Senate passes FISA bill; Bush will sign

July 9, 2008 at 4:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate passed the reauthorization of the federal government's wiretapping laws by a vote of 69-28 Wednesday.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act sets the parameters for investigators when wiretapping phones and reading e-mails of suspected foreign terrorists.

"This vital intelligence bill will allow our national security professionals to quickly and effectively monitor the plans of terrorists outside the United States, while respecting the liberties of the American people," President George Bush said.

Three amendments concerning immunizing telecommunication companies from lawsuits for handing over their records to federal investigators were defeated. One amendment would have stripped the immunity provision, while two others would have delayed granting immunity until it was determined necessary.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said the bill met the administration's requirements, Bush said, so "I will soon sign the bill into law."

The reauthorization will help intelligence gatherers "learn who the terrorists are talking to, what they're saying and what they're planning," Bush said. "It will ensure that those companies whose assistance is necessary to protect the country will, themselves, be protected from lawsuits for past or future cooperation with the government."

The House approved the reauthorization in June.

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