In a secret decision earlier this year a federal intelligence court judge ruled that a key element of the White House's massive wiretapping program was illegal, the Washington Post reports. The decision blocked NSA information collection from a large number of phone calls and emails that pass through two locations overseas before being routed through the US.
Lawmakers from both parties have been pushing legislation to expand the president's spying powers to reopen the taps. "There's been a ruling that prohibits the ability of our intelligence services from listening in to two terrorists in other parts of the world," House minority leader John Boehner revealed in a TV appearance this week. The White House has maintained its controversial program is legal.