House’s Secret Session Defies Bush

For the first time since 1983, the House of Representatives held a secret session to vote on the revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. The result was a 213-197 vote backing of the Democratic changes, which would prohibit immunity for telecommunications companies involved in warrantless wiretapping and allow them to be sued.

However, the bill will now go to the Senate, which is likely to go against the revisions and support President Bush’s plan for immunity. Bush has said he will not pass the bill without this provision.

“We are concerned that the proposal would not provide the intelligence community the critical tools needed to protect the country,” said a statement by the Department of Justice and the office of the director of national intelligence.

But Democrats aren’t backing down quite yet.

“The president is wrong, and he knows it,”  said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“We are not going to cave into a retroactive immunity situation,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers. “There’s no law school example in our memory that gives retroactive immunity for something you don’t know what you are giving it for. It just doesn’t work in the real world or on the Hill either.”

We can expect another Bush veto on the proposal, delaying the intelligence bill even more and creating more tension on an issue that Republicans find vital to American security.

House challenges Bush on surveillance – [CNN]

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