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Limited domestic spying briefings "inconsistent with the law": CRS report

[JURIST] The non-partisan Congressional Research Service [official website], the public-policy research arm of the Library of Congress [official website], called the Bush administration's limited briefings on the NSA domestic spying program [JURIST news archive] "inconsistent with the law" in a report released to the House Intelligence Committee [official website] on Wednesday. The report, requested by committee member Jane Harman (D-CA) [committee profile; official website], says that the National Security Act of 1947 [text] would appear to require the administration to brief more people than the so-called "Gang of Eight", comprised of the Republican and Democrat leaders of the House and Senate and of the Intelligence Committees. According to the CRS analysis [PDF text], the 1947 law requires that committees be kept "fully and currently informed" of intelligence activities but allows notification of "covert actions" to be limited to the Gang of Eight. The CRS concluded that the NSA program does not seem to be a covert action, though the report also explores possible defenses to the White House's limited briefings, including an argument that the mere discussion of the NSA program could expose intelligence sources and methods to disclosure. Harman has previously asserted that the administration's limited briefings violated the law [JURIST report]. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing [notice] on the spying program for February 6. The New York Times has more.

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