Tuesday, February 05, 2008

FISA Update

By Libby

Due to my impossible time constraints, I've fallen woefully behind on this issue. Thankfully Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher are organized. I'm pressed for time again this morning, so I'm just going to reproduce yesterday's email for those who might not have received it.
Beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST today, the Senate will resume debate on the pending FISA bill, by proceeding to vote on a series of amendments, most proposed by Democrats, to improve the bill. Key amendemnts include one jointly sponsored by Sens. Dodd and Feingold to strip the bill of telecom immunity; an amendment from Sen. Feinstein to transfer the telecom cases to the FISA court; an amendment jointly sponsored by Sens. Specter and Whitehouse to substitute the government for the telecoms as defendants; and an amendment from Sen. Feinstein emphasizing that FISA is the "exclusive means" by which the Government can conduct eavesdropping activites.

On Thursday, Democratic and Republican leaders reached agreement whereby certain amendments would require only 50 votes to pass, while others would require 60. It appears that these vote thresholds were set so as to ensure that none of the amendments opposed by the White House could actually pass. It seems clear that the Senate is well on its way to passing a bill that will provide both telecom immunity and vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers for the President. Nonetheless, it is still vital to secure as many favorable votes as possible, since that will provide added leverage in trying to pressure the House, which passed a much better bill back in November, to stand firm as it proceeds to negotiate with the Senate over the final bill to be sent to the White House.
Marcy Wheeler will be liveblogging the Senate proceedings at FireDog Lake. It's never too late to contact your Senators and your Congressmen. Even if we lose, let's go down fighting.

No comments: