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Justice Dept., NYPD Tussle Over FISA Warrants

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Justice Department officials in Washington have clashed with New York City police over terrorism surveillance operations, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey have disagreed about the legal standards required for getting warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with Kelly demanding faster turnaround from Justice Department prosecutors who process the applications and others wanting more time to make sure the requests are legally airtight, the sources said.

More than 2,000 applications to monitor the communications of people inside the United States moved through the government and met with approval from a secret court based in Washington last year, department statistics show.

In a statement yesterday, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said that "disagreements inevitably arise during the course of investigations" but that federal authorities continue to work closely with New York police through a terrorism task force in the region.

Kelly spokesman Paul Browne declined to comment, but a law enforcement official reported that New York investigators had noticed improvements in processing warrant applications since the complaints surfaced in Washington.

-- Carrie Johnson and Spencer S. Hsu

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