Senate passes Bush terrorism spy bill

( AP ) - The Senate, in a high-stakes showdown over national security, voted late Friday to temporarily give President Bush expanded authority to eavesdrop on suspected foreign terrorists without court warrants.

The House, meanwhile, rejected a Democratic version of the bill.

Democratic leaders there were working on a plan to bring up the Senate-passed measure and vote on it Saturday in response to Bush's demand that Congress give him expanded powers before leaving for vacation this weekend.

The White House applauded the Senate vote and urged the House to quickly follow suit.

The bill "will give our intelligence professionals the essential tools they need to protect our nation," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. "It is urgent that this legislation become law as quickly as possible."

Senate Democrats reluctantly voted for a plan largely crafted by the White House after Bush promised to veto a stricter proposal that would have required a court review to begin within 10 days.

The Senate bill gives Bush the expanded eavesdropping authority for six months. The temporary powers give Congress time to hammer out a more comprehensive plan instead of rushing approval for a permanent bill in the waning hours before lawmakers begin their monthlong break.

The Senate vote was 60-28. Both parties had agreed to require 60 votes for passage.

Senate Republicans, aided by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, said the update to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, would at least temporarily close gaps in the nation's security system.

"Al-Qaida is not going on vacation this month," said Sen. Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "And we can't either until we know we've done our duty to the American people."

In the House, Democrats lost an effort to push a proposal that called for stricter court oversight of the way the government would ensure its spying would not target Americans.

"The rule of law is still critical in this country," Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said before the losing the mostly party-line 218-207 vote that fell short of two-thirds majority needed for passage. "It is exactly when the government thinks that it can be the sole, fair arbiter that we most need a judicial system to stand in and strike the balance."

"We can have security and our civil liberties," Tierney said.

Current law requires court review of government surveillance of suspected terrorists in the United States. It does not specifically address the government's ability to intercept messages believed to come from foreigners overseas.

The Bush administration began pressing for changes to the law after a recent ruling by the special FISA court that barred the government from eavesdropping on foreign suspects whose messages were being routed through U.S. communications carriers, including Internet sites.

Democrats agreed the law should not restrict U.S. spies from tapping in on foreign suspects. However, they initially demanded the FISA court to review the eavesdropping process before it begins to make sure that Americans aren't targeted.

By the final vote, Senate Democrats had whittled down that demand and approved a bill that largely mirrored what the Bush administration wanted. It requires:

_Initial approval by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The administration relented to Democrats leery of Gonzales by adding McConnell to the oversight.

_FISA Court review within 120 days. The final Democratic plan had called for court review to begin immediately and conclude within a month of the surveillance starting

_The law to expire in six months to give Congress time to craft a more comprehensive plan. The White House initially wanted the bill to be permanent.

Before the vote, Democrats excoriated the GOP plan, which Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said "provides a weak and practically nonexistent court review."

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., angrily chastised his colleagues for bending to the administration's will.

"The day we start deferring to someone who's not a member of this body ... is a sad day for the U.S. Senate," Feingold said. "We make the policy - not the executive branch."

Likewise, civil liberties advocates said they were outraged that Democratic-led Senate would side with the White House.

"We're hugely disappointed with the Democrats," said Caroline Fredrickson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union. "The idea they let themselves be manipulated into accepting the White House proposal, certainly taking a great deal of it, when they're in control - it's mind-boggling."

It was not immediately clear whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would endorse the Senate bill after days of rejecting White House offers.

"I hope that there are no attacks before we are able to effectively update this important act," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Bush has said he would reject any bill that his intelligence director deemed unable "to prevent an attack on the country."

"We've worked hard and in good faith with the Democrats to find a solution, but we are not going to put our national security at risk," Bush said after meeting with counterterror and homeland security officials at FBI headquarters Friday morning. "Time is short."

Presidents have authority to call Congress back in session from a recess, but the last time it was used was in 1948, by Harry Truman.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the administration plan "more likely to protect the American people against terrorist attacks by those who want to do us harm."

