Cheney Says Keep Courts Out Of Surveillance Before Expiry Date

LAWFUEL – Political & Legal News – Congress has been urged to expand the existing surveillance law before its expiry date on February 1, by Vice President Dick Cheney.

The hastily prepared existing law permits the US government to intercept electronic communications without warrant. The law was passed to give the government greater powers to intercept foreign communications without the necessity of a court order.

Cheney made the comments during a speech at the Heritage Foundation.

Speaking about congressional differences Cheney said the anti-terror war is “bigger than the quarrels of party and the agendas of politicians.”

He referred to the intelligence community’s need to carry out surveillance to defend the country, he also said “updated FISA law should be made permanent, not merely extended again.”

In August, Congress hastily approved at request of President George W. Bush’s administration a new law, the Protect American Act, or an update to the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to allow the government temporarily having more power to intercept foreign communications without a court order even involving Americans.

However, Bush still asked Congress to make the Protect American Act a permanent and expanded law before it is expired in six months, but was opposed by many Democrats, who hope to change the law to provide additional oversight when the authorities eavesdrops on U.S. citizens communicating with foreign parties.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed on Tuesday to extend the Protect America Act without expanding it, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

The core of the controversy is whether the wireless surveillance program violated provisions of the original FISA law that requires warrants for wiretaps whenever one of the parties involved in the communication resides in the United States.

“In some situations, there is no alternative to seeking assistance from the private sector. This is entirely appropriate,” he added.

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