- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Administration defends FISA powers
Question of the Day
President Bush’s top intelligence adviser defended the recently updated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in a letter to congressional leaders released yesterday, saying the law sets strict guidelines to guard against civil liberties abuses by the government.
“These procedures have worked well for decades and eliminate from intelligence reports incidentally acquired information concerning U.S. persons that does not constitute foreign intelligence,” said Director of National IntelligenceMichael McConnell, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
The FISA bill, which was pushed through Congress in its last week before the summer recess and signed by Mr. Bush on Sunday, removes civil liberties protections for non-U.S. citizens whose phone or e-mail communications come into or through the U.S.
The White House has said the update of the bill simply takes into account the advent of e-mail and fiber optics and removes the need for a warrant to monitor terrorist suspects.
Some Democrats and civil liberties groups have raised objections to the bill, saying it will allow the government excessive powers to spy on Americans’ phone and e-mail conversations.
“There will be intense oversight of activities conducted under the act. There are extensive training, compliance and other procedures in place at agencies to ensure our activities are conducted according to law. The relevant agencies have inspectors general staffs with the appropriate clearances, training and technical background to ensure that activities are reviewed and audited,” Mr. McConnell wrote.
The letter, said Reid spokesman Jim Manley, “does not clarify anything nor does it put any concerns to rest.”
One factor that has led to distrust of the government’s promises was the disclosure earlier this year that the FBI had abused its national security letter powers, which enable the government to obtain personal records of U.S. citizens from businesses or organizations without the knowledge of the intelligence target.
The abuse was disclosed by the Justice Department’s inspector general, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the abuse was accidental and not malicious.
Democrats, who have been critical of Mr. Gonzales on several fronts including his handling of the U.S. attorneys firings, have scoffed at the attorney general’s explanation.
An official with the Office of National Intelligence would not confirm whether the FBI will be involved in surveillance activities under FISA.
“We’re still working on a lot of implementation. A lot of that is still being worked out,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
Congressional Democrats passed a FISA update that expires after 180 days and have objected to placing the program under the attorney general for the long term.
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors