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Senate Report Reveals Few Details About Warrantless Wiretap Program

Telecommunications companies that assisted the government's warrantless-surveillance program after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks relied on periodic letters bearing the legal endorsement of the attorney general, and in one case the authorization of the White House legal counsel, according to a Senate intelligence report (PDF) released Friday. The report, which accompanies and explains the reasons behind the Senate Intelligence Committee's approval of an update to the law that oversees government intelligence surveillance activities, gives incremental new details of how the White House deployed a now contentious program run by the National Security Agency without seeking court warrants. The committee's update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, contains a clause granting legal immunity to telecom providers that assisted the program, a measure that has met with strong opposition from other members of Congress.

Details on Surveillance Released, Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2007.