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Senate Commerce Members Seek FISA, Patriot Act Accounting

In yet more fallout from the government's surveillance of their citizen's communications, a bipartisan group of nine members of the Senate judiciary Committee has called on the inspector general of the intelligence community to provide a "full accounting" of that surveillance.

They urged a comprehensive review of how the government is using, and perhaps misusing, FISA and the Patriot Act authority. That includes whether any of that collection was illegal or "improper" and how effective the Patriot Act and FISA powers are as tools to investigate or gather intelligence.

DOJ and other agencies have conducted their own reviews, but the senators want more. "Only your office can bring to bear an IC-wide perspective that is critical to effective oversight of these programs," they argue. "The reviews previously conducted have been more narrowly focused – as might be expected – on a specific agency."

The committee has been one of the committees taking the point in Congress on the ongoing issue of government surveillance in the wake of revelations of widespread collection of phone records and e-mails, many tied to information leaked to WikiLeaks by Eric Snowden.

They want a report to Congress by Dec. 31. Signatories to the letter were Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D- Vt.), ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Neb.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

Leahy may provide some more context on the request in a speech he is scheduled to give Tuesday at Georgetown.