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ABA calls on administration to comply with Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act in domestic surveillance

(ABA news release)
CHICAGO, Feb. 13, 2006 - The House of Delegates of the American Bar Association today voted overwhelmingly to urge the Bush Administration to comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by seeking court orders for domestic wiretaps in terrorism investigations, or seek amendments to the act if needed to protect national security.

In a letter to President George W. Bush, ABA President Michael S. Greco said "We join with you in the conviction that terrorism must be fought with the utmost vigor, but we also believe we must ensure this fight is conducted in a manner reflective of the highest American values." He noted the bipartisan ABA task force that proposed the policy included a former FBI director, and a former general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.

The association's policy-making body adopted a six-part recommendation, calling on the President to abide by constitutional checks and balances to ensure that national security is protected consistent with constitutional guarantees, and opposing any future electronic surveillance inside the United States by any government agency for foreign intelligence purposes that does not comply with FISA warrant requirements.

The recommendation urged Congress to affirm that the 2001 Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force did not create a statutory exception to FISA warrant requirements, and to conduct a thorough, comprehensive inquiry into the nature and extent of U.S. governmental electronic surveillance of U.S. persons that does not comply with FISA. It urged that inquiry be conducted in public, except to the extent necessary to prevent disclosing classified information, and it urged Congress to thoroughly review its own intelligence oversight process.

Neal Sonnett of Miami, chair of the ABA's Task Force on Domestic Surveillance in the Fight Against Terrorism, noted the proposals do not say that electronic surveillance should be stopped, only that it should comply with the law.

"We are not trying to limit the President's ability to go after terrorists. All of us want to give the President every tool he needs," said Sonnett. He added, "We stand shoulder to shoulder with the President in the fight against terrorism," but must not forfeit our freedom in that fight.

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