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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

White House Allows Probe Into Domestic Spy Program

WASHINGTON -- The White House, in an abrupt reversal, has agreed to let the full Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees review U.S. President George W. Bush's domestic spying program, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

The Republican chairmen of the Senate and House panels disclosed the shift two days before a Senate confirmation hearing for Air Force General Michael Hayden as the new CIA director, which is expected to be dominated by concern over the program.

The chairmen said separately that Bush had agreed to full committee oversight of his Terrorist Surveillance Program rather than the more limited briefings allowed up to now.

The White House, under political pressure, did agree to conduct a set of briefings for the two full committees earlier this year, but those sessions did not disclose operational details about the eavesdropping.

Initiated after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the program lets the National Security Agency eavesdrop without a court warrant on international phone calls and e-mails made by U.S. citizens if one party is suspected of links with terrorism.

The White House has sought to avoid full committee oversight by limiting briefings to subcommittees from each panel. Initially, the administration shared program details only with the chairmen and vice chairmen of the committees and party leaders in the House and Senate.

"It became apparent that, in order to have a fully informed confirmation hearing, all members of my committee needed to know the full width and breadth of the president's program," Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, who heads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement.