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Senate passes interim intelligence surveillance bill

[JURIST] The US Senate on Friday passed the Protect America Act 2007 [S 1927 materials], under which the Executive Branch would be given expanded surveillance authority for a period of six months while Congress worked on long-term legislation to "modernize" the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The bill establishes legal guidelines of how the United States can conduct surveillance against foreign nationals "reasonably believed to be outside the United States," and requires the director of national intelligence and the attorney general's authorization before surveillance against a specific target can begin. The surveillance will be subject to review by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [official backgrounder] within 120 days.

The US House of Representatives failed Friday to pass its version of the bill, which included a higher level of judicial scrutiny. President George W. Bush [official profile] thanked the Senate for "the hard work they did to find common ground," and urged the House to adopt a bill [press release] similar to the Senate version Saturday. Bush has threatened to veto [JURIST report] any legislation Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell [official profile] thinks does not give the intelligence community what it "needs to prevent an attack on the country." AP has more.

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