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NSA Stymies Justice Dept. Spying Probe

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060511/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/domestic_spying;_ylt=ArNhZuYqQwkOCw448uAnpe6s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3OXIzMDMzBHNlYwM3MDM- NSA Stymies Justice
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060511/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/domestic_spying;_ylt=ArNhZuYqQwkOCw448uAnpe6s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3OXIzMDMzBHNlYwM3MDM-

      NSA Stymies Justice Dept. Spying Probe

      By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer Thu May 11,
      6:59 AM ET

      WASHINGTON - The government has abruptly ended an
      inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program
      because the National Security Agency refused to grant
      Justice Department lawyers the necessary security
      clearance to probe the matter.

      The Justice Department's Office of Professional
      Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice
      Hinchey (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., on
      Wednesday saying they were closing their inquiry
      because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine
      Justice lawyers' role in the program.

      "We have been unable to make any meaningful progress
      in our investigation because OPR has been denied
      security clearances for access to information about
      the NSA program," OPR counsel H. Marshall Jarrett
      wrote to Hinchey. Hinchey's office shared the letter
      with The Associated Press.

      Jarrett wrote that beginning in January, his office
      has made a series of requests for the necessary
      clearances. Those requests were denied Tuesday.

      "Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this
      matter and therefore have closed our investigation,"
      wrote Jarrett.

      Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the
      terrorist surveillance program "has been subject to
      extensive oversight both in the executive branch and
      in Congress from the time of its inception."

      Roehrkasse noted the OPR's mission is not to
      investigate possible wrongdoing in other agencies, but
      to determine if Justice Department lawyers violated
      any ethical rules. He declined to comment when asked
      if the end of the inquiry meant the agency believed
      its lawyers had handled the wiretapping matter
      ethically.

      Hinchey is one of many House Democrats who have been
      highly critical of the domestic eavesdropping program
      first revealed in December. He said lawmakers would
      push to find out who at the NSA denied the Justice
      Department lawyers security clearance.

      "This administration thinks they can just violate any
      law they want, and they've created a culture of fear
      to try to get away with that. It's up to us to stand
      up to them," said Hinchey.

      In February, the OPR announced it would examine the
      conduct of its own agency's lawyers in the program,
      though they were not authorized to investigate NSA
      activities.

      Bush's decision to authorize the largest U.S. spy
      agency to monitor people inside the United States,
      without warrants, generated a host of questions about
      the program's legal justification.

      The administration has vehemently defended the
      eavesdropping, saying the NSA's activities were
      narrowly targeted to intercept international calls and
      e-mails of Americans and others inside the U.S. with
      suspected ties to the al-Qaida terror network.

      Separately, the Justice Department sought last month
      to dismiss a federal lawsuit accusing the telephone
      company AT&T of colluding with the Bush
      administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

      The lawsuit, brought by an Internet privacy group,
      does not name the government as a defendant, but the
      Department of Justice has sought to quash the lawsuit,
      saying it threatens to expose government and military
      secrets.

      ___

      On the Net:

      Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility:
      http://www.usdoj.gov/opr/index.html

      National Security Agency: http://www.nsa.gov/home_html.cfm
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