Senate Brokers Truce With Bush on Domestic Spying

Includes immunity for phone companies
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2007 4:07 AM CDT
Senate Brokers Truce With Bush on Domestic Spying
National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to discuss the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and civil liberties. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)   (Associated Press)

Senate Democrats and Republicans have brokered a deal on legislation regarding the White House domestic spying and wiretapping program—including a highly controversial grant of immunity to telecommunication companies that co-operated with warrantless wiretaps. The deal marks a victory for the White House because Democrats had to kill a House bill imposing tougher restrictions on government wiretapping, reports the Washington Post.

The immunity provision in the draft bill, which is backed by National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, would wipe out a series of pending privacy lawsuits against telecommunications firms that handed over phone records to the feds. As for the jettisoned tougher provisions, "there's no reason officials should have to consult lawyers before listening in to terrorist communications," said a Republican lawmaker. (Read more White House stories.)

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