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Specter demands administration cooperation in drafting domestic spying rules

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official profile] said on Sunday that he plans to demand hearings and issue subpoenas for telephone company executives to discuss the program of disclosing public calling records [JURIST report] to the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] if the White House fails to cooperate with Congress in devising rules for domestic surveillance [JURIST news archive]. Specter is pushing for a federal court investigation of whether the program is unconstitutional and for new rules that would clearly state the standards and processes for domestic spying. Specter also said he was hopeful that subpoenas would not be necessary after meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, who has previously suggested that the NSA surveillance program requires no additional legal framework to be constitutional [JURIST report].

Last week, Specter sent a letter [PDF text; JURIST report] to Cheney accusing him of interfering with his plan to subpoena telephone companies regarding the NSA program. On Thursday, Specter introduced a new NSA oversight bill [JURIST report] that creates a reasonable person standard for authorizing warrantless wiretapping of any person "reasonably believed" to be associated with terrorism. The compromise bill modifies his earlier proposal [JURIST report] to require the NSA to seek Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FJC backgrounder] approval before conducting surveillance. AP has more.

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