Thursday, January 24, 2008

FISA Fight and AT&T's Personal Senator

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on the FISA debate beginning today:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is predicting the Senate will grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies as Congress takes up reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)...

"I think we will prevail," Rockefeller said on Wednesday, adding that he hoped the Senate will finish the bill by next week. The FISA legislation expires in February, and both President Bush and GOP congressional leaders have demanded new legislation be in place by that time.

"It's a pretty bad idea to appear cocky," Rockefeller noted. "I am not pessimistic."
Well, if President Bush demanded it, what can we do then? Glenn Greenwald:
For an entire year, Congressional Democrats have won absolutely nothing. They've given in to the White House on every one of its demands. Yet here is Jay Rockefeller strutting around declaring Victory and having to battle against feelings of cockiness because, finally, he is about to win something.

But ponder the "win" that is giving him these feelings of immense self-satisfaction. Is he finally accomplishing what Democrats were given control of Congress to do: namely, impose some checks and limits on the administration? No. The opposite is true. Rockefeller is doing the bidding of Dick Cheney. The bill that he is working for is the bill the White House demanded. Rockefeller is supported by the entire Bush administration, urged on and funded by the nation's most powerful telecoms, and is backed by the entire GOP caucus in the Senate.
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd has renewed his filibuster promise. Greenwald and Jane Hamsher began an email campaign yesterday urging readers to urge John Edwards to issue a challenge to Clinton and Obama for the FISA Fight. From the Inbox:

John Edwards should challenge his rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to go back to Washington, DC and fight against retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

The Republicans are not going to let Harry Reid punt and extend the Protect America Act for another 18 months so it looks like the FISA bill is going to come back up again on Monday. Chris Dodd's objection to Unanimous Consent still stands, so they will pick up in the middle of the Motion to Proceed debate.

Without the help of the presidential candidates, we are doomed to lose this fight. And all their calls for change will ring hollow if they allow George Bush to railroad this bill through a supine Democratic-controlled Senate because of their absence.

You can email Senator Edwards directly at

1 comment:

  1. Both the Protect America Act and the proposed replacements are utterly unconstitutional on the matter of warrants. Best alternative: let PAA sunset and replace it with nothing.

    And let's not forget that telecom immunity is really BUSH IMMUNITY. In December 2005, President Bush admitted ordering the government to violate FISA repeatedly for at least four years.

    I'm willing to take Bush at his word that federal law was broken-- that's enough for impeachment. Others want to investigate first. But telecom immunity would hamper an investigation of the Bush administration.