Confirmed: Final FISA Votes on July 8

As I understand it, Dodd and Feingold have signed off on a unanimous consent agreement to hold debate on three amendments (one of them immunity) on July 8, and then hold the vote then.

Here’s Feingold’s short statement on the delay.

I’m pleased we were able to delay a vote on FISA until after the July 4th holiday instead of having it jammed through. I hope that over the July 4th holiday, Senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people. It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation.

And here’s Dodd’s statement on it.

I’m pleased that consideration of the FISA Amendments Act has been delayed until after the 4th of July recess. I urge my colleagues to take this time to listen to their constituents and consider the dangerous precedent that would be set by granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that may have engaged in President Bush’s illegal wiretapping program.

When and if FISA does come back to the Senate floor, I will offer my amendment to strip the retroactive immunity provision out of the bill. I implore my colleagues to support the rule of law and join me in voting against retroactive immunity.

So we’ve got 12 days to convince our Senators to stop channeling the barnacle and protect our Constitution.

Update: Here’s what’s going to happen on the 8th.

This evening Senator Reid filed cloture on H.R. 6304. Under the agreement at a time to be determined on Tuesday, July 8, the Senate will proceed to Calendar #827, H.R. 6304, FISA. The following amendments are the only amendments in order:

Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment to strike immunity;

Specter amendment which is relevant; (60-vote threshold); and

Bingaman amendment re: staying court cases against telecom companies (60-vote threshold).

Debate on the amendments is limited to the times listed below with the time equally divided and controlled:

Dodd- 2 hours, with Senator Leahy controlling 10 minutes;

Specter- 2 hours; and

Bingaman- 60 minutes.

Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will proceed to vote on the amendments.

Prior to the cloture vote, there will be up to 60 minutes for debate equally divided and controlled between the Leaders or their designees, with Senator Leahy controlling 10 minutes. Senator Feingold will control an additional 30 minutes and Senator Dodd will control an additional 15 minutes. Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will proceed to a vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the FISA bill. If cloture is invoked, all post-cloture debate time will be yielded back and the Senate will proceed to vote on passage of the bill.

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254 replies
  1. cboldt says:

    I heard the UC agreement entered into on the Senate floor. No objection. All done by about 7:13 this evening.

    The short version: Action today will be H.R.6331 – Medicare and H.R.2642 – Supplemenatal Appropriations, then recess.

    H.R.3221 – Housing Bailout and H.R.6304 – FISA are pushed out to the week of July 7.

  2. MadDog says:

    So we’ve got 12 days to convince our Senators to stop channeling the barnacle and protect our Constitution.

    And since a good many of them will be back home over their July 4th “vacation” it might be a good idea to have some hands-on lobbying.

    • emptywheel says:

      Christy and I were brainstorming that. Now if we can just stop having huge T-Storms here in the midwest (you getting them too, MD?) then maybe we can get back to planning some fun…

      • MadDog says:

        Now if we can just stop having huge T-Storms here in the midwest (you getting them too, MD?)

        They say mañana will bring mucho boomers. Gonna play havoc with the Women’s US Golf Open here.

        Probably not a good idea to be waving a mashie around in the air.

      • Petrocelli says:

        Can we help with the brainstorming ?

        How about a ‘burial’ of the 4th amendment on the 4th of July … I’ll have some more ideas
        after a bit of Belgian Brew introspection …

    • john in sacramento says:

      Lobby them with this …

      He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good

      He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers

      He has obstructed the administration of justice

      He has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of offices to harass our people

      He has effected to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power

      He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution

      He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices

      For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury



      Damn DFH’s /s

      • MadDog says:

        Mighty nice! Wouldn’t mind hearing that from the wells of the House as a couple (or a dozen) Impeachment proceedings got under way.

  3. Eureka Springs says:

    It still fascinates me that the telcoms, not Bushco, are the only folks worthy of immunity mention in both Feingold and Dodd’s talking points.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Dodd mentioned Bush:

      that may have engaged in President Bush’s illegal wiretapping program.

  4. JohnLopresti says:

    I am glad Feingold and his allies are explaining why this is a threshold that will be best if understood, as it could feed imbalance among the branches; it is more precedential if it passes as written currently than the same old attrition of personal privacy characteristic of first world social order; and it plays excellent counterpoint to the hearing this morning about abrogation of treaties by rule of committee: ‘He wrote this opinion; we are prohibited from telling you who told him to write about that; he forgot the dog ate the department guidelines, and even is amnestic of his own researches.’

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Dog ate the homework on this one too:

      We were somewhat astonished this week to learn that the Pentagon had awarded a $298 million contract to arms dealer AEY Inc. despite the fact the company and its then-21-year-old president were on the U.S. State Department’s Arms Trafficking Watchlist.

      An Army general said, quite simply, they don’t typically check that watchlist before awarding big contracts.

      Now we’ve found evidence that the State Department might not be checking its own list.

      What’s the point of all this spying on us if the government folks aren’t even using what they have legally?

