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DOJ reopens internal probe into domestic spying role

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility [official website] has reopened an investigation into the administration's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] after recently being granted the necessary security clearances previously denied to DOJ investigators, OPR chief H. Marshall Jarrett said in a Tuesday letter to US Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) [press release]. The internal investigation into the role DOJ lawyers played in designing the National Security Agency's domestic spying program was originally closed just months after it began in February 2006 when security clearances were denied [JURIST reports] by the NSA, with then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales saying that President Bush had blocked the investigation [JURIST report]. Hinchey has praised the reopening of the probe, saying that it indicates that newly appointed US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [official profile] understands his role as attorney general better than his predecessor.

Mukasey said in October that the Constitution does not preclude the president from wiretapping terrorism suspects without a warrant [JURIST report]. He went on to say, however, that surveillance of those within the United States required a more complex analysis of privacy interests, as recognized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text] and Protect America Act [text], but that ultimately, executive authority with regard to foreign surveillance was subject to "regulation" rather than "preemption" by the legislature. AP has more.

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