BUSH WON’T REAUTHORIZE EAVESDROPPING
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush has decided not to renew a program of domestic spying on terrorism suspects, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Wednesday, ending an law-enforcement tactic criticized for infringing on civil liberties.
“The president has determined not to reauthorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program when the current authorization expires,” Gonzales wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.
Bush has reauthorized the program every 45 days, and the current authorization is mid-cycle, a senior Justice Department official said. Gonzales said a recent secret-court approval allowed the government to act effectively without the program.
The program, adopted after the September 11 attacks, allowed the government to eavesdrop on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens without a warrant, if those wiretaps were made to track suspected al Qaeda operatives.
Critics have said the program violated the U.S. Constitution and a 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which made it illegal to spy on U.S. citizens in the United States without the approval of the special surveillance court.
“Any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” Gonzales said.