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FISA Debate: The Senate Has Nearly Sucked Out My Soul.

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July 8, 2008

It’s been a long day so here’s a quick highlight reel from the last few hours:

  • Senator Specter introduced his immunity amendment.
  • Senator Whitehouse spoke against immunity and described the whole situation as the Bush Administration’s “self-inflicted wound.” Nice.
  • Senator Levin spoke in favor of the Bingaman amendment, too. Makes me proud to be from Michigan.
  • Senator Chambliss read his speech (for the bill, not shockingly) as quickly and as free from emotion as possible. It was like he was presenting a book report.

Seriously, if one more senator talks about the need for immunity for future cooperation, I’m going to throw my computer out the window. For the 582nd time, FISA requires that telecommunications be legally compelled to hand over information if the proper legal requirements are met. Remember Feingold’s speech this morning?

Senator Reid came on the floor. Announcement: The man who scheduled the vote will be voting against the bill…so logic and democracy are alive and well in the halls of the Senate.

Reid said they may be able to revisit some of these issues during Patriot Act reauthorization next year. (Hot tip – Patriot will be a pretty interesting fight in and of itself and the ACLU plans to be on the front lines.)

Reid also believes Title 2, immunity to you and me, is “way out of line.” I just wish he had fought a little harder against it. It’s not the will of the people, it’s the power of the purse that’s allowed this provision to get this far and that, my friend, goes against the very ideals this country was founded on. I know it’s true because I saw the HBO series John Adams last week.

Dodd came next. A tireless warrior on immunity. I tip my hat. He really encapsulated this fight well. He said he believes that the choice between liberty and security is a false choice. We at the ACLU should feel a kinship with Senator Dodd because, even as we stare down a likely and depressing defeat, we don’t for a second think about not going down swinging. No matter what happens tomorrow, we’ll keep fighting this and other constitutional battles without fatigue until, well, forever.

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