Tag: FISA (page 2)

Bush to Sign FISA Into Law Today

President Bush will sign the new FISA bill into law today at a ceremony in the Rose Garden.

Just like when I watch the Bachelorette, I'm counting down to his final rose ceremony.

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Hillary's Statement on FISA

Hillary's statement on FISA:

One of the great challenges before us as a nation is remaining steadfast in our fight against terrorism while preserving our commitment to the rule of law and individual liberty. As a senator from New York on September 11, I understand the importance of taking any and all necessary steps to protect our nation from those who would do us harm. I believe strongly that we must modernize our surveillance laws in order to provide intelligence professionals the tools needed to fight terrorism and make our country more secure. However, any surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today's vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue. Nonetheless, I could not vote for the legislation in its current form.


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FISA Passes Senate, Vote 69 to 28

Update: Hillary voted against the motion to invoke cloture and the bill, Obama voted for both. It passed 72 to 26. The cloture roll call vote is here. The votes on the final bill will be available here shortly. All votes this session are here.

Via the ACLU (no link yet but check here soon):

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69-28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

On the bill:

[T]he Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance.

“Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president’s fear-mongering. With today’s vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.”


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Senate Votes on FISA: Dodd -Feingold and Other Amendment Fail

Update 12:17 pm ET: The Dodd-Feingold Amendment fails by a vote of 32 to 66. Specter's Amendment will be voted on in 2 minutes. It needs 60 votes to pass.

Update 12:37 pm ET: Specter Amendment fails by a vote of 37 to 61, and is withdrawn. The Bingaman Amendment vote will take place in 2 minutes.

Update: 12:54 pm: Bingaman amendment vote: It fails 42 - 56. Obama and Clinton and good Dems vote for it. Lieberman votes against it. Surprise, Sen. Salazar (CO) votes for it (he voted against the other two Amendments.) Senate goes into recess until this afternoon.

The Senate is voting on the first of three amendments to the FISA bill. It's the Dodd Amendment stripping the bill of the telecom immunity provision. You can watch on C-Span here.

The Dodd Amendment needs 50 votes to pass. Both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton just voted for the Amendment.


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Sen. Obama: Yes, You Can Keep Your Word To Hold Bush Accountable - Stop The FISA Bush Immunity

In April 2008, Attytood asked Senator Obama if he as President would hold former Bush administration officials accountable by seeking prosecution for crimes committed.  Obama promised that he would review the information to determine whether an investigation was required; and, if officials knowingly violated existing laws, Obama indicated that he would pursue prosecution.  

Based upon Obama's standard, there should be an investigation and potential criminal prosecution of Bush and other officials for knowingly violating FISA. Bush has admitted publicly that he did not comply with FISA, which is a criminal offense.  

However, the FISA bill pending before the Senate may take this putative prosecution off the table by providing immunity to Bush while codifying his unitary executive theory.  In order for President Obama to keep his word that he would hold Bush officials accountable for clear, knowing criminal violations, Senator Obama needs to stop this FISA bill, or at least provide amendments which clearly eliminate any colorable argument of immunity for Bush.

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FISA Wasn't Broke, It Needs No Fix

I've been opposed to all of the proposed rewrites of FISA. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We don't need a new FISA law. We need to force the President and his Administration to obey the law, not rewrite it so they can do as they please. Here are 10 mytbs about it.

As for Sen. Obama's statement today that he supports the compromise but will work with the Senate to eliminate the telecom immunity provision, my question is, how will he vote if the immunity provision stays in? It seems like he will vote for it. [More...]

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ACLU Condemns FISA Compromise

As Big Tent Democrat wrote earlier, the FISA compromise is a done deal. The text of the bill is here. The AP reports here. The ACLU responds:

“This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications. The court review is mere window-dressing – all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all.”


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FISA Court Asked FBI About Illegal Wiretapping

Ryan Singal reports newly declassified documents show that the FISA Court had concerns the FBI was wiretapping innocent Americans:

Does the FBI track cellphone users' physical movements without a warrant? Does the Bureau store recordings of innocent Americans caught up in wiretaps in a searchable database? Does the FBI's wiretap equipment store information like voicemail passwords and bank account numbers without legal authorization to do so?

That's what the nation's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wanted to know, in a series of secret inquiries in 2005 and 2006 into the bureau's counterterrorism electronic surveillance efforts, revealed for the first time in newly declassified documents.

A review of the declassified documents shows: [More...]

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FISA Changes May Not Become Law During Bush's Tenure

I have long been opposed to any re-write of FISA granting additional powers to conduct electronic surveillance. FISA's not broke, it doesn't need fixing and it certainly doesn't need weakening at the expense of the Fourth Amendment.

This is a bill, as the Washington Post says, that "would update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to expand the powers of intelligence agencies and keep pace with ever-changing communications technologies."

The good news, as I see it, is this:

The House's action ensures that Bush will not receive surveillance legislation for several weeks. But some lawmakers from both parties said the impasse is now so deep that the issue may not be resolved until a new president takes office next year.

Bush and Republican lawmakers have shown no desire to move further toward the House Democratic leaders' position, and the Democrats are showing no sign of buckling under the mounting political pressure.

Maybe we won't get a FISA re-write after all.

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House Dems Reject Telecom Immunity, Offer Compromise

House Democrats today stuck to their guns and rejected telecom immunity for warrantless wiretapping in abscence of a FISA court order :

Locked in a standoff with the White House, House Democrats on Tuesday maintained their refusal to shield from civil lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on their customers without a secret court's permission.

But they offered the companies an olive branch: the chance to use classified government documents to defend themselves in court.

The ACLU says the compromise is an improvement but there are still concerns.

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FISA and Your E-Mail

A FISA compromise is in the works. At a meeting yesterday, sponsored by the American Bar Association, Kenneth Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, pointed out something that hasn't gotten wide attention: Foreign to foreign doesn't really mean that when it comes to e-mail.

At the breakfast yesterday, Wainstein highlighted a different problem with the current FISA law than other administration officials have emphasized. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, for example, has repeatedly said FISA should be changed so no warrant is needed to tap a communication that took place entirely outside the United States but happened to pass through the United States.

But in response to a question at the meeting by David Kris, a former federal prosecutor and a FISA expert, Wainstein said FISA's current strictures did not cover strictly foreign wire and radio communications, even if acquired in the United States. The real concern, he said, is primarily e-mail, because "essentially you don't know where the recipient is going to be" and so you would not know in advance whether the communication is entirely outside the United States.

Corrente Wire has more. And Raw Story reports the FBI wants the telecoms to get immunity even if they acted in bad faith.

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Hillary on Passage of FISA Bill Today

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton missed the final FISA vote today -- they were the only Senators, along with Sen. Graham, to miss it. It occurred between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The vote was 68 to 29, so it wouldn't have mattered had they been there. Both were present to vote with Sen. Dodd against cloture a few weeks ago and Obama was present this morning to vote on the Amendment.

Hillary Clinton released this statement on the FISA vote today:

"I believe we need to modernize our surveillance laws and give our nation’s intelligence professionals the tools they need to fight terrorism and to make our country more secure. At the same time, smart, balanced reform must also protect the rights and civil liberties of Americans. In my opinion, the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 falls short of these goals, and for that reason, I oppose the bill.


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