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Coats' NSA inspector general proposal clears panel

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved an amendment by Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., that would establish an independent inspector general for the National Security Agency.

His amendment was part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Improvements Act passed Thursday by the committee, of which Coats is a member.

"A series of leaks diminished the public's trust in the NSA and the intelligence community that must be repaired through greater transparency and even stronger oversight," Coats said Friday in a statement.

Currently, the NSA inspector general is appointed by the spy agency's director. Under Coats' amendment, the inspector general official would be nominated by the president and require confirmation by the Senate.

Inspectors general are responsible for inspections, audits and investigations of federal agencies to ensure they comply with laws and regulations and to detect fraud, waste and mismanagement.

"My amendment will ensure Congress and the American people have a reliable, independent oversight partner within the NSA that can only be hired and fired by the president and Congress rather than the head of the agency he or she oversees," Coats said.

An independent inspector general would take office when the current inspector general leaves or a new NSA director takes office, whichever occurs first, according to Coats' proposal.

The FISA Improvements Act, which the Intelligence Committee passed by an 11-4 vote, contains a number of provisions meant to limit the reach of the NSA and increase privacy protections for Americans.

It would impose restrictions on the collection of and access to data, require additional reporting by the agency to Congress and establish criminal penalties for unauthorized access to FISA information.

bfrancisco@jg.net

Also

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., will deliver the Republican Party's weekly address today in response to President Barack Obama's radio and Internet address. The text of Coats' remarks will be available at www.journalgazette.net after 6.a.m. today.

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