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Specter considering legislation to block funding for NSA domestic wiretaps

[JURIST] US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website], chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website], said Thursday that he is considering proposing legislation that would suspend funding for the NSA domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] if the Bush administration continues "walking all over Congress." Specter said that he is unsatisfied with the answers on the program that administration officials have provided during public hearings and said that he is considering proposing an amendment to a spending bill currently being debated by the Senate. Specter also questioned whether the administration would comply with increased congressional oversight, saying "we have no assurance that the president would follow any statute that we enact." During a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) [official website] accused US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] of "stonewalling" the committee [JURIST report] by repeatedly refusing to answer questions about the program. Gonzales had said he couldn't answer questions during the hearing due the program's classified nature.

Specter's comments come the day after the US House passed [roll call vote] the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 [HR 5020 summary], which authorizes appropriations and increases funding for intelligence activities carried out by the NSA, CIA, FBI and other departments. In passing the bill, the House blocked an amendment, the NSA Oversight Act [HR 4976 summary], which would have clarified that Congress did not intend to authorize or approve domestic surveillance in its 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force [text] and would have required the administration to disclose more information about its use of warrantless surveillance. AP has more.

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