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Report: Warrantless surveillance legal

Jan. 21, 2008 at 7:44 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President George W. Bush's authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance comes from the Constitution, a partisan congressional report says.

A Republican staff assessment of the revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act said the president's controversial program is legal.

"There is nothing new or aggressive about relying on Article II authority in the context of foreign intelligence surveillance," indicates an assessment produced by the office of Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The 13-page assessment comes as the Senate prepares to debate legislation as early as Tuesday on extending legislation governing electronic surveillance of suspected foreign terrorists and spies, The Washington Times reported Monday.

The Protect America Act, passed in August, temporarily revised the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to help authorities better monitor newer technologies. The law expires at the end of January.

The Republican-drafted report counters Democrats and other critics of the Bush administration's Terrorist Surveillance Program who argued during a Senate filibuster last month that the program is illegal.

The report also said that warrantless surveillance "has been an integral part of our nation's foreign intelligence gathering," and that during World War II, U.S. warrantless surveillance of the German and Japanese militaries helped to break of their codes.

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