FISA Debate Liveblog

Jello Jay on bulk collection (time from opponents, this is a Feingold amendment).

Feingold argues amendment will prevent bulk collection by requiring govt to have some foreign intell interest in bulk info.

I believe will interfere with legitimate intelligence activities. I do not believe it provides additional protections. There important classified reasons underlying that concern.

Why it’s unnecessary: Bulk collection would be unreasonable by Fourth Amendment. Bill provides that collections have to be in accordance with 4th Amendment. Minimization. Cannot primarily target a US person.

Feingold only requires that it certify that bulk intelligence has foreign intelligence interest. But it already requires that the collection is targeted at people outside of the US. Remedy does not improve upon protection in bill. I thus oppose.


A number of inaccurate statements. It’s not an understatement to say they could shut down our intelligence collection.

3979, Feingold and Webb.

Amendment says that FISA is supposed to be foreign to foreign. Focus on foreign to foreign is misplaced. We cannot tell if a foreign terrorist is going to be communicating with another terrorist in another country. It does no good to only collect foreign to foreign. Impossible burden that FISC judges told us shut down their review. [That’s news, saying that it was the review of foreign to US that overwhelmed the FISC.]

This would stop collection. One intell professional said it would devastate the collection. Targetnet versus dragnet.

Blah blah blah; I’m going to misrepresent Feingold’s bill, so I can rebut it.

[Wow. Just looked at the screen. Bond has a whole lot of lilac on. Perhaps he knows that way more people turned out last night in his state for Democrats than Republicans?]

I’m sure the FISC judges would appreciate the notion that they’re doing a bad job. [wow that was dishonest]


Bond referred to our concerns about privacy being "tired accusations." I reject that characterization. I consider the notion that our amendment would prevent our ability to listen in on OBL–that’s a tired accusation. He claims we wouldn’t be able to listen in on that amendment.

This amendment does not require a FISC warrant to wiretap any foreigner overseas. This merely requires the govt label communications that have one end in the US for oversight. I don’t know where Senator gets idea that somehow you can’t listen in on conversation of OBL.

And I don’t know why he says we’re insulting FISC. We’re just giving them the ability to do their job. Let’s worry less about the alleged feelings of a secret court and worry more about the privacy of innocent Americans.

Use limit. Gives FISC option of limiting govt use of information that the FISC later finds is illegal.

Twice M and M said this would put use limits on foreign info. That’s flat out false. There’s nothing ambiguous about this language. Patently false claims–shows the lengths to which the opposition to this amendment will go to defeat this amendment.

Want to address objections that Chair made, that this could affect thousands of intelligence. Under amendment FISC can allow govt to use even info obtained by unlawful procedures if the govt fixes the unlawful procedures.

Even more important, we have to remember what these thousands of communications are. The only things the govt can’t use is info collected through unlawful procedures. My amendment gives prohibition on US person collection some teeth. There ought to be a way to make sure this stuff happens, rather than let the Chair and Vice Chair says it has happened. Otherwise we’re gambling on whether the Administration would choose to comply. I’m not willing to gamble on that.

[Boy howdy, it’s purple day in the Senate.]

Jello Jay (opposing reverse targeting)

Feingold amendment goes too far. Problem is we are revising FISA because we want IC to have the capability to wiretap terrorists who call in the US. It is a significant purpose of this legislation.

[Jello Jay didn’t get the memo about purple day. I guess that’s because WV only gave votes to Huck yesterday.]

I’m going to keep blathering about how reverse targeting isn’t reverse targeting.

Feingold (reverse targeting)

I think that most of my colleagues would agree that this bill should not open up a back door to get around FISA.

The MM letter, which mischaracterizes the amendment underscores why the issue is needed.

Reverse targeting IS NOT prohibited by the bill. It prohibits direct targeting.

If a foreign terrorist is talking to someone in the US, the IC should get a warrant. Without it, they’ll never the full picture of what the American is doing or plotting. They’re saying they don’t want the communications of the domestic communications of a terrorist in the US. THe letter seriously mischaracterizes the amendment. Does not affect ability to collect terrorists calling into the US. Only when a significant purpose is to get info on a person within the US is the govt required to get a warrant. That is how the govt can most effectively protect us.


Interesting that the proponent of this bill says the letter supports his amendment. Call attention to my colleagues, statement from civil liberties office, says concerns have been raised that PAA result in interceptions of US person communication.

Jeff "Mututal Protection Racket" Sessions

Per his usual MO, Mutual Protection Racket is defending the Administration’s use of water-boarding.

"Not a single prisoner has died in our custody."

[WRONG!!! At least two died from exposure, plus the guy beaten to death.]

Shorter Mutual Protection Racket: Don’t say we torture, even though DNI admitted we did yesterday.

FISA is important.

Prevented attacks on "US saul." The people who spy on you "faul the law."

[Sessions is using a tactic that M-M did too–saying that because the SJC was voted down, then everything should be voted down, too. Apparently Specter is a Democrat now.]

[Ut oh. He just went off the ranch, and said the telecoms "helped" the govt–he’s supposed to say they may have helped. Line, please! But he at least has his "retroactive liability" language down.]

[Ut oh, Mutual Protection Racket forgot that Bush wasn’t duly elected.]

Lawsuits substituting fevered speculation and a fevered brow for fact. I don’t know who they are.

[Mutual Protection Racket: George Soros funded Lancet’s study of how many people died in Iraq, therefore it must be Soros who is funding the telecom lawsuits.]

Some say this amounts to amnesty. Amnesty is forgiveness for breaking the law, like forgiving people who broke the law by coming to this country. At no point during the telecom’s actions were they illegal. For heavens sakes. Great Anglo-American tradition, that when called upon by law officer, a citizen not held liable if responding to officer, if officer was wrong.

[Two things. First, Alberto Gonzales, who approved of the request after the hospital meeting, was not then a law officer. Secondly, are you saying the officer, in this case, was wrong?]

Saxby Chambliss

On immunity.

Telecoms good faith effort, determined by AG to be lawful, w/exception of less than 60 day period when AGAG approved it.

I believe program necessary and lawful. This is not a review on President’s program. Statement of importance of telecom assistance to our govt. There is too much at stake to strike Title II.

KayBee Hutchison

Talking up immunity–missed whether she’s hipped to the liability protection thing or not.

Jello Jay

Far and away most contentious issue is immunity [I mean liability protection]. Three amendments will be offered that relate to this issue. Dodd/Feingold. Specter.

Approach to immunity. Critics say it’s akin to Congressional endorsement of President’s wiretapping program. I understand this. Secret surveillance program that would cause suspicion. But anger should not prevent us from addressing the real problems the President has created. Companies that were once willing to help govt may be questioning that assistance. Corporations, no names at present time, have to make money, govt comes to them, as they have in the past on much smaller issues, advice of AG, saying this is legal, NSA require that you cooperate. And they do. Well, of course, they cooperated, but that was some years ago. Not in this Senator’s view. There is no difference between just after 9/11 and now, those who are plotting to do us harm. The fact that it has not happened in no way excuses the American sense of relaxation on the whole subject and therefore we don’t need to do something to keep those people that collect an enormous amount of intelligence. If that were to stop, there would be an enormous amount of intell that would stop. It happens to be true. What is it that telecoms get from this? They get 40 lawsuits. Maybe they’ve been sued $10 billion, maybe $40 billion, I won’t speculate on this at this time. They have no reward at all [well except for being paid to do it] they go ahead and they do it, shareholders get unhappy about it, it could be happening, who knows, at the present time, maybe they will be less willing to do this. Several have done that, several at the beginning have done that. Corporations are in business to help their country [!?!?], they’re in business to make money, they’re losing prestige, reputation, they have angry shareholders. People on my side of the aisle tend to be suspicious of corporations. They are losing they are being sued. It’s costly. It takes away from their energy to carry out their other missions.

