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Bush wants permanent warrantless wiretap law

In a testimony before Congress on Thursday, J. Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, said public discussion of wiretapping policies costs American lives.

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Politicians are once again debating the legality of the controversial "Protect America Act," which amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow for warrantless wiretapping. The law's Feb. 1, 2008 expiration date is approaching. President George Bush and his supporters are pushing to make the law permanent. Meanwhile, opponents are raising familiar concerns about the protection of civil liberties. On Thursday, J. Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, testified before Congress that not only was the law a necessity, but that public debate about it will cost American lives by exposing American surveillance methods to the nation's enemies. Opponents in Congress were critical of Mr. McConnell's remarks.

On Wednesday, Bush visited the National Security Agency and called for support to make the Protect America Act a permanent law, reports the E-Commerce Times. The temporary act was rushed into law last month and allows US intelligence agencies to monitor phone conversations between US citizens calling suspected terrorists overseas.

"The threat from Al-Qaeda is not going to expire in 135 days," Bush warned during a Wednesday visit to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Md.
"Unless the FISA reforms in the act are made permanent, our national security professionals will lose critical tools they need to protect our country," he said. "Without these tools, it'll be harder to figure out what our enemies are doing to train, recruit and infiltrate operatives in our country. Without these tools our country will be much more vulnerable to attack."
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