This is just amazing! The existing FISA laws allow the government to obtain a warrant and spy on US citizens. There is a 72 hour window where they can spy first and get the warrant second. There is no emergency and yet the House Intelligence Committee appears to be willing to write in an immunity to the telecoms for illegal wiretapping.

The chairman, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, said in an interview on CNN that the committee had been talking to the companies “because if we’re going to give them blanket immunity, we want to know and understand what it is we’re giving immunity for.”

Mr. Reyes did not specify what provisions a House bill might contain. But his use of the words “blanket immunity” suggested that he might be moving toward a Senate bill, backed by Mr. Bush, that would protect phone companies that assisted in a federal program of wiretapping without warrants after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I have an open mind about that,” Mr. Reyes said.

“We’re very close,” he added. “Probably within the next week, we’ll be able to move hopefully to bring it to a vote.”

The eavesdropping law, which expired Feb. 16, made it easier for the government to initiate wiretaps without court approval. Mr. Bush has said its expiration creates a national security risk, while Democrats say the government can continue current wiretaps and start new ones through other legal means.