Sunday, February 26, 2006

Specter Proposes Wiretap Oversight

The Washington Post reports that Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, who has come out as a strong skeptic of the Bush Administration's controversial warrantless wiretap program, has proposed a bill that would bring the surveillance program firmly under the jurisdiction of the FISA court.

A draft of the bill, Charles Babington reports, "would require the attorney general to seek the FISA court's approval for each planned NSA intercept under the program," and would also "require the administration to give a handful of lawmakers more information about the program than they now receive, such as the number of communications intercepted and a summary of the results."

"Specter's bill would require the attorney general to give the secret court 'a statement of the facts and circumstances' causing the Justice Department to believe 'that at least one of the participants in the communications to be intercepted ... will be the foreign power or agent of a foreign power specified in [the law], or a person who has had communication with the foreign power or agent.' The attorney general would have to provide 'a detailed description of the nature of the information sought' and 'an estimate of the number of communications to be intercepted ... during the requested authorization period.'"

While it sounds to me as if the language could use some cleaning up ("foreign power or agent of a foreign power" is rather broad), at heart this proposal seems like a good start. The program should be brought within the scope of the FISA court's jurisdiction, and I'm glad Specter is moving on legislation that would do just that.


At 12:52 PM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

Time out.. Isn't that the procedure that's already in place?

The procedure that the President is already flauntingly disobeying?

At 2:14 AM, Anonymous Craig said...

I don't think we have yet found out why the whistleblowers have been talking. Some of these are guys who have been doing NSA work for decades without a peep. It may be that the truth has to be left to a bipartisan committee that takes a closer look but legislation without fully understanding the problems and the programs doesn't appear to be the solution. And a closer look at Cheney's role in all this may also be in order.


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