Failed 2002 bill covered domestic spying

Jan. 26, 2006 at 10:51 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A 2002 Senate bill would have given the White House additional powers on terror spying in the United States, much like a controversial current program.

U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, introduced a bill in 2002 that would have allowed surveillance warrants to be issued on "reasonable suspicion" on non-U.S. citizens but the measure did not gain administration support, The Washington Post reported Thursday. But Justice Department officials say the standard is different than the one used under a current National Security Agency program.

The NSA program, under fire by members of both parties, allows warrantless monitoring of communications by suspected terrorists if one end of the conversation was in the United States. The White House contends it is within the president's purview to authorize such a program and needs to act quickly, even before a warrant could be obtained.

Opponents question the legality of bypassing judicial review of such monitoring. The DeWine proposal would have made it easier for the FBI to get warrants in terror cases, the Post said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos told the newspaper current standards for allowing the monitoring are higher than the DeWine bill would have enacted.

The NSA program is the focus of Senate committee hearings next week.

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