July 28, 2007

Bush Wants Terrorism Law Update

President Bush wants Congress to modernize a law that governs how intelligence agencies monitor the communications of suspected terrorists. The Associated Press reports.

"This law is badly out of date," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.

Bush noted that terrorists now use disposable cell phones and the Internet to communicate, recruit operatives and plan attacks; such tools were not available when FISA passed nearly 30 years ago. He also cited a recently released intelligence estimate that concluded al-Qaida is using its growing strength in the Middle East to plot attacks on U.S. soil.

"Our intelligence community warns that under the current statute, we are missing a significant amount of foreign intelligence that we should be collecting to protect our country," Bush said. "Congress needs to act immediately to pass this bill, so that our national security professionals can close intelligence gaps and provide critical warning time for our country."

... Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, contends the White House is asking for more power to conduct warrantless domestic and international surveillance.

The ACLU said the legislation backed by the administration would give immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability for the telecommunication companies that participate in the NSA program. The ACLU urged lawmakers to find out the full extent of current intelligence gathering under FISA before making changes.

"The only thing more outrageous than the administration's call for even more unfettered power is a Congress that would consider giving it to them," Frederickson said.

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