FISA Debate Liveblog

Three amendments up, no votes today. The first two Feingold amendments prohibit bulk collection and reverse targeting. The third, with Dodd, is immunity.

Feingold on Reverse Targeting

Director of Intelligence has testified that reverse targeting is violation of 4th amendment.

Notes Senator from GA has said reverse targeting is possible.

[Placing declassified documents in record]

This confirms that when FBI has interest in American, up to FBI whether to seek a warrant.

A recent DOJ IG report says surveillance disrupted bc telephone bill not paid on time.

Of course, FBI might choose not to seek a warrant because it doesn’t really have a case against that American. I’m afraid to say, the answer appears to be yes. Once FBI gets US identity, the FBI can choose whether or not to follow up.

Even as Administration brought broad new authorities the Administration refused to figure out whether they were violating the Constitution.

I hope my colleagues will support this amendment, it appears there’s no opposition to it (no Republicans present).

Feingold prohibiting bulk collection

This bill allows surveillance of people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Allows govt to capture all international communications, to or from this country, in bulk, for no reason. That kind of communications dragnet would offend anyone who has communicated with friends, family or professional associates overseas. There would be no court oversight whatsoever. Wyden, Whitehouse and I have fought hard to make sure Americans overseas not collected. Imagine Americans’ communications with other Americans being collected in bulk. Nothing, nothing would prevent their communications from being collected and retained.

At what point do we draw the line. At what point does the Constitution mean SOMETHING?

DNI has testified that while bulk collection is not needed, but he did say it would nice. Not a short term bill. Congress needs to act now. DNI has put us on notice that bulk collection authorized and desirable. Legislative silence is consent. We can’t avoid this question. Govt has to certify that it is collecting information from people from whom it expects to collect foreign intelligence.

Opponents say this would prevent collection of intell into or out of enemy city they’re about to invade. But then it would have a foreign intelligence purpose. The reason that absurd scenarios have been raised is because they don’t want to talk about the consequences. DNI testified that if possible, bulk collection would be desirable. Govt would listen in on every international phone call made by its citizens. That’s a police state, Mr. President, not the United States of America.

DNI said it was surgical. Said they had to make up territory with those thinking they’re doing stuff they’re not doing. DNI can’t have it both ways.

Finally, would help resolve serious Constitutional question. Bulk collection in which govt has no interest could be unreasonable under the Constitution. I challenge anyone to explain why the govt should have the authority to engage in bulk collection. Explain why this modest protection cannot be granted. This amendment brings this bill into line with its actual intent. Protects civil liberties of Americans.

Kit Bond, admitting that he hasn’t heard what Feingold said

These issues have been dealt with. We’re not collecting all their communications that they’re sending overseas.

[Uh huh, so you won’t mind if we have this amendment?]

Reverse targeting. All acquisitions must comply with Fourth Amendment.

May not intentionally target a person reasonably believed to be outside of the United States, except in accordance with Title I.

[Jeebus he’s such a sophist.]

Now if somebody is calling a suspected terrorist overseas, one on whom we have initiated collection because intelligence sources certified by AG, this person has significant intell information, then if one were to call that number, it is possible, likely, and we would expect they would find out what is in this call. It is immediately suppressed.

Goddamnit, I lost a bunch because Macs SUCK!! 

Dodd is presenting his immunity. I’d love to have it for you, but Macs suck.

In the interim, Feingold pointed out that Dodd wants us to not legislate solely because Bond has assured us we shouldn’t worry. 

Anyway, I also have a copy of Mukasey/McConnell’s letter to Reid, et al. It’s basically a list of amendments and their thoughts.

Amendments that would merit a veto:

  • [no number] no communication collected if the govt knows beforehand that it is to or from a person believed to be in the US
  • 3913: Significant purpose test
  • 3912: Specific Individual Target test
  • 3915: Limits disseminating foreign intelligence information
  • 3907: Straight immunity
  • 3927: Substitution of govt for defendants
  • 3919: FISC review on immunity

Amendments it doesn’t like but that wouldn’t merit a veto:

  • 3930: 4-year sunset
  • 3920: Court review of compliance with minimization

Amendments it very much likes (surprise! They’re both Bond amendments)

  • 3941: Expedited FISA review
  • 3938: Add language on WMD

A pre-emptive signing statement on exclusivity

We understand that the amendment relating to the exclusive means provision in S.2248 is undergoing additional revision. As a result, we are withholding comment on this amendment and its text at this time. We note, however, that we support the provision currently contained in S. 2248 and to support its modification, we would have to conclude that the amendment provides for sufficient flexibility to permit the President to protect the Nation adequately in times of national emergency.


