Bush threatening veto of stopgap surveillance bill extension without telecoms shield

[JURIST] The Bush administration warned Democratic leaders over the weekend that US President George W. Bush will veto any attempt to extend the temporary Protect America Act [S-1927 materials; JURIST report] beyond its February 1 expiration date that does not include liability protection for telecom companies, according to the Washington Post Sunday. 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. Senate Republicans defeated an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [official website] to extend the Protect Act without the immunity provision for companies that might face lawsuits over data-sharing for an additional month on January 22. Reid then sent a letter to President 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. He has since reportedly denounced Bush's expressed intent to veto such an extension.

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 use of eavesdropping on American citizens. The US Senate voted [JURIST report] last Thursday against an amendment [Leahy press release] to the bill which would have incorporated several changes to the legislation that were previously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Washington Post has more.

8:20 PM ET - On Monday, the US Senate voted down [roll call] an attempt by Senate Republicans to end further debate on extending the Protect Act.



 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.