The Senate approved a bill today overhauling the rules on secret US government eavesdropping and granting immunity to telephone companies that helped it listen in after 9/11. The so-called FISA bill passed by a large margin of 69-28. The upper house also voted against three amendments that would have watered down, delayed, or stripped away the immunity provision.
When the president, who demanded that measure, signs the bill, it will effectively dismiss some 40 lawsuits filed against telecom companies for alleged violations of wiretapping and privacy laws. The vote today ends almost a year of political wrangling over eavesdropping rules.