[Perhaps the scion of a multi-millionaire family is not the person who should be making this argument.]

We’re not talking about people here, we’re talking about servers, whatever you want to call them, that send Xes and Os, if that stops, we will be in a very sorry situation. I don’t know how to say it better than that. If they have a reluctance to help the govt, in providing the little instruments, then they have a little side action that goes to a particular agency. They have been told they’re compelled to do it. And so they do start to do it. And they’re paying one heck of a price for it. What price do we pay? Nothing, they’re still doing it. What price might we pay, bc they are corporations. The price we would pay would be overwhelming.

Without true cooperation from these companies, the IC cannot collect the information it needs.

I’m not naive in these matters.

It is possible cases continue for years, this won’t result in any new information about Bush’s program. In meantime, poses serious risk to collection program. We’re not about being Courts, about balancing civil liberties as best as we can.

Many argue that those who acted unlawfully should be held accountable. I totally agree. Companies that deliberately seek to evade privacy laws can and should be subject to civil suit. That is not the issue. The intelligence committee spent plenty of time looking over what happened over the last six years.

[Note, they wrote the immunity provision after only having reviewed the letters for 24 hours.]

All activities authorized by President, and all but one (that was done by legal counsel) which stated that activities determined to be lawful by the Attorney General.

[Note, if true, this is huge. Jello Jay just twice implied that BushCO LIED when it told the telecoms the program had been found to be legal after March 10, 2004.]

Jello Jay

3:05 Cardin Amendment, proceeding to vote.

DiFi tries to call up exclusivity, 3919

I voted for bill, indicated I had concerns, filed additional views. In Judiciary, the Judiciary filed amendment included wrt strengthening fact that FISA be exclusive means of electronic surveillance.

Severl co-sponsors. Jello Jay, Leahy, Whitehouse, Wyden, Snowe, Specter, [missed some]

Vice Chair approached her about a modification which would allow a time for Admin to operate outside of amendment.

[Bond wanted 45 days plus 45 more days]

Question is whether I would be able to modify my amendment to limit that time to 30 days, provide limits which our side could agree to, that has not been given to me, will rest my case on exclusivity. I’ll have an opportunity, I hope, to argue it later.

I would like to get another amendment, UC to call up 3919, FISA Court review of immunity.


[Didn’t say anything he didn’t already say yesterday.]


This bill, PAA, had a six month sunset only bc not able to bring complete bill to the floor. This is a bill that should establish a permanent operating authority. As part of the compromise that we reached in passing the bill, we agreed on 6-year sunset.

The committee will protect Americans’ privacy, I promise.

You can see how long we had to fight to get this through.


Would say to presiding officer that I find myself in disagreement with Vice Chairman, originally wanted 4, went to 6, bc of an accommodation. Wisdom on settling on 4, I urge adoption of amendment.


Comments Bond made. Terrorists have no restrictions. No courts, no Constitution, no civil liberties. That’s what makes this nation the great nation it is. PATRIOT Act had a 4 year sunset, we’ve used sunsets that have been shorter.


IC says we must have the certainty of 6 year sunset. Bipartisan blah blah blah.


Introducing Specter/Whitehouse substitution bill, Levin and Cardin added as co-sponsors.

Substitute USG as defendant in suits.

Telecoms and high level intelligence. Substitution, accomplishes objective of continuation of getting this intelligence information and at same time protects constitutional rights. USG steps into shoes of telecom. Govt could not assert govtl immunity. Can assert state secrets. Vital that courts remain open. Congress totally ineffective on oversight and restraining exec authority. Courts have effectiveness to maintain balance. President has asserted authority under Article II to disregard statutes signed by President. Start by FISA, only way to wiretap with court order. President initiated wiretap program in violation of that statute.

President–let me say Exec Branch–violated National Security Act that requires House and Senate informed of matters like TSP. Chair and ranking member ought to be notified of program like that, I was surprised to read about it in newspaper. A long time, lot of pressure, really to get the confirmation of Hayden to notify intell committees. Courts have been effective.

Hamdan. President does not have blank check on WOT. Hamdi, due process includes meaningful opportunity to contest facts, this is America, balance maintained bc courts remain open. I believe it would be problem when courts remain only means of checking executive authority.


Haggis shown exceptional courtesy to me as junior member of SJC.

Critical balance bet freedom and security.

We are proposing a sensible middle path, protects essential equities. Choice to give immunity and take away plaintiff’s case is not fair. Nothing yet suggests that this is not completely legitimate litigation. It is not fair to plaintiffs to take away their day in court. Huge separation of powers problem, intruding into ongoing litigation, taking away due process, without providing basis for judicial finding that the companies acted in good faith.

Whether they acted in good faith. Good faith determination. I hope we can all agree that if the companies did not operate in good faith. We should not be the judges of that. This is ongoing litigation. They have asserted they acted in good faith. We should not rely on one side’s assertion. Most Senators have not read the letters.

This body is literally incapable of making such a determination.

Substituting for the govt. If the govt directed them to break the law, the real actor is the govt. This is analgous to principal-agent directive. Principal is liable for acts of agent. Simple solution, follows law, first in rules of civil procedure. No one has due process summarily taken away. This is, after all, the US of A. Carriers get a judgment in their favor. No one is forbidden to defend themselves in litigation. No intrusion by Congress, no separation of powers trespass, if they acted reasonably in good faith, govt is morally operative party.

Separation of powers. We go all the way back to why we set up the separation of powers.

Quotes Scalia, same quote as yesterday.

I urge my colleagues to consider sensible matters, morally right way to go forward.

Jello Jay

I will oppose this bill for a series of very good reasons.  


Time allowed us by the proponents. (Bond a jerk.)

Permits lawsuits to go forward against govt. (Great, govt has immunity.)

There was notification of this program to the Big Eight.

If Specter doesn’t think Congress has been effective overseeing programs, he hasn’t seen Jello Jay’s committee.

A disaster for intelligence collection to have substitution.

[I wonder how Haggis is going to respond seeing that Bond is treating his amendment just as cynically and dishonestly as Feingold’s?]

224 replies
    • cboldt says:

      Any idea of who might be actually around to vote today?

      Reid said the presidentials (Hillary! and Obama and McCain) would be voting at 5:45 on the cloture motion to limit debate on the Finance Committee version of economic stimulus.

  1. JimWhite says:

    Boy howdy, it’s purple day in the Senate

    I did a little math earlier today, adding up the D and R votes in the 15 states that held primaries rather than caucuses yesterday. When totaled across the board, D’s had higher turnout in 12 states and won popular vote 62% to 38%.

    The details are here:…..1a7e4.html

    I titled the comment “Don’t it make your red states blue?”. I think that fits well with the purple theme in the Senate today.

  2. RevDeb says:

    I see what you mean about the purple! As it happens I’m wearing purple too. I wonder what’s in the air?

    Every time Russ explains exactly what everything means, the others have to take it off into never never land to try to “prove” their point. It’s so discouraging.

    • randiego says:

      Rayne – I love those guys! They are just like the plane spotters that have tracked the CIA rendition flights. Thanks for the link.

  3. RevDeb says:

    Off to a meeting. I hope no votes happen until the candidates can show up and let us know whether or not they intend to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

  4. JimWhite says:

    Oooh. Harry going off on Republican blocking of FEC. von Spakovsky is evil incarnate, if you ask me.
    We need a functional, independent FEC in November and in the leadup.

  5. cboldt says:

    Likewise on the subject of schedule, Reid’s opening this AM was on the importance of economic stimulus. He said that votes on FISA may come up, but gave no definite indication.

    His comments last night were in the same vein, but more informative than what he said this morning.

    We don’t have an agreement on FISA yet, but I have been given the assurance by my Republican colleagues that, for example, the amendment the Presiding Officer and Senator Specter are going to offer should be debated tomorrow. There should be time before we have the 5:45 vote. We have a very important amendment to debate that has to be completed with Senator Dodd and Senator Feinstein regarding immunity. Senator Feinstein has the ability to offer an amendment, and I hope we have votes on these and get rid of a lot of this tomorrow. We have been told the last few days that we could have some votes and we wind up not having votes, but I hope we can.

    Still no cloture motion to limit debate on final passage. Debate on final passage stands independently from the time-limits imposed for debate on specified amendments.

  6. TLinGA says:

    Reid/Durbin are raising a pretty big stink about Bradbury’s squatting on the position of Head of the OLC. Durbin’s comparing it to the embarrassments of the Alien and Sedition Acts, Japanese internment, etc.

  7. JimWhite says:

    Durbin pointing out that waterboarding is a war crime.

    I like the way he and Harry are drawing together the outrages of warranetless wiretapping and torture and how they come down to the horrible legal opinions issued by OLC. Keep pulling on this thread, guys. It will unravel everything!

    • TLinGA says:

      There are so many targets of opportunity for the Dems to engage, that it is simply unbelievable that it has taken this long for them to bring them to light on the floor.

  8. klynn says:

    It would be great to get the CQ article by Jeff Stein that you linked to in the previous thread read into the Senate record…It illustrates the problems with what the President/VP/McConnell/Mukasey are demanding legislatively wrt FISA…Collateral damage is a dreadful reality…


    Yes, they need to keep focus on the OLC legal opinions…

  9. TLinGA says:

    Sessions – “I’m happy to hear that we have stopped waterboarding, and I hope we never have to do it again.” (My emphasis)

    He goes on to say that comparing the waterboarding we are doing today is not comparable to the waterboarding done by the Japanese during WWII. His justification is that “legal combatants” should be given protections above that available to terrorists and that we are not “systematically employing torture”. Yeah, ok.

  10. klynn says:

    Yeah. And when does the, “Ooops, we almost forgot this time and this time and this…”

    Only three times, so it’s okay? Right?

    Now would that make a fourth time the illegal torture? I’m confused. What does “three times” have to do with rule of law?

    • Rayne says:

      It wasn’t three times; they’ve admitted to waterboarding three persons.

      And I’ll bet there’s enough room there to drive a truck right through the middle of that parsing.

      Did they mean they only waterboarded three high-value pre-Iraq War detainees? Did they not include any possible waterboarding of other detainees of any stature (high or low value, al Qaeda/non-al Qaeda, enemy combatants/non-combatants of other designation, ect.), or by any other entity other than the CIA??

      There’s this little bit in Ghost Plane about one of the early renditions, where the U.S. ensured that the person rendered was “not in U.S. custody” even though he was on a U.S. plane, with U.S. agents aboard, so on…was this person “not waterboarded”, too?

      • klynn says:

        That’s what my snark meant…Sessions used the words “not employing systematic torture”

        Since systematic means, “done or acting according to a fixed plan or system; methodical..” Then admitting to three (even if there are more) means we do employ systematic torture. How do you get to even three without some plan of getting there?

        He’s not listening to his own arguement…

  11. siri says:

    Jeff Sessions screaming how dare anyone compare us to some other horrific torturous regime. WE DON’T KILL PEOPLE!!!! everything less than that is PERFECTLY OK, i guess? WHAT A MAMMOTH INSULT THIS MAN IS TO MY PATRIOTISM, MY HUMANISM, MY SPIRIT SELF, MY FAMILY, MY PEOPLE and EVERYTHING I WAS RAISED TO BELIEVE. He should be censured. And all his rethug budz too!

  12. JohnLopresti says:

    I wonder if Bond’s reference to the civil liberties office is the same entity that Bush extinguished by failing to nominate any replacements for the terms which all expired January 31, 2008. Bush did this with the nominations process at startup, as well, ignoring the creation of the group after Bush signed the law which was the December 2004 result of a recommendation of the 911commission, but failing to convene the group as of the writing of this article 14 months later in February 2006; NB LAT has removed the path to economize on server room, but several online ombuds-sites have copies, viz., CommonD. I see this as more rugged individualism from Bush Cheney; oversight is anathema to their mutual political style. I appreciate the liveblogs in this important baring of the flimsiness of congress’ concern for civil liberties. In the 1970s a lot of careful legislation passed because those times in the society were stressed, and congress wanted to restore some sense of normalcy; funny that fisa as an afterthought has become the tech dog that turned to nip at its creators, and provide the opportunity to review the history; I look forward to Waxman’s hearings on EOP IT to gloss in the details of how this executive branch has lost its own records by its cavalier demidiscipline in its own wilde west weltanschauung.

  13. itchyfish says:

    They’re admitting that it was only used on three persons by the CIA, which immediately made me think 1) they’re lying again or 2) they’ve outsourced the task to contractors. This retroactive immunity for the telecoms is just the camel’s nose for retroactive immunity for all sorts of other crimes committed by Blackwater and Halliburton and God knows who else.

    • TLinGA says:

      Its possible the defense would be that the torture was done by “contractors” (read: paramilitary) and so was not done by the government. No mention will be made that the individuals that performed the act is former CIA that is now employed by the contractors.

    • klynn says:

      Yes that’s possible. Again, even this would fall under the definition of “systematic.” Hire of contractors wrt intelligence gathering is part of a “plan” which our government carried out. If we were not doing any oversight of said contractors (trust me in any other contracted service by the government we have TONS of oversight) then we are responsible. Whitehouse or Feingold should take their words and turn them back on them.

      • sailmaker says:

        This kind of thinking – hire contractors with no oversight to do one’s dirty business has gone global.

        Pirates used to hit cargo ships in the Straights of Mallaccaa (Singapore choke point for vessel traffic) all the time. While one never heard about this piracy in the MSM (just as one never hears about ships going down unless they are within sight of land or leak something toxic) it was a common occurrence, mostly minor boardings of ships and burglary of crew quarters while the crew is working, sometimes gunpoint holdups for payroll, rarely kidnapping and ransom situations.

        Now, the Singapore government has hired contractors who are not required to file any paper work. Last year scuttlebutt had only 6 occurrences of piracy in the Straights; proof that the undocumented use of force ‘works’. Last August, the British insurance market Lloyd’s lifted its “war-risk” rating for the waterway, saying the safety of the 550-mile-long strait had improved due to long-term security measures. There are also MSM recorded meetings of the countries involved regarding piracy – the solutions that were voiced at the meetings were an oil pipeline so there would be redundancy in the world’s oil delivery system, as well as patrols. What did not get reported was that there would be private navies without oversight acting to ‘protect commerce and our merchant mariners’.

        While this may seem off topic, really it is not: the growing use of unfettered private armies should be of concern to all private citizens. I site Singapore as only one of many places where private security is used.

        • cboldt says:

          the growing use of unfettered private armies should be of concern to all private citizens

          The use of privateers isn’t new. The US Constitution provided for this. The term of art is “Letters of Marque and Reprisal.” The concept, however, makes some sovereign country accountable for hiring the privateer.

          I do agree, that to the extent the actions are truly unfettered, the privateers may turn into the pirates.

  14. ticktock says:

    Hi folks….

    If the war on terrorists is such an important issue why wasn’t the issue brought forth back by our government when Qwest’s former ceo was apparently refused warrant-less surveillance in February 2001 prior to 9/11?
    Instead apparently the incident is revealed years later in an article in a Washington Post October 17th 2007.

    Also, why is warrant-less wiretapping wrapped around 9/11 because it appears the procedure was introduced (& probably inacted) months prior to the incident….

  15. nomolos says:

    Whenever I see or hear Sessions I see a black uniform with SS on the lapels.

