July 29th, 2007
11:27 AM ET
9 years ago

Administration looks to push through surveillance changes

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Bush administration is looking to speed through a "significantly narrowed" group of changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act before Congress leaves Washington for its August recess.

One of them would ensure U.S. authorities could intercept on communications between suspected terrorists overseas without a warrant when those communications - due to modern technology - may travel through a switch in the United States.

According to a letter obtained by CNN, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell informed House and Senate leaders Friday that the administration is willing to temporarily shelve the broader FISA reform plan it's been advocating for months in order to immediately push through a smaller package of changes that would "close the critical gaps in our intelligence capability in the short-term."

The letter describes an "urgent" need for the intelligence community to provide warnings.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told CNN this month that the United States has seen increased activity by al Qaeda and knows al Qaeda wants to launch an attack on the United States. He also noted that the group has launched attacks in various countries during the summer months. But intelligence officials have also told CNN there is no evidence suggesting a specific threat, and none suggesting the group is more likely to strike in the summer than at any other time.

McConnell wrote in his letter, "Although my strong preference is the immediate adoption of the proposal I transmitted to Congress in April, in light of the urgency of the situation, I offer the attached significantly narrowed proposal focused on the current urgent need of the Intelligence Community to provide warning."

It was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Mrs. America

    Is the risk really significantly greater for America, or is this just a distraction from the Bush coverup and his 25% approval ratings? Who knows what to believe anymore.

    July 29, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. MCD, San Francisco, CA

    Germany & Italy already have criminal proceedings going against the U.S. for kidnapping their citizens from their streets, rendering them to other countries & torturing them... only to then let them go. Do we really want to make it easier for our government to continue to make these kinds of mistakes?

    July 29, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. J from California

    Perhaps King George should send his top cop from the Justice Department over to Congress to explain his new needs! I'm sure Alberto can convince the Congress of needed law changes!

    July 29, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  4. lipper AMERICAN

    When pathological liars tell you something bad will happen how do you believe them?

    July 29, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. lipper America

    when pathological liars tell you something bad will happen how do you believe them?

    July 29, 2007 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Dear Mrs. America:

    It must be so convenient to have your privilidges. Are you connected to CNN Top Brass? Just wondering since the rest of us are required to include our Name, City and State before our comments will be posted. And I thought that famous line, "It's Who You Know...... was just Hype! But apparently it's true!

    July 29, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Hmmm, the interesting thing is all digital networks lead to the US!

    There are routers that connect every country these days. So saying they'll only intercept traffic that reaches US routers is false because ALL traffic goes through Echelon.

    July 30, 2007 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  8. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Lets do absolutely nothing to protect the country and ignore it and it will just go away (see Clinton years).

    If this was used for any purpose other than what it is intended for I would be as upset as you fine "people" from CA.

    I know, I know, your rights are being trampled on and you will not be able to openly talk to your friends in Iran, Iraq, Syria etc, etc,I apologize for the government and I also apologize for those buildings getting in the way of the planes.

    July 30, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    "One of them would ensure U.S. authorities could intercept on communications between suspected terrorists overseas without a warrant when those communications — due to modern technology — may travel through a switch in the United States."

    This makes absolutely no sense. What does "modern technology" have to do with obtaining a warrant? Under current FISA laws you can begin surveillance IMMEDIATELY and obtain a warrant within 72 hours retroactively if need be. Why would this need to be changed? If the NSA is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of Americans that they have to spy on, then they should hire more personnel and perhaps more FISA judges. I know oversight of any kind is an anathema to this administration, but they cannot just do away with laws to protect the civil liberties of Americans simply by crying "Terrah!!!"

    "Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told CNN this month that the United States has seen increased activity by al Qaeda and knows al Qaeda wants to launch an attack on the United States. "

    Ok, well I guess after 6 years of constant fearmongering, I am just a little skeptical at this point. If they are expecting terror attacks, why are they talking to the media about it? I suspect they are trying to enact lesiglation that would attempt to render the past 5 years of law breaking moot. Don't let them get away with it congress. I wouldn't enact a damn thing until I found out the entire scope of the CURRENT warrantless wiretapping program.

