The Senate just voted to move forward with the White House/Intelligence Committee FISA bill. No surprise. The legislation will now be debated over the next couple of days.
This is not good news for those of us who respect freedom, the rule of law and the Constitution. Instead of capitulating to the White House, senators should be listening to their constituents — not telecom lobbyists or White House spinmeisters.
A number of senators have been speaking out against the Intelligence Committee bill. Two clear and thoughtful voices particularly stood out:
In his arguments against the Intelligence Committee bill, of which he is a member, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) said this morning
These bills do not just authorize the unfettered surveillance of people outside the United States communicating with each other. They also permit the government to acquire those foreigners’ communications with Americans inside the United States, regardless of whether anyone involved in the communication is under any suspicion of wrongdoing.
Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who has been leading efforts on the Senate floor against the telecom immunity provision of the Intelligence Committee bill, had this to say
[T]he extent of our president’s lawbreaking, and the extent of his corporations’ complicity… That, our president will go to the mat to defend. That, he will keep from the light of a courtroom at all costs. That, his supporters would amend the law to protect.
In this week’s debates, senators will hopefully come to see the need to reject the Bush administration’s spying free-for-all and deny immunity to telecommunications companies that have been breaking the law for six long years.