Page 2 of 2   <      

Probe Sought on NSA Surveillance

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on "Fox News Sunday" that Bush "has gone to great lengths to make certain that he is both living under his obligations to protect Americans from another attack but also to protect their civil liberties."

Several lawmakers were not so sure. They pointed to a 1978 federal law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which provides for domestic surveillance under extreme situations, but only with court approval.

Specter said he wants Bush's advisers to cite their legal authority for bypassing the courts. Bush said the attorney general and White House counsel's office had affirmed the legality of his actions.

Appearing with Specter on CNN's "Late Edition," Feingold said Bush is accountable for the program, regardless of whether congressional leaders were notified. "It doesn't matter if you tell everybody in the whole country if it's against the law," said Feingold, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used in a manner "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." He said it targets only international communications of people inside the United States with "a clear link" to al Qaeda or related terrorist organizations.

Government officials have refused to define the standards they are using to establish such a link or to say how many people are being monitored.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) called that troubling. If Bush is allowed to decide unilaterally who the potential terrorists are, in essence he becomes the court, Graham said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We are at war, and I applaud the president for being aggressive," said Graham, who also called for a congressional review. "But we cannot set aside the rule of law in a time of war."

<       2

© 2005 The Washington Post Company