President Bush is calling on Congress to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to let the government monitor overseas terror suspects without warrants. Two lawmakers discuss the proposal.
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Ever since 9/11, the Bush administration has argued for greater freedom to electronically eavesdrop on terror suspects. But this week, there is new urgency, as it pushes Congress to allow it to intercept overseas communications that are routed through the United States. That is complicated by the 30-year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which requires prior court approval for wiretaps that have a domestic component.
Two views now on the issue from Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and from Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.
Representative Hoekstra, to you first. I know you've been in meetings on this much of today. The Bush administration asking for permission to listen in on phone calls and e-mails between terrorists under what circumstances?
REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R), Michigan: Well, really, it — you know, we just came out of a two-hour briefing with the director, McConnell, and it's very clear that, when we are talking about foreign intelligence on foreign terrorists who are overseas, there's unanimity. Everybody, I think, that was in that meeting today, Republicans and Democrats, believe that we should be collecting on that information.
That is exactly what the Bush administration is asking for: targeting foreign terrorists overseas and that we ought to be able to collect on those individuals. If we're collecting on an American, the administration is very clear: collecting on Americans, you need to go to a court and get a warrant.