US Senate Panel Strikes Deal on Intelligence Bill

By VOA News
18 October 2007

Leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee have reached agreement with the Bush administration on terms of legislation overseeing the government's domestic surveillance program.

The agreement includes granting immunity to U.S. telecommunications companies that assist the government with the program. It also allows for greater oversight of the program by a special intelligence court.

The deal, which was disclosed Wednesday, followed a decision by Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives to postpone a vote on a measure that would have revised the domestic surveillance program.

The program allows the government to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails between people in the U.S. and suspected terrorists abroad.

The bill would have allowed the eavesdropping to continue, but required court permission if one of the participants is in the United States.

The program has been criticized as a possible infringement on the privacy of U.S. citizens.

President Bush has vowed to veto the bill, saying it is a backward step in the fight against terrorism. It is unclear when the House legislation would come up for a vote.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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