Lack of U.S. spying powers deal worrisome

June 10, 2008 at 10:54 AM

WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- The Bush administration and members of Congress are warning failure to reach a deal on the U.S. government's spy powers soon will leave security gaps.

Negotiators between the administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress over such issues as warrantless wiretaps and legal immunity for telecommunications companies have dragged on for more than two years and an August deadline for a deal is approaching without apparent movement, The New York Times reported.

Failure to reach a deal on spying powers will mean reversion to old rules that require individual court orders for electronic surveillance of conversations involving foreign terror suspects and U.S. residents, rather than using blanket orders temporarily approved by Congress last August, the newspaper said.

And that, some said, could produce significant security gaps.

"We'll start losing intelligence capabilities," U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., told the Times, with U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey describing the idea of reverting to the older standards as "unthinkable," telling the newspaper, "I still hope and actually think that it won't happen."

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