deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Bush has agreed
  to support a bill that could submit the program to the secretive Foreign
  Intelligence Surveillance Court for a constitutional review.

  ''You have here a recognition by the president that he does not have a
  blank check,'' said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. As a leading critic of the
  program, he had broken ranks with his party.

  When the program was disclosed in December, it outraged Democrats and civil
  libertarians who said Bush overstepped his authority. On Thursday, advocacy
  groups dismissed the prospect of a judicial review as a sham.

  ''This new bill would codify the notion that the president is not bound by
  the laws passed by Congress or the Constitution,'' said Anthony Romero,
  executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

  Congress must approve the bill. Yet lawmakers have written at least a half
  dozen competing proposals and more are coming.

  Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., who heads the House intelligence subcommittee
  that oversees the NSA, is introducing a measure next week aimed at
  modernizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Bush's
  program allowed the agency to avoid that law.

  Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the administration supports
  Specter's bill, which would allow the government to continue to collect
  information intended to protect the country. ''My understanding from the
  president is that the legislation could be very helpful,'' Gonzales said.

  The administration initially resisted efforts to write a new law,
  contending that no legal changes were needed. But after months of pressure,
  officials have grown more open to legislation.

  White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the agreement with Specter
  recognizes the president's constitutional authorities and updates the 1978
  law to meet current threats.

  ''What is happening today is that the president and Congress are coming
  together to codify the capacity for future presidents to take action to
  protect our country,'' she said.

  Gonzales said the bill gives Bush the option of submitting the NSA program
  to the intelligence court, rather than requiring the review.

  An administration official said Bush will submit to the review as long the
  bill is not changed in ways that he sees as undermining security. The
  official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are
  internal, said the bill would preserve the right of future presidents to
  skip that court review.

  Gonzales said the legislation would allow him to consolidate legal
  challenges to the eavesdropping program at the intelligence court, which he
  described as a one-time test of the program's constitutionality.

  More than 100 lawsuits have been filed in courts across the country.

  Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, said
  Bush could submit the program to the court right now, if he wished. He
  called the potential legislation ''an interesting bargain.''

  ''He's saying, if you do every single thing I tell you to do, I'll do what
  I should have done anyway,'' Leahy said.

  The legislation also would:

  --Require the attorney general to provide the court with information on the
  program's legal basis, the government's efforts to protect Americans'
  identities and the process used to determine that the intercepted
  communications involve terrorism. Must certify that the information cannot
  be obtained through other investigative means.

  --Expand the time for emergency warrants secured under the law from three
  days to seven days.

  --Increase the criminal penalties for officials who knowingly misuse
  foreign intelligence information.

  --Require the attorney general to inform Congress' intelligence committees
  on the program's activities every six months.

  --At the NSA's request, clarify that international calls that merely pass
  through terminals in the United States are not subject to the judicial
  process established under the law.

  In an interview, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Specter's agreement
  raises the ''thorny question'' about whether the content of conversations
  should be subject to individual warrants. But Feinstein, one of a few
  lawmakers fully briefed on the NSA program, said she wants to see the bill
  before passing judgment.

  Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, which
  advocates for civil liberties, said Congress is legislating in the dark
  because so many lawmakers are not privy to the complete briefing.
  R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
  The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
  44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
  "... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
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  experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
  Clips mailing list
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R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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