Reyes pledges hearings, oversight on NSA

Aug. 16, 2007 at 5:54 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says he will hold hearings next month on modernizing U.S. wire-tapping laws.

“The House leadership has asked (the committee) to come up with a finished (legislative) proposal by the end of September,” Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told United Press International this week.

In the closing hours before wrapping up for their August recess, lawmakers in both chambers passed a law to modernize the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- legislation some say expands the authority of U.S. intelligence agencies to eavesdrop within the United States.

But the law, which congressional sources say some Democrats felt bounced into passing, sunsets in 180 days, and lawmakers have promised to revisit the issue when they return.

Reyes said he already had sent committee staff to the National Security Agency “to look at how they are using the authorities” granted by Congress.

“I want the administration to know we are serious about oversight,” he said.

Reyes added he was working with staff to accelerate a hearing schedule for when Congress returns next month. “We will have a couple of hearings,” he said. “At least one of them, I hope, will be open.”

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