Despite the U.S. Senate's approval this week of a new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that includes immunity from lawsuits for telcos who participated in previous warrantless wiretapping, approval of the new FISA by the full Congress may not be as easy as some anticipated. Democrats in the House of Representatives, which had passed its own bill excluding telco immunity, were trying to get another extension to the current FISA to allow for more debate, but the House voted that effort down yesterday.
Now, those who sought another extension may try to let the existing FISA lapse-the first extension of the current law expires tomorrow. The Bush administration has tried to get Congress to believe that letting the existing FISA expire will leave the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist action. Whether you believe that or not, telco immunity remains the difference-maker between the expiration of the old law and the adoption of a new one.
- The Senate just approved a new FISA with telco immunity intact