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US House passes intelligence surveillance bill

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives voted 227-183 [roll call] late Saturday in favor of the Protect America Act 2007 [S 1927 materials], legislation that gives the Executive Branch expanded surveillance authority for a period of six months while Congress works on long-term legislation to "modernize" the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The bill was passed by the Senate [JURIST report] Friday and Bush said Saturday that he will sign the legislation [statement]. Bush said that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell [official profile] has provided the president assurances "that this bill gives him what he needs to continue to protect the country."

The Protect America Act establishes legal guidelines on 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. AP has more.

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