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FBI director refuses to discuss domestic spying program in Senate hearing

[JURIST] FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile] refused to answer questions Wednesday during an FBI oversight hearing [meeting materials; Mueller statement] before the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] about the administration's domestic spying program [JURIST news archive], saying the information is classified. Mueller, who acknowledged that information about the program had been divulged to congressional intelligence committees, claimed that the classified status of the materials prevented its disclosure to the panel in response to questions about the efficacy of domestic surveillance. Mueller listed several plots thwarted by the intelligence community, including an Ohio trucker's plan to detonate explosives on the Brooklyn Bridge and plans to attack synagogues in Los Angeles, but declined to attribute the information to domestic spying. Several senators contended that the failure to provide specific data about the program hindered the panel's ability to properly assess the FBI, while Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] expressed concern [statement] that the program's secrecy threatened civil liberties of American citizens.

Mueller also lobbied the panel for the expansion of search and surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (text) and for greater leeway in attaining subpoenas for suspected terrorism. AP has more.

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