Skip to comments.House approves foreign wiretap bill (227-183 vote)
Posted on 08/04/2007 8:35:10 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - The House handed President Bush a victory Saturday, voting to expand the government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States.
The 227-183 vote, which followed the Senate's approval Friday, sends the bill to Bush for his signature. He had urged Congress to approve it, saying Saturday, "Protecting America is our most solemn obligation."
The administration said the measure is needed to speed the National Security Agency's ability to intercept phone calls, e-mails and other communications involving foreign nationals "reasonably believed to be outside the United States." Civil liberties groups and many Democrats said it goes too far, possibly enabling the government to wiretap U.S. residents communicating with overseas parties without adequate oversight from courts or Congress.
The bill updates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. It gives the government leeway to intercept, without warrants, communications between foreigners that are routed through equipment in United States, provided that "foreign intelligence information" is at stake. Bush describes the effort as an anti-terrorist program, but the bill is not limited to terror suspects and could have wider applications, some lawmakers said.
The government long has had substantial powers to intercept purely foreign communications that don't touch U.S. soil.
If a U.S. resident becomes the chief target of surveillance, the government would have to obtain a warrant from the special FISA court.
Congressional Democrats won a few concessions in negotiations earlier in the week. New wiretaps must be approved by the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, not just the attorney general. Congress has battled with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on several issues, and some Democrats have accused him of perjury.
The new law also will expire in six months unless Congress renews it. The administration wanted the changes to be permanent.
Many congressional Democrats wanted tighter restrictions on government surveillance, but yielded in the face of Bush's veto threats and the impending August recess.
"This bill would grant the attorney general the ability to wiretap anybody, any place, any time without court review, without any checks and balances," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., during the debate preceding the vote. "I think this unwarranted, unprecedented measure would simply eviscerate the 4th Amendment," which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Republicans disputed her description. "It does nothing to tear up the Constitution," said Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif.
If an American's communications are swept up in surveillance of a foreigner, he said, "we go through a process called minimization" and get rid of the records unless there is reason to suspect the American is a threat.
The administration began pressing for changes to the law after a recent ruling by the FISA court. That decision barred the government from eavesdropping without warrants on foreign suspects whose messages were being routed through U.S. communications carriers, including Internet sites.
The roll call vote for the surveillance bill can be found at:
Wow. The Democrats did the right thing. Maybe they actually do have an instinct for self-preservation.
Key elements of surveillance bill
Key points in the surveillance bill passed by Congress this week:
_Expands the administration’s powers to eavesdrop, without a court order, on foreign suspects’ communications passing through the United States.
_Requires new wiretaps to be approved by the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, not just the attorney Ggeneral.
_Requires a court-issued warrant when a U.S. resident is the main target of surveillance.
_Requires Congress to reconsider the law in six months.
Thanks. Does me good to know who voted against this. I can’t think of one single reason why they would or should. But 183 of them did.
It’s time we get those bozos that some call “judges” out of the war on terror. If they want to participate, they can go down and see a recruiter like the rest of us. “Judges” sitting on their fat asses in their robes and wanting to control how this war is fought REALLY pisses me off!
All you have to do is read the bill, or easier yet this article, to see that this woman was standing there lying through her teeth.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
It would be good to wipe the smirk off those imans’ faces (the ones on the airplane, I watched them today on some news show). And any other violent Muzzie’s face.
Well it wasn’t that long ago there was a bunch of idiots here who were arguing with me that wire tapping was a violation of civil rights. It’s nice to see that some people including Congress get the fact that certain steps are necessary to safeguard our country !!!
The DUmmies are in total meltdown.
Interesting that this was an issue not worthy of a vote for Hunter, Paul and Tancredo.
Interesting in deed. Kucinich is the only presidential candidate to have a say in this, jeez.
McCain didn’t vote in the Senate on this either..
My Zach Wamp from the 3rd TN District voted Yes