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Democratic chairman of Intel committee says canceling NSA hearings mistake

RAW STORY
Published: March 7, 2006

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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence rejected a proposal by Vice Chairman Sen. John D. Rockefeller to conduct a Congressional review of the NSA warrantless spying program Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement released by Rockefeller's office to RAW STORY, a single line stands out: “As one of the few members of Congress who have been briefed on this program, I can honestly say the worst mistake we could make at this juncture is to legislate or attempt to amend FISA without having all the facts.”

The remainder of his statement follows.

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“Today was an important day. There was a lot at stake for our country and all Americans, but my Republican colleagues would prefer to operate in the dark.

“Without knowing all the facts, I fear that any proposed legislation could have the unintended effect of jeopardizing the potential effectiveness of the program, while at the same time granting the President unfettered authority.

“Make no mistake about it, this program has the potential to be a valuable tool in the war on terror. But, it has to be done within the law, it has to have proper congressional oversight and it has to withstand judicial scrutiny.

“Last week, I spent six and half hours at the NSA going over the answers to 450 legal and operational questions I submitted. It was important for me to gain a more complete knowledge of the program and it was important for me to share with my colleagues the relevant questions we should be answering.

“As one of the few members of Congress who have been briefed on this program, I can honestly say the worst mistake we could make at this juncture is to legislate or attempt to amend FISA without having all the facts.”



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