Domestic surveillance program said to provide few terror leads

[JURIST] Current and former intelligence officials and private sector sources, speaking anonymously, have said that the National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program [JURIST news archive] monitoring communication coming from outside the US to US residents has yielded few actionable results, according to a Sunday report in the Washington Post. Fewer than 10 US citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls as well, which would require a warrant from a federal judge. This low rate of success adds to concerns that the program is unlawful under the Fourth Amendment because a search cannot be judged reasonable if based on unreliable evidence. The Washington Post has more.

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] will defend the program at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing [official notice] on Monday. He is expected to reiterate the administration's position that the program is not governed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text] but rather by a 2001 Congressional resolution [PDF text] authorizing the use of military force against al Qaeda. He is also expected to say that media reports about the program are misleading [TIME report]. He may be in for tough questioning, however. Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter said in an NBC Meet the Press interview [transcript] Sunday morning that he found several of Gonzales' contentions made in preliminary responses to written Committee questions [JURIST document] to be "strained" and "unrealistic", particularly in regards to the Authorization to Use Military Force:

The authorization for the use of force doesn’t say anything about electronic surveillance, issue was never raised with the Congress. And there is a specific statute on the books, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which says flatly that you can’t undertake that kind of surveillance without a court order.
AP has more.

 

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