Shorter Bond: It was bad that Qwest refused to comply with an illegal order.

Shorter Bond: SJC just isnt’ as intelligent as the Senate Intelligence Committee.  

120 replies
  1. RevDeb says:

    Any idea of who is around to vote today?

    Someone said that any votes that “require” a 50 vote majority only really require a simple majority of those present.

      • selise says:

        are you getting this? I want to watch this over and over on youtube…

        even while i was gone this afternoon – c-span2 was on record.

      • selise says:

        p.s. i’m keeping a list of youtubes to make, anyone feel free to chime in with a request, if you have one.

        (i told marcy i’d have the weekly congressional hearings list back from vacation today – but that gives me almost 7 more hours, right? *g*).

  2. TheraP says:


    “Let me make one thing clear.” [while I simultaneously obfucate]

    “Let me just be clear.” [blah, blah, confusion]

    • AZ Matt says:

      Well, just look what happens when judges get involved! The whales get saved from the US Navy off the California coast! Can’t trust some judges!!

  3. Hmmm says:

    Any initial persuasive effect of Kit’s statements utterly fails upon careful parsing. Holes are being carved.

  4. ticktock says:

    Bulk collection protect the military but we can’t give the details regarding as to exactly how it does?….

    okay….so this is the argument…trust us…we can’t tell you the whole story….

  5. Hmmm says:

    Shorter Kit: Bulk collection prohibitions = dead soldiers.

    Hmmm. They’re dragging out big guns rhetorically speaking. I smell fear.

    • RevDeb says:

      Russ not buying it. Saying that an argument against an amendment saying we don’t do it so we don’t need to outlaw it doesn’t cut it. Trust me from one senator isn’t good enough.

      Complete lack of content to the argument.


  6. Hmmm says:

    Feingold onto something, note that all of Kit’s statements about bulk collection not happening have been all in the present tense, no mention of the future. Maybe they’re staging some new system now.

  7. ticktock says:

    Ahhh, there is evidence regarding past activities….

    What could occur….that is the most important point…

  8. Mary says:


    Reverse targeting. All acquisitions must comply with Fourth Amendment.

    May not intentionally target a person reasonably believed to be outside of the United States, except in accordance with Title I.

    Well, Judge Taylor said the acquisitions didn’t comply with the Fourth Amendment – and what has happened? You are trying to give immunity for those violations of the 4th and taking away the damages provisions of FISA for those violations.


  9. Hmmm says:

    Dodd; “…sort of a vaccuum cleaner approach…”

    I wonder whether further hard evidence of hoovering is about to come out. Feingold at the start of his remarks mentioned a newly declassified document of some kind he was entering into the record. And at the end of his Kit smackdown he mentioned a classified letter he sent calling out PAA violations he’d become aware of.

  10. JimWhite says:

    Disregard for the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States–Dodd on the Bush Administration

  11. ticktock says:

    amendment 3907—

    background on amendment—retroactive immunity be granted—vaccumn cleaner approach—went on for five years—-collecting data information on US citizens without a court order—

    Not all companies did….(yes!)….invasion of privacy….

    Indicating it is a Court decision regarding these cases—-

    40 cases pending….never know if this actions were legal….set the precedence why not in other area?… what about medical, financial—-

    Why not?…

    (Dodd is on fire—-yes)

    Do not grant a pass, nothing could be more dangerous…

  12. AZ Matt says:

    Dodd is upset, no? Explains very loudly to GOP’ers on why retroactive immunity is offensive. Some are unteachable I think.

  13. Mary says:

    Now if somebody is calling a suspected terrorist overseas, one on whom we have initiated collection because intelligence sources certified by AG, this person has significant intell information,

    And what if you have an AG so corrupt that they will not only let the Exec branch disappear and torture people, but will solict for torture? How is anyone supposed to expect that such an AG won’t certify any crap they want to certify – especially to enable or coverup more Executive Branch crimes? And how is anyone supposed to expect that we haven’t had and won’t continue to have just such people as AG? No one in the whole of the Dept of Justice demands more or better – and Congress is expressly setting up a system whereby those AG actions are beyond review and beyond recourse.

    We have such casually criminal men and women in Washington. Just truly bad, bad people. Not one or two, but hundreds. It really is like watching a horrorshow.

  14. ticktock says:

    1978 drafting of 1978 many of these companies were involved in the drafting of this law….

