House Rejects Immunity for Telecoms Again

Lawmakers OK surveillance bill, brush off threat of Bush veto
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2008 3:10 PM CDT
House Rejects Immunity for Telecoms Again
President Bush walks from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 13, 2008, to make a statement on FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) legislation on the South Lawn.    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The House again spurned President Bush today, passing a version of an anti-terrorism surveillance bill that does not grant retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that participated in the government's warrantless-wiretapping program. The vote was 213-197, far less than the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised presidential veto, Reuters reports, and followed an unusual secret session convened last night.

Republican lawmakers insisted on secrecy to protect classified information, but Democrats were unmoved. "We probably could have gone and eaten together at McDonald's, and it would have had just as much effectiveness," a Louisiana lawmaker told the Washington Post. After the vote, the Justice Department and Director of National Intelligence struck back in a joint statement: "We are concerned that the proposal would not provide the intelligence community the critical tools needed to protect the country." (More FISA stories.)

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