Saturday, August 11, 2007

Reported Drop in Surveillance Spurred a Law

Eric Lichtblau, James Risen, and Mark Mazzetti write in The New York Times:

At a closed-door briefing in mid-July, senior intelligence officials startled lawmakers with some troubling news. American eavesdroppers were collecting just 25 percent of the foreign-based communications they had been receiving a few months earlier.

Congress needed to act quickly, intelligence officials said, to repair a dangerous situation.

Some lawmakers were alarmed. Others, jaded by past intelligence warnings, were skeptical.

The report helped set off a furious legislative rush last week that, improbably, broadened the administration’s authority to wiretap terrorism suspects without court oversight.

It was a surprising victory for the politically weakened White House on an issue that had plodded along in Congress for months without a clear sign of urgency or resolution. A flurry of talk in the last three weeks on intelligence gaps, heightened concern over terrorist attacks, burdensome court rulings and Congress’s recess helped turn the debate from a slow boil to a fever pitch.

More here.


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