Democrats to move quickly on wiretap legislation

House Democrats unveiled legislation Tuesday to rein in the Bush administration's spying activities by requiring more review from a secret court but not specific warrants when communications of U.S. citizens are intercepted.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., portrayed the bill as a compromise between giving the administration the tools to protect the country from terrorists while limiting broad powers Congress gave the White House in August under a temporary measure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"We don't think we're rolling over to the Bush administration at all," Hoyer said. "This is a carefully constructed balance."

House leaders laid out an aggressive schedule for moving the bill, with the Judiciary and Intelligence committees scheduled to mark it up Wednesday and floor action planned for next week. Two months ago, Democrats said they were forced into a corner by the administration and agreed to pass the temporary bill but planned to roll back the administration's eavesdropping powers when a permanent bill was considered.

The heart of the bill would require the administration to get a blanket warrant from the secret FISA court to monitor the phone calls or e-mails of suspected foreign terrorists when those communications pass through U.S. telecommunications networks or involve a U.S. citizen. Each blanket warrant -- or basket warrant -- would apply to a specific group of suspected foreign terrorists and be good for one year.

The administration could seek as many blanket warrants as it wanted. The administration would not be required to get a warrant to monitor the phone calls or e-mails of U.S. citizens. Instead, the administration would have to minimize the collection of communications by U.S. individuals.

Democratic aides said the FISA court would be expected to approve the administration's procedures for minimizing those communications when applying for a basket warrant. The administration would be required to get a warrant, however, if a citizen became the target of an investigation.

The bill would also give the administration emergency authority to monitor communications of foreign suspects for up to 45 days before getting approval from the FISA court. The bill's provisions would expire at the end of 2009.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.