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Federal judges support Specter surveillance supervision bill at hearing

[JURIST] Five federal judges experienced with surveillance requests appeared [hearing notice] Tuesday before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in support of committee chairman Arlen Specter's proposal [JURIST report] to require the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret panel established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text], to conduct regular reviews of the National Security Administration's warrantless surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. The five, all former members of the FISA court, said they were unfamiliar with the latest NSA program, but insisted that the court has struck the correct balance between civil liberties and national security concerns since its establishment and would continue to do so. Specter's proposed bill would also require the NSA to obtain a judicial warrant under FISA before conducting any domestic surveillance.

A group of Republican Senators led by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) have introduced a competing bill [JURIST report; PDF text] that would permit warrantless wiretapping for 45 days before court approval is required. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has also introduced a resolution to censure President Bush [JURIST report] over the program, which will be the focus of Judiciary Committee hearing [JURIST report] Friday. Read Judiciary Committee Ranking Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy's statement at today's hearing. AP has more.

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