Democrats Delay a Vote on Immunity for Wiretaps
WASHINGTON — In a setback for the White House, Senate Democrats on Monday put off until at least next month any decision on whether to give legal protection to the phone carriers that helped with the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program.Of course the real reason it was delayed is this:
The Bush administration had pushed for immediate passage of legislation to grant immunity to the phone companies as part of a broader expansion of the N.S.A.’s wiretapping authorities. But that will not happen now.
After daylong debate in the Senate on the wiretapping issue, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, announced at the end of the day that there would not be time to consider the legislation this week as he had hoped. With a dozen competing amendments on the issue and an omnibus spending bill separately awaiting consideration, Mr. Reid said he believed it would be difficult to give the wiretapping issue the close consideration that it deserved this week before the Senate leaves for its Christmas recess.
Dodd's Filibuster Threat Stalls Wiretap Bill
Senator Chris Dodd won a temporary victory today after his threats of a filibuster forced Democratic leadership to push back consideration of a measure that would grant immunity to telecom companies that were complicit in warrantless surveillance.Yes, Chris Dodd really does love America. Now the battle is far from over. The spineless Democrats like Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein are still looking for ways to buckle under to White House pressure. This is an excellent example of why it is necessary to get more freedom loving progressive Democrats in the Senate.
We have a chance to do that here in Oregon. Jeff Merkley had this to say today.
PORTLAND—Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley, Democrat for U.S. Senate, this evening praised Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Democrats in the Senate who successfully prevented the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act overhaul from being brought up for consideration today. The FISA overhaul includes provisions to grant immunity to telecommunications companies who participated in President Bush’s allegedly illegal domestic spying program:Now the Oregonian is trying to convince you that Gordon Smith is a moderate but his voting record shows he's a wingnut who has supported George W. Bush 98% of the time. Gordon Smith may represent the Oregonian but he doesn't represent Oregon. Jeff Merkley will!
“Senator Dodd, Senator Wyden and the Democrats did the right thing today by delaying action on the FISA overhaul. Only a handful of Senators have been given access to the classified information necessary to make an informed decision on the bill.
“Senator Wyden needs a partner in the U.S. Senate – someone who will stand up with him on issues that are so vital to the American people. Once again, while Senator Wyden is in the trenches fighting to protect our rights, Gordon Smith supported amnesty for telecom giants who turned over the private records of law abiding Americans.
“It is the sworn duty of the President and Members of Congress to uphold the constitution of the United States, including the right to privacy guaranteed by the fourth amendment. If the telecom companies violated the privacy of Americans, we must have a full public airing of the facts.
“It isn’t clear to most members of Congress, much less the American public, why exactly these telecom companies deserve immunity. Did they break the law? Did they help the President spy on Americans? And why should Congress give them a free pass if they violated the constitutional guarantee of privacy for ordinary Americans?
“Those questions absolutely must be answered by this administration before Congress acts on the FISA overhaul.”