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Surveillance law extended for two weeks

By Times Wires
Published January 30, 2008



The House and Senate Tuesday approved a 15-day extension of an expiring intelligence surveillance law and the White House backed off a threatened veto by President Bush. The action allows more time to resolve a dispute over the Bush administration's proposal to immunize telephone companies from lawsuits stemming from their cooperation with warrantless wiretaps. Both chambers passed by unanimous voice votes the temporary extension of the Protect America Act and then left town for a one-week break. The White House gave its blessing Tuesday night to the short-term measure rather than allowing the surveillance law to expire on Friday.

Attorney general silent on waterboarding

Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Tuesday that he will refuse to publicly say whether the interrogation tactic known as waterboarding is illegal, digging in against critics who want the Bush administration to define it as torture.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Mukasey said he has finished a review of Justice Department memos about the CIA's current methods of interrogating terror suspects and finds them to be lawful. He said waterboarding currently is not used by the spy agency.

He is to testify today at hearing chaired by Leahy.

General says plans readied for satellite

The U.S. military is developing contingency plans to deal with the possibility that a large spy satellite expected to fall to Earth in late February or early March could hit North America.

Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, head of U.S. Northern Command, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the size of the satellite suggests that some pieces will not burn up as the orbiting vehicle re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and will hit the ground.

"We're aware that this satellite is out there," Renuart said. "We're aware it is a fairly substantial size. And we know there is at least some percentage that it could land on ground as opposed to in the water."

Bush signs order to curb pet projects

President Bush took executive action on Tuesday to crack down on pork-barrel practices in Congress. He promised to veto any spending bill that doesn't cut the number and cost of congressional pet projects in half.

The executive order Bush signed in the Oval Office orders federal agencies to ignore "earmarks" that aren't explicitly enacted into law, erasing a common practice in which lawmakers' projects are outlined in nonbinding documents that accompany legislation.

Also Tuesday

-Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., announced Tuesday that he will step down from Congress at the end of this term to run for governor.

- Rep. Ron Lewis, R-Ky., abruptly ended his re-election campaign He withdrew moments before the campaign filing deadline, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

[Last modified January 30, 2008, 02:05:36]

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