House Dem Bill Would Deny Telcos Retroactive Immunity for Domestic Snooping

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Congressional Quarterly‘s Tim Starks reports:

Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said Thursday that the bill [governing electronic surveillance] would not grant retroactive liability protection to telecommunications firms that cooperated with government surveillance efforts since the Sept. 11 attacks, which Republicans say is essential.

Reyes also said he favors a requirement that intelligence agencies secure a warrant for monitoring communications involving U.S. citizens in the United States beyond a short emergency period, even if the target of the surveillance is a foreigner located outside the country.

But Reyes did not specify whether the legislation would mandate individual warrants in all cases, as civil liberties advocates are seeking, or broader, programmatic court approval for international surveillance. …

But, Starks reports, Senate Dems may cave:

Senate Intelligence Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., is negotiating legislation with Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., with an eye toward marking up legislation Oct. 18. No details have been made available about that bill, but civil liberties advocates are worried that the Senate measure will include retroactive liability protection for telecommunications firms.

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