Senate approves surveillance bill
Washington, D.C. ? Bowing to President Bush’s demands, the Senate approved and sent the White House a bill Wednesday to overhaul bitterly disputed rules on secret government eavesdropping and shield telecommunications companies from lawsuits complaining they helped the U.S. spy on Americans.
The relatively one-sided vote, 69-28, came only after a lengthy and heated debate that pitted privacy and civil liberties concerns against the desire to prevent terrorist attacks. It ended almost a year of wrangling in the Democratic-led Congress over surveillance rules and the president’s warrantless wiretapping program that was initiated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The House passed the same bill last month, and Bush said he would sign it soon.
Opponents assailed the eavesdropping program, asserting that it imperiled citizens’ rights of privacy from government intrusion. But Bush said the legislation protects those rights as well as Americans’ security.