    He is a perfect, although skinnier, Goebbels with his jodpurs and cap. He is evil incarnate to me. Lying through his teeth in defense of the chimpenfhuerer.

  16. JimWhite says:

    Not sure if I can handle Chambliss after Sessions.

    Final comment on Sessions and his friends: I think we are going to need a very large charter jet to The Hague when all is said and done on US torture of prisoners.

  17. AZ Matt says:

    Shambles is chattin’ now, oh lucky us. I can find something better to do will he rags on. I know the folks here can gut him while I am doing business.

  18. Peterr says:

    “The government needs the support from companies in the private sector to protect national security. They should be able to rely on the government’s assurances . . .” and thus receive immunity.

    The executive branch is NOT the government — not when it acts all by itself. When the executive branch obtains a warrant under the supervision of the judiciary, following procedures outlined in laws passed by the legislative branch, THEN you have the government giving assurances that can be relied upon.

    Without a warrant and judicial oversight, all you’ve got is a monarch’s word to rely upon.

  19. Mary says:

    Someone ought to point out that under the old FISA they WERE wiretapping Bin Laden before 9/11. It wasn’t that they didn’t tap his calls, its just that they didn’t translate them or pay attention until after 9/11.

    (I knew there were reports of the CIA killing one man by freezing him to death – were there two?)

    Rockefeller out there lying about Feingold’s amendment takes the cake. Feingold has Rockefeller’s briefing (not on torture, Rockefeller’s favorite subject, but on wiretapping) from the Intel committee and is a smart guy and on the Judiciary committee as well.

    Feingold ought to pull the old trick from the Black Caucus and offer up the Fourth as an Amendment to the FISA legislation.

    And I still think if they had just approached this from the stance of agreeing to immunity for every call where al-Qaeda was on one end of the call, they would have completely changed the framing. But gone is gone. As the budget surplus and the integrity of the anyone in the Dept of Justice, so goes the Constitution.

    Watching Reid and Rockefeller makes me realize that manufactured concern over how much “worse” it will be with the Republicans isn’t really a good enough reason to vote for Democratic politicians. As a party, they stand for nothing. As individuals, there are a small handful who are not thoroughly corrupt, and no more.

    It’s just becoming a part of their kabuki to vote for them. They already took their path, to make this country less, to be pro-torture, to waste -in senses of that word – the poor and the middle class for personal gain, to destroy Constitutional values and laws — and to do it all while trying to keep an incensed core supporting them as the “alternative” who was “fighting” against those things.

    They may jazz it up and call it Cabaret instead of Kabuki, but it’s really all a matter of letting yourself be a part of their dance or not.

    I’m done with calls, contributions, voter efforts and all the rest of it. They aren’t an alternative, they just play out the prospect that they “might” be an alternative if everyone would just clap harder.

    • phred says:

      Mary –

      I am entirely with you on this, but here’s the catch, if we throw in the towel now, then the bastards win. And I’m not yet willing to concede defeat. I will continue to hold the Dems feet to the fire as it were whether via emails, calls, and letters.

      What we desperately need is a coordinated effort to pose a serious primary challenge to each and every member of the Dem leadership. Until we can pose a credible challenge they will continue to ignore us. And I just don’t see a viable 3rd party alternative. I sincerely wish I did. I would dump the Dems in a heartbeat, but for now I agree that the only possible short-term solution is to keep pressuring the Dems.

      One other point, lets not forget the poor fellow that was smothered in a sleeping bag in our list of murdered detainees.

    • selise says:

      mary – i agree they aren’t an alternative. but i’m not counting on getting decent people into office – i’m counting on morally corrupt people deciding it is in their own best interest to do the right thing because they know we’re going to throw them out on their asses otherwise.

      i can’t forget the lesson of nixon – the guy who gave us the epa, osha and a bunch of good stuff. none of that was out of moral conviction or the goodness of his motivation. he was acting in his own self interest, because kabuki wouldn’t have been enough to get him the support and votes he wanted.

      looks to me that we have a very long way to go – i think we’ve progressed to the point where they will now expend some energy in trying to sucker and manipulate the blogosphere, just like they do with legacy media (only the Rs are much better at it). i look forward to the day when they know they can’t get away with the kabuki, because we’ll see through it – and tell others about it.

      that, i think, is what marcy is doing here (and glenn and others).

      and you too, when you educate us with your comments on our torture regime. please don’t stop doing that.

      • Fractal says:

        i’m counting on morally corrupt people deciding it is in their own best interest to do the right thing because they know we’re going to throw them out on their asses otherwise.

        This is key, even though I share the despair Mary expressed @ 49. We can throw them out on their asses, starting by helping Feingold with his Progressive Patriots Fund. He sent a message this week asking us to nominate our favorite progressive candidate. He said he can mobilize hundreds of thousands of dollars per cycle, and I think if we get serious we could turn that into millions. Same for Democracy for America, Blue State Project, ActBlue. No reason to wait any longer, given the charade we are watching today.

  20. CasualObserver says:

    From CNN ticker:

    “February 5, 2008
    Presidential candidates to return for Senate stimulus vote
    Posted: 10:09 PM ET
    WASHINGTON (CNN) — Senate Democratic leaders have summoned presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., to the Senate Wednesday for a 5:45 p.m. vote on a Democratic-backed economic stimulus bill.

    The measure needs 60 votes to pass and right now the outcome is too close too call, according to senators and aides on both sides of the aisle.

    He’ll call ‘em back for the president’s stimulus package, but not for defending the 4th amendment. It is clear as crystal.

  21. 4jkb4ia says:

    Was I a complete moron to tell [Senator X] to vote for the Wyden amendment? I saw that it was “ordered to lie on the table”, but it might be able to come back later.

  22. 4jkb4ia says:

    Senator X was THERE when Obama said, “You will get someone who has taught the Constitution, believes in the Constitution, and will defend the Constitution!” The crowd erupted! Biggest cheer of the night!

  23. phred says:

    No difference between the day after 9-11 and today. Good to know we are still just as ill-prepared as we were then. No point in funding the intelligence agencies at all. Thanks Jello Jay, that should save us a bundle in the budget.

      • Fractal says:

        It strikes me he never thought he would be seriously challenged to defend his committee’s bullshit, and he realizes now that he is not prepared to refute Feingold and Dodd, he doesn’t have a case, he was given any practice for how to debate on his feet, all he can do is regurgitate corporate talking points. Pathetically, at that. And he must be embarrassed, that’s what I guess those deep sighs were all about. Embarrassed that he got caught carrying Shrub’s water.

  24. phred says:

    If “those little instruments” are so freakin’ harmless, what have you got against judicial review JJ?

    • Fractal says:

      he is explicitly claiming that even FISA warrants are not enough to compel the private telecoms to “cooperate” in the way the agencies need! dipshit.

  25. Fractal says:

    Greenwald has completely refuted every one of these dipshit arguments from Rockefeller. They are circular, self-contradictory, and ignore the remedies & defenses already available to the telecoms in the statute.

  26. phred says:

    Oooo, “media reports”. Has it occurred to JJ that we must rely on those since the government refuses to account for themselves, keeping everything secret and hidden from public scrutiny??? Nice democratic system you got there Jay, where the public doesn’t know what is and isn’t being done, so we can’t possibly determine whether or not we approve.

  27. phred says:

    “Collecting a completely different KIND of intelligence.” Would that be because the intelligence you are trying to collect is UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

  28. Fractal says:

    Time for a new agenda item: Reid must replace the chair & membership of SSCI, just like Pelosi did in the House. Except, Reid must keep Feingold, Whitehouse & Wyden on the SSCI. Who is senior enough to bump Rockefeller?

