Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An interesting WaPo story on the debate over wire-tapping law in Congress. The White House seems to back one proposal:

The proposal, submitted by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to congressional leaders on Friday, would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for the first time since 2006 so that a court order would no longer be needed before wiretapping anyone "reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States."

It would also give the attorney general sole authority to order the interception of communications for up to one year as long as he certifies that the surveillance is directed at a person outside the United States.

But the Democratic leadership would prefer another:

Democratic lawmakers favor a narrower approach that would allow the government to wiretap foreign terrorists talking to other foreign terrorists overseas without a warrant if the communication is routed through the United States. They are also willing to give the administration some latitude to intercept foreign-to-domestic communications as long as there is oversight by the FISA court.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) suggested yesterday that a compromise could be reached this week. "The only question," he told reporters, "is how much involvement the attorney general will have" in approving the wiretapping "as compared to the FISA court itself."

There's some debate over what the details of each plan may entail--and some controversy over the role of the FISA court.