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White House deal says FISA court will review NSA spying

News coverage:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/14/washington/14nsa.html

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Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
For Immediate Release: Friday, July 14, 2006

Proposed Surveillance Bill Would Sweep NSA Spying Programs
Under the Rug

Bill Threatens Future of EFF Case and Other Legal
Challenges

San Francisco - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen
Specter said today that he has negotiated a proposed bill
with the White House regarding the NSA's illegal spying
program.  While the final bill is not public, a draft of
the bill obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF) is a sham compromise that would cut off meaningful
legal review -- sweeping current legal challenges out of
the traditional court system and failing to require court
review or congressional oversight of any future
surveillance programs.

"This so-called compromise bill is not a concession from
the White House -- it's a rubber stamp for any future
spying program dreamed up by the executive," said EFF Staff
Attorney Kevin Bankston.  "In essence, this bill threatens
to make court oversight of electronic surveillance
voluntary rather than mandatory."

Although the bill creates a process for the executive
branch to seek court review of its secret surveillance
programs, it doesn't actually require the government to do
so.  The bill would, however, require that any lawsuit
challenging the legality of any classified surveillance
program -- including EFF's class-action suit against AT&T
-- be transferred, at the government's request, to the FISA
Court of Review, a secret court with no procedures for
hearing argument from anyone but the government.  The bill
would further allow the government to prevent the court
from disclosing any information about the government's
surveillance programs to opposing counsel, regardless of
the court's strict security procedures.

"When the privacy of millions of Americans is at stake, we
deserve more than a closed hearing by a secret court," said
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien.

For the draft of the Specter bill:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/NSA/specter_draftbill_071306.pdf

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2006_07.php#004824

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
liberties organization working to protect rights in the
digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
challenges industry and government to support free
expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported
organization and maintains one of the most linked-to
websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/


      -end-

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jul 14, 2006 in category privacy


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