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Bush signs 15-day extension for stopgap surveillance law

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush Thursday signed a 15-day extension to the temporary Protect America Act [S 1927 materials; JURIST report], carrying it beyond its February 1 expiration date. The Protect Act, enacted as a stopgap while Congress worked on long-term legislation to "modernize" the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive], currently allows the US government to eavesdrop inside of the US without court approval as long as one end of a conversation is reasonably perceived to have been outside of the US. On Monday, Bush threatened to veto any extension of the Act that did not include a provision which granted immunity to telecom companies that cooperated with the government's warrentless domestic wiretap program [JURIST news archive]. Last week, Senate Republicans defeated an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [official website] to extend the Protect Act for an additional month without the immunity provision. Reid then sent a letter to Bush asking that he support an extension to the Protect Act [JURIST report] as it appeared unlikely Congress would agree to reauthorize FISA before February 1.

In his weekly radio address [transcript; recorded audio] Saturday, Bush urged Congress to approve the Senate's proposed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Bill [S 2248 materials; JURIST news archive] designed to revise and extend FISA so as to - among other things - expand the oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) [official backgrounder], giving it greater powers to monitor the government's eavesdropping on American citizens. AP has more.

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