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Surveillance Law Meant to Curb Spying, not Boost It, Senators Say



     MANHATTAN (CN) - Walter Mondale and another former senator who crafted the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act want to join in the fight against the National Security Agency's spying powers.
     The so-called Church Committee, which published 14 reports on U.S. intelligence agencies and their operations, formed as members of Congress learned about the abuses of power in the Nixon administration.
     With an 11-member panel comprised of six Democrats and five Republicans, the committee recommended the creation of a secret tribunal in a room of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, tasked with overseeing the spying powers of intelligence agencies.

     NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden brought scrutiny to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), as it came to be known, this past June by disclosing a top-secret court order it issued that forces Verizon to "turn over, every day, metadata about the calls made by each of its subscribers over the three-month period ending on July 19, 2013." Critics have since pilloried FISC as a rubber-stamp for broad spying on U.S. citizens.

     Litigation over the order has also taken root across the country, including an indictment against Snowden in Virginia, a swell of activity at the FISC in Washington, and lawsuits seeking to restrain the program in New York and California.

     In Manhattan, the American Civil Liberties Union and its New York affiliate filed a federal complaint that asks a federal judge to declare the "dragnet" surveillance unconstitutional and issue an injunction to stop it.

Mondale, the Minnesota Democrat who served as vice president under Jimmy Carter, joined former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., and more than a dozen law professors seeking to help the ACLU in court on Friday.

     The 44-page filing contains a preview of the historical context they wish to share with U.S. District Judge William Pauley, whom they want to restrain the NSA's power.

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