Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 11:46am
GOP UNABLE TO FORCE VOTE ON BUSH SURVEILLANCE BILL
[SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Paul Kane]
The Senate yesterday left the fate of a new electronic surveillance law backed by the Bush administration up in the air, as a Republican-led effort to cut off a Democrat-led debate and proceed to a vote on the bill failed, mostly along party lines. Heightening the drama surrounding expiration of the existing surveillance law at midnight Thursday, the Senate also failed to approve a Democratic effort to extend the deadline by 30 days -- a move that the White House has opposed because the law already was extended last summer for a six-month run. "To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning," President Bush said last night in his State of the Union speech to Congress. "This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats will be weakened." Congress broadly supports passing a new version of the controversial legislation at issue, named the Protect America Act by its sponsors. But congressional Democrats and the White House are battling over President Bush's demands that any bill include immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with intelligence agencies in warrantless wiretaps after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The telecommunications companies are now the targets of dozens of lawsuits alleging that they violated privacy rights by aiding the government's surveillance.
* Wiretapping debate in Congress resumes Tuesday
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, AUTHOR: Editorial staff]
"Let's debate right up to November whether judges should have to give their approval before our spooks can listen in on al Qaeda. Then maybe the American people can decide if holding our war-fighting capability hostage to the left and the tort bar makes them feel safer."
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