Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Senate Votes on FISA Today – Part 1: Amendments

Today the Senate takes up debates and votes for amendments to HR 6304, the bill just passed in the House that would, among other things, do something I haven’t really ever seen before: it provides a grant of immunity from civil suits against telecommunications firms that went along with government-ordered eavesdropping on the conversations of American citizens – orders that did not have the benefit of a warrant.

In other words, illegal search and seizure occurred. And now the Senate is in the process of placing their seal of approval on these illegal acts.

HR 6304 has three amendments to be voted on today.
Three Amendments upon which the survival of the 4th Amendment depends.

A roll call vote was requested for all three.

Senator Dole’s amendment to strike Title 2 from the bill, the part of it that grants immunity to telecom firms, came to bat first.

32 Aye – 66 Nay.

Strike one.

Then Arlen Spector’s amendment “to limit retroactive immunity for providing assistance to the United States to instances in which a Federal court determines the assistance was provided in connection with an intelligence activity that was constitutional,” came up next.

37 Aye - 61 Nay

Strike Two.

Senator Bingaman’s amendment “to stay pending cases against certain telecommunications companies and provide that such companies may not seek retroactive immunity until 90 days after the date the final report of the Inspectors General on the President's Surveillance Program is submitted to Congress.”

This is the last hope that we have for our 4th Amendment. Bush has threatened to veto any legislation that puts a delay on any telecom cases until people can see whether any laws were broken and who broke them.

42 Aye – 56 Nay

Strike Three.

On that last vote, those Aye votes appear to be 42 solid votes to deny passage of the FISA bill, don't they? Not so. Barack Obama, who voted Aye three times today, has promised to vote for the bill, as have others.

But I guess we’ll see.

After the Senators get their lunch.

Wouldn't want to yank the guts out of the 4th Amendment without a full belly.

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