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GOP: FISA's "Minimization" Procedures Can Protect Civil Liberties
Spencer Ackerman –
The House Judiciary Committee hearing on FISA is just getting underway, but one GOP line of argument is clear even before Admiral McConnell finishes his opening statement. Both Lamar Smith (R-TX), the ranking GOP leader on the committee, and, more sharply, J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), said that it's unnecessary from a privacy perspective to require warrants for surveilling persons inside the U.S. when communicating with "known terrorists." (Incidentally, the Protect America Act isn't limited to surveilling "known terrorists" overseas without a warrant.) That's because the Justice Department's "minimization" procedures for discarding unlawfully-collected communications of U.S. citizens are sufficient -- and that it would be an impossible burden for the DOJ or the National Security Agency to tell the FISA Court that someone it seeks to monitor overseas might be communicating with people inside the United States.
What are those minimization procedures, under the new Protect America Act? We're waiting to hear, since McConnell's prepared testimony is vague on this question. Maybe that's why Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) swore in McConnell and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein.