us: Wiretapping Compromise Was Months in the Making

Last June, in a phone conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney, John D. Rockefeller IV, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, set down his conditions for revising the law governing the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping. Only when the committee got access to secret administration documents authorizing surveillance without court warrants, Mr. Rockefeller told the vice president, would it consider such legislation.That vow paid off this week when, after some last-minute brinkmanship, the committee got to see the documents and then on Thursday night passed a bipartisan bill that offers a compromise between Congress and the Bush administration on the contentious eavesdropping issue.Under the bill, the administration would get retroactive legal immunity for the telecommunications companies that have granted the N.S.A. access to private communications and phone call data; Democrats would get increased oversight of the agency’s eavesdropping by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Congress and inspectors general. see:Editorial: With Democrats Like These …
Every now and then, we are tempted to double-check that the Democrats actually won control of Congress last year. It was particularly hard to tell this week. Democratic leaders were cowed, once again, by propaganda from the White House and failed, once again, to modernize the law on electronic spying in a way that permits robust intelligence gathering on terrorists without undermining the Constitution.

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