Monday.com files for Wall Street IPO
Monday.com files for Wall Street IPO
Georgia shares data on number of citizen registered for temporary employment in Germany and Israel
Georgia shares data on number of citizen registered for temporary employment in Germany and Israel
Nuvei acquires Israeli fintech co Simplex for $250m
Nuvei acquires Israeli fintech co Simplex for $250m
Loading Bars
Latest
Kazakhstan boosts goods import from Denmark
Georgian State Electrosystem plans to issue bonds
Establishment of free trade zone in Iran's Ardabil Province to improve trade - MP
Chief of ADB's Energy Sector Group unveils details on ADB Draft Energy Policy
Azerbaijani team express satisfaction for participating in Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup
Azerbaijani team in group exercises reaches final of Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Baku
Revenues from customs duties increase in Azerbaijan
Austrian IT company discloses volume of entire internet traffic accounting for people in 2020
Azerbaijan's 4M2021 revenues from State Customs Committee unveiled
Azerbaijan almost doubles export of aluminum
Azerbaijan partially resuming traditional form of education
Armenia experiences continuous population decline
EU to continue activity in Azerbaijan in field of green economy - Head of EU delegation
Head of EU Delegation to Azerbaijan talks possibilities of resuming int'l travel
Group teams perform at National Gymnastics Arena as part of Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Baku (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan names finalists in exercises with ball within Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Baku
Azerbaijan names finalists in exercises with hoop within Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Baku
Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Baku - results of performance of Azerbaijani gymnasts in exercise with hoop and ball (PHOTO)
Italian gymnast talks about friendly relations with Azerbaijani gymnast
Best moments of first day of Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Baku (PHOTO)
World Cup in Baku - most long-awaited competition, says Lithuanian gymnast
WB plans to issue loan for road project in Azerbaijan
Georgian SME program aims digitization and environmental initiative to address climate change
Georgia to build enterprise for production of cleaning and detergents
Presidents of Uzbekistan, Russia consider strengthening of strategic partnership
Trade turnover between Uzbekistan and Belarus significantly increases
Hungarian lab confirms reliability of Sputnik V jab delivered to Slovakia
France's Macron: Vaccine patents not the issue, it's getting jabs out
Monday.com files for Wall Street IPO
Georgia, Ukraine emphasize European and Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations
Organizing committee of World Cup in Azerbaijan’s Baku doing its job perfectly - Hungarian gymnast
Hotel price index up in Georgia for April 2021
Qatar Airways to resume flights from Doha to Baku soon
Uzbekistan reveals financial performance of Uzbek mobile operators
Iran's sees increase in petrochemical exports
Indian Embassy in Baku introduced a new Sanskrit learning App, ‘Little Guru’ (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan discloses number of views of President Aliyev’s interview on Twitter (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens for May 7
Azerbaijan issues data on 1Q2021 export of fruits, vegetables
Azerbaijan confirms 722 more COVID-19 cases, 1,854 recoveries
Iran-Syria trade increases - Chamber of Commerce
Heydar Aliyev Foundation to organize legendary Khary Bulbul music festival in Shusha
Azerbaijan State Security Service talks arrest of illegal armed groups' members
VISA, Central Bank of Azerbaijan sign agreement on development of non-cash payments in Azerbaijan
Pakistan PM Khan in Saudi Arabia to discuss relations
Georgian Formula Construction exports building materials to Lithuania
Firefighters tackle blaze at 19-storey London tower block
Iran increases amount of jobs in free economic zones
Azerbaijan creates best conditions in National Gymnastics Arena - Uzbek gymnast
Greece, Estonia have biggest decrease in CO2 emissions from energy use
Iran says no need for direct or indirect talks with US
Georgia sees increase in international visitors
AzerGold discloses results of tender for software installation
Highest rate of inactive loans recorded in Georgian Cartu Bank
Russia documents 8,386 COVID-19 cases in past 24 hours
U.S. administers nearly 252 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Georgia needs investments for faster economic recovery - PM
Azerbaijan has lower COVID-19 death rate compared to global indicators - professor
Kazakhstan sees decrease in petroleum oil exports to Spain
Baku hosts opening ceremony of Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup (PHOTO)
Former serviceman accused of treason and espionage in Armenia
Azerbaijan plans to withdraw its peacekeepers from Afghanistan – Defense ministry
India grants permission for 5G trials to telecom service providers
Armenian side does not fulfill obligations upon int’l humanitarian law - MFA
Japan pledges $50.3 million to help India combat COVID-19
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan developing analogy of Schengen visa for Silk Road countries
Azerbaijan forming perspective industrial complex
Azerbaijan - important int’l transport hub - chairman of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC (PHOTO)
ADB to no longer finance coal mining, oil, and natural gas field exploration
Successful policy on development of sports in Azerbaijan bearing fruit - Deputy Sports Minister
All gymnasts provided with necessary time to train for Rhythmic Gymnastics FIG World Cup in Baku - Greek gymnast
Germany says production capacity, not patents, key to upping vaccine output
Saudi to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all workers
Georgia shares data on number of citizen registered for temporary employment in Germany and Israel
Uzbekneftegaz increases natural gas output at field of Gazli oil and gas production dep’t
Uzbekistan to increase copper sulfate exports to Poland
Several investment projects to be implemented in Kazakhstan's Zhambyl in 2021
Iran continues to strengthen ties with China, Russia
Winners of ‘Sustainable Development in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering’ conference awarded (PHOTO)
Very exciting to perform in Rhythmic Gymnastics FIG World Cup in Baku - Polish gymnast
Global Affairs Canada welcomes release of Armenian detainees by Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's SME Dev't Agency holds training for female entrepreneurs (VIDEO)
Azerbaijani PulPal payment system receives purchase offer
Georgia begins renovating buildings and infrastructure in Gardabani
Azerbaijan eyes to launch WeChat payment solution
Azerbaijan's Central Bank unveils results of tender launched to support database platform
SOCAR’s Petkim reveals profit in Q1 2021
S.Korea to set up training center for advanced technologies of fruit, vegetable production in Uzbekistan
Oil prices set for weekly gain despite India virus surge
Azerbaijan boosts steel imports from Turkey
No 'Indian' strain of COVID-19 detected in Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan-China Pipeline LLP opens tender on repairs of pipelines
Uzbekistan, Ireland consider establishing co-op in tourism sector
Egyptian gymnast talks AGF's organization of World Cup in Baku
Nuvei acquires Israeli fintech co Simplex for $250m
SOCAR’s Petkim increases production capacity to 92%
Kazakhstan decreases imports of Belgium-made goods
Thailand expects up to 20 mln doses of Pfizer vaccine from July
Kazakhstan's inflation rate for April 2021 revealed
Shusha declared cultural capital of Azerbaijan - presidential order
All news