WASHINGTON

Senate approves bill to okay some gov. snooping

Yesterday the Senate approved new rules for government eavesdropping on phone calls and e-mails, giving the White House much of the latitude it wanted and granting legal immunity to telecommunications companies that helped in the snooping after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Protection for the telecom companies is the most prominent feature of the legislation, something President Bush had insisted on as essential to getting private sector cooperation in spying on foreign terrorists and other targets. The bill would give retroactive protection to companies that acted without court permission.

The House did not include the immunity provision in a similar bill it passed last year. House Republicans now want to adopt the Senate bill, which would avoid contentious negotiations to work out differences between the competing legislation.

BAGHDAD

Iraq’s parliament in turmoil, could be disbanded

The speaker of Iraq’s fragmented parliament threatened yesterday to disband the legislature, saying it is so riddled with distrust it appears unable to adopt the budget or agree on a law setting a date for provincial elections.

Disbanding parliament would prompt new elections within 60 days and further undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s shaky government, which is limping along with nearly half of the 40 Cabinet posts vacant.

The disarray undermines the purpose of last year’s U.S. troop “surge” – to bring down violence enough to allow the Iraqi government and parliament to focus on measures to reconcile differences among minority Sunnis and Kurds and the majority Shiites. Violence is down dramatically, but political progress languishes.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

Six suspected terrorists could be executed in Gitmo

If six suspected terrorists are sentenced to death at Guantanamo Bay for the Sept. 11 attacks, United States Army regulations that were quietly amended two years ago open the possibility of execution by lethal injection at the military base in Cuba, experts said yesterday.

Any executions would probably add to international outrage over Guantanamo, since capital punishment is banned in 130 countries, including the 27-nation European Union.

Conducting the executions on U.S. soil could open the way for the detainees’ lawyers to go to U.S. courts to fight the death sentences. But the updated regulations make it possible for the executions to be carried out at Guantanamo.

Bush: Nooses are “deeply offensive”

President Bush said yesterday that recent displays of nooses are disturbing and indicate that some Americans may be losing sight of the suffering that blacks have endured across the nation.

“The era of rampant lynching is a shameful chapter in American history,” Bush said at a black history month event at the White House, which began with serious comments about prejudice and ended with music performed by The Temptations.

“The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice,” the president said. “Displaying one is not a harmless prank. Lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest.”

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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