Bill to Permit Wiretaps Introduced
Senators Graham, DeWine, Snowe and Hagel introduced legislation yesterday that "would allow the NSA to eavesdrop, without a warrant, for up to 45 days per case, at which point the Justice Department would have three options. It could drop the surveillance, seek a warrant from FISA's court, or convince a handful of House and Senate members that although there is insufficient evidence for a warrant, continued surveillance "is necessary to protect the United States.'"
I'm with Arlen Specter on this. When asked about the legislation, Specter pointed his thumb down, adding that he particularly objected to allowing the Administration to "do whatever the hell it wants" for 45 days before seeking a warrant or taking other action. Other senators said that a recently-formed subcommittee of the Intel Committee should be allowed to complete its review of the program before legislation is considered.
As I've said, there needs to be a serious bipartisan investigation into Bush's wiretap scheme, and Congress does need to take its oversight responsibilities seriously. That does not mean grandfathering the program into law now with giant loopholes in it. While I believe the senators who introduced this legislation mean well and are seriously trying to solve the problem, I'm afraid their solution's not quite the right one.