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Bush Pushes for Telecom Immunity
Made popular 2754 days ago in
President Bush said Wednesday that he will not sign a new eavesdropping bill if it does not grant retroactive immunity to U.S. telecommunications companies that helped conduct electronic surveillance without court orders.
A proposed bill unveiled by Democrats on Tuesday does not include such a provision. Bush, appearing on the South Lawn as that measure was taken up in two House committees, said the measure is unacceptable for that and other reasons.
"Today the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees are considering a proposed bill that instead of making the Protect America Act permanent would take us backward," the president said.
Bush wants legislation that extends and strengthens a temporary bill passed in August. Democrats want a bill that rolls back some of the new powers it granted the government to eavesdrop without warrants on suspected foreign terrorists.
Under pressure to close what Bush officials called a dangerous gap in intelligence collection, Congress hastily passed a the temporary bill before leaving Washington for a summer break. Democratic leaders in Congress set the law to expire in six months so that it could be fine-tuned, and civil liberties groups are saying the changes they've already legislated gave too much new latitude to the administration and provided too little protection against government spying on Americans without oversight.
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Should the new eavesdropping bill grant retroactive immunity to telecom that conduct surveillance without court orders?
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