Thursday, December 07, 2006

Democrats Want Oversight Of Counterterrorism Programs

This is encouraging:

Leading Senate Democrats put the Bush administration on notice Wednesday that they intended to press for a fuller accounting on a wide range of counterterrorism programs, including wiretapping, data-mining operations and the interrogation and treatment of detainees.

Democrats have appeared divided at times over how aggressively to challenge the administration on its terrorism policies, in part because of concerns that they risked playing into Republican accusations that they were soft on terrorism.

But Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who will take over next month as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made clear at a committee hearing Wednesday that he wanted to investigate actively the effectiveness and legality of many programs.

"The administration's gone to unprecedented lengths to hide its own activities from the public while at the same time collecting an unprecedented amount of data on private citizens," Mr. Leahy told Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As the sole witness at the hearing, Mr. Mueller bore the brunt of the Democrats' criticism. But their sharp questions often went well beyond the F.B.I.'s purview, delving into areas like the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program, the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogations of Qaeda suspects and the Department of Homeland Security's use of profiling scores to assess the risks posed by travelers.

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