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WASHINGTON - Vice President
Dick Cheney said Sunday the
CIA are not violating people's rights by examining the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage in the United States.
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (news, bio, voting record), D-Texas, the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said his panel will be the judge of that.
National security letters permit the executive branch to seek records about people in terrorism and spy investigations without a judge's approval or grand jury subpoena.
"The Defense Department gets involved because we've got hundreds of bases inside the United States that are potential terrorist targets," Cheney said.
Department of Defense has legitimate authority in this area. This is an authority that goes back three or four decades. It was reaffirmed in the Patriot Act," he said. "It's perfectly legitimate activity. There's nothing wrong with it or illegal. It doesn't violate people's civil rights."
In a statement Sunday, Reyes promised that his panel would take a careful look at those claims.
"Any expansion by the department into intelligence collection, particularly on U.S. soil, is something our committee will thorough review," Reyes said.
"We want our intelligence professionals to have strong tools that will enable them to interrupt the planning process of our enemies and to stop attacks against our country," he said. "But in doing so, we also want those tools to comply fully with the law and the Constitution."