FISA Update: President Bush’s News Conference

By February 28, 2008Briefly Legal, Communications

From President Bush’s news conference today:

Members should also act on a very urgent priority, and that is to pass legislation our intelligence officials need to quickly and effectively monitor terrorist communications. At issue is a dispute over whether telecommunications companies should be subjected to class-action lawsuits because they are believed to have helped defend America after the attacks of 9/11. Allowing these lawsuits to proceed would be unfair. If any of these companies helped us, they did so after being told by our government that their assistance was legal and vital to our national security.

Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance, and it would give al Qaeda and others a roadmap as to how to avoid the surveillance. Allowing these lawsuits to proceed could make it harder to track the terrorists, because private companies besieged by and fearful of lawsuits would be less willing to help us quickly get the information we need. Without the cooperation of the private sector, we cannot protect our country from terrorist attack.

Protecting these companies from lawsuits is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate came together and passed a good bill, protecting private companies from these abusive lawsuits. And Republicans and Democrats in the House stand ready to pass the Senate bill, if House leaders would only stop blocking an up or down vote and let the majority in the House prevail.

House floor schedule for Thursday.

Suspensions (7 Bills):

1) S. 2478 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 59 Colby Corner in East Hampstead, New Hampshire, as the “Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh Post Office.” (Sen. Sununu – Oversight and Government Reform)

2) S. 2272 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service known as the Southpark Station in Alexandria, Louisiana, as the John “Marty” Thiels Southpark Station, in honor and memory of Thiels, a Louisiana postal worker who was killed in the line of duty on October 4, 2007 (Sen. Vitter – Oversight and Government Reform)

3) H.R. 3936 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 116 Helen Highway in Cleveland, Georgia, as the “Sgt. Jason Harkins Post Office.” (Rep. Deal – Oversight and Government Reform)

4) H.R. 3803 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3100 Cashwell Drive in Goldsboro, North Carolina, as the “John Henry Wooten, Sr. Post Office Building.”(Rep. Butterfield – Oversight and Government Reform)

5) H.R. 4454 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3050 Hunsinger Lane in Louisville, Kentucky, as the “Iraq and Afghanistan Fallen Military Heroes of Louisville Memorial Post Office Building”, in honor of the servicemen and women from Louisville, Kentucky, who died in service during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Rep. Yarmuth – Oversight and Government Reform)

6) S.Con.Res. 67 – A concurrent resolution establishing the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (Sen. Feinstein – House Administration)

7) S.Con.Res. 68 – A concurrent resolution authorizing the use of the rotunda of the Capitol by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (Sen. Feinstein – House Administration)

CQ Politics reports House may take up surveillance legislation next week, but what legislation? “‘We don’t have agreement but … I am very hopeful that we will have legislation on the floor next week,’ House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer , D-Md., said on the floor Thursday in a colloquy with Minority Whip Roy Blunt , R-Mo.”

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