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McConnell sheds light on U.S. wiretaps

Aug. 23, 2007 at 10:54 AM

EL PASO, Texas, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said fewer than 100 domestic anti-terror wiretaps are in progress, compared with thousands overseas.

In an interview last week with the El Paso (Texas) Times published Wednesday, McConnell shed light on the new law signed into law by President George Bush earlier this month, and made the wiretap numbers disclosure.

"On the U.S. persons side, it's 100 or less," he said. "And then, the foreign side -- it's in the thousands."

The new law allows warrantless eavesdropping on foreigners' calls and e-mails to people in the United States, as long as the U.S. residents involved are not considered targets of the investigation. If they become a suspect, McConnell said a warrant must then be obtained, which is time-consuming.

"It takes about 200 man hours to do one telephone number," he said of the warrant process.

He said the new law's warrant requirement speaks of rights for "people" in the United States.

"That does not mean citizen. That means a foreigner, who is here, we still have to have a warrant because he's here," McConnell said.

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