Support the FISA Filibuster

Senator Chris Dodd is going forward with plans for a filibuster Monday when the bad FISA revision bill comes up for debate.

Bottom line: The Senate must reject the Senate Intelligence Committee bill's with provisions for telecom immunity. It must insist that any bill passed carries protections for Americans against wiretapping that comport with the Fourth Amendment.

The ACLU says:

This week the Senate will consider making vast changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and will determine whether telecommunications companies should be held liable for their role in President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.

...."When the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 comes to the Senate floor this week, Congress has a duty and an opportunity to protect the Fourth Amendment and rein in the executive's spying power.


....Congress also has the power to stand up and declare that 'because the president said so' is not a legal defense and to block sweeping immunity for the telecom companies. Senators must vote no on the Senate Intelligence Committee's bill, which so disturbingly mirrors the disastrous Protect America Act, to ensure that the president understands that Congress is not a mail order catalog but a co-equal branch of government.

There are 40 lawsuits pending against the telecom companies. The plaintiffs in those cases deserve their day in court. Telephone or E-mail your Senator now and tell him or her to vote no on any bill with immunity for telecoms.

The ACLU's FISA page is here .

Here's more on the two bills under consdieration.

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    I think you mean (none / 0) (#1)
    by kovie on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 01:02:36 AM EST
    the SENATE Intelligence Committee bill, which includes telcom immunity, not the "House Intelligence Committee" bill, which whatever form it originally took was passed out of the house w/o immunity.

    In any case yes, this must be blocked, if not in the senate, then in conference.

    correct (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 01:43:52 AM EST
    it was a typo.

    If I understand Reid correctly, the Intel bill had three Titles, one of which was immunity. Reid initially was going to have the Senate consider only two of the titles, not the one with immunity, along with the Senate Judiciary bill. Then he decided that wouldn't be fair, so now the Intel Committee bill, with the immunity provision included, is the base bill up for consideration.  

    Is this not the case?


    I believe so (none / 0) (#3)
    by kovie on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 03:15:11 AM EST
    Not sure what you mean by "three" titles, unless you mean the one and only version of the SSCI bill, which always had immunity, and the two parts of the SJC bill, one of which did not address immunity, and the other which did, and included it, but was not voted out of committee. If so, only the first two will be voted on, with the first the main bill and the other the alternate or amendment to it.

    To further complicate things, Monday's initial debate will not be about these bills, but about a motion to proceed with debate on them. If cloture is called and succeeds, there will then be debate on the actual bills, which can also be filibustered (I believe, I may be wrong), and then a vote on the actual bills if cloture succeeds. There may even be another step or two here than I'm missing.

    Some diaries and comments I've read seem to believe that Dodd has a good chance of blocking the SSCI bill, and others seem to believe that he doesn't (or isn't serious about it), and that this might be yet another show to fool the base. Either way, I hope that this helps further reveal who are the real progressives (or constitutionalists) in the party, and who are the pretenders.

    Will Clinton, Biden & Obama fly back from Iowa to help Dodd? Or will this be a repeat of the MCA fiasco? Given the nearness of Iowa and New Hampshire, this will be very revealing as to where they all really stand. In fact, I imagine that this was timed precisely with the primaries in mind. I have no idea how this unfolds.

    But I have a bad feeling nonetheless, after having seen Lucy pull that football once too many times. At this point, they have to earn my trust, respect and admiration. We'll soon see, I imagine.


    By the way (none / 0) (#4)
    by kovie on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 03:19:34 AM EST
    Even if immunity passes and gets signed into law, given your experience as a trial lawyer, how likely would it be that the courts would uphold such a law, that basically strips away their constitutional right to rule on 4th amendment violations (as I understand it)? Can congress actually pass such a law, constitutionally? Can the courts say no, it can't? And given today's conservative courts, how likely is that to happen? This is just like the MCA and habeas corpus to me.

    We'll see how serious Dodd is ... (none / 0) (#5)
    by cboldt on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 07:26:32 AM EST
    The bill that will be taken up is S.2248, which is the original bill presented, before being modified by the Judiciary Committee.  I assume that S.2440 and S.2441 are placekeepers of sorts.

    But as for obstructing passage of S.2248, the current procedural posture is a motion to proceed to the bill, which Dodd has objected to.  There will be a cloture vote on the motion to proceed, with that vote scheduled for noon Monday, Dec. 17.  If Dodd and Feingold are serious, they will insist on the 30 hours after passage of cloture, before voting on the motion to proceed.

    Following that, there is the right to object to voting on every amendment offered.  In other words, the ability to obstruct doesn't end with a single lost battle.  Either Feingold, or Dodd (either one has this power, acting alone) can force additional cloture votes, and additional "one day overlay before cloture vote plus 30 hours of debate post-cloture" on each amendment, and on final passage of the bill.

    Given the short time between now and the end of the session, it may be possible to prevent passage of FISA in this session of Congress.

    Three Senate Bills to pick from (none / 0) (#6)
    by cboldt on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 07:42:49 AM EST
    Of the three possible Senate Bills, S.2248, S.2440 and S.2441, there is plenty of variety.  S.2248 appears in three different versions, two of which include amnesty, one of which does not.

    Each bill is carved up into major sections, referred to in each bill as a "Title."  For each bill, "Title I" is the meat and potatoes of the warrantless searching authority, and whatever independent checks, etc. might be obtained through resort to the judicial branch.  There are significant differences between the bills in this part as well; and while lots of attention is drawn to the amnesty provision, attention is diminished on the actual searching authority and "privacy protections."

    Scare quotes, because I think privacy as against the government is as phony as a three dollar bill.  Any politician who says there IS some enforceable privacy right (as against the government) is either naive or lying.

    Not toally serious ... (none / 0) (#7)
    by cboldt on Mon Dec 17, 2007 at 09:16:23 AM EST
    Senators Dodd and Feingold have agreed to proceed immediately to the bill, if cloture is invoked.  They have the right to insist on 30 hours of debate before the motion to proceed is voted on and passed, but they have not so insisted.

    This is pretty common, where a determined Senator capitulates to the inevitable.

    Amnesty for telecoms is inevitable too.  It will just have a more heated debate, intended to mollify the public.