GOP leader defends briefings on domestic eavesdropping


WASHINGTON -- In a sign of growing partisan division over domestic eavesdropping, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee defended yesterday the Bush administration's limited briefings for Congress on the secret program and accused the committee's top Democrat of changing her position on the issue.

Also yesterday, 27 House Democrats sent a letter to President Bush asking for information about the National Security Agency program, including whether communications from or to members of Congress and journalists were intercepted.

The Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, was responding to a statement Wednesday by Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat, that the law requires that the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees be informed of the NSA program. By briefing only the Republican and Democratic leaders of both houses and of the committees, the administration violated the law, Harman wrote in a letter to the president.

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