Tag: FISA (page 3)

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.


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FISA: Harry Reid Explains Monday's Process

The FISA legislation debate now set for Monday is pretty confusing as to which bills are on tap for debate and a vote. If I understand correctly, from Sen. Harry Reid's statement, one reason is that he changed course Friday.

The Senate Intelligence Committee bill, S. 2440, had three provisions, one of which included retroactive telecom immunity.

The Senate Judiciary Committee bill, S. 2441, had no immunity but more stringent wiretapping safeguards.

Reid initially said he'd take up two of the three titles of the Intel bill, omitting the one providing for telecom immunity. Now he says the entire Intel Committee bill, including the immunity provision, will be the "base bill" up for consideration. Here's what he said as to why he changed course. [More...]

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"Two Little FISA Frankensteins"

Update here.

Update: Harry Reid says debate on the bills will begin Monday.

There will be a vote on FISA today. The Senate will consider the Senate Intelligence Committee's bill, S.2440, minus its provision calling for telecom immunity, and S. 2441, the Senate Judiciary Committee's bill, which has no immunity provision, but is somewhat better on wiretapping. The ACLU says,

"Another way to think of it: S 2440 is good on immunity and bad on wiretapping while S. 2441 is bad on immunity but good on wiretapping. It looks as though Senator Reid has created two little FISA Frankensteins."

[Edit: I assume the ACLU means the two provisions of S 2440 that will be taken up. It does have another provision calling for immunity. Reid's statement later today indicates he's changed his mind and will now have the Senate consider the entire House Intel bill, including the provision with immunity.]

The ACLU is asking Senators to participate in the Dodd Filibuster and prevent the passage of any bill that includes immunity.

"Senator Reid is forcing senators to trade the Fourth Amendment to avoid immunity or to give immunity in order to protect Fourth Amendment rights. The ACLU, on behalf its members across this country, asks that he bring the Judiciary Committee’s FISA bill to the floor -- without immunity for companies that broke the law," said Fredrickson.

If nothing gets passed, or if Bush vetos a new bill, it's not the end of the world. The Protect America Act, hastily passed before Congress recessed in August, has a 180 day expiration date, which is February. Then again, the Patriot Act had sunsets and look what happened there.

We don't need another end-run around the Fourth Amendment. [more....]

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FISA Court Issues Public Opinion on NSA Wiretapping

The ACLU announces:

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) announced today that it will not make public orders and legal papers pertaining to the scope of the government's authority to engage in the secret wiretapping of Americans.

This is only the third time the FISC has issued an opinion publicly and the first time it has ruled on a substantive motion made by any party other than the government.

Here's today's FISA Court opinion and an AP article discussing it.

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Sen. Specter Introduces FISA Bill on Substitution

Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday introduced a new bill on FISA substitution-- S. 2402, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Substition Act (pdf).

He also made this statement (pdf) about the bill yesterday which appears in the Congressional record.

Mr. President, I seek recognition to introduce The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Substitution Act of 2007, to substitute the Federal Government for the telephone companies in litigation challenging the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program. ....

.... The legislation substitutes the U.S. in place of any electronic communication service company which provided communications in connection with an intelligence activity that was authorized by the President between September 11, 2001, and January 17, 2007, and designed to detect or prevent a terrorist attack against the U.S.

....If the provider assisted the Government beyond what was requested in writing, this legislation will leave the provider on the hook for any surplus assistance. On the other hand, the Government will be substituted if the Attorney General certifies that the electronic communications service provider did only what the Government asked. Once substitution occurs, Federal and State courts are directed to dismiss the providers from the action.

The bill may be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. Unfortunately, it does not have a state secrets fix.

For lots more on the FISA bills currently under consideration this week, the ACLU provides great information.

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Time, Klein and FISA

Update: Time now prints this correction, which isn't much of a correction:

In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillance targets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.


The uproar over Joe Klein's FISA articles in Time Magazine is growing:

If you are new to the story, start with Ryan Singal at Wired or Glenn Greenwald.

Then check out Matt Stoller at Open Left, Dan Gillmoor and Jane at Firedoglake.

What Klein said initially:

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Brandon Mayfield On FISA Amendment

Rachel Perrone of the ACLU sends this Novemebr 1, 2007 letter from Brandon Mayfield to Sen Russ Feingold on FISA. The highlights:

I have read the “FISA Amendments Act of 2007” which is touted as being a balance by those who support it, but it is anything but balanced. The balance between liberty and security has already been hammered out by an earlier, apparently more enlightened generation of Americans and can be seen in the language of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. That perfect balance between criminal investigation and respect for a person’s privacy is known as probable cause. No search or arrest should be made without a warrant, and no warrant should issue without probable cause that a crime has been committed. Further the warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched and the person to be seized. . . .

Full text in extended.

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SJC FISA Hearing - Semi-Live Blog

On the SJC page. Via the Daily Kos Live Blog, the schedule:


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Senator Dodd: Lead The Resistance To The Dem Senate Cave-In On FISA

Yesterday Senator Chris Dodd said:

While the President may think that it's right to offer immunity to those who break the law and violate the right to privacy of thousands of law-abiding Americans, I want to assure him it is not a value we have in common and I hope the same can be said of my fellow Democrats in the Senate.