    So there goes the ignorance is bliss argument….

  15. JimWhite says:

    “I would be standing here just as mad if it were a Democratic administration.”
    Go Dodd! (I believe him on this, too.)

  16. TheraP says:

    Dodd. I love this man! I love clarity of thinking! Russ too of course.

    Notice how the repubs obfuscate and the Dems make sense! The truth is easy to comprehend. And lies are confusing.


    “It’s about the Constitution of the United States!”

    (oath of office too!)

  17. ticktock says:

    History is being made right there…right now…

    Now we can only hope we (& the Constitution) prevail on this…

  18. JimWhite says:

    Good. Dodd pointing out FISA has been amended over 30 times over the years to keep up with technology. Shooting down another repug talking point.

  19. Mary says:

    In Dodd’s preface to the Letters from Nuremberg book, he talks about the MCA and how he and a handful of others were horrified and wanted to pull out all the stops. They went to sit down with Reid, who tsk tsked and told them he’d worked it hard already and done the head counts and they were nowhere near close for 40 for a filibuster, so they just had to be appeased with getting to stand up and say a few words before the bill passed.

    Dodd was shocked, in a sick, sinking feeling kind of way, to see at the vote how close they were – with no organized party effort by Reid – to having the votes that could have pulled off the filibuster.

    I sooner trust Mitch McConnell than Harry Reid.

    • phred says:

      I’ve been reading that book Mary. The contrast between how Thomas Dodd (and the Americans in general) treated the Nazis versus the conduct of the current administration is stark. There is no excuse, none whatsoever, for the suspension of the rule of law, not to mention common human decency, by the Rethugs. No. Excuse. At. All.

  20. emptywheel says:

    Folks. If you refresh, I’ve put a quick summary of Mukasey/McConnell’s letter to Reid et al. It’s basically a list of amendments, including the ones that would merit a veto threat. Sorry I can’t do a link quickly, will work on it though.

  21. JimWhite says:

    Kitty is lying again. Dodd just told him how many times FISA was changed to keep up with technology. He really just doesn’t listen and doesn’t care.

  22. PugZlie says:

    notice the difference in passion as if mr. bond doesn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth. Leads me to believe that Cheney my actually be a ventriloquist.

  23. siri says:

    i am surely FATIGUED at having to be hearing and seeing sooooo much Fit Bondage in my living room, IN MY HOME, WHERE MY DOGS SLEEP, WHERE MY CHILDREN PLAY!!!!!

  24. ticktock says:

    Retroactive Immunity Argument….

    Terrorist fear flag…tell them more about it (collection?)…leave our intelligence community deaf and blind….

  25. RevDeb says:

    Update from Tim Tageris who worked for Dodd’s campaign:

    Matt asked me to post a FISA update for ya’ll, so here it is.
    If you tune into CSPAN2 today and tomorrow, you will see the Senate going through the motions leading up to a series of votes that are already a foregone conclusion. George Bush will get from those intrepid defenders of liberty in Senate exactly what he asked for.
    Not that anyone will ever write a book on this fight, but were it written there were two key moments to highlight:

    1.) When Harry Reid chose to introduce the intelligence committee bill as the base bill.

    2.) When Harry Reid brokered a “compromise” that mandated 60 votes for any amendment that had a chance of getting 50, and 50 votes for any amendment that didn’t even have 40.

    Our indefatigable Majority Leader might as well take the charred remains of the Constitution and place then in an urn in his nice little office overlooking the White House.

    So, we move to the House where we need the political equivalent of a runner runner straight draw to stop a FISA expansion w/ retroactive immunity.

    There’s more but essentially he says it’s a done deal to give the Chimperor in Chief what he wants.

    • phred says:

      So what’s the point of the laundry list letter then, just to rub our faces in the fact that the Dem leadership doesn’t represent us or uphold their oaths of office?

  26. Hmmm says:

    BTW If the telecoms lose immunity and then lose the lawsuits, they’ll just collect the money from their customers the American people through higher rates and fees, over a long time horizon if necessary. The USG can’t let them go out of business for many many reasons.

    • ticktock says:

      Telecom companies probably won’t have the customer bases they enjoyed in the past despite this whole issue because of competition….

      There are several internet companies that offer (like Vonage, NetZero) even more savings for internet telephone services that are just as good if not better because of the savings and their superior service as of right now…

      So if they even consider passing this whole incident on their customers they better be aware that there are many options than what they have to offer….

