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Specter: Bush Conditionally OKs Wiretap Review


A top U.S. lawmaker says President Bush has conditionally agreed to let a federal court review the administration's controversial wiretapping program.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, said Mr. Bush agreed to sign a bill authorizing the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the program's legality, but only if the measure is not changed by lawmakers if and when they approve it.

Mr. Bush had previously argued he had the authority to bypass the secret court because of his powers as a wartime president.

Specter said the change means the president recognizes he does not have a "blank check" in fighting terrorism. The senator described the measure as balancing security needs with privacy concerns.

Shortly after the September, 2001 terror attacks, the administration began monitoring the international calls and e-mails of people in the United States when suspected terrorists were involved. President Bush vehemently defended the program after it was revealed by the media.

Democrats and some Republicans, including Specter, expressed grave concerns that the warrantless eavesdropping violated the U.S. constitution.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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