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.

    “This
    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.

    While
    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