By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 3, 2007 - President Bush has vowed to veto the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Modernization Act if it does not close gaps in intelligence-gathering methods. Speaking at FBI Headquarters here today, Bush said intelligence personnel need the right tools to prevent another terrorist attack in the United States.
Retired Navy Vice Adm. John M. "Mike" McConnell, the director of National Intelligence, said modernization of the act -- first passed in 1978 -- is urgently needed. "First, the intelligence community should not be required to obtain court orders to effectively collect foreign intelligence from foreign targets located overseas," McConnell said in a written statement released yesterday. "Simply due to technology changes since 1978, court approval should not now be required for gathering intelligence from foreigners located overseas."
The proposed changes would allow electronic surveillance to include new technologies that have risen since 1978.
McConnell said a second part of the modernization bill would protect those using the intelligence from liability. "This includes those who are alleged to have assisted the Government after September 11, 2001 and have helped keep the country safe," he wrote in the memo.
Bush said gaps in the act leave Americans vulnerable to new attacks. "The act needs to be modernized so that all of us engaged in protecting the American people say, 'We have the tools we need to protect you,'" Bush said.
Leaders in Congress have said they will work with the president to address this problem before they leave for their August recess.
Bush said that in consultation with McConnell he will assess the bill Congress delivers and decide whether it goes far enough to give intelligence professionals what they need to do their jobs. "If the answer is yes, I'll sign the bill; and if the answer is no, I'm going to veto the bill," Bush said.