The State of the Union on FISA

By January 28, 2008Briefly Legal, Communications

OK, here’s the White House’s fact sheet on FISA reform prepared for the State of the Union. It includes the arguments for granting retroactive immunity to telecom companies that assisted in foreign surveillance.

There are those for whom any argument made by the President is immediately suspect, the representation of a malign, corrupt man and Administration.

Then how to explain the very similar case made by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which voted out S. 2248 on a 13-2 bipartisan basis. Are the 13 Senators also malign and corrupt? From the Committee report:

In determining whether to provide retroactive immunity, the Committee weighed the incentives such immunity would provide. As described above, electronic communication service providers play an important role in assisting intelligence officials in national security activities. Indeed, the intelligence community cannot obtain the intelligence it needs without assistance from these companies. Given the scope of the civil damages suits, and the current spotlight associated with providing any assistance to the intelligence community, the Committee was concerned that, without retroactive immunity, the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful Government requests in the future without unnecessary court involvement and protracted litigation. The possible reduction in intelligence that might result from this delay is simply unacceptable for the safety of our Nation.

To the critics of the Administration’s arguments on FISA we say, ignore him if you want. But pay attention to the arguments made by 13 Senators, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Paul Dirks says:

    Are the 13 Senators also malign and corrupt?


    This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

    The administration had plenty of opportunity to taylor the FISA law to their liking when they still had a Republican majority in both houses. Why they didn’t bother to do so remains mysterious. But this of course means that everything that they are saying now about how vital the latest modifications are is in fact a self serving lie.

    Nothing in the current bill was unobtainable in any earlier legislative process EXCEPT retroactive immunity.

    One needn’t be overly suspicious or anything but rational to conclude that the scope of the NSA program has far exceeded anything that the public has been allowed to believe to date and that the members of the Senate intelligence committee (from both parties), having had the opportunity to object to the program well before today, are now complicit in trying to prevent the release of any further information on the subject.

  • Repack Rider says:

    If this feeble rationale is the best they can come up with, they might as well have admitted that they sold their votes.

    The Fourth Amendment is one sentence, and the telecoms have plenty of lawyers. If they can’t do the time, they shouldn’t do the crime.

    The disgusting exercise in bypassing the Bill of Rights needs to be exposed for the corruption that it is.

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