Thursday, July 13, 2006


Administration to allow court review NSA surveillance program?

Per Stop the ACLU:

"Can ACLU and liberals now rejoice???!!!

Announced by Arlen Specter, reported by CNN and Fox. Hasn’t hit the wires yet but I should have a link soon. Specter called the negotiations with the White House “torturous.”

I’m waiting to see the actual news on the wire and digest this before I comment too much. I do agree with Allapundit that after giving Geneva rights to the terrorists, the administration are really taking it in the pants this week. My initial reaction is a bit of shock and some disappointment. I’m still digesting this."

John has this Reuter's quip:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House, in a policy reversal, has agreed to allow a federal court review of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, a top Senate Republican announced on Thursday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he has negotiated a proposed bill with the White House that would do that and voiced hope his panel would approve it.

"We have structured a bill which is agreeable to the White House and I think will be agreeable to this committee," Specter told the panel."

More to come....

UPDATE: More at Allah Pundit, who has this from the AP:

"Specter told the committee that the bill, among other things, would:

- Require the attorney general to give the intelligence court information on the program's constitutionality, the government's efforts to protect Americans' identities and the basis used to determine that the intercepted communications involve terrorism.

_Expand the time for emergency warrants secured under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act from three to seven days.

_Create a new offense if government officials misuse information.

_At the NSA's request, clarify that international calls that merely pass through terminals in the United States are not subject to the judicial process established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The administration official, who asked not to be identified because discussions are still ongoing, said the bill also would give the attorney general power to consolidate the 100 lawsuits filed against the surveillance operations into one case before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

Ok, highlight that third point. It will be interesting to see what that "new offense" would be aimed at leakers within the CIA and other agencies.

So it sounds like Bush is bending over and taking it in the proverbial body cushion, but the fact is that I see this as being a solution to quell the criticisms and can help some of the negativity the public may have about the program. As Allah points out this important caveat.

"If the bill is not changed, the president will submit the Terrorist Surveillance Program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," Specter said. "That is the president's commitment."

It wasn't immediately clear how strong or enduring the judicial oversight would be.

An administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the bill's language gives the president the option of submitting the program to the intelligence court, rather than making the review a requirement.

The official said that Bush will submit to the court review as long the bill is not changed, adding that the legislation preserves the right of future presidents to skip the court review."

The way it looks, the proposal was a compromise with the President, not the other way around. Spector said it was "torturious" (Spector getting a cheap shot in) to deal with the White House, meaning, THEY told him how it was going to be.

I see a "smirk" behind the scenes here folks. All is well.

Lori Byrd at Wizbang "I have not digested the specifics yet (actually no real details are known yet) but this may end up being a smart move in some ways. The first thing that occured to me is that if the program gets the FISA court stamp of approval, the critics hollering that the President broke the law will look even more foolish than they currently do. If that is possible."

UPDATE: Per John at Stop the ACLU - the ACLU isn't happy about this "compromise". That folks is GOOD news. Means the "smirk" is on!

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