President Bush, at loggerheads with House Democrats over how the government can eavesdrop on U.S. citizens, warned Wednesday that terrorists were planning fresh assaults that would make the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks "pale by comparison."
Bush pressured lawmakers to rewrite the intelligence rules governing how phone calls and e-mails are monitored for terrorist activity. Democrats and others fear the changes Bush and his Republican allies support would unduly encroach on civil liberties.
The House is considering the Senate version of the bill that Bush favors, one that includes retroactive protection from lawsuits for telecommunications companies that cooperated with government eavesdropping after the Sept. 11 attacks. The House bill does not provide telecom immunity.
Rather than wait for the House and Senate to negotiate differences in their versions of the intelligence legislation, Bush wants a rubber-stamp of the Senate bill so he can sign it into law immediately.
The current law expires at midnight Saturday, and Bush said he wouldn't approve another extension. The House wouldn't either - Republicans led a 229-191 vote turning down a 21-day extension.