Debate begins again. Senator Bond is on the floor once again saying plainly and, frankly a little smugly, that the FISA Amendments Act is the Senate bill with "cosmetic" fixes for the Democrats. Boasting is unattractive, Senator Bond. (BTW, why can no one in Congress pronounce "exigent" properly? Does that make you feel confident about their ability to discuss and legislate on these intricate matters? Me, neither.)
Bizarrely, Bond keeps railing about phone company employees being in physical danger if these lawsuits go forward. He goes so far to say that the phone companies are akin to our fighting men and women and we should not leave them unprotected as we would not leave our troops unprotected. Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially fallen down the rabbit hole.
Bond also argued that these lawsuits would destroy the phone companies' reputation: Do the phone companies have a good reputation? I was completely unaware.
Specter came on to the floor to battle Bond Specter said the Supreme Court "ducked" the issue. Yes they did, sir. Yes they did.
(Notice not a lot of senators are talking about Title 1 — the actual wiretapping provisions. Today is all about immunity — clearly because that's all the amendments address. But don't for one second forget what is at stake for the Fourth Amendment in this debate.)
Senator Bingaman introduced his amendment which would stay the cases against the telecoms until after the inspector general reports (mandated in the bill) are complete. Kind of makes sense. Unfortunately, like all things aimed at making this bill easy to swallow, there's a saying about a snowball and hell that I'm reminded of.
Rockefeller claimed that Bingaman's amendment would "undo the very carefully constructed compromise" that was reached between the House and the Senate. I still don't understand how anyone can call this immunity provision a "compromise" with a straight face. If I could take a moment to pledge my undying love for The New York Times editorial board on this issue, that would be great. The Times offers a fantastic smackdown of what Rockefeller deems a "compromise." Enjoy.
Rockefeller claimed that Bingaman's amendment satisfies the "particular need of a particular senator." Of all the ridiculous and condescending things to say.
Thank god. Leahy came onto the floor to rail against the bill. He spoke eloquently spoke about Americans' right to justice and to take their concerns to the court. Leahy on wiping out the courts' role with the immunity provision: "Not just a heavy thumb on the scale of justice but a whole hand and arm." (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) God, I wish I had written that.
Very short break in debate. Specter's amendment is up next. More (sigh) to come…