Republican senators join Democrats to urge Specter to hold bill that could give Bush more wiretap power

Brian Beutler
Published: Wednesday September 6, 2006

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A bipartisan coalition of Senators have issued a letter to Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) urging him to hold Judiciary Committee hearings before presenting his forthcoming bill that would alter the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to bring NSA wiretapping activities into its legal purview.

The letter, obtained by RAW STORY, is signed by six senators--including Republicans Larry Craig (D-ID), John Sununu (R-NH), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). It presents their concerns that Specter’s will allow the executive branch to “conduct wiretaps and physical searches without the court orders currently required by FISA,” and to “authorize ‘program warrants.'”

Specter’s bill, as RAW STORY reported last week, has been the subject of wide criticism from Democrats and civil libertarians alike for its provisions that would weaken FISA measures designed to protect Americans from domestic surveillance.

Republican Senate sources told RAW STORY that the bill was crafted to avoid presidential veto, and that, though the bill does not require it, the White House has guaranteed that its NSA program will be voluntarily subjected to judicial review.

The letter appears in its entirety below.