Frist: ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ new spy laws’

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, standing firmly with the White
House on the administration’s eavesdropping program, said Sunday he
doesn’t think new or updated legislation is needed to govern domestic
surveillance to foil terrorists.

“I don’t think that it does need
to be rewritten, but we are holding hearings in the Judiciary Committee
right now,” Frist said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Frist also said
he didn’t think a court order is needed before eavesdropping, under the
program, occurs. “Does it have to be thrown over to the courts? I don’t
think so. I personally don’t think so,” he said.

Critics argue
the program, run by the National Security Agency, sidesteps the 1978
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prohibits domestic
eavesdropping without a warrant from a special intelligence court.

NSA program _ it has to comply with the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, and it has to comply with the Fourth Amendment,”
which guarantees protection against unreasonable searches, California
Rep. Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee,
said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

Some lawmakers are drafting
legislation to change FISA, and Sen. Pat Roberts, the Republican
chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he has worked out
an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide
more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program.

insisting the program is legal and setting the bar high on any possible
legislative changes, White House officials recently signaled they are
willing to work with Congress if it feels that further “codification”
of the law is needed. A White House spokesman declined to comment
further on the issue on Sunday.

White House officials are
discussing a proposal by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, that would more
specifically OK warrantless domestic surveillance, but give lawmakers
more oversight.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Lindsey
Graham, R-S.C., said there is bipartisan consensus on Congress to make
FISA, which was written in the 1970s, more flexible, establish more
congressional oversight into such surveillance and preserve judicial
review, or the need for a warrant in certain cases.

“I do believe
we can provide oversight in a meaningful way without compromising the
program, and I am adamant that the courts have some role when it comes
to warrants,” Graham said. “If you’re going to follow an American
citizen around for an extended period of time believing they’re
collaborating with the enemy, at some point in time, you need to get
some judicial review, because mistakes can be made.”

Sen. Evan
Bayh, D-Ind., told Fox that it’s in the Bush administration’s interest
to make sure there is a neutral party overseeing the program.
“Otherwise, you’re going to have a number of Americans out there who
incorrectly think that (former FBI Director) J. Edgar Hoover has been
brought back to life and that there could be abuses taking place.”

© 2006 The Associated Press