Bush urges House to OK Senate FISA bill

Feb. 13, 2008 at 9:36 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush urged the U.S. House of Representatives to "immediately" approve a bill updating how the government monitors foreign terror suspects.

A U.S. Senate bill reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would make changes to wiretapping rules and monitoring of foreign terrorist suspects and would grant immunity to telecommunications companies that provided information to federal investigators without a warrant, a huge sticking point between Senate Democrats and Republicans and between the two chambers. The House version doesn't contain the immunity provision.

"I am pleased that (Tuesday) night senators approved new legislation that will ensure our intelligence professionals have tools to make our nation safer," Bush said. "Unfortunately the House has failed to pass a good bill."

Immunity for telecom companies providing information protection "is critical to securing the private sector's cooperation" in the war on terror, Bush said.

He said he "will not accept any temporary extension" of the Protect America Act, due to expire Saturday. Congress passed the temporary intelligence-gathering measure last year. It originally was due to expire Feb. 1.

"Without this law, our ability to prevent new attacks will be weakened," Bush said, urging the House to accept the Senate version and "do so immediately."

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