Now that the House has caved to Bush's demands for immunity for the phone companies (What's that? It's not immunity? Yes. It. Is.), we now turn to the Senate to do the right thing.
You might have read from news reports that Senate Leadership is thinking of allowing a vote on an amendment to strip out the immunity provision, so there will be two votes: one on immunity, and one on the rest of the bill. This would give the Democrats the ability to vote against immunity, but for surveillance and wiretapping powers. Sounds good, no?
As well-intentioned as the move may seem, the amendment will likely fail, and the result will be not just one, but two bad votes. The Democratic Senators are trying to provide political cover to fellow Dems in the run-up to the November elections. This nothing more than an attempt to look tough on national security, but not caving to the Bush administration demand for telecom immunity. While we applaud the efforts, we wish those behind it had more support.
There isn't a more important time to call your Senator and ask him or her to vote against this horrible FISA bill. You can also email your Senator with our handy form. Make your voice heard: if you don't, you may as well kiss your Fourth Amendment rights good-bye.
For my part, I happened to be in Brooklyn's Prospect Park last Friday night and found myself within close proximity to my senator, Chuck Schumer. I shook his hand—very soft hands, BTW—and asked him if he'll vote against the FISA bill.
He said, and I quote: "I will."
I'm keeping an eye on your vote, Chuck! Don't let me—and other New Yorkers who care about civil liberties—down!
For Senator Clinton…well, email will have to suffice. I hear she's busy.