"For too long we have failed to respect the rule of law and failed to protect our fundamental civil liberties. I will do what I can to see to it that no telecommunications giant that was complicit in this Administration's assault on the Constitution is given a get-out-of-jail-free card."

Senator Dodd, what you must do is lead the fight against the capitulation by your fellow Dem Senators on this issue:

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government's domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.

. . . It was a victory for President Bush, whose aides lobbied heavily against the Democrats' [House] bill, and an embarrassment for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had pushed for the measure's passage. The draft Senate bill has the support of the intelligence committee's chairman, John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), and Bush's director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell. It will include full immunity for those companies that can demonstrate to a court that they acted pursuant to a legal directive in helping the government with surveillance in the United States.


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Dems Drop No Telecom Immunity Demand From FISA Bill

Total capitulation.

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government's domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.

Here's more:

The draft Senate bill has the support of the intelligence committee's chairman, John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), and Bush's director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell. It will include full immunity for those companies that can demonstrate to a court that they acted pursuant to a legal directive in helping the government with surveillance in the United States.

Such a demonstration, which the bill says could be made in secret, would wipe out a series of pending lawsuits alleging violations of privacy rights by telecommunications companies that provided telephone records, summaries of e-mail traffic and other information to the government after Sept. 11, 2001, without receiving court warrants. Bush had repeatedly threatened to veto any legislation that lacked this provision.

Why am I not surprised? Because I never expected anything else since August when the Dems signed onto Bush's bill so they could go home and vacation during the August recess.

The saddest part is that FISA didn't need to be gutted or amended. It needed to be followed.


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FISA Vote Delayed

The vote on the Democrats' proposed changes to FISA was delayed today.

Consideration of the Democratic-crafted measure to strengthen oversight by a special intelligence court was halted by Democratic leaders amid uncertainty about whether it could pass, and in the face of a veto threat from President Bush.

What it means: The Dems may not be able to pass a bill that revises and limits the powers included in Bush's August bill they allowed to pass right under our noses.

Inability of Democrats to achieve a vote in the House this week raises additional questions about its fate.

Any bill the House approves would have to be reconciled with a Senate version, with additional changes likely in that process.

So all those promises by the Dems telling us they voted for Bush's bill because they'd have a chance to redo it? Looks less likely now. Which means Bush's bill stays.

Think Progress has more.

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FISA and S-CHIP Updates and Actions Alerts

Christy at Firedoglake has all the update details, phone numbers and more on FISA and S-CHIP.

Roll Call (subscriber only) reports the GOP is spoiling for a FISA fight, hoping to distract attention from S-CHIP. The Carpetbagger Report has this quote from the Roll Call article:

Specifically, Republicans are planning to use the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three U.S. soldiers in Iraq earlier this year to put a “human face” on the issue, the House staffer explained. According to this aide, while Democrats’ arguments about privacy may resonate with some voters, Republicans believe using real-world examples of how a weak FISA has put U.S. troops in danger will help galvanize public support for their position.

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Dems' FISA Bill Passes Judiciary Committee Vote

The House Judiciary Committee today passed the RESTORE Act, the Democrats' answer to August's FISA rewrite. There were three amendments that passed as well.

  • Jackson-Lee (TX): An amendment to clarify the bill's language and prevent "reverse targeting" by requiring the Administration to obtain a regular FISA warrant whenever a “significant purpose of an acquisition is to acquire the communications of a specific person reasonably believed to be located in the United States” rather than waiting until said person formally becomes a target.
  • Nadler (NY): An amendment to improve court oversight over the government’s compliance with the FISA Court’s orders by requiring the court to assess compliance with its orders as opposed to merely authorizing it to do so and by removing limitations on its review.


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Dems New Wiretap Bill Will Force DOJ Disclosures

The Democrats will introduce their FISA wiretap bill tomorrow.

The Justice Department would have to reveal to Congress the details of all electronic surveillance conducted without court orders since Sept. 11, 2001, including the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program, if a new Democratic wiretapping bill is approved.

The draft bill, scheduled to be introduced to Congress Tuesday, would also require the Justice Department to maintain a database of all Americans subjected to government eavesdropping without a court order, including whether their names have been revealed to other government agencies.

This is the rewrite bill Dems promised before the August recess:


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House Judiciary Comm. to Hold FISA Hearing Sept. 5

House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers announced today the committee will hold a hearing on FISA on September 5, 2007.

"Warrantless Surveillance and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA): The Role of Checks and Balances in Protecting Americans’ Privacy Rights." The hearing will be held on Wednesday, September 5, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had asked for the hearing in an August 4 letter.

Tonight, the House passed S. 1927, a bill approved by the Senate yesterday, which is an interim response to the Administration's request for changes in FISA, and which was sought to fill an intelligence gap which is asserted to exist. Many provisions of this legislation are unacceptable, and, although the bill has a six month sunset clause, I do not believe the American people will want to wait that long before corrective action is taken.

Accordingly, I request that your committees send to the House, as soon as possible after Congress reconvenes, legislation which responds comprehensively to the Administration's proposal while addressing the many deficiencies in S. 1927.

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