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  1. #1
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    Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    Somehow, I think the American people are going to get screwed no matter which way this goes.
    ***********************************

    Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 — The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that he wanted the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program brought under the authority of a special intelligence court, a move President Bush has argued is not necessary.

    The chairman, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, said he had some concerns that the court could not issue warrants quickly enough to keep up with the needs of the eavesdropping program. But he said he would like to see those details worked out.

    Mr. Roberts also said he did not believe that exempting the program from the purview of the court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act "would be met with much support" on Capitol Hill. Yet that is exactly the approach the Bush administration is pursuing.

    "I think it should come before the FISA court, but I don't know how it works," Mr. Roberts said. "You don't want to have a situation where you have capability that doesn't work well with the FISA court, in terms of speed and agility and hot pursuit. So we have to solve that problem."

    Mr. Roberts spoke in an interview a day after announcing that the White House, in a turnabout, had agreed to open discussions about changing surveillance law. By Friday, with Mr. Roberts apparently stung by accusations that he had caved to White House pressure not to investigate the eavesdropping without warrants, it appeared the talks could put the White House and Congress on a collision course.

    White House officials favor a proposal offered by another Republican senator, Mike DeWine of Ohio, whose bill would exempt the eavesdropping from the intelligence court. Mr. DeWine wants small subcommittees to oversee the wiretapping, but Mr. Roberts said he would like the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees to have regular briefings.

    "I think it's the function and the oversight responsibility of the committee," he said, adding, "That might sound strange coming from me."

    Mr. Roberts's comments were surprising because he has been a staunch defender of the program and an ally of White House efforts to resist a full-scale Senate investigation. On Thursday, he pushed back a committee vote on a Democratic push to conduct an inquiry, saying he wanted to give the White House time to negotiate on possible legislation. On Friday, he dismissed accusations that he had bowed to pressure.

    "The irony of this is that it is portrayed now as administration pressure brought to bear on us, meaning the Republicans on the committee and basically me," Mr. Roberts said Friday. "It's just the reverse. It's the Republicans on the committee, my staff and myself, who have been really — I don't want to say pressuring, but trying to come up with a reasonable compromise that will settle this issue. It was our activity that brought them along to this point, plus the possibility of an investigation."

    The eavesdropping, authorized in secret by President Bush soon after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has allowed the National Security Agency to monitor the international telephone and e-mail communications of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people within the United States — without warrants — when the authorities suspect they have links to terrorists.

    Democrats and a growing number of Republicans say the program appears to violate the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Some Republicans are also skeptical of the Bush administration's assertion that it has the inherent constitutional authority to conduct the eavesdropping, and that Congress authorized the program when it passed a resolution after Sept. 11 giving Mr. Bush authority to use military force to defend the nation.

    In the House, Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have agreed to open an inquiry prompted by the surveillance program and are debating how broad it should be. Mr. Roberts said he had not spoken to Representative Peter Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, about what the House panel is doing.

    Representative Heather A. Wilson, Republican of New Mexico and chairwoman of the House Intelligence subcommittee that oversees the National Security Agency, has pressed for a broad investigation, but Mr. Hoekstra's aides have said that any inquiry would be limited to an examination of the FISA law.

    The Senate intelligence chairman, Mr. Roberts, said he believed the administration had the constitutional authority for the program, but added, "We would be much more in concert with the Congress and everybody else and the FISA court judges" if the court oversaw the program.

    As panel chairman, Mr. Roberts holds great sway. An aide to the senator said he had some specific ideas that he had been privately discussing with committee members and other lawmakers. But neither the senator nor the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the negotiations, would make those ideas public.

    Nor will Mr. Roberts have final say over what form legislation will take; rather, his ideas are circulating in an environment that one Congressional aide, referring to the Winter Olympic Games, said was "sort of like snowboardcross, with four proposals shooting out of the gate, jockeying for position."

    Another senior Senate Republican, Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has proposed legislation that would allow the FISA court to pass judgment on the program's constitutionality. And Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine and a member of the intelligence panel, said Friday that she believed the eavesdropping must come under the purview of the judiciary.

    "I think we do have to have judicial review," she said, adding, "Whether it's the FISA approach or not I think remains in question, but it can't go on in perpetuity, and it can't be unfettered warrantless surveillance."

    Whether Republicans can agree remains to be seen. "People are all over the place," Mr. DeWine said. "We don't have a consensus."

    The White House has been in talks with Mr. DeWine, who said Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, called him on Wednesday night, on the eve of the Senate Intelligence panel's scheduled vote, to discuss his legislation.

    "What we have talked about with some Congressional leaders is codifying into law what his authority already is," Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman said in an interview Friday, referring to the president. He added, "Senator DeWine has some good ideas, and we think they're reasonable ideas."

    Since the program's inception, the White House has provided information about it to members of the "Gang of Eight," the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the senior Democrat and Republican on the intelligence panels in both chambers. Last week, the Bush administration went further, revealing details of the program to all members of the House and Senate intelligence panels.

    Mr. DeWine said his proposal called for an intelligence subcommittee with "professional staff" to have oversight. "It would be fundamentally different than doing it by the Gang of Eight, where there's really no staff," he said, adding, "The key is oversight."

    Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting for this article.

  2. #2
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    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    A form letter? They actually made up a form letter to answer these questions? Sheesh!

    LM
    You must never write your representatives! Give it a try. I guarantee you'll get a form letter response. Standard practice.

    For people who don't know, you can find your reps contact info here:

    www.congress.org

  3. #3
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    Dec 2005
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    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    Quote Originally Posted by Yirmeyahu
    You must never write your representatives! Give it a try. I guarantee you'll get a form letter response. Standard practice.

