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Senate FISA Bill Does Not Include Retroactive Immunity for Telecoms, and That Makes it OK, According to Dodd
By Tim Tagaris, Chris Dodd for President
As they say ... Breaking News from the Senate.
Forgive me if some of this is in the weeds, I'll try and make the parliamentary process as painless as possible.
1. Within the last hour, the Senate Judiciary Committee just reported out a FISA bill that DOES NOT include retroactive immunity for the telecom companies that helped the Bush Administration spy on Americans.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Elliot D. Cohen
Amid public outcry, in 2003, Congress defunded the Bush Administration's Total Information Awareness (TIA) project, a massive Orwellian technology-driven surveillance and data mining initiative. Now, it is attempting to pass through the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 (S. 2248), a bill that would affectively give legal standing and retroactive legal immunity to a major component of this project.
By Chris Dodd for President
In spring of 2006 I started seeing people put special notes to government agents in their email signature. The thinking was that if a government official was going to read your email, you might as well put a line in at the end to remind them that they were doing so illegally.
Yesterday afternoon I sat down with AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein. He's the technician who revealed that the NSA has secret rooms for sweeping up massive amounts of electronic communications on the internet - the story that prompted these sardonic email signatures.
By Chris Dodd, www.huffingtonpost.com
Tuesday night's Democratic Presidential debate in Philadelphia included some of the most serious discussions of Iraq, Iran, and global warming that we've had thus far during the campaign season. I was happy to get the opportunity to speak clearly and directly to why I believe I've offered the boldest, most honest assessments on all three of these critical issues.
By PAMELA HESS, AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that the nation's courts may be the only way to determine if the White House violated wiretapping and privacy laws when it eavesdropped on Americans without court orders.
The senators remain reluctant to grant legal immunity to telecommunications companies that allegedly helped.
Legal protection for the companies is a top priority for President Bush, who has vowed to veto any eavesdropping bill that does not provide it.
By emptywheel, The Next Hurrah
Buried in this article on Democrats compromising with Republicans, I noticed this paragraph:
And as Democratic leaders push their own legislation to rein in the wiretapping program, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has been quietly exploring avenues of compromise with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee. Centrist Democrats hope those talks can dovetail with the Senate intelligence committee's own bipartisan measure on surveillance of suspected terrorists.
By McCamy Taylor, Democratic Underground
"America needs to hate The Phone Company." The President's Analyst
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is on a roll. Last week, he announced a plan that would keep News Corp and Billionaire Republican (and new owner of the Tribune Co.) Sam Zell from having to sell any of their media properties. All Martin has to do is make changes in the federal laws to regulate how many media properties one company can own in any market.
By Senator Chris Dodd, http://www.chrisdodd.com
"Mr. Mukasey's position that the President does not have to heed the law disqualifies him from being the chief attorney for the United States. We have seen for too long, and at great expense to our national security, an Administration that has systematically attacked the rule of law and turned our Justice Department into a political wing of the White House. I'm afraid that Mr. Mukasey as Attorney General would be more of the same."
By Senator Chris Dodd
If you haven't yet, please take a moment to call and thank Senators Kennedy, Feingold, Biden, and Cardin.
All four have indicated their opposition within the Judiciary Committee to any FISA bill that contains retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
But that's only 40% of where we need to be to stop the provision in the Judiciary Committee.
Take a moment to make one last phone call before the weekend and ask the remaining members of the committee where they stand, and thank those who have already taken the right position.
Moveon.org and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton!
Are you willing to go to the mat to restore the Constitution?
Just last night, we heard there are plans to disregard Senator Dodd's intention to place a hold on a FISA bill that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies.
That would be a pretty extraordinary move, but Chris Dodd has pledged to stop this horrible bill any way he can.
So if the hold is not honored, he is prepared to go to the Senate floor and filibuster.
By Robert Parry, http://www.consortiumnews.com
In August after the Democratic-controlled Congress caved in to George W. Bush’s demands for broader surveillance powers, I noted that the new authority went far beyond what was advertised and that the President could obtain year-long spying orders on Americans who ventured outside the United States.
My analysis, which was based on a reading of the law’s language, wasn’t shared by commentators in the major U.S. news media and even drew some reader criticism as alarmist for failing to take into account secret “minimization” provisions that supposedly would protect American citizens.
By Ryan Singel, Wired
Senator Russell Feingold, (D-Wisconsin), who cast the only Senate vote against the Patriot Act and now sits on the Select Intelligence committee, seems to have looked at secret spying documents given by the White House to that committee and found that they do not exonerate the government's secret spying programs or the phone and internet companies that secretly aided them.
