NY Times baselessly reported that Democrats "have called for the [FISA] law to be revamped"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In an article about potential congressional hearings on the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, The New York Times reported that "Democrats and a growing number of Republicans [who] say the eavesdropping violates" the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) "have called for the law to be revamped." But the article did not cite any Democrats who have expressed this view, and the available evidence suggests otherwise.

In a February 17 article by reporters Eric Lichtblau and Sheryl Gay Stolberg about potential congressional hearings on the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, The New York Times reported that "Democrats and a growing number of Republicans [who] say the eavesdropping violates" the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) "have called for the law to be revamped." But the article did not cite any Democrats who have expressed this view, and the available evidence suggests otherwise.

As the Times article noted, Senate Democrats -- led by Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) -- have pushed for a "full-scale investigation" into the warrantless surveillance program, including whether the program complies with FISA. Rockefeller's approach stands in stark contrast to that of Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), who has said he opposes an investigation, and has instead suggested he favors exploring a legislative approach to resolving any legal conflicts between FISA and the administration's program.

Moreover, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has openly opposed amending the FISA law to accommodate the administration's warrantless surveillance, stating that the program "should fit under FISA as currently drafted." From the February 12 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:

HARMAN: Let's -- let's understand that our Constitution really is the issue here. The Fourth Amendment requires probable cause to listen and seize property of Americans. Every one of us wants to catch Al Qaeda and its affiliates. All of us want the president to have the tools. I just voted again for the Patriot Act. I believe we need modern tools. And, oh, by the way, FISA was modernized eight times in the Patriot Act after 2001. It is not a quaint, little, old thing that doesn't work here. It can work here, and I think the entire program should fit under FISA as currently drafted. We don't even need to amend FISA.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Domestic Spying
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
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