Fri, Aug 01, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Bush approves new order for US government spying

AP , WASHINGTON

US President George W. Bush approved an order on Wednesday that rewrites the rules governing spying by the US intelligence agencies, both in the US and abroad, and strengthens the authority of the national intelligence director, according to a US official and government documents.

Executive Order 12333, which lays out the responsibilities of each of the 16 agencies, maintains the decades-old prohibitions on assassination and using unwitting human subjects for scientific experiments, a power point briefing given to Congress that was reviewed by The Associated Press said. The CIA notoriously tested LSD on human subjects in the 1950s, which was revealed by a Senate investigation in 1977.

The new order gives the national intelligence director, a position created in 2005, new authority over any intelligence information collected that pertains to more than one agency — an attempt to force greater information exchange among agencies traditionally reluctant to share their most prized intelligence. The order directs the attorney general to develop guidelines to allow agencies access to information held by other agencies. That could potentially include the sharing of sensitive information about Americans.

The order has been under revision for more than a year, an attempt to update a nearly 30-year-old presidential order to reflect organizational changes made in the intelligence agencies after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It was carried on in secret in the midst of pitched national debate about the appropriate balance between civil liberties and security, spurred by the president’s warrantless wiretapping program.

The briefing charts assert that the new order maintains or improves civil liberties protections for Americans.

Interest in the rewrite inside the 16 agencies has been high because it establishes what agencies’ powers and limitations will be. The briefing charts said the national intelligence director would now set the rules for engaging with foreign intelligence and security services.

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