Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Lack of Intelligence

posted by The Sailor @ 8:01 PM Permalink

Intelligence Chief Decries Constraints

Court orders in January that brought President Bush's warrantless terrorist surveillance program under existing law have limited the intelligence that agencies can collect, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told a Senate committee yesterday.

"We are actually missing a significant portion of what we should be getting," McConnell said during an unusual public session of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the administration's proposal to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA).

The intelligence collection program was secretly instituted under presidential authority shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and was disclosed by the news media in December 2005.
In January, the administration agreed to bring the program under the oversight of the secret FISA court, which approves warrants in terrorism and espionage investigations. That reversed Bush's position that he had the authority to order the program on his own. In a January letter to some lawmakers, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the administration was satisfied the new arrangement would have the "speed and agility" to protect the nation from terrorists.
The FISA court almost never turns down a warrant request. Data for 2006 show that it signed off on 2,176 warrants, the Associated Press reported yesterday. One application for a warrant was denied in part, and 73 required changes before being approved.
But wait, there's more!
Administration Pulls Back on Surveillance Agreement

Senior Bush administration officials told Congress on Tuesday that they could not pledge that the administration would continue to seek warrants from a secret court for a domestic wiretapping program, as it agreed to do in January.
Several Democratic lawmakers expressed frustration on Tuesday that the administration had not provided documents related to the National Security Agency program, which the White House called the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
"To this day, we have never been provided the presidential authorization that cleared that program to go or the attorney general-Department of Justice opinions that declared it to be lawful," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island.

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