FC: Politicians weigh even more surveillance powers, by Ted Bridis

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Fri Nov 30 2001 - 10:34:01 PST

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    From: "Ted Bridis" <tbridisat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Subject: More anti-terrorism legislative changes under consideration
    Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 22:20:18 -0500
    Organization: The Associated Press
    November 29, 2001
    New Surveillance Measures Considered
    Filed at 8:33 p.m. ET
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just weeks after approving powerful new
    anti-terrorism laws, some lawmakers already are considering giving the
    government new police powers to make it easier to obtain special
    wiretaps and search warrants usually reserved for finding foreign spies.
    The new changes would allow government agents to secretly request
    wiretaps even if details about the target of the surveillance, such as
    his identity or the location of his phone, aren't known. They also would
    allow agents to make broader demands for most business records, as long
    as the documents were related to an investigation.
    Another change, which lawmakers considered but rejected on Wednesday,
    would have permitted the United States to invoke a powerful
    anti-espionage law even in cases against individual foreigners. That law
    is currently reserved for cases against people working as spies for
    foreign governments or other foreign organizations.
    A fourth change, still under consideration, would give the government up
    to three days to seek a judge's approval for warrants after
    investigators conduct a search or wiretap in emergencies. The government
    currently must obtain a judge's permission after 24 hours.
    The changes, under consideration by House and Senate members working on
    the intelligence bill that would set the budget for the CIA, would
    affect a powerful 1978 anti-espionage law, the Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act. Under that law, a secret U.S. court considers requests
    for searches or wiretaps, and these generally require a lower standard
    of proof for approval than in traditional criminal cases.
    The Justice Department characterized the changes being sought as narrow,
    technical amendments to the surveillance act. House and Senate oversight
    committees had urged intelligence agencies and the Justice Department to
    suggest changes to the law, according to people familiar with the
    process. Five proposals, including the one lawmakers rejected, came from
    Justice lawyers.
    ``It is perfectly normal that committees will reach out to executive
    agencies for input about changes they want to make and language that
    facilitates that,'' Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden said.
    ``In this case, the intelligence committees reached out to the Justice
    Department for technical guidance.''
    Civil liberties groups cautioned that the changes were substantive and
    considerably broadened police powers.
    ``This is a significant expansion of electronic surveillance in the
    United States,'' said Jerry Berman, head of the Washington-based Center
    for Democracy and Technology. ``It's only been a month or so, and
    they're already asking for expansions.''
    The change rejected by lawmakers would have allowed the surveillance law
    to be used against ``a foreign individual,'' according to draft language
    by the Justice Department, which was obtained Thursday by The Associated
    Press. Justice lawyers wrote that otherwise restricting use of the
    espionage law ``limits the ability of the president to use this statute
    against ... hijackers or other terrorists without affiliation or known
    affiliation with a specific group or foreign state.''
    People familiar with the considerations, speaking only on condition of
    anonymity, said lawmakers considered the change too substantive to be
    included among technical amendments and decided Wednesday afternoon not
    to consider it further, at least until next year.
    Another change would add the phrase ``if known'' to the requirement for
    wiretap approvals of identifying the location of a target's electronic
    communications. Justice lawyers said the change would be useful in cases
    of wireless telephones or e-mail accounts, ``where the facility to be
    monitored is typically not known in advance.''
    Reacting to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress under the new
    Patriot Act gave government agents broad new powers to detain
    immigrants, eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mails and share sensitive
    details of criminal investigations with the CIA.
    President Bush signed the Patriot Act on Oct. 26.
    Among other things, the law permits U.S. prosecutors to invoke the
    anti-espionage law even when the primary focus of their investigation
    isn't spying by a foreign government. It also makes it legal for
    investigators to pass sensitive information about criminal cases to
    intelligence agencies.
    The intelligence bill, which is largely classified, provides funding and
    some policy guidance to the 13 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the
    CIA and the National Security Agency. Its total amount is secret but
    thought to be around $30 billion annually. The House and Senate have
    already passed separate versions of the bill, which contain large
    increases for the agencies. 
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