[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter [official biography] and conservative members of the committee [official website] have struck a deal on Specter's proposed bill [PDF text] to clarify the legality of the National Security Agency [official website] surveillance program [JURIST news archive], according to a Wednesday report in The Hill. Republican sources said Specter agreed to drop the bill's requirement that the Bush administration seek approval [JURIST report] for domestic spying from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, known as FISA [text].
Instead, the program could be challenged only by a plaintiff with legal standing who has actually suffered damage from the program. Because plaintiffs who lack standing are kept out of court, Specter's concession would give the administration an advantage. Under the deal, the FISA court [membership list] would retain jurisdiction over challenges to the surveillance program. The Hill has more.