    For people who don't know, you can find your reps contact info here:

    www.congress.org
    Perhaps their home addresses would be a tad more useful.

  4. #4
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    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    Quote Originally Posted by Yirmeyahu
    You must never write your representatives! Give it a try. I guarantee you'll get a form letter response. Standard practice.

    For people who don't know, you can find your reps contact info here:

    www.congress.org

    I have, but never even got a response. LOL, that beats a form letter, I think.

    Lady Mod

  5. #5
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    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    I have, but never even got a response. LOL, that beats a form letter, I think.

    Lady Mod
    That's true, too. I guess half the time they never reply at all. I usually write e-mails, the the replies are usually via e-mail. But I've actually received two or three written responses in the mail to e-mailed messages.

    At least it confirms that your views have been received.

    In one ear, out the other? :)

  6. #6
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    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    Two groups sue over NSA wiretap program
    Complaints: Bush exceeding presidential authority


    NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two lawsuits were filed Tuesday against the National Security Agency over its no-warrant wiretapping program, claiming the domestic eavesdropping is unconstitutional and that President Bush exceeded his authority by authorizing it.

    The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of several journalists, authors, scholars and organizations.

    Separately, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit in the Southern District of New York on behalf of "clients who fit the criteria described by the attorney general for targeting" under the program.

    The ACLU's 60-page complaint names the NSA and its director, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, as defendants, and the New York suit names the NSA, Alexander and "the heads of the other major security agencies." (Watch White House respond to suits -- 1:31)

    "President Bush may believe he can authorize spying on Americans without judicial or congressional approval, but this program is illegal, and we intend to put a stop to it," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said.

    Responding to the lawsuits, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, "We believe these cases are without merit and plan to vigorously defend against such charges."

    And White House spokesman Scott McClellan said "the frivolous lawsuits ... do nothing to help enhance civil liberties or protect the American people."

    After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush authorized the NSA to intercept communications between people inside the United States, including American citizens, and terrorism suspects overseas, without obtaining a warrant.

    Bush and other administration officials contend his constitutional powers as commander in chief as well as a congressional resolution passed in the wake of the terrorist attacks provide the legal authority for the no-warrant surveillance. (Watch the attorney general defend the program -- 4:16)

    In a written statement, Romero said "surveillance of Americans is a chilling assertion of presidential power that has not been seen since the days of Richard Nixon."

    In an interview Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended the program, saying that it "has been carefully reviewed by lawyers from throughout the administration" and that "the president does have the legal authorities to authorize this program."
    (Full story)
    http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/01/17/aclu.nsa/

  7. #7
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    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    My two cents
    My letter:

    "Senator Specter,
    I find it appalling that the White House still will not come clean on illegal wiretaps.
    This issue will decide if we have any freedoms left as American Citizens and I feel Congress and The Senate is not giving it the attention it deserves. Pat Roberts seems downright apologetic when announcing his efforts to pursue this matter. Scott McClellan’s statement is irresponsible and shows that the White House has no understanding of due process and accountability. [See below] Since our elected officials are clearly short changing the citizens of this country on this issue, I will support the ACLU and any other group that will force the Chief Executive of the country to OBEY THE LAW.

    “Two groups sue over NSA wiretap program
    Complaints: Bush exceeding presidential authority”

    NEW YORK (CNN)
    "President Bush may believe he can authorize spying on Americans without judicial or congressional approval, but this program is illegal, and we intend to put a stop to it," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said……………
    And White House spokesman Scott McClellan said "the frivolous lawsuits ... do nothing to help enhance civil liberties or protect the American people."
    http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/01/17/aclu.nsa/

    “Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program”

    By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

    “WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 — The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that he wanted the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program brought under the authority of a special intelligence court, a move President Bush has argued is not necessary.

    The chairman, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, said he had some concerns that the court could not issue warrants quickly enough to keep up with the needs of the eavesdropping program. But he said he would like to see those details worked out.”

    Yours truly,
    Phinnly Slash Buster"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    2,272

    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    btw,
    All I've received from my many letters to elected reps. is a form letter as well [e-mail].
    I expect that since the Pres. is using his unchecked authority with warrant less wiretaps he most certainly has a copy as well. Anybody who has read the ‘Puzzle Palace” by James Bamford about how the NSA does their business would also know this.
    Another thing to consider is that we are communicating at scam.com from the US to Canada. The board itself is a public forum open to all but e-mails and PM’s could easily be swept up by this huge net.
    Bush’s primary mission in opening these flood gates of warrant less wire taps is not to gather info on terrorist but to establish a data base on all his political enemies and critics.
    We’ve all seen considerable evidence here that would lead anyone one who has a working brain to arrive at this conclusion.
    PSB

  9. #9
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    Re: Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program

    Senate Rejects Wiretapping Probe
    Submitted by fnord on Fri, 02/17/2006 - 15:16.

    But Judge Orders Justice Department to Turn Over Documents
    By Charles Babington and Carol D. Leonnig
    Washington Post
    http://libertylost.org/ ---CHECK OUT THIS SITE GOOD INFO---

    The Bush administration helped derail a Senate bid to investigate a warrantless eavesdropping program yesterday after signaling it would reject Congress's request to have former attorney general John D. Ashcroft and other officials testify about the program's legality. The actions underscored a dramatic and possibly permanent drop in momentum for a congressional inquiry, which had seemed likely two months ago.

    Julian Borger in Washington
    The Guardian

    Civil liberties organisations expressed outrage yesterday after it was reported that the database of terrorist suspects kept by the US authorities now holds 325,000 names, a fourfold increase in two and a half years.

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