  29. JohnLopresti says:

    I agree with selise at 52, and would add LBJohnson to that cast of characters who claimed credit for overseeing liberalizing process based on much more conservative personal politics than they admitted. Now there is a telco dereg theme reminiscent of crocodile tears shed the world over in the late 1990s dereg processes, where undue hardship was the sad lament of incumbents world over, virtually all closely in league with their respective governments, indeed, many wholly owned by their nationstates prior to the temporary breeze of dereg; now it is retroactive immunity plus permanent future immunity. But we know the causes of both of those teary complaints, the retrospective liability torts, and the future coziness promised. Without consulting the SEC filings of the current telcos in the US, I would imagine the current reconstituted att to be a larger company than the parent entity congress disassembled in the 1980s.

  30. cboldt says:

    A short procedural aside: Rockefeller’s speech is NOT running against the (limited) debate time charged to amendments. He is talking on the unlimited time presently allocated to final passage of the bill.

    He also announced that Senator Specter is scheduled to present his substitution amendment at 3:30. I’ve not heard any timing for the introduction of Feinstein’s amendment. Those are the only two amendments agreed to be taken up, yet to be introduced.

  31. Fractal says:

    Interesting that Rockefeller was being forced to defend this horseshit personally. Usually, this crap would be coming out of the mouths of Kit Bond and/or Sessions & Chambliss. Did you hear his deep sighs? Is he feeling under threat?

    • phred says:

      I hope he’s been getting a lot calls and is feeling some heat from other Dem Senators.

      I loved the way that his speech ended with an appeal to the poor poor telecoms being told everything was hunky dory, so that should be enough. In Jello Jay’s world we are a nation of men, who conduct business with a handshake and their word, rather than a nation of laws that conducts business based on contracts. Uh. Huh. Try again Jello Jay.

  32. JimWhite says:

    From EW’s summary of Jello Jay’s defense of amnesty:

    Many argue that those who acted unlawfully should be held accountable. I totally agree. Companies that deliberately seek to evade privacy laws can and should be subject to civil suit. That is not the issue. The intelligence committee spent plenty of time looking over what happened over the last six years.

    Doesn’t Qwest’s refusal to go along with the gummint pretty much blow this argument out of the water?

  33. Mary says:

    56 – and will defend the Constitution The problem is that it is always future tense. I’d like a little present tense.

  34. cboldt says:


    Click that to get a summary that shows cosponsors of that amendment. The URL pattern is easy to follow, in case one wanted to make a webpage linking to each of the amendments.

  35. AZ Matt says:

    Now he, bondo, is saying that the SSCI has good people and staff to take care of thing so don’t need da sunset. I thought he was suggesting the other day that he thought Feingold could keep an eye everything. He is sort of all over the place

  36. Fractal says:

    classic Cardin: terrorists don’t have restrictions because they are not democratic, don’t have courts, don’t have laws, don’t have a Congress

    • cboldt says:

      I didn’t think there were to be any votes today.

      There was no public notice of agreement to vote. Reid noted yesterday that there wasn’t even an agreement to vote today.

      Starting a roll call with one or two Senators in chamber is the norm. They stroll in from the backrooms at their convenience.

    • phred says:

      There are rarely Senators physically in the room when voting starts. I think they get called from their offices as the vote goes on. In fact, I think that is why they “call the role” to buy them a little time to show up. The larger question is how many Senators are on the Hill right now.

  37. Mary says:

    Maybe it is because I am just skimming through here and not listening, but Rockefeller sounds flat out incoherent.

    Getting corporations to work cooperatively with the Executive to violate laws that protect Americans on American soil is a good thing, because …. uh, why?

    We’re not about being Courts, about balancing civil liberties as best as we can.

    What else is handing out amnesty?

    Many argue that those who acted unlawfully should be held accountable.

    The killer for this is that only “many” argue that – not everyone in Congress. Why isn’t EVERYONE arguing that?

    I totally agree. Companies that deliberately seek to evade privacy laws can and should be subject to civil suit.

    No they can’t – not now Jay – you just handed them out amnesty. Their actions were deliberate and intentional under any and every legal definiation of deliberate. And no one has been allowed – and now no one will be alloed – to investigate whether those deliberate actions were taken to evade privacy laws – or the criminal elements of FISA laws.

    That is not the issue. The intelligence committee spent plenty of time looking over what happened over the last six years.

    The fact that you let the same people who lied during the joint hearings come back and lie again — that’s not “spending plenty of time looking” and the balancing test isn’t how much time was spent looking —- including how much time you spent, by yourself, as a part of the illegally comprised “Gang of Four”, but rather whether or not Americans were spied on illegally AND unConstitutionally. The only Federal Court to look at the facts of the program has held that, FISA aside – it is an UNCONSTIUTIONAL program. Congress – you specifically Sen. Rockefeller – is taking it upon itself to not just act as the Judiciary branch, but to usurp the power the people reserved to themselves under the Constitution.

    YOu can’t do that – so the lawsuits won’t stop.

    The special damages provisions of FISA may be spun back by you, but if the rationale is to make the lawsuits stop — whatever you do to FISA doesn’t address the fourth and first amendment issues and those go on. So faced with that – why, again, are you doing this?

    • cboldt says:

      whatever you do to FISA doesn’t address the fourth and first amendment issues

      The Courts are going to have to rule the FISA law an unconstitutional stripping, because the law calls for dismissal of the class of case if the specified certifications are made.

      What sticks in my craw is the duplicitous use of the word “lawful.” Well, that’s not the only thing that sticks … but “lawful” lacks a particular definition.

  38. cboldt says:

    Odds on this passing? I’m guessing it’s rejected 58-34 (it needs 60 to pass). It’s inconsequential either way, or it’s not a poison pill. The administration prefers absence of sunset altogether, but will sign a bill with 4 year sunset.

  39. pseudonymousinnc says:

    Something that the livebloggers might help me with. In that little snippet of Feingold talking about his BlackBerry, he made it clear that he understands what’s going on: in essence, a domestic ECHELON that sucks up everything, subjects it to computerised scanning for triggers — including massively-parallel real-time audio analysis — then sends on the positive hits for human analysis.

    But these tech details don’t seem to have made it onto the Senate floor. Am I right here?

    • TLinGA says:

      But these tech details don’t seem to have made it onto the Senate floor. Am I right here?

      I would think that the technical details are well beyond the level of effort that most critters want to expend. Its almost as if they all want to reserve the defense of plausible ignorance for bad decisions.

    • emptywheel says:

      No one admits it publicly, aside from Feingold, Whitehouse, and Dodd. I did make that point earlier during that policy summit. But the senators then in the room seemed to think they had made this case.

      • pseudonymousinnc says:

        Thanks, EW. I can understand that they’re dealing with practices — the programs that are not The Program, or The Program’s earlier incarnation — where they’re either forced to speculate or construe, or that are SSCI-classified. My gut feeling is that it’s going to take a degree of candour — perhaps whistleblower candour — to make this stuff clear. Until then, there’s a kind of legislative shadow-boxing that hints at the underlying processes of intel-gathering but doesn’t state it outright.

  40. Fractal says:

    Warner, NO.

    Lautenberg, AYE.

    Biden, AYE.

    Crapo, Ensign, NO,

    Kerry, Pryor, Mikulski, AYE!

    Blue Dogs coming over, yay

        • phred says:

          The 4 year sunset is timed so that the next review comes under the next President (in all likelihood a Dem). The original bill has a 6 year sunset, that the Rethugs hope will occur under a Rethug President and Congress (who can sweep inconvenient truths under the rug).

          • RevDeb says:

            knew that. was questioning cboldt’s use of term 4 year immunity, just seeking clarification if we were on the same page.

            This is one of the ones listed that W. would “live with” ie not give him reason to pull out veto pen.

            • cboldt says:

              questioning cboldt’s use of term 4 year immunity

              A brain fart … not uncommon in my case. I knew exactly what I was thinking about.

