What is Harry Reid doing on FISA?

Again Glenn Greenwald is doing a great job at collecting information and presenting it to the blogosphere. Amnesty for telecoms? Why? Do I get amnesty if I speed and get caught? Do I get amnesty if don’t pay my taxes? I know the rules just as the telecom companies did. Why in the world would Harry Reid even consider give amnesty to telecom companies…unless, he has sold out? Unless the telecoms have generously given moolah to his piggy bank. I’m very disappointed in Harry Reid and Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

As I mentioned yesterday, Senator Dodd is trying to stand up and squash this love affair between some senators and the telecom companies. Senator Dodd has placed a hold on the bill. (Remember that any senator can place a hold on any bill for any reason.) Senator Harry Reid is going to ignore the hold. Senator Dodd has raised the stakes by stating the he will filibuster the bill if necessary. Although Senator Feingold is not making the papers, he is doing the right thing. Here’s his press release

“As a member of the SSCI, I will strongly oppose any FISA legislation that fails to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, overseas and here at home. When the Committee considers this legislation today, I will also fight to reject immunity for anyone alleged to have cooperated with the Administration’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program. The documents made available by the White House for the first time this week only further demonstrate that the program was illegal and that there is no basis for granting retroactive immunity to those who allegedly cooperated. The one silver lining of the flawed FISA bill passed in August was that it had a 6-month expiration date. It would be shameful to miss this opportunity to fix the law. It is time for Congress to stand up for the rights of Americans and to defend the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Senator Feingold who sits on the Senate Intelligence committee continues to fight for the people of the United States and not the telecoms. Feingold released this statement yesterday –

“As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have been working and will continue to work every step of the way to try to fix the badly flawed FISA bill. I was pleased that in the Intelligence Committee markup yesterday Senator Wyden and I were able to make some improvements to the bill, including requiring FISA court orders for wiretapping U.S. citizens overseas and more meaningful oversight by Congress and the Inspector General of the new authorities. But we still have a long way to go before this bill adequately protects the privacy of law-abiding Americans. The bill still cedes far too much power to the executive branch, which has time and again shown it will only abuse it. And I am deeply disappointed that it included retroactive immunity for anyone alleged to have cooperated with the Administration’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program. I hope the bill will be further improved in the Judiciary Committee before it reaches the full Senate. If the bill that ultimately reaches the Senate floor includes immunity and does not adequately protect the privacy of Americans, I will fight it vigorously with every tool at my disposal.”

Senator Joe Biden has joined Senator Dodd in not wanting to give amnesty to the telecom. Although I couldn’t find anything on Biden’s Senate site nor his campaign web site.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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