Friday, 19 October 2007

News-Senate Gives Approval Over New Wire-Tap Rules

Source: Reuters UK

Sen Chris Dodd votes against amended Wire-tap Bill

A U.S. Senate committee approved a bipartisan bill to tighten rules on government eavesdropping on terrorism suspects,

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 13-2 for the measure, which Chairman John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, said strengthened national security and protected civil liberties. Mr. Rockefeller was quoted "It ensures that the unchecked wiretapping policies of the administration are a thing of the past"

Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican, called the Senate bill "a delicate arrangement of compromises."

The bill would allow wiretapping without a court order of suspected foreign terrorists, including when they call Americans. It would grant lawsuit immunity, demanded by the White House, for telephone companies that participated in a secret warrantless eavesdropping program launched by U.S. President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks. The House bill would have required court approval when eavesdropping on terrorism suspects who might call Americans, and omitted the phone company immunity.

To safeguard civil liberties, the Senate bill would require a secret court to approve methods for targeting suspects and eavesdropping, more congressional oversight, and the removal of identifying information from intercepted calls involving innocent Americans. An amendment added during committee debate would require court approval to eavesdrop on the communications of an American overseas. The bill would expire after six years.

However a number of Democrats are prepared to ‘hold’ the Bill which could block the Senate vote. Presidential Candidate Sen. Chris Dodd (Connecticut); Sen. Ron Wyden (Oregon) and Sen. Russ Feingold (Wisconsin) voted against the committee's bill because of the immunity provision, despite winning passage of the amendment on Americans overseas.

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