  41. Fractal says:

    Webb, Kohl, Johnson (ND), Wyden, Dodd, Landrieu, Lincoln, Tester, Baucus, Klobuchar, Stabenow, AYE!

    another twothree or four Blue Dogs, yay

    Domenici, Barasso (sp?), Hagel (dick), Shelby, Gregg, DeMint, Snowe, Smith, Martinez, Cornyn, NO.

    • ImaPT says:

      Webb, Kohl, Johnson (ND), Wyden, Dodd, Landrieu, Lincoln, Tester, Baucus, Klobuchar, Stabenow, AYE!

      another twothree or four Blue Dogs, yay

      Is this just part of the kabuki? With the 60 vote limit (carefully orchestrated) all of the Dems and even a few Republicans who might be on the bubble can vote for the 4-year sunset. That way, they can say they did something positive on FISA without really doing something…

  42. Fractal says:

    Salazar, NO? WTF?

    Conrad, Akaka, Cantwell, Harkin, Nelson (NE), Carper, Dorgan, Boxer, AYE!

    Thune, Sessions, Hatch (slug), Murkowski, NO.

    I hope I was wrong about Salazar.

  43. Fractal says:

    that was fun, but we really should just use a check-off list, prepared in advance.

    sorry, got to do some actual work for a few mins.

  44. JTMinIA says:

    No check-off is required (as this one was DOA). The best you can hope for is that the anti-Constitution folks feel good enough about knocking down the 60-vote amendments that they let the crucial ones through.

  45. behindthefall says:

    I have Cspan2 on with the sound off. The cats like to watch the tube. I look at it now and again. What I see is Sen. Bond: flashy dresser, but tries to look trustworthy, superficially. However, all his movements and eye-shifts say that he is a sly farmer trying to sell you a horse that will pitch you into the river at the first bridge and then come back home. I see Sen. Rockefeller: no affect whatsoever; only his lips move, and his eyeglasses preclude eye contact — why is he trying to hide in plain sight?

    These are not healthy people, and it is not healthy for us to ask them to govern properly.

  46. cboldt says:

    The gal in the pink blouse has the long tally sheet. When she turns to show it to the chair, the vote result is about to be announced

    • JTMinIA says:

      All the 60-vote amendments are DOA. That was the deal Reid worked out. He basically killed half the amendments with his agreements on votes-needed, trying to save a few that matter (to him, at least).

      The fireworks is when we get to the majority-of-those-present votes. Until then, we’re just winding ourselves up.

    • phred says:

      Nope, he’s fine, he just cast his 15,000th roll call vote. I don’t know about you, but I sure feel like celebrating. Lets all cheer, while Reid finishes off the Constitution, shall we?

    • cboldt says:

      eulogy for Senator Daniel Inouye.

      Yeah – casting 10,000 votes. This is the “pat on the back club” in action.

        • Fractal says:

          I can think of 30 or 40 others whose numbers I would like to retire . . . . Worthless aristo poseurs. (Not Inouye.)

        • cboldt says:

          Will they retire his number and hang it over the chamber?

          LOL. Beats me. One of the reasons the Senate is fun to watch is that is is a parody of itself. Very self-smug, self-congratulatory, and totally dysfunctional.

  47. cboldt says:

    4th most prolific voter. IIRC, Byrd and Leahy are in that group. I don’t know the fourth off the top of my head.

  48. cboldt says:

    One minute bitching about how they can’t get anything done, the next minute burning time patting each other on the back, for the Record.

  49. JTMinIA says:

    There have been numerous slips with regard what telecoms have done. It seems that very few are bothering to use the fancy lawyer version and are just going ahead and saying that they helped. Or, maybe, it’s just the heat of the moment causing them to say what they know. (But don’t worry, they always clean it up before publishing the transcript; it’s a Senate tradition.)

    How many people actually believe that suits against telecoms will actually go forward, even if immunity is removed?

    To those that said “yes,” can I interest you in a few eBay auctions I have going?

    • JimWhite says:

      My latest tinfoil hat thought is to ask whether the cuts would make it possible to “insert” traffic into the communications stream that looks like it comes from the Middle East and suggests imminent attacks. All to assure FISA revision, of course.

    • bobschacht says:

      “another cable cut. This is getting a bit suspicious.”

      So what do we have here? A new kind of warfare? I can see the history books now: “The Cable wars of 2008: Who won, and who lost?”

      Bob in HI

    • klynn says:

      cboldt, you have been an amazing source on everything along with EW.
      The votes at hand are the import right now however…

      Re: O/T

      Yeah, I listed the news posting on this 5th cut yesterday in the More Cables News post EW had up. There is actually a report of up to nine cable cuts because of two cable cuts in the region which happened the week of January 23 but went unreported…and two additional cuts which happened in different places in two lines previously reported as cut on January 31. I did not want to reference this total until I had more confirmation from good sources regarding cable function in the region the week of the 23rd. So let’s not go off in tin foil land until we have more. However, the fifth cut has been confirmed.

      Back to FISA, votes and procedures…

      • behindthefall says:

        klynn February 6th, 2008 at 3:37 pm
        In response to RevDeb @ 154


        There is actually a report of up to nine cable cuts because of two cable cuts in the region which happened the week of January 23 but went unreported…and two additional cuts which happened in different places in two lines previously reported as cut on January 31. I did not want to reference this total until I had more confirmation from good sources regarding cable function in the region the week of the 23rd. So let’s not go off in tin foil land until we have more. However, the fifth cut has been confirmed.

        This is a flat-out information war. Somebody in the ME must be getting annoyed by now. Can anyone suggest groups which do not play well with others and would conduct these attacks? What is going to be the result when the little nippers are caught red-flippered? (I sure hope that the U.S. is not responsible for the breaks, because such hubris could have severe blowback, maybe worse than the occupation of Iraq.) (Do such acts qualify as ‘terrorism’ at some international level?) Does it seem that any ME nation is intimidated at the loss of communications; that is, does anyone in the ME act terrorized?

        • behindthefall says:

          There is actually a report of up to nine cable cuts [snip] let’s not go off in tin foil land until we have more [snip]

          OK; so the obvious hypothesis is intentional human tampering, but let’s call that ‘tin foil’ — why, exactly, I don’t know, but let’s just say it is. What else could cause 5+ cable breaks in the Med?

          Crustal spreading?

          Simultaneous aging of cables or a linkage component?

          Design flaw that has caused the 10KV, for example, to burn through the optical fibers in several different cables?

          Perhaps ‘break’ is not the correct term; perhaps we are talking about ‘component failure’ at the the signal-boosting thingamabobs.

          Marine life — presumably with teeth?

          Anybody know what the people who have to deal with these things are thinking?

          • klynn says:

            I can confirm the 5 cuts and “that” devserves a level of “tin foil”. The total of 9 – I cannot confirm due to questions about the soundness of the sources.

            Remember, there have been terrible storms in the area for a week- the worst in history for the most part. (Look at the winter storms hitting Pakistan and Iran for instance – historical magnitude.) Cable repairs were unable to start until yesterday due to weather. Like EW has stated, most thinking on this right now is out-a-our-arse speculation…until we hear more from the repair ships on the appearance of the cuts.

            I would like to get confirmation from Telegeography or an international internet intelligence firm with ties outside the US and Great Britain (Telegeography has US and GB headquarters).

            This is an interesting read on the five cable cuts…


            Currently, Telegeography has not posted an update since their posting on the three cable cuts. It would be helpful if all the global cable intelligence firms would come together and share their information on all the cable cuts. So, whether or not I confirm the total of nine…we’ll have to wait and see… My tin foil will not come out until I learn more from reports made by the repair ships. That’s not to say I do not have my speculations…many I posted in the previous cable posts by EW…

  50. phred says:

    Speaking of cut cables, has anyone else lost live streaming of C-SPAN2? I try to reload it and get a message of “this stream is not available”. Anyone else getting that?