    • cboldt says:

      I’ve updated the thread with a link to Mukasey/McConnell’s document.

      Thanks for that. The argument against #3913 (reverse targeting) is funny. “The statute already prohibits this, but amendment 3913 places an unnecessary and debilitating burden.” I bet they laugh like hell when they write these.

  27. ticktock says:

    The telecom companies are already in dire situation because of the levities that were apparently applied to warrantless wiretapping fiasco…

    Why did they in good faith even consider this was an acceptable way of acquiring “collection” when they themselves were directly involved in setting up FISA to begin with?…..

    • cboldt says:

      Changes not read, Kit and Rocky to describe them later.

      They’ll be in today’s Record, published tomorrow.

  28. peterboy says:

    waterboard kit bond.
    he is lying.
    water board him until he tells the truth. this bill is about covering Bush’s ass.

  29. cboldt says:

    Last week, Bond argued that the plaintiffs wouldn’t win much, if any money damages anyway, because they couldn’t prove they were harmed.

    I agree with that. There are two major hurdles to obtaining a civil judgment under 50 USC 1810. The information not only has to be acquired illegally, it has to be shared illegally.

  30. AZ Matt says:

    Shorter Bond: SJC just isnt’ as intelligent as the Senate Intelligence Committee


    Hey, just because Hatch is on SJC there is no need to insult the whole committee!

  31. RevDeb says:

    So what horse trading is going on behind the scenes prompting morning business if the whole FISA thing is already a done deal?

    I’m having trouble following along with the kabuki.

    • cboldt says:

      So what horse trading is going on behind the scenes prompting morning business if the whole FISA thing is already a done deal?

      Cantwell is leaving the Capitol building, and “needed” to make this speech tonight. This is a brief interruption not disagreeable to the FISA debaters.

  32. selise says:

    short feingold clip is uploaded to youtube and being processed now. here’s the link i think it will have:

    will do more feingold later for phred’s repeat viewing pleasure.

  33. Mary says:

    79 – I’ve never been very big on history or geography or war, so I really learn a lot from just random details in the book. I never knew that there were countries prior to WWII in old Europe that had almost 100% literacy rates. Lots of small picture and big picture things. The discussions about how the Russians avoided some some of the outcome of Nuremberg themselves by being on the winners side rather than losers – those observations come in a lot now, don’t they?

    Think about it. What if Petraeus had sons being held by Taliban or Iranian or insurgent forces, and turned himself over to those forces to see his sons. While held, he was beaten and tortured nightly by QUDs forces and then during the day was stuffed in a sleeping bag and beaten and suffocated, while the soldiers involved sat around sipping tea, until he died. Do you really think that if, after a cessation of hostilities, those soldiers were brought before an American court martial, they would sentence them to 60 days in the green zone?

    The winners write the history. Today, Bush, ATT, Rockefeller, the McConnell twins, Hayden, Reid and all the like will be writing the history of the illegal, corrupt Exec Branch and the disgraces in uniform and at Justice who helped further its crimes. Apparently there will be a lot of reference to patriots, and holding firm and ticking time bombs and need – the need to waterboard and bury alive a crazy man. I mean, with all they got from waterboarding, imagine if some pussies hadn’t stopped them from burying Zubaydah alive. They might have found out even more about those Iraqi WMDs and training camps.

    Oh well, as long as no one else is using, “and they all lived happily ever after” today.

  34. selise says:

    The winners write the history. Today, Bush, ATT, Rockefeller, the McConnell twins, Hayden, Reid and all the like will be writing the history of the illegal, corrupt Exec Branch and the disgraces in uniform and at Justice who helped further its crimes.

    not just them, mary. you too. and marcy. and hugh with his list. imo, that’s a big part of what we do here – we’re not letting the powerful have the only word on what our history will be.

  35. Sedgequill says:

    I wish the critical votes could be delayed long enough to allow time to delve into more technical detail—not so all Members can be transformed into geeks, but because of the importance of the final language of any new legislation. Language concerning surveillance is as susceptible to crafty parsing as is language concerning torture, habeas corpus, presidential powers, or anything else.

    As to bulk collection, crafty parsing might, I fear, play with “bulk.” What if all telephonic and Internet transmissions, or as many as feasible, are processed, with relatively few of them being captured so as to allow intensive future review. What if real time deep packet inspection and semantic analysis results in the flagging of on average, say, 1 in 10,000 transmissions. The crafty parser might contend that such selective processing does not constitute bulk collection.

Comments are closed.