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February 12, 2008

Senate Passes FISA Reauthorization With Telecom Immunity

Still has to go to the House.

Phone companies that took part in President George W. Bush's warrantless domestic spying program would receive retroactive immunity from lawsuits under a bill approved on Tuesday by the Democratic-led Senate.

...

Passed by the Senate on a largely party line vote, the bill would replace a temporary spy law set to expire this week that expanded the power of U.S. authorities to track enemy targets without a court order.

In addition, the Senate bill would bolster the protection of privacy rights of law-abiding Americans swept up in the hunt for suspected terrorists.


...

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller of West Virginia broke ranks with many fellow Democrats in pushing to immunize phone companies. Yet he criticized Bush for starting the spy program without congressional or court approval.

"Anger over the president's program should not prevent us from addressing the real problems that the president has created," Rockefeller said. He warned that without immunity some private firms may decline to help protect the nation.

Right sentiment, I guess, but what do they have to be "angry" about? Quite frankly I'm not sure if FISA even contemplates a large-scale wiretapping of dubious suspects, few of whom are so clearly dirty as to grant probable cause.

And further, this wasn't a domestic-policing act, not primarily. It was a foreign intelligence act during a time of war.

Democrats always claim they would have done "everything that Bush did" to protect us, except when they're not obviously arguing the opposite.


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posted by Ace at 07:05 PM

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