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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today in Washington D. C. - Feb 12, 2008

Update: FISA, S. 2248, Passes Senate 68-29 with Immunity for Telecoms. The bill must be reconciled with the House bill, which contains no immunity.
The photo of the WTC being attacked by terrorists is used today as a reminder of why FISA is important in monitoring terrorist communications. If you do NOT believe terrorists have already, are currently, and will in future seek to attack the United States, you are denying reality. Why are some in Congress protecting the speech of terrorists outside the US who are communicating with people within the US? Why to they desire to punish businesses and their employees for cooperating with Government orders required to monitor international terrorists? When did some in Congress become more interested in supporting "trial lawyers" than in protecting American lives and property? Lesson learned: being elected to Congress does not make a person either a patriot or a friend of the American people.
On The Floor: The Senate reconvened at 10 AM today and resumed consideration of the FISA reform bill (S. 2248). As many as 8 amendments could be voted on. Once the amendments are worked through, the Senate may finally pass the FISA legislation. Among the amendments to the FISA bill to be considered is one by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) which would strip immunity for telecom companies from the bill. Another would substitute the federal government as a defendant in lawsuits against telecoms stemming from surveillance. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell have recommended that the president veto the bill if either of those amendments were to pass.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on the conference report for the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill (H.R. 2082). The Senate could consider this bill after the FISA bill is cleared. There remains some controversy over the intelligence bill, as it contains interrogation language which the White House objects to. Later in the week, the Senate is expected to return to an American Indian health care bill (S. 1200).

From Senate & News Sources: On the FISA reform bill. Roll Call reports, “Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) appears to have enough votes today to beat back amendments that attempt to strip his bill of lawsuit immunity for telecommunications companies . . . .” Assuming all goes well, the Senate is likely to pass the bipartisan Intelligence Committee bill with few modifications later in the day.

notes that “attention will turn immediately to the House, where trying to complete a final bill overhauling the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could be a contentious and complicated chess game that could extend beyond a critical deadline at the end of the week.” The latest extension of the Protect America Act, designed to temporarily correct issues with the FISA law that the current bill will address over the long term, expires on Friday.

The House could pass the Senate bill, thus eliminating the time pressure, but Roll Call reports, “[b]ecause the immunity provision will likely remain intact, the House is expected to balk.” In that case, Reid has prepared three different extensions of the Protect America Act. Another extension should not be necessary because Congress has been aware of problems with FISA since last spring and has had the Senate Intelligence bill to work with since October. A time-consuming conference with House-passed legislation could put our ability to gather intelligence on terrorist threats at risk. Democrats plan to blame Republicans should this happen, but it is the Democrats who have dragged their feet and mismanaged floor time, causing Congress to repeatedly run up against deadlines to reauthorize surveillance programs.

Notable Democrats’ mismanagement hasn’t been limited to FISA. On Friday, Reid backed out of a unanimous consent agreement he’d negotiated with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Roll Call noted the significance of this: “UC agreements are one of the core rules of the Senate and are used on a daily basis to keep the chamber from becoming bogged down in procedural votes and filibusters.” In another example, The Hill reports that Reid used a delaying tactic to attempt to protect Democrats from having to vote on a bill that would have held the city of Berkeley to account for its city council’s treatment of Marine recruiters.

Tags: Berkeley, FISA, Marines, terrorism, US Congress, US House, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 9:47 AM - Post Link


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