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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: Politicians weigh even more surveillance powers, by Ted Bridis
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- Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 21:08:27 +0100
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Date sent: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 13:34:01 -0500
From: Declan McCullagh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FC: Politicians weigh even more surveillance powers, by Ted Bridis
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From: "Ted Bridis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: More anti-terrorism legislative changes under consideration
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 22:20:18 -0500 Organization: The Associated
November 29, 2001
New Surveillance Measures Considered
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 8:33 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just weeks after approving powerful new
anti-terrorism laws, some lawmakers already are considering giving the
government new police powers to make it easier to obtain special
wiretaps and search warrants usually reserved for finding foreign
The new changes would allow government agents to secretly request
wiretaps even if details about the target of the surveillance, such as
his identity or the location of his phone, aren't known. They also
would allow agents to make broader demands for most business records,
as long as the documents were related to an investigation.
Another change, which lawmakers considered but rejected on Wednesday,
would have permitted the United States to invoke a powerful
anti-espionage law even in cases against individual foreigners. That
law is currently reserved for cases against people working as spies
for foreign governments or other foreign organizations.
A fourth change, still under consideration, would give the government
up to three days to seek a judge's approval for warrants after
investigators conduct a search or wiretap in emergencies. The
government currently must obtain a judge's permission after 24 hours.
The changes, under consideration by House and Senate members working
on the intelligence bill that would set the budget for the CIA, would
affect a powerful 1978 anti-espionage law, the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act. Under that law, a secret U.S. court considers
requests for searches or wiretaps, and these generally require a lower
standard of proof for approval than in traditional criminal cases.
The Justice Department characterized the changes being sought as
narrow, technical amendments to the surveillance act. House and Senate
oversight committees had urged intelligence agencies and the Justice
Department to suggest changes to the law, according to people familiar
with the process. Five proposals, including the one lawmakers
rejected, came from Justice lawyers.
``It is perfectly normal that committees will reach out to executive
agencies for input about changes they want to make and language that
facilitates that,'' Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden said.
``In this case, the intelligence committees reached out to the Justice
Department for technical guidance.''
Civil liberties groups cautioned that the changes were substantive and
considerably broadened police powers.
``This is a significant expansion of electronic surveillance in the
United States,'' said Jerry Berman, head of the Washington-based
Center for Democracy and Technology. ``It's only been a month or so,
and they're already asking for expansions.''
The change rejected by lawmakers would have allowed the surveillance
law to be used against ``a foreign individual,'' according to draft
language by the Justice Department, which was obtained Thursday by The
Associated Press. Justice lawyers wrote that otherwise restricting use
of the espionage law ``limits the ability of the president to use this
statute against ... hijackers or other terrorists without affiliation
or known affiliation with a specific group or foreign state.''
People familiar with the considerations, speaking only on condition of
anonymity, said lawmakers considered the change too substantive to be
included among technical amendments and decided Wednesday afternoon
not to consider it further, at least until next year.
Another change would add the phrase ``if known'' to the requirement
for wiretap approvals of identifying the location of a target's
electronic communications. Justice lawyers said the change would be
useful in cases of wireless telephones or e-mail accounts, ``where the
facility to be monitored is typically not known in advance.''
Reacting to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress under the new
Patriot Act gave government agents broad new powers to detain
immigrants, eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mails and share
sensitive details of criminal investigations with the CIA.
President Bush signed the Patriot Act on Oct. 26.
Among other things, the law permits U.S. prosecutors to invoke the
anti-espionage law even when the primary focus of their investigation
isn't spying by a foreign government. It also makes it legal for
investigators to pass sensitive information about criminal cases to
The intelligence bill, which is largely classified, provides funding
and some policy guidance to the 13 U.S. intelligence agencies,
including the CIA and the National Security Agency. Its total amount
is secret but thought to be around $30 billion annually. The House and
Senate have already passed separate versions of the bill, which
contain large increases for the agencies.
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