  51. RevDeb says:

    And now the Specter amendment. Substitution of the taxpayers being liable for the damage the telcos did while they were stealing our info.

    Did I get that right?

      • cboldt says:

        Majority. DiFi’s is the only 60 vote immunity.

        Four amendments are under 60 vote passage. One of those four (Cardin’s) was just withdrawn. The other three are Feinstein 3919 (removal to FISC); Whitehouse 3920 (empowers FISC to conduct compliance reviews); and Feinstein 3910 (exclusive means)

          • cboldt says:

            My point was that DiFi’s immunity option was the only one that was subject to 60 votes.

            I mistook “only one” as meaning “only amendment,” rather than as you intended.

  52. cboldt says:

    Specter is full of himself.

    SPECTER: The Specter-Whitehouse substitution amendment will place the Government in the shoes of the telephone companies to have the same defenses–no more and no less. For example, the doctrine of governmental immunity would not be available to the Government. There have been those who have criticized the Specter-Whitehouse amendment, who have ignored the very basic proposition that the suits cannot be dismissed because of governmental immunity.

    On the other hand, by the same token, the state secrets defense will be available. In the lawsuits that are being prosecuted now against the telephone companies, the government has intervened to assert the state secrets doctrine. In fact, the Government has precluded the telephone companies from saying very much under that doctrine. When the Government is substituted for the telephone companies, the Government will retain the defense of the state secrets doctrine.

    • JimWhite says:

      Yes, this one really has me on the fence. I don’t agree that the telecoms should get off in this way, but I would love to see Bush forced into vetoing the bill.

      As I understood the discussion just before the debate started, they are only doing part of the debate on this issue now and will stop in a few minutes to switch to the econ stimulus package, won’t they?

    • cboldt says:

      But this is one of the ones on the list that would be a poison pill.

      Given the snow job that Rockefeller and his cohorts have erected around his “faux accountability” mechanism, there is no way a majority of Senator will coalesce around either Feinstein removal to FISC, Specter/Whitehouse substitution, or Feingold “strip Title II.” Of those three, the only one that the PTB think might get majority support is Feinstein’s, or maybe they put a 60 vote supermajority on it to make Feinstein think her idea is persuasive.

  53. RevDeb says:

    If this is a majority and we have Specter and the last vote went 49-46 there may be hope. On the other hand, some of our more fickle Liebercrats may have voted aye on the last one because they could—it had no chance of getting 60. The vote on this one has consequences.

  54. JTMinIA says:

    You might gain Specter, but you lose Rockefeller.

    ps. Sen Bond just mentioned something being bi-partisan. Has he said this before? tee hee

  55. cboldt says:

    16:28: Rockefeller – “in spite of my eloquence, I can’t address this amendment in 2 minutes.”

    Bond – “the bipartisan [SSCI] bill permits suits to go forward against the government and government employees; the Congress [Intelligence Committee] was notified; the president has Article II powers to conduct the surveillance”

    • cboldt says:

      That’s it for today, right?

      I think so, but the Senate’s schedule can go in a couple radically different directions depending on the outcome of the Ec.Stim. cloture vote.

      If that cloture vote passes, then the Senate is pretty well on the subject of Ec.Stim., although Reid may try to get a UC agreement to vote on FISA (I don’t think he will, but it’s certainly in the realm of possible)

      If that (Ec.Stim.) cloture vote is rejected, Reid may say “okay, you want to stiff economic stimulus, we’ll go back to FISA”

      They have plans and contingency plans. We’re stuck with speculation.

        • cboldt says:

          Reid did not filed for cloture on fisa as he said he would?

          Technically, he never said he would file for cloture on final passage of FISA. The presence of a cloture motion is implied in the language of the UC agreement. The Senate might skip that, if they can waste enough time otherwise.

            • cboldt says:

              Does that mean that Dodd can still hold up the works?

              Yes. But as soon as he signals he is going to stall, Reid files a cloture motion, which has a more or less time-certain for running its course.

              I expected a cloture motion to have been filed Monday, so as to cut off the “advantage” (assuming delay = advantage) that would accrue to a Dodd objection to voting on final passage.

              The later it gets, the more Dodd’s objection would be seen as the agent that deprives the House of time to strip retroactive immunity.

              • RevDeb says:

                Isn’t that assuming that the House would hold fast and not cave? Yes, the Senate seems to be programmed to do that but the House hasn’t always stood up strongly either.

                • selise says:

                  the house leadership has NEVER done the right thing on FISA- starting in august, when they orchestrated a cave. then the house leadership wrote a sucky bill they called the RESTORE ACT, which they then proceeded push through while blocking rep. Holt’s much better bill in committee (even though Holt’s bill was submitted on teh same day as the RESTORE ACT), then the house leadership lied to rep. Holt in order to get him to vote in favor of reporting the RESTORE ACT out of the intelligence committee. passage of the RESTORE ACT was then torpedoed by the unlikely alliance of the republicans and the dem progressive caucus. after that the progressive caucus held fast behind Holt’s leadership and force the house leadership to make changes in the RESTORE ACT in order to get the support of the progressive caucus – which was required for passage.

                  to my knowledge this was the first success the progressive caucus has had in forcing their leadership to act sensibly.

                  if anyone would like links for all my assertions, i’d be happy to provide them… it would have to wait for a bit, though, as i’m in the middle of video processing for youtubes of today’s senate floor statements on FISA.

                  • RevDeb says:

                    Ah yes, the Holt bill. It is all coming back to me.

                    So the conference would have to include Conyers (HJC) maybe Waxman—please? and who else? If we can get Henry and someone with scruples. . . . . why am I even getting my hopes up.

                    Charlie Brown. Lucy. Football.

                    • selise says:

                      conyers (judiciary) and reyes (intelligence) – they cowrote the sucky version(*) of the RESTORE ACT and both blocked Holt’s bill in their committees (even thought Holt is a member of the intelligence committee, and should, imo, be chair). i think they’ve been complicit is most, if not all, the house FISA kabuki. i do not trust them on this issue – not at all.

                      * note: pow wow read all the different versions of the house bills and gave us an excellent and detailed analysis of each.

  56. JTMinIA says:

    With regard to coming back to 3927 (Substitution): anyone know if Clinton and/or Obama are in DC? They might be critical. Likewise, I guess, knowing if McCain is around would be useful.

  57. cboldt says:

    although Reid may try to get a UC agreement to vote on FISA

    By that, I don’t mean to vote on FISA immediately, rather to set a time such as Friday, Monday, after Ec.Stim., or other.

    At this point, there is no agreement to limit debate on final passage of FISA. The time limits apply only to the amendment debates. No cloture motion has been filed to limit debate on final passage of FISA. That is always done in open session, so, unlike UC agreements that are often crafted out of sight, one can make inferences from an absence of a cloture motion. This “absent” cloture motion is mentioned in the UC agreement for FISA, thusly …

    That upon disposition of all amendments, the substitute amendment, as amended, be agreed to, the bill be read a third time, and the Senate then vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the bill; provided, that upon passage of the bill …

  58. JTMinIA says:

    Dodd can’t (and won’t) do anything until all the amendments are dealt with.

    Also, keep in mind that there’s another chance when the House and Senate versions are rectified (assuming the Senate version still has immunity in it).

    • cboldt says:

      Isn’t that assuming that the House would hold fast and not cave? Yes, the Senate seems to be programmed to do that but the House hasn’t always stood up strongly either.

      Everybody is looking for a scapegoat. The House will blame the Senate for not giving enough time, the blame game in the Senate will be between the two parties. Mutual finger pointing so the public is confused about who’s to blame.

      Dodd is unlikely to want to pop his head up, in that environment.

