Friday, November 16, 2007

Panel Drops Immunity From Eavesdropping Bill

Well here's a bit of good news. The Senate Judiciary Committee dropped language giving telecom companies immunity from a bill to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But, we should be clear, that issue has not nearly been resolved...the buck has simply been passed. However, just a week ago it was looking pretty likely that such immunity was going to be I think its worth mentioning here.

Similarly, last night "the House voted 227 to 189, generally along party lines, to approve its own version of the FISA bill, which also does not include immunity."

More from the New York Times:

By a 10 to 9 vote, the committee...dropped a key provision for immunity for telecommunications companies that another committee had already approved. The Senate leadership will have to decide how to deal with the immunity question on the Senate floor.


But the administration has made clear that President Bush will veto any bill that does not include what it considers necessary tools for government eavesdropping, including the retroactive immunity for phone carriers...

It should also be noted that Senator Russ Feingold proposed an amendment that would have deleted the liability shield, and therefore banned any telecom immunity, but it failed by a 12-7 vote (with Democrats Feinstein and Whitehouse siding with all the Republicans). Feingold said through a spokesman that he plans to offer his amendment again when the bill goes to the Senate floor.

And Sen. Christopher Dodd has vowed to prevent the bill from going to a vote, as long as it cloaks corporations with legal protections.

So this fight is far from over. For the full article click here.

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