A Collaboration with University of Pittsburgh   

Bush urges telecom immunity in proposed surveillance bill

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush Wednesday called for Congress to make permanent [press release] the expansion of surveillance powers granted in August's Protect America Act [S 1927 materials], adding that he would not sign any eavesdropping bill that does not grant retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies facing lawsuits related to government eavesdropping that was conducted without a court order. Bush's demand comes a day after House Democrats introduced [JURIST report] the RESTORE Act of 2007 ("Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective Act of 2007") [draft text, PDF; summary, PDF], which would replace the Protect America Act as an update to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The temporary Protect America Act [RESTORE vs. PAA comparison, PDF] is set to expire in February. Its six-month lifespan was a compromise that allowed it to be passed [JURIST report] before Congress left for a summer break.

The RESTORE Act would allow for greater oversight of government wiretapping and reaffirm that FISA warrants are required when domestic communications are targeted. Bush characterized the changes as a step backward, but expressed optimism that his administration could find a common ground with Congress. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) [official website] recognized before Bush's statement that Bush would likely demand immunity for telecommunications companies, and indicated that Democrats may be willing to compromise [AP report] on that front. AP has more.

Support JURIST

We rely on our readers to keep JURIST running

 Donate now!

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.