News

    Domestic Spying Controversy Debated in Congress

    Multimedia

    Audio

    There has been more heated debate in Congress over President Bush's approval of a program to spy on communications between suspected terrorists in the United States and those overseas. The Bush administration defends the wiretapping, saying a congressional resolution passed after the September 11, 2001, attacks gave the president authority to approve the wiretaps. But a key Senate Republican says the administration's justifications must be subjected to closer scrutiny.

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is drafting legislation designed to clarify and protect Congress' constitutional powers regarding the spying program. Congress passed a law in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, forbidding domestic surveillance without a court's permission.

    Specter said Wednesday that he has scheduled a hearing on the issue for the end of this month. He said he expects the legislation to be ready by mid-March.

    "I am prepared to go in any direction which will submit the [Bush] administration's program to a specific analysis on constitutionality, with all the details on the table, for the people to review who are charged with having that oversight or that determination," said Specter.

    Specter wants the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which President Bush bypassed in approving the program, to conduct reviews of the program every 45 days to ensure it is being carried out properly.

    Another Republican lawmaker is drafting separate legislation that proposes to exclude the domestic spying effort from the 1978 law covering surveillance.

    In the House Judiciary Committee, there was intense debate as opposition Democrats argued vigorously but unsuccessfully in support of requiring Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to turn over documents relevant to the wiretapping program, which was carried out by the National Security Agency.

    Allegations by Democrats that Republicans are resisting more extensive hearings and inquiries produced this exchange between the committee chairman, Republican James Sensenbrenner, and Democrat Anthony Weiner.

    Sensenbrenner: "I want to get the answers to these questions. You know I am kind of a tiger on that, but give me a break."

    Weiner: "Mr. Chairman, yes, but you're having a pussycat moment here."

    Congressman Sensenbrenner has set a March 2 deadline for the Bush administration to respond to 51 questions he sent to Attorney General Gonzales concerning the legal justifications and issues of presidential authority.

    House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi says Republicans are purposely blocking Democrat demands for wider inquiries. "Closed government is not healthy for a democracy," she said. "Yet again, another example of closed government on the part of Republicans."

    Meanwhile, a key Republican House lawmaker says huge damage was done to U.S. anti-terrorism efforts by individuals who leaked information about the domestic spying program.

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra says those who leaked the story of the wiretapping should be prosecuted.

    "There is an aggressive investigation going on as to who leaked this information, how and where it was leaked. It is my hope and expectation that we will identify those individuals who were responsible for it," he said. "They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, because America is less safe today than we were 54 days ago."

    Key House Republicans reiterated their position Wednesday that President Bush had the constitutional authority to approve the domestic spying program, which the White House maintains is narrow in scope, involving intercepts of communications between suspected terrorists in the United States and those overseas.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora