Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts said he has worked out an agreement with the White House to change U.S. law regarding the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program and provide more information about it to Congress.
"We are trying to get some movement, and we have a clear indication of that movement," Roberts, R-Kan., said.
Without offering specifics, Roberts said the agreement with the White House provides "a fix" to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and offers more briefings to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The deal comes as the committee was set to have a meeting Thursday about whether to open an investigation into the hotly disputed program. Roberts indicated the deal may eliminate the need for such an inquiry. Democrats have been demanding an investigation but some Republicans don't want to tangle the panel in a testy election-year probe.
Well, yes and no. According to US News & World Report, Democrats aren't that eager for a "testy election-year probe" either ... not given the perception in fly-over land of their national security stances. That doesn't mean, however, that they're not going to take some action. However, it most likely won't be in a high-profile probe:
But by week's end, their [Democrats] spirited attack on the formerly secret effort that authorizes the National Security Agency to intercept international phone calls and E-mails originating in the United States already seemed a distant memory. Even a top Democratic Senate staffer acknowledged that the party isn't looking for a political win on the issue—a wash, he said, will do.
Though the NSA issue may be a political nonstarter for Democrats (polling finds consistent public support for antiterrorism surveillance), it certainly is not dead. Lawmakers from both parties, alarmed at the administration's efforts to consolidate executive power, have called for oversight of the operation. Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, Judiciary Committee chair, is writing a bill that would allow an existing secret court to review every 45 days the surveillance conducted under the program and plans at least two more hearings on its legality. The drumbeat for accountability continues, just more quietly and with a bipartisan tone.