Dr. Eggman notes an Ars Technica analysis of the firefight that is the current Congressional debate over granting retrospective immunity to telecoms that helped the NSA spy on citizens without warrants. A Republican cloture motion, which would have blocked any further attempts to remove the retroactive immunity provision, has failed. This controversial portion of the Senate intelligence committee surveillance bill may now be examined in full debate. At the same time, a second cloture motion — filed by Congressional Democrats in an effort to force immediate vote on a 30 day extension to the Protect America Act — also failed to pass. The Protect America Act has been criticized for broadly expanding federal surveillance powers while diminishing judicial oversight. While the failure of this second cloture motion means the Protect America Act might expire, a vote tomorrow on a similar motion in the House will likely bring the issue back into the Senate in time. It seems, according to the article, that both parties feel that imminent expiration of the Protect America Act is a disaster for intelligence gathering, and each side blames the other as progress grinds to a halt."
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