us: House Passes Changes in Eavesdropping Program

Under pressure from President Bush, the House gave final approval Saturday to changes in a terrorism surveillance program, despite serious objections from many Democrats about the scope of the executive branch’s new eavesdropping power.Racing to complete a final rush of legislation before a scheduled monthlong break, the House voted 227 to 183 to endorse a measure the Bush administration said was needed to keep pace with communications technology in the effort to track terrorists overseas.”The intelligence community is hampered in gathering essential information about terrorists,” said Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas.

One major issue, apparently raised in secret by judges overseeing the program, is that many calls and email messages between people outside the United States are routed over data networks that run through the United States.In principle, the surveillance law does not restrict eavesdropping on foreign-to-foreign communications. But in practice, administration officials contend, the path of those calls through this country means the government cannot monitor them without a warrant.

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