[JURIST] A few weeks before passing the Protect America Act 2007 [S 1927 materials; JURIST report], members of Congress were briefed by intelligence officials that intercepts of foreign-based communications had declined to 25 percent of previous levels due to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) [official backgrounder], the New York Times reported Saturday. Just days before the passage of the surveillance bill, US House Minority Leader John A Boehner (R-OH) [official website] publicly disclosed a ruling from the FISC that Boehner said restricted the ability of intelligence agencies [JURIST report] to intercept communications between suspected terrorists in foreign countries because the court required a warrant when communications passes through US-based telecommunication systems. The NYT reported that intelligence officials also told members of Congress that there was increased "chatter" between suspected terrorists.
[JURIST] The Cuban government on Friday paroled dissident Francisco Chaviano Gonzalez [Amnesty backgrounder], after the former president of the Cuban National Council for Civil Rights served 13 years in prison. Chaviano was sentenced to 15 years in prison in May 1994 for allegedly "revealing state security secrets" and "falsifying public documents" by documenting cases of refugees who disappeared or died trying to flee Cuba.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which made the announcement of Chaviano's release, estimates that the number of political prisoners in detention has dropped by over 20 percent since acting president Raul Castro [BBC profile] assumed the duties of Cuban President Fidel Castro [BBC profile] on July 31, 2006. The commission said that Chaviano was one of the "longest-held prisoners of conscience in the world." AP has more.
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