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.
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