Bush to veto surveillance bill without telecom immunity: Mukasey letter

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush will veto any terror surveillance legislation passed by Congress that does not include liability protection for telecom companies, a letter from Attorney General Michael Mukasey and National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell warned Congress Tuesday, according to AP. Last week, Bush signed a 15-day extension [JURIST report] to the temporary Protect America Act [S 1927 materials; JURIST report], designed as a stopgap while Congress works on long-term legislation to "modernize" the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive]. FISA currently allows the government to eavesdrop inside of the US without court approval as long as one end of a conversation is reasonably perceived to have been outside of the US. Controversy has arisen over proposed amendments to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies [JURIST report] from lawsuits related to their participation in the NSA warrantless surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. AP reported that the Tuesday letter, sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee [official websites], said that, "Private citizens who respond in good faith to a request for assistance by public officials should not be held liable for their actions." The letter indicated that the Bush administration otherwise supports the bill. A Senate vote may occur this week.

Bush has previously threatened to veto any version of the Protect America Act or of FISA that did not a telecom immunity provision, and repeated his stance during his final State of the Union address [JURIST report] last week. AP has more.



 

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.