President Bush says he will veto a terrorist-surveillance bill that contains provisions added by opposition Democrats in the House of Representatives, because he says the bill as written would undermine national security. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.
President Bush says he will veto the Democrats' House bill because it is seriously flawed and would make it harder to collect intelligence on foreign terrorists.
"Their partisan legislation would extend protections we enjoy as Americans to foreign terrorists overseas," the president said. "It would cause us to lose vital intelligence on terrorist threats, and that is a risk that our country can not afford to take."
Mr. Bush says the bill would put in place what he says would be a cumbersome court-approval process for listening-in on telephone and computer communications between the United States and foreign terrorists.
He also complained the bill fails to grant retroactive protection from lawsuits for telecommunications companies that provided telephone and computer records to the government following the September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
Many of those firms are facing civil lawsuits for cooperating with government eavesdropping. Mr. Bush says allowing those lawsuits to go forward will undermine the private sector's willingness to cooperate with the intelligence community, which he says is essential to protecting the nation from harm.
"This litigation would require the disclosure of state secrets that could lead to the public release of highly-classified information that our enemies could use against us," Mr. Bush said. "And this litigation would be unfair because any companies that assisted us after 9/11 were assured by our government that their cooperation was legal and necessary."
Mr. Bush says companies that may have helped save lives after the 2001 attacks should be thanked for their patriotic service, not subjected to billion-dollar lawsuits that will make them less willing to help in the future.
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy says the president is trying to bully Congress and mislead the American people on intelligence gathering.
In a written statement, Kennedy says President Bush wants Congress to pretend that his administration did not conduct what the Senator calls a "massive, illegal warrantless surveillance program that was one of the most outrageous abuses of executive power in American history."
Kennedy says it is the president who is playing politics with national security as the Senator says neither the president nor telecommunications firms decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.