[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced Wednesday that it has limited electronic surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website]. The annoucement [AP report] comes after the NSA was found to have exceeded its legal authority [NYT report] in reviewing private communication between US citizens. The DOJ said that it has taken "comprehensive steps" toward eliminating the problem, and that the information coming from the surveillance is still important. After the DOJ was satisfied that the issues were resolved, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile; JURIST news archive] sought to extend the program with the national security court. Chairwoman of the Senate Select Intelligence on Committee [official website] Diane Feinstein (D-CA) [official profile] said on Thursday that the committee is concerned [NYT report] with the allegations, and will hold a hearing to review the matter within the next month.
Electronic surveillance by the NSA has been criticized over the last several years. In February, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] denied [JURIST report] an appeal by the DOJ seeking to stop a lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by an Islamic charity alleging it was the subject of an illegal wiretap by the NSA. Last October, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence also investigated [JURIST report] allegations made by two members of the US military that the NSA eavesdropped on the personal conversations of members of the military and humanitarian aid workers stationed in the Middle East. In 2006, it was revealed that the NSA [JURIST report] was collecting phone records from major telephone companies to study the calling patterns of millions of Americans in an effort to detect terrorist activity.