republicans propose last-minute spy bill

republicans propose last-minute spy billfrom zdnet: The outgoing Republican chairman of a key U.S. Senate committee has made a last-minute attempt at giving the Bush administration what he calls the necessary “resources” for carrying out its phone call and Internet surveillance within the law, but critics remain unconvinced.

In remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter marketed his new 11-page proposal as “a significant advance in protecting civil liberties.” …

Specter’s new bill arrives less than a week after President Bush called on the lame-duck Congress to prioritize legislation that would effectively authorize the administration’s terrorist surveillance project, which is already the target of a few dozen lawsuits. The House of Representatives in September approved an administration-backed bill that drew fire from civil libertarians, who argued it would expand the government’s electronic spying powers to unprecedented levels.

Titled the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Oversight and Resource Enhancement Act of 2006,” Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Oversight and Resource Enhancement Act of 2006 the latest Specter bill does not appear to grant as much latitude for warrantless spying as the approved House bill. Specter’s proposal, for instance, would require the U.S. Supreme Court to review all appeals of cases challenging the legality of the specific spy program acknowledged by the president last December, whereas the version approved by the House would effectively quash all such challenges.