Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Senate Intel Panel Rejects Wiretap Inquiry

The Senate Intelligence Committee agreed today to form a special seven-member subcommittee to "oversee" the president's NSA wiretap program, while rejecting calls to carry out a full investigation of the whole business.

New legislation, the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 (proposed by Republican senators DeWine, Hagel, Snowe, and Graham) "would authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a warrant for 45 days but require the White House to justify every decision to continue beyond that timeframe," according to a Reuters report. It "also would force the eavesdropping program to cease after five years unless renewed by Congress."

Senator Chuck Hagel said the subcommittee created by proposed legislation would have a "broad, wide, deep" purview to monitor and oversee the wiretap program. The White House has not expressed outright support for the proposal.

The Houston Chronicle adds to the Reuters report, noting that along with today's proposed bill, Senator Arlen Specter has circulated legislation which would "allow the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court the authority to give the program a broad constitutional blessing every 45 days."

I don't think either of these bills are a bad idea. However, I do think that some investigation into the program must be carried out, and it is the responsibility of the House and Senate intelligence committees to conduct such an inquiry. Oversight now is great, and should happen for sure, but Congress must consider how the Administration got us into this mess so we can be sure it doesn't happen again.

[Note: Also posted at TMV].


At 9:41 PM, Blogger Charlie said...

I fully agree with your conclusions. The bill(s) proposed are indeed important in keeping the program in check, but an investigation should be done as well.

At 11:04 PM, Blogger pacatrue said...

I take this as: We have a law on the books saying you can do warrantless wiretaps for 7 days, but the Administration ignores it. Therefore, we will pass a law saying you can wait 45 days. And this time we really mean it!!

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Leonidas said...

We dodged bullet here. An investigation would have seriously jeopardized national security. I don't think the additional "oversight" is needed but better that than an investigation which could inform Al Qaeda as to exactly what we're doing. That coud have been a complete disaster.

At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Paul Wartenberg said...

This administration ignores what it wants when it wants. Who is to say they will comply with the new rules? Noone. They've ignored and abused Congress and the law on so many other issues that this little 'compromise' on the parts of Hagel and Snowe is nothing but a tired joke. And it's not even a major headline news item right now, even though the warrantless wiretapping is the gravest threat to individual civil liberties since the Japanese internment of WWII...


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