    July 30, 2007 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Melinda, Texas

    Yes, our rights are being trampled on and I'm not from CA. Our forefathers died for these freedoms, and it is a sad day that there are jerks out there who do not appreciate their sacrifice.

    July 30, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Yeah – let's not do anything that might disrupt the terrorist’s efforts. How about we give them all the same civil liberties and free access to resources we enjoy in our great country:

    1) Let's allow them to keep training at our Aviation Schools.

    2) Let's let the "enemy combatants" at Gitmo to have 3 square meals, 8+ hours sleep, refrain from any derogatory remarks about their religion, and give access them access to our courts and by-pass a military tribunal.

    3) Sure – Mr Terrorist – use US cell phone satellites, US Internet access, and we'll just look the other way.

    I know you’re bent on death and destruction of America, having attacked us many times (USS Cole, World Trade Center bombings, US Embassies overseas, Twin Towers, etc) but perhaps if we just stop being so intrusive into your conversations – you’ll leave us alone.

    Uh huh – it’s ALL just fear mongering. These terrorists really are nice people – just misunderstood. Let’s hold hands and sing a healing song… Nancy and Harry, lead us off here…… kumm byyyy yaaaaaaaa

    July 30, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Sorry about the CA remark in regards to you Jon, you are not included in that kumbya singing group.

    This isn't fear mongering, this is called protecting the citizens in a POST 9-11 world and as for our forefathers who I do respect, as well as the country that I proudly served 6 years for, these times are very different than what was envisioned many years ago.

    I believe England and Scotland and others have cameras EVERYWHERE and those cameras helped capture some dirtbags recently.

    Are they trampling on their peoples rights or are they just simply protecting them?

    We adapt or DIE.

    July 30, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    No offense taken, Tom. When California repeatedly re-elects Barbara Boxer and has the worst court cicuit in the country (9th District)... California EARNS it's reputation of the home of fruits and nuts.

    Interestingly the vocal opponents to the efforts made to infiltrate and eliminate terrorists threat (those that have posted here) are from Canada and Tennesee. If the CANADIANS would put in some type of effort, we wouldn't have to keep catching the terrorists attempting to cross over from Canada to the US!

    But – since that isn't likely to happen and since the Democratic-lead congress is more interested in "hearings" than getting the job done of passing meaningful legislation, I'm tuning up the guitar for this nations soon-to-be new national anthem (kumbaya).

    July 30, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Rob, Seattle WA

    If you're reading this and still believe that 9/11 was the result of Osama and his 19 men you obviously have not done your research. Hint: It's a big LIE!! Debate me on it and I'll be happy to reveal your ignorance.

    July 31, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  15. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Please enlighten us Rob with your superior intellect, we the arrogant and misinformed await your words.

    August 1, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Jeffri, New Delhi, India

    Where has the truth gone?

    I think it went down the drain like Bush's plan to trick America into believing Terrorist plans are "being planned" as we live our lives in fear.

    August 1, 2007 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  17. pasadena, CA

    Barbara Boxer has grown up. Gotten wiser.

    As for Chertoff? He's a bushie shill. One Reichstadt wasn't enough... so they are laying the foreshadowing for another one

    August 2, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  18. nishant b.c, kathmandu,nepal

    hi, i am nishant b.c., 27 years from nepal, i have complited diploma in mechanical engineering .i want to continue my education in automotive engineering specially in vocational training like diploma or advance diploma in automotive but i couldnot do that due to my financial condition.whole world is spending lots of money in entertainment,war and many more things whicha are less important than my education but why should not i get chance to learn more , is it due to my pooverty,.everyone is talkin about human right and right on getting education so where about my right .

    August 2, 2007 12:48 am at 12:48 am |