Leahy: Surveillance needed within limits

July 1, 2007 at 9:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 1 (UPI) -- A key U.S. senator says lawmakers want surveillance capabilities in place to investigate potential terrorists but with limits so the system isn't abused.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday he doesn't object to eavesdropping "provided it follows the law." He suggested the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act be revised "so there would be no question you can co after potential terrorists with wiretaps."

But the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the White House was subpoenaed to explain its claim of executive privilege regarding surveillance methods enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"What we are asking is what was the legal justification they tried to follow when, for years, they wiretapped ordinary Americans and everyone else put out a warrant," he said.

Leahy indicated if the White House agreed to a meeting with a transcript and witnesses under oath, "that would be a very good start" to avoiding a constitutional crisis.

"I'm not trying to play 'gotcha,'" Leahy said. "I'm just trying to get the facts out so that whoever the next president is ... will never be tempted to play with law enforcement this way."

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