Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More on FISA bill

House Democrats unveiled their bill to make more changes to FISA, which would sunset on December 31st, 2009. There are conflicting reports on what exactly the bill does, and Glenn Greenwald says it may not be as bad as we think. The most contentious issues is whether to give telecommunications companies retroactive legal immunity for helping the government conduct electronic surveillance without court orders, which Majority Whip Steny Hoyer says hinges on whether the Bush administration will turn over documents on what exactly those companies did.

Despite the fact that the Democrats shouldn't even be considering giving immunity, I say they should hold out on passage until they get absolutely everything they want from this administration. After all, what is the rush? The bill they passed back in August doesn't expire until February of next year. Also, I think the Dems should demand President Bush should accept censure as part of getting the FISA changes. If he wants it rubber-stamped, he should accept responsibility for having broke the law in the first place. Perhaps we can convince Sen. Russ Feingold to try and attach his proposed censure resolution as an amendment...

UPDATE: If the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans don't like this bill, that's just fine. Send them one they really don't like!

UPDATE II: Here's what happens when a telecom company didn't go along with the NSA's illegal program in the first place.

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