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FISA Bill Consideration Postponed Until January

Sen. Harry Reid pulled the FISA bill today saying there were too many amendments to consider before the Christmas recess.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and presidential candidate, spent much of the day attacking the idea of giving immunity to the phone companies, and he took credit for the delay.

“Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy,” Mr. Dodd said in a statement.

“The president should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens,” he said. “I thank all my colleagues who joined me in fighting and winning a stay in the rush to grant retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies who may have violated the privacy rights of millions of Americans.”

The ACLU calls today's action "a clear win for civil libertarians."

“The ACLU wants to thank Senator Dodd and all of the senators who joined the effort to protect civil liberties. Senator Dodd was joined by nine other senators who voted in a midday procedural vote and 15 Senators who signed a letter asking for the Judiciary Committee’s bill to be given preference over the Intelligence Committee’s bill.

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FISA Debate and Vote - Live Thread

Update: Consideration of the bill has been postponed to January due to the number of proposed amendments and lack of time to consider them.

Update: Here's the transcript of Dodd's speech.

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The Senate is debating S. 2248 to overhaul FISA. The bill contains retroactive immunity for the telecom companies.

A vote will begin shortly on whether to accept the bill. Right now they are moving to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed.

You can watch live on C-Span3.

Update: The Roll Call vote is happening. The room looks more than three-quarters empty. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum requirement is waived. 60 votes are needed to move forward with the bill. Clerk calls roll.

Sen. Leahy is expected to file a substitute bill stripping the telecoms of immunity.

Vote tally: Boxer, Feingold, Cantwell, Brown, Harkin, Wyden, Cardin, Kerry, Menendez and Dodd voted in the negative so far. Leahy and Durbin voted yes, as did Feinstein, Schumer, Kennedy, Specter, Levin and Ken Salazar. Again, this is the motion to invoke cloture to allow the bad Senate Intel Committee bill to proceed.

Vote total: Cloture is invoked. 76 to 10. Motion is agreed to. Harry Reid: No one intends to talk for 30 hours but some want to talk post-cloture. Reid wants everything from now on to take 60 votes, except for final passage. The rules don't require it, but they do take 60 votes to stop a filibuster. They are arguing about that now.

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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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NSA Wiretap Issue Isn't Dead Yet


The Sixth Circuit's decision last week to dismiss a lawsuit brought over the NSA warrantless wiretapping program doesn't end the litigation in the courts.

At least one other suit is pending, and standing to bring the lawsuit isn't at issue and and thus is unlikely to be the basis for dismissal.

Readers may remember that Albany, NY defense lawyer Terry Kindlon, raised a similar challenge to the wiretapping in United States v. Aref (the so-called "terrorism" case from the Northern District of New York).

In December, 2005, while Aref's case was pending, Terry learned from a New York Times article that his client had been tapped by the NSA. He immediately made some demands, followed up with some motions and, basically, got nowhere (although he did enjoy receiving a Government pleading containing a caption at the top of the first page, a signature at the bottom of the third page, and nothing but blank space (marked CLASSIFIED) in between).

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ACLU Responds to Dismissal of NSA Wiretapping Case


The ACLU responds to the Sixth Circuit's dismissal of its lawsuit over the NSA warrantless electronic monitoring program.

The decision is here (pdf.)

Big Tent Democrat weighs in here. Also check out Think Progress.

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New Army Manual Grants Expanded Wiretapping Authority

It looks like President Bush and the Pentagon are trying to sneak another fast one by us. This time, it's the deletion of a wiretapping provision that has been in the Army Manual since 1984.

The manual, described by the Army as a “major revision” to intelligence-gathering guidelines, addresses policies and procedures for wiretapping Americans, among other issues.

The original guidelines, from 1984, said the Army could seek to wiretap people inside the United States on an emergency basis by going to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, or by obtaining certification from the attorney general “issued under the authority of section 102(a) of the Act.”

That last phrase is missing from the latest manual, which says simply that the Army can seek emergency wiretapping authority pursuant to an order issued by the FISA court “or upon attorney general authorization.” It makes no mention of the attorney general doing so under FISA.

Bush asks us to trust him.

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NSA Wiretapping: One Year Old Today


Who knows how long Bush's NSA warrantless wiretapping has been going on, but it was a year ago today that Bush 'fessed up to it:

On Dec. 17, 2005, Bush publicly acknowledged for the first time he had authorized the NSA to monitor, without approval from a judge, phone calls and e-mails that come into or originate in the U.S. and involve people the government suspects of having terrorist links.

Bush said he had no intention of halting what he called a "vital tool" in the war on terror.

It's up to the Dems now. Will they have the spine and the wherewithal to put an end to it...without passing more laws that increase the executive's power to order spying on more of us without adequate judicial oversight?

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