FISA Cloture, FISA Fictions

By January 28, 2008General

The Senate just failed to invoke cloture on the pending Intelligence Committee version of S. 2248, the FISA Amendments, by a vote of 48-45, not achieving the 60 votes necessary to end debate. (Lots of missing Senators, eh?)

As noted below, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) held a conference call with bloggers today. He responded to an assertion we’ve seen made many times, including from a commenter below and on the Senate floor — that the Administration had engaged in massive, reckless communications surveillance, spying on millions of Americans, and that the telecommunications companies went along with little regard to the legality of the monitoring.


Obviously they don’t understand that these companies responded to lawful and appropriate orders from the U.S. government to assist them in the vital effort to keep our country safe. I can’t believe even the most rabid partisan populace would say that telecommunications companies or carriers who might have participated did anything that wasn’t in the national interest, wasn’t required by law, and wasn’t certainly designed for any minimal impact on legitimate rights, privacy rights of American citizens.

The only communications intercepted, the only time we listened in and read communications, was when they were to or from a terrorist abroad ….if it wasn’t under a domestic FISA court or FISC court order. If there were any incidental communications with ordinary American citizens, those were suppressed, they were not kept.

They only occurred in the context in targeting somebody like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, or one of their leaders somewhere in the field. To say there were millions of innocent conversations intercepted is absolutely beyond the pale, without basis, and totally irresponsible.

The audio of Sen. Bond’s call is available here.

UPDATE (5:30 p.m.): The Senate has also failed invoke cloture on a 30-day extension of the FISA authority by a vote of 48-45.

UPDATE (5:55 p.m.): Senator McConnell issues a statement, walking though the many delays that brought us to this point — four days before the law expires.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • TLR says:

    This is a critical piece of legislation (s2248) with long reaching consequences and it deserves a full hearing. The principles involved (checks and balances, the right to privacy, a government accountable to The People) are heady and the debate about whether we will honor and protect them thankfully continues. Will Congress yield once again, tossing aside the very things that make America great? Will it again appease an Administration which shamelessly uses fear, intimidation, and false patriotism to steamroll those who patriotically defend the core principles and rights we as a Nation hold inalienable and sacred? Let us hope this is not the case. Will a Wyden amendment to guarantee the portability of a U.S. Citizen’s right to privacy make its way into the final legislation? Let us hope that this and other important safeguards are incorporated into the final bill; The most important of which would be a strong and explicit prohibition of this Administration’s dangerous assertion that the President has the unilateral ability to assume the powers of all three branches of government, declaring any Act of Congress he wishes unconstitutional and operating contemptuously outside any U.S. law.

  • Conley T. Gwinn says:

    Karen nailed the response to Bond – who is but one in a line of liars the Repugnants have surfaced to hide the issues here: blatant disregard of known law (see the Quest refusal for emphasis of “known”) by both the telecoms and the NSA. And of course, we all believe that unless the communication involved Osama on one end or the other, it was forthwith destroyed.

  • Karen says:

    If the requests were lawful, why do they need immunity?

  • Peter Platt says:

    thank god that there are senators in our government that don’t swallow this kind of fascist propaganda that defenders of the indefensible like Senator Bond spew.

    The actions of the Bush Administration and their co-conspirators in the Telecomms should be brought to justice.. THE RULE OF LAW still means something to some people in this country even if Senator Bond is not among them!!!

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