Blog of Rights

Congress Has Left the Building!

By Lisa Graves, Legislative Counsel at 2:27am
The president won't get a blank check on illegal spying today.

The Senate just adjourned and now both houses are in recess until 11/9--they'll come in that day for bills to be introduced, but there will be no votes that day. The Senate returns for votes starting at 2 p.m. on 11/13 for the "lame duck" session.

The Senate did NOT vote on the NSA bill (Frist or Wilson). They passed several conference reports which we believe did not include any bad warrantless wiretapping authorization or immunization provisions. Thanks to you!! Thanks to all of your efforts!!

This is a major victory, especially with the election so close and so much political pressure to push these bad ideas into law. Together, we've managed to hold off passage of legislation that would give the administration a blank check and a free pass on warrantless NSA spying on Americans.

The president's illegal wiretapping continues, but the law has not been changed to legalize warrantless spying on ordinary Americans. The country is indeed better off with the status quo than with legislation that would whitewash and ratify this spying. As you know, the president already has ample legal authorities to track and wiretap suspected terrorists--what he and no president should have is the power to unilaterally, secretly, and indefinitely wiretap Americans without court oversight of individual warrants to safeguard our fundamental rights to privacy, liberty and due process of law.

It has been a pitched battle, but today we have prevailed! And Congress has left town without gutting the statutory protections that preserve our Fourth Amendment rights. The vote on the Wilson bill was closer than on the Patriot Act reauthorization, and friends of the Fourth Amendment in Congress have resisted efforts to make these NSA bills into law this week. We're seeing a growing recognition of the need for checks and balances, and now we must build on that.

We have work to do later next week and in October before Congress's lame duck session to make sure people understand what blank checks the White House-Wilson and Frist bills are.

But for now we should savor this. And rest.

With deepest gratitude,

Lisa

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