Bush Intel Chief “Discomforted”; 4th Amendment, Democracy, Rule of Law Get In Way of Gov

Brian Zick

Katherine Shrader for AP reports: President Bush's spy chief is pushing to expand the government's surveillance authority at the same time the administration is under attack for stretching its domestic eavesdropping powers.National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has circulated a draft bill that would expand the government's powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, liberalizing how that law can be used.Known as "FISA," the 1978 law was passed to allow surveillance in espionage and other foreign intelligence investigations, but still allow federal judges on a secretive panel to ensure protections for U.S. citizens — at home or abroad — and other permanent U.S. residents.The changes McConnell is seeking mostly affect a cloak-and-dagger category of warrants used to investigate suspected spies, terrorists and other national security threats. The court-approved surveillance could include planting listening devices and hidden cameras, searching luggage and breaking into homes to make copies of computer hard drives. (…) McConnell hinted at his discomfort with current laws last week during a speech before an audience of government executives, saying he worries that current laws and regulations prevent intelligence agencies from using all of their capabilities to protect the nation."That's the big challenge going forward," he said, acknowledging changes would require significant congressional debate.

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