Surveillance tools are being used appropriately

Sunday, March 13, 2011; 7:55 PM

Michael V. Hayden and Michael B. Mukasey do a disservice to an honest debate about national security ["In Senate bill, anti-terrorism tools at risk," op-ed, March 10] when they claim that proposed legislation will "eliminate" surveillance tools authorized by the Patriot Act, as well as with their assertion that these provisions have not been misused. On the contrary, the bill reauthorizes all of these provisions and conforms current law to track actual practice. We have made certain, and confirmed with the Justice Department and intelligence community, that this bill does not hamper intelligence operations or investigations.

The authors' claim that the provisions of the Senate bill will rebuild "the wall" between intelligence-gathering and criminal investigation is wrong and contrary to testimony and briefings before Congress. So is the suggestion that this legislation will cause intelligence agencies to be less aggressive in preventing terrorist attacks or arresting spies. The Senate bill will give the American people confidence that surveillance tools are being used appropriately and within the parameters of the Constitution. That is the responsible way to protect national security and to maximize public support.

Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein, Washington

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is chairman of the Senate intelligence committee.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company