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Attorney General won't rule out domestic warrantless taps

Attorney General won't rule out domestic warrantless taps
Attorney General won't rule out domestic warrantless taps

["Fourth Amendment? What Fourth Amendment?" --Declan]


From: Brock Meeks  
Date: April 6, 2006 11:39:57 AM EDT
Subject: Atty. Gen.: won't rule out domestic warrantless taps

 From a press release from Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA:

WASHINGTON, DC (April 6, 2006) - During a hearing before the House
Judiciary Committee today, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) questioned
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the NSA's secret domestic
wiretapping program.

  The Administration has cited the Authorization to Use Military Force
and the commander in chief powers as authorizing the NSA to intercept
international communications into and out of the U.S. of persons linked
to al Qaeda or related terrorist organizations.

  After citing his concerns that there was no limiting principle to the
Administration's claim of authority in the War on Terror, Rep. Schiff
asked the Attorney General whether the Administration believes it has
the authority to wiretap purely domestic calls between two Americans
without seeking a warrant.

"I cannot rule that out," responded the Attorney General.

  "This is very disturbing testimony," Rep. Schiff commented later, "and
represents a wholly unprecedented assertion of executive power.  No one
in Congress would deny the need to tap certain calls under court order
-- but if the Administration believes it can tap purely domestic phone
calls between Americans without court approval, there is no limit to
executive power. This is contrary to settled law and the most basic
constitutional principles of the separation of powers."

Rep. Schiff and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have introduced bipartisan
legislation -- the NSA Oversight Act -- to reassert that FISA and Title
III are the sole authority for domestic surveillance.  The bill would:

1. Reiterate Exclusivity of Current FISA and Wiretap Laws - states that
FISA and the federal criminal wiretap statutes shall continue to be the
exclusive means by which domestic electronic surveillance may be

2. Clarify Military Force Statute - makes clear that the Authorization
to Use Military Force (AUMF), passed days after the September 11th
attacks, does not provide an exception to that rule.

3. Require Congressional Action - makes clear that current laws apply
unless Congress amends the laws or passes additional laws regarding
electronic surveillance.

4. Require Report on the Extent of the Wiretapping Program - requires
classified disclosure to Congress of information about U.S. persons who
have been the subject of any such electronic surveillance.

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