      • RevDeb says:

        If the end result is that there is no bill for W to sign or veto that’s a win for us as far as I’m concerned. No bill is way better than a bad bill.

      • JTMinIA says:

        Please explain the time-squeeze issue a bit more, as it applies to the House. Are you saying that sending over the Senate bill with almost no time to spare would force the House to just up-or-down vote, with no amendments that would require it be sent back to the Senate? Is that why a delay by Dodd could be worse than nothing?

        • cboldt says:

          Please explain the time-squeeze issue a bit more, as it applies to the House. Are you saying that sending over the Senate bill with almost no time to spare would force the House to just up-or-down vote, with no amendments …

          Basically, yes. If the House passes it without amendment, then it can be presented to the president without being returned to the Senate. If the House makes an amendment or amendments, it can either go back to the Senate for concurrence/rejection; or the House can ask for a conference (the Senate has no obligation to agree to the request).

          But the political posture adopted by the Democrats on this bill is that it has to pass, for the surveillance “improvements.”

          At any rate, I think Congressional leadership, both parties, is in cahoots to get the bill out of their hands, pronto, but in such a way so as to be able to bamboozle at least some of the voting public that objects.

          See, e.g., Nelson (FL) voting for immunity (knowing that amendment will be rejected), so he can say he’s against immunity, but then voting to pass a bill with immunity, so as to be tough on terror.

        • cboldt says:

          Is that why a delay by Dodd could be worse than nothing?

          “Better” and “worse” is, or course, in the eye of the beholder. My speculation is that Dodd prefers to avoid being singled out as the person responsible for either no bill, or for insufficient time to warm the House up to doing veto battle with the WH.

  59. Mary says:

    164 – Arlen, why don’t you make yourself and Rockefeller the substitute parties, instead of all the below poverty line working poor?

    When Bond took the shot at FISC, I wish someone had thrown back at thim the ammo Lamberth gave them, when the former Chief FISC Judge said (paraphrasing) “I’ve seen how it’s done under FISA and I’ve seen how it’s done under Bush, and it’s better under FISA”

  60. cboldt says:

    If the end result is that there is no bill for W to sign or veto that’s a win

    I see the time squeeze being created on purpose, so it can be used as an excuse to pass a shitty bill. Then there will be a search for a scapegoat as to who created the time squeeze.

  61. JTMinIA says:

    But is the way the time-squeeze works is by leaving no time for amendments before the 15-day extension runs out? That’s what I don’t quite get.

    • cboldt says:

      But is the way the time-squeeze works is by leaving no time for amendments before the 15-day extension runs out?

      Yes. Or at least not enough time for the two chambers to engage in substantial negotiation between them, in any formal arrangement (conference, passing proposed amendments back and forth, etc.)

  62. Evolute says:

    These Senators just hanging around the senate well/floor on camera look similar to attractive extras in full plume parading on a movie set.

  63. JTMinIA says:

    I know we’re now on the stimulus package, but why did Reid switch his vote at the last moment, especially when it didn’t matter?

    • cboldt says:

      why did Reid switch his vote at the last moment

      The side that prevails in a vote has the right to enter a motion to reconsider the vote. That creates the possibility of a do-over on the same vote, at some indefinite future time. The vote under a motion to reconsider is not final.

  64. cboldt says:

    Absence of a quorum, with a full Senate chamber. One has to marvel at the divergence between the impression left by reading the record, from the actual events on the floor.

  65. JTMinIA says:

    What’s the “procedural reason” that allows a second cloture motion (maybe by Reid) when Reid (maybe bacause he’s the leader) votes against cloture? I really don’t get the Senate.

    • cboldt says:

      What’s the “procedural reason” that allows a second cloture motion (maybe by Reid) when Reid (maybe bacause he’s the leader) votes against cloture?

      Just to round out the discussion, Reid doesn’t have to vote against cloture in order to have the right to file another cloture petition on the same underlying matter.

      The procedural reason that permits the prevailing side to reconsider (and doesn’t permit the losing side to “reconsider” and thereby prevent finalizing a vote) is to give them time to exercise buyer’s remorse, if they think they might get that.

  66. JTMinIA says:

    OK, so, by becoming the biggest gun on the side that won (against cloture), Reid is back to being the person in control of when cloture is filed again … is that it? He was just maintaining control?

    • cboldt says:

      Reid is back to being the person in control of when cloture is filed again … is that it? He was just maintaining control?

      Independently of a motion to reconsider, he has the right to file another cloture motion. He can file ten of them, if the first nine fail (the most I’ve seen on a single matter is eight, on a motion to proceed to a bill to fund Whitewater investigation – and two or three of those eight were withdrawn).

      All he saves with a motion to reconsider is the ability to quickly, without the time delay (one calendar day, under the rules) between filing and voting, have the cloture vote over again. If he can swing a couple Senators to his side in the next day, he calls for a do-over.

      I can’t recall seeing a do-over vote result in a reversal. I have seen a couple of do-over votes on motions to reconsider.

  67. cboldt says:

    Listen to what is said after each roll call vote: “Move to reconsider – move to lay the motion to reconsider on the table – without objection” That sequence is NECESSARY to finalize a vote.

  68. JTMinIA says:

    I knew that part. What I didn’t know (and I’m still not sure about) is the idea that one particular person controls this. Is that correct? And is it true that by being the biggest gun on the winning side, Reid now controls when cloture will come back up (if at all)?

    • cboldt says:

      I’m still not sure about) is the idea that one particular person controls this …

      Motions to reconsider are generally under the control of the majority leader, by protocol.

      Timing under cloture motions are driven first by the rules, and then by UC to deviate from the time periods specified under the rules.

  69. cboldt says:

    So, this cloture motion/vote has been converted into a motion to reconsider. But that doesn’t preclude filing another cloture motion on the same matter, some time in the future.

    I’d have to dig through the record to see if a motion to reconsider and a cloture motion have ever been co-pending. That makes me think such a circumstance doesn’t happen, but nothing in the rules precludes it.

    • emptywheel says:

      Much of the discussion about this ignores the reality of what was affected. That WSJ thing, for example, says the US wouldn’t do it bc our troops are using those lines. They’re not–Israel and Iraq are on alternative networks.

      I still think you look at who has lost comm–Egypt and Pakistan–and you’ve got a pretty good start on some reasons why.

  70. klynn says:

    I totally agree. There has been SO much misinformation on this, especially in US MSM (Hmmm). And I agree, we must look at who has lost telecom – Egypt and Pakistan…On the heels of many issues…

    I found the comments from Beckert of Telegeography regarding sharks a bit unprofessional considering the magnitude of this. Other quotes by Telegeography staff in international press releases (like the International Herald Tribune) were more professional and straight forward. Telegeography has US and GB headquarters. I imagine they have not updated with news on their website for good reason.

    In this case, I consider the source – Wall Street Journal…Need I say more?

    Confirming news about the week of the 23rd is important in this picture…

    I think we are in agreement overall. I just want all my facts first.

  71. klynn says:

    EW this is good:…..16930.html

    Now look at these headlines:

    Pakistan Taliban warlord arises as terrorist leader (a US paper KCStar)……..&col=…..enDocument…..efer=india

    As you read them, realize I have pasted them in the “time” order they were posted (i.e. the first posting was 13 hours ago to this last Bloomberg which was posted in the last 1.5 hours)

  72. klynn says:

    Hey EW,

    Tried to post twice in this thread a chronology of news reports on Pakistan over the last 15 hours, most from international papers. The most recent from a post just put up by Bloomberg (oddly two “heartland” tv news stations – KS and NE- had postings 6 hours ago).

    Both attempts to post, as well as some additional cable news, just went away…

    The chronology was telling…I’ll try another time. I’m sure you are up-to-date on all of this. I just thought the latest Bloomberg release compared to the international press was interesting.

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