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Senate to widen scope of warrantless wiretaps investigation

[JURIST] Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said Saturday that members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] intend to expand their probe into warrantless wiretaps [JURIST report] within the US after the weekend disclosure that the National Security Agency [official website] had obtained access to the nation's telephone and Internet lines to track terrorists, in greater volumes than disclosed by the administration [JURIST report]. President Bush has authorized warrantless eavesdropping [JURIST report] on calls within the US provided agency officials can show a link to al Qaeda and as long as one end of the phone call or e-mail is outside of the US. The administration has defended the scope of the President's authority to order the eavesdropping on the basis of both his inherent constitutional power and Congress pos-9/11 authorization permitting him to use "all necessary and appropriate force" in the war against terrorism. Former House Majority Leader Tom daschle, who led the Democrats in 2001, has insisted [JURIST report] that Congress did not intend to, or even consider, giving the President such a sweeping mandate. Advocacy groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [advocacy website] argue that the collection of information from people who are not terrorists raises severe privacy concerns and could be subject to abuse by the government. The New York Times has more.

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