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Lawmaker tells lawyers group Bush wiretapping program illegal

[JURIST] Rep. Jane Harman [official website], ranking Democrat on the US House Intelligence Committee [official website] and initially a supporter of the Patriot Act and President Bush's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive], told a gathering of the American Bar Association [official website] Friday that "the program continues in violation of the law." While in January she called the program "essential to US national security," Harman said in her latest speech "I want the intelligence community to intercept the communications of terrorists. But it is not exempt from following the law and the Constitution." She also said the current administration was skirting legal guidelines in its operation of the wiretapping program. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.

In April, Harman voted against the 2007 Intelligence Authorization Bill [text, PDF] that would have set the wiretaps on a sounder legal footing, declaring in a statement then:

I voted ‘no’ on an Intelligence Authorization bill to send the strong signal that I oppose the legal rationale offered by the Bush Administration for the NSA domestic surveillance program. I support the capability to track Al Qaeda terrorists and monitor their communications. But all electronic surveillance must comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment.
Late last year, President Bush admitted [New York Times report] that the NSA was monitoring telephone calls and e-mails of individuals suspected of being involved with the al Qaeda terrorist network if one of the individuals was communicating from outside the US.

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