House Prepares to Debate New Surveillance Law with Telecom Immunity

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White House (AP) President Bush is urging congress to press on with an updated government eavesdropping bill.

At the White House this morning, Bush said a compromise deal worked out among key lawmakers would give law enforcement a vital tool in the war on terrorism. He says it would help U.S. Intelligence “learn enemies' plans for new attacks.”

The legislation updates and revises the foreign intelligence surveillance act. One issue dividing Democrats and Republicans is a provision that would protect telecommunications companies from lawsuits over their “past or future cooperation” with federal authorities in tapping phone and computer lines without court orders. The latest version includes that protection.

Some 40 lawsuits have been filed against the companies by groups and individuals who think the Bush administration illegally monitored their phone calls or e-mails.