Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Warrantless Surveillance and the Lookalike Parties

To no one's surprise, the Senate completely caved in Feb. 12 and provided the White House and the National Security Agency everything it wanted in gutting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including full indemnity for phone companies that get conned into performing illegal surveillance. The New York Times was smart enough to realize that the big issue was not simply how much of FISA was destroyed, or to what extent carriers could parade their "get out of jail free" cards, but rather the degree to which cowed Democrats in both houses of Congress, even when in a majority position, give the president everything he wants so as not to look "soft on terrorism." As the Times article points out, this does not bode well for Guantanamo, waterboarding, extraordinary renditions, habeas corpus, or much of anything else in the Bush imperial presidency. It's nice to have two lookalike parties - note that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did not vote.


Ruth said...

How inconveniently convenient that Hil and Bar didn't have time to vote and take a stand. Let's see if they have something to say about it and show that words are easier than actions.

In his statement about this FISA act Carl Levin ( says Congress already ensured the cooperation of telecom providers with the intelligence community with the Protect America Act last summer.

Loring Wirbel said...

Exactly, but Protect America was designed to be a sunset for six months - this was to be the biggie rewrite of FISA, apparently with no sunset.

Ruth said...

Oh ok.

But as Levin states, in this just passed act, Title I is appropriate, whereas Title II, granting immunity is wrong.

chris said...


I thought I saw the Seante roll call that said Obama voted against allowing immunity and Clinton didn't even show up. Am I wrong?

Loring Wirbel said...

I need to find the full roll call, because there was the temporary bill that Obama voted against, but then I read two reports that both he and Hillary did not show up. I'll post whatever I find.