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Among the provisions approved by the Senate last week in its renewal of the USA Patriot Act is the biggest bureaucratic shake-up at the Department of Justice in years. The bill authorizes the creation of a National Security Division within the DOJ, to be overseen by a new assistant attorney general. Moving to the new entity will be 75 attorneys from the Criminal Division’s counterespionage and counterterrorism sections. There they’ll be joined with the 135-member Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, the group responsible for reviewing wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The plan allows the attorney general to delegate final approval of FISA requests to the new assistant AG. “Right now, I have to approve all the applications for FISA,” Gonzales told Legal Times last month. “And there are a great many of them that we are pursuing in the fight against terrorism.” While both the House and the president are expected to quickly sign off on the bill, the DOJ must wait for funding before the reorganization can begin.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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