FISA Update: Some Reality Amid the Rhetoric

Andy McCarthy of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, one of the few observers to write consisently about the FISA legislation, surveillance and immunity for the telecoms, says H.R. 6304 will pass with the immunity provisions, but the damage has been done. From The Corner:

A litigation climate has been created in which the telecommunications industry would never again comply with a presidential request for warrantless monitoring. The Obama Left, the ACLU, and the Democrats’ trial lawyer benefactors are bent out of shape because the telecoms will receive retroactive immunity this time, so billions in potential liability will vanish (at great savings for Americans to whom the cost would have been passed along). But ultimately, they’ve succeeded in making it highly, highly unlikely a president will be able to carry out warrantless surveillance in the future.

Actually, the Obama Left isn’t that happy with Sen. Obama on FISA.

Sens. Saxby Chamblis (R-GA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had very good floor statements yesterday on the FISA modernization legislation (Congressional Record text here), with Hatch especially clarifying the legal and constitutional differences between warrantless searches and unreasonable search and seizure. Hatch also punched holes in the favorite canard opponents, that the bill excuses a vast sweeping, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ phone calls or e-mails. It’s foreign surveillance, Hatch explains. From S6125:

Domestic spying may sound catchy and mysterious, but it is a completely inaccurate, even misleading, way to describe the TSP terrorist surveillance or FISA modernization. Why don’t we describe them as international spying, which is what they really are? Isn’t that a more accurate description? But I imagine international spying wouldn’t raise the same level of fear and distrust in our Government that some on the left try to foster.

UPDATE: (11 a.m.): White House fact sheet on retroactive immunity.

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