By Jane Hamsher, FireDogLake
Well this is quite shocking:
Tim Starks of Congressional Quarterly reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to bring the Senate’s surveillance bill up for floor debate in mid-November. That’s despite the hold that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) plans to place on the measure — something first reported by Election Central’s Greg Sargent.
Senator Dodd Does for Illegal Spying What We're Still Waiting for a Senator to Do for Illegal War Funding
By Senator Chris Dodd
It's been a busy day, but I wanted take a moment and let you know that I have decided to place a "hold" on legislation in the Senate that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.
I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.
It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution.
But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document.
That's why I am stopping this bill today.
By Sherwood Ross
Sooner or later, a country that spies on its neighbors will turn on its own people, violating their privacy, stealing their liberties.
President Bush’s grab for unchecked eavesdropping powers is the culmination of what the National Security Agency(NSA) has spent forty years doing unto others.
And if you’re upset by the idea of NSA tapping your phone, be advised NSA likely can also read your Windows software to access your computer.
By Nick Juliano, www.RawStory.com
The Department of Defense has conspired with the FBI to "circumvent the law" in accessing hundreds of Americans' telephone, e-mail and financial records, say two civil liberties groups that released reams of new documents obtained in a contested public records request.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has challenged the Bush Administration's post-Sept. 11 spying authority, says the Pentagon has issued 455 National Security Letters in concert with the FBI to obtain Americans' private information it is not entitled to receive.
Firm's Letter to Lawmakers Details Government Requests
By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post
Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers' telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005.
The company said it does not determine the requests' legality or necessity because to do so would slow efforts to save lives in criminal investigations.
By Ray McGovern, www.consortiumnews.com
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted knowing for several years about the Bush administration’s eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. She said she was briefed on it when she was ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. But was she told that the illegal surveillance began well before 9/11?
Referring to her briefing in an apologia-sans-apology Washington Post op-ed on Jan. 15, 2006, she wrote: “This is how I came to be informed of President Bush’s authorization for the NSA to conduct certain types of surveillance.”
'Classified info' was not allowed at ex-CEO's trial
By Sara Burnett And Jeff Smith, Rocky Mountain News
The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest.
Here's the new House bill. It seems to have enough good in it to get it vetoed, but still has problems:
According to Glenn Greenwald:
Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies, one of the nation's premiere FISA experts, has issued a statement (via email) which provides, in part: "We welcome the bill by Chairmen Reyes and Conyers as an important first step towards restoring the civil liberties protections lost in August. Their bill would be a vast improvement over the current law passed at the President's urging, and it is much more protective of any of the bills considered in August." Martin goes on to emphasize, however, that even this current bill violates the Fourth Amendment by failing to require individual warrants for every international call (Russ Feingold's statement made a similar objection).
By Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t
Recently, I sat down with attorney Jon Eisenberg who sued George W. Bush, the National Security Administration (NSA), and other federal agencies, on behalf of two Washington DC-based lawyers who allege their telephone calls were illegally monitored by the NSA in March 2004.
The lawyers, Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, appear to be the only American citizens who say they have hard evidence that proves the government spied on them.
By Susan Jo Keller, New York Times
Washington - A federal judge in Oregon ruled Wednesday that crucial parts of the USA Patriot Act were not constitutional because they allowed federal surveillance and searches of Americans without demonstrating probable cause.
The ruling by Judge Anne L. Aiken of Federal District Court in Portland was in the case of Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer in Portland who was arrested and jailed after the Federal Bureau of Investigation mistakenly linked him to the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.
Following up on Jim Risen's NYT article this week reporting that Congressional Democrats appeared likely to agree to some form of retroactive immunity for telecom companies which illegally enabled the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping on Americans (thus compelling dismissal most of the remaining lawsuits challenging the illegality of the eavesdropping), Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball reported the same thing: READ MORE.
By Associated Press
A federal judge scolded the Bush administration Wednesday for responding with sometimes blanket secrecy to a request for documents on its warrantless wiretapping program.
Privacy groups and civil rights organizations sued the Justice Department last year, demanding it release documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The government refused to release most of the records, arguing that such a move could jeopardize national security and undermine terrorism investigations.
A new book by Jack Goldsmith — one of the “brightest stars in the conservative legal firmament,” good friend of John Yoo, visiting scholar at AEI, and former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — has published a book detailing the administration’s extraordinary efforts to expand its wiretapping program.