On Monday, February 25, President George W. Bush has pressed upon the House of Representatives to vote on FISA. In that regard, Bush had said: “If the enemy is calling to America, we really need to know what they’re saying.”
Democrats have said that the passage on the final bill can wait until both the Senate and the House have settled their differences. The Senate version of the update gives immunity for telecommunications companies for taking part in the wiretaps without warrants. However, the House version does not grant the immunity to those telecommunications companies.
That is the one main difference.
But, both versions allow for intelligence agencies to tap into both phone and internet traffic overseas without getting a warrant from a judge that handles the special courts. However, critics have said that Bush’s program have violated the law. Those companies handle many lawsuits as a result.
“It was a very strong bipartisan bill that passed the Senate, and it’s a bill that we can live with … and it’s a bill that should be put on the House floor for a vote up or down,” Bush had said at a White House meeting with the National Governors Association.
Bush said that if the update is not passed, it will harm the economy.
Bush said: “The problem is, should companies who are believed to have helped us after 9/11 until today get information necessary to protect the country be sued? My answer is absolutely not. They shouldn’t be sued.”
Mike McConnell and Michael Mukasey, the National Intelligence Director and Attorney General respectively sent a letter saying that the bill not being passed has damaged the United States.
“Our experience in the past few days since the expiration of the act demonstrates that these concerns are neither speculative nor theoretical: allowing the act to expire without passing the bipartisan Senate bill has had real and negative consequences for our national security,” both of them said in a letter addressed to the House Intelligence Committee.