Thanks Democratic Senate
The Senate passed the final version of the piece o' crap Intelligence Committee's FISA bill by a count of 68-29. There are only 29 Senators who care at all about civil liberties. The bill not only gives amnesty to the phone companies, but gives the President a great amount of leeway to spy on really whoever he wants. Dianee Feinstein, who said she would have a lot of trouble voting for the final bill if her amendments didn't pass (and they didn't), did opposed the bill, but that's a small victory indeed.
Here's Russ Feingold:
“The Senate passage of this FISA bill, while not surprising, is extremely disappointing. The Senate missed a golden opportunity to pass a bill that would give our intelligence officials the tools they need to go after suspected terrorists while also safeguarding the privacy of law-abiding Americans. Instead the Senate, with the help of too many Democrats, is yet again giving the administration sweeping new powers – and letting it off the hook for its illegal wiretapping program. I hope that our House colleagues will hold a stronger line, and refuse to accept the deeply flawed Senate bill. The calls from Americans tired of having their rights and their Constitution trampled on by this administration are only growing louder. Congress should stand up for the American people, and the Constitution, by opposing such a badly flawed bill.”
Four committees looked at this bill. Three thought it needless to give amnesty to the phone companies. Only the Intel Committee saw it as a necessity, and they got their way. As Chris Dodd called it on a conference call today, this is "the single largest invasion of privacy in American history."
The bill is going to conference, and the House's version is quite a bit better, though imperfect. You can sign this FDL petition here to demand that the House stands behind their bill. Many House leaders have come out today and spoken in defense of stripping amnesty out of the bill. Today John Conyers wrote that secret documents provided by the White House do not justify amnesty for the phone companies.
But we'll see if this means anything. Truly this is the perfect crime: the President decides to break the law, he employs industry to help him do so, then when he's called on it, he enacts the state secrets privilege to evade oversight from the Congress and the courts, and then demands immunity to let industry evade responsibility because they can't defend themselves, restricting any peek into the scope of the lawbreaking.
Thanks for making me sick on my birthday!
UPDATE: This is the best explanation for why Dodd and the others agreed to the pretty awful unanimous consent agreement:
3.) Why didn't Dodd object to unanimous consent on the "compromise" that determined vote thresholds?
Well, the answer is simple: If he didn't Jello Jay would have bolted and brought Democratic Senators with him to vote in favor of a subsequent McConnell cloture motion. The same kind we beat back before the extension.
Had Dodd objected, there would have been no amendments at all. Not that the ones we got made a difference.
It was a damned if we did, damned if we didn't situation. Which Harry Reid is pretty much responsible for, by virtue of bringing forward the Intelligence Committee version of the bill first.