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Intelligence Chief Backs Wiretap Power

Posted May 2, 2007 8:23 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The new director of national intelligence says the president has the constitutional authority to order domestic wiretaps without seeking approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

Michael McConnell told the Senate Intelligence Committee that it’s “the president’s call” whether to order surveillance without warrants, the New York Times reports.

However, he said there are no immediate plans to back off a January agreement to submit warrant requests in intelligence investigations to the court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The White House is seeking to revise the law, apparently to authorize eavesdropping on international communications routed through U.S. communications systems, the newspaper says.

Committee members said they needed more information about the spying program before expanding the president’s powers, the Associated Press reports.

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