The Justice Department says it will give an independent body the authority to monitor the government's controversial domestic spying program, a decision that reverses the Bush administration's surveillance policy. The White House has long argued that it didn't need court approval.
The oversight authority has been given to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — which has already approved one request for monitoring the communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or a related group.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales relayed the decision to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
At the White House, spokesman Tony Snow suggested that domestic spying will continue.
"The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has put together its guidelines and its rules," Snow said, "and those have met administration concerns about speed and agility when it comes to responding to bits of intelligence where you may be able to save American lives."
The change comes after many members of Congress, legal scholars and privacy advocates urge the Bush administration to submit the surveillance program to court review. It has been in place since 2001.
New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has recently said she wanted to investigate the administration's program — a sentiment echoed by intelligence panel leaders in the House and Senate. Those inquiries may still go forward.