      • greenwarrior says:

        What’s the point of all this spying on us if the government folks aren’t even using what they have legally?

        to stop anyone from opposing them, perchance?

  5. dday says:

    A UC agreement means no filibuster, yes? Which means we’d need 51 no votes on the bill to stop it, or 51 yes votes on the amendment to strip immunity.

    Do any of those other amendments have the likelihood of passing? Because that would at least send the bill to a conference committee. And maybe one of the amendments is a poison pill.

    Getting from 15 to 51 in 12 days is, in a word, unlikely.

    • emptywheel says:

      Correct on all counts.
      51 votes in favor of immunity–we had something like 32 in February.
      60 votes for a stay on immunity–an interesting idea, but there’s a reason it’s 60–we’d need people like Norm Coleman to play along. We couldn’t get 60 for exclusivity in February (we lost Baucus, Hillary wasn’t there, and Norm voted no–I think we ended up with 58, and maybe Holy Joe voted no).

      I can’t say that anything would be a poison pill, but I don’t see getting these thresholds.

  6. bmaz says:

    Constitutionally, July 8 will be a good day to die. The Fourth Amendment will die honorably, as a warrior. But thanks to Hanoi Harry and No Table Legs Pelosi, it will die nevertheless.

    • perris says:

      Constitutionally, July 8 will be a good day to die. The Fourth Amendment will die honorably, as a warrior. But thanks to Hanoi Harry and No Table Legs Pelosi, it will die nevertheless.

      not if we can help it, man oh man, we cannot let this country fall on our watch, this is for your children, your grandchildren, this is for thomas jefferson and for ben franklin

      we

      must

      not

      fail

      TO THE BATMOBILE!

      • perris says:

        I am calling everyone with this;

        “how on EARTH do you pass a bill that forgives ANYONE who might have sold our information to TERRORISTS?”

        I am calling republicans, I am calling democrats

        I will add;

        “if some depraved sole used data they gathered and tracked and raped a child, how on EARTH do you give them immunity?”

        I am taking out ALL the stops;

        “if a telecom listened on one of your colegues conversations and used information to BLACKMAIL THEM into signing law that STEALS from the American people, HOW ON EARTH ARE YOU GIVING THEM IMMUNITY FOR THAT?”

        TO THE BATMOBILE!

        • Petrocelli says:

          Some of us in Canuckistan have been calling BO and the other Senators and will continue to do so until they reverse this.

          Calls to Dodd and Feingold to show our gratitude are very much appreciated …

  7. cboldt says:

    Link to site with audio of Reid and McConnell entering into a series of UC Agreements

    The first one is on Medicare, the second on is on the Supplemental Appropriations. There is some discussion about the amount of debate time under Medicare, then the agreement covering today’s action is agreed to, without objection.

    Then a cloture motion is filed to limit debate on Medicare.

    Then there is a separate agreement on FISA – “on Tuesday July 8th …” It takes him 90 seconds to read the UC agreement!

    Then a cloture motion is filed to limit debate on final passage FISA

    Then a brief quorum call (probably so Reid can catch his breath)

    Then goes to H.R.3221 – Housing Bailout – propounds some details of amendment, and files a cloture motion to limit debate on the details of amendment propounded. The cloture vote on that to be at 5:00 p.m. Monday July 7th.

    Then some speechifying. Enjoy.

  8. MadDog says:

    I thought this commentary over at TruthOut was most fitting:

    It’s often said that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. False. The vast majority of honest public servants in Congress are Democrats. However, it would not be safe to say that the majority of Democrats are honest public servants.

  9. masaccio says:

    Dan Eggers has a story up at the WaPo on the torture hearings. Link. It doesn’t have much interesting, kind of like the hearing, but there is this, which seems pretty snarky to me:

    Addington, who appeared at the hearing under subpoena, had tense exchanges with lawmakers. At one point, he said he was not familiar with the conservative legal theory of a “unitary executive,” then went on to describe it as the Constitution’s delegation of all executive power to the president.

  10. MadDog says:

    OT but not really – Was reading a post over at HuffPo entitled: Serenity Lost: Obama And The Netroots which had some excellent on-target comments by Jane, but while that was most interesting, the real thing that really caught my attention was a link in that piece to a diary over at KOS by Barack Obama on Sept. 30, 2005 and this prescient (wrt to his current FISA stance and perhaps much, much more) set of statements:

    There is one way, over the long haul, to guarantee the appointment of judges that are sensitive to issues of social justice, and that is to win the right to appoint them by recapturing the presidency and the Senate. And I don’t believe we get there by vilifying good allies, with a lifetime record of battling for progressive causes, over one vote or position. I am convinced that, our mutual frustrations and strongly-held beliefs notwithstanding, the strategy driving much of Democratic advocacy, and the tone of much of our rhetoric, is an impediment to creating a workable progressive majority in this country.

    According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists – a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog – we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in “appeasing” the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.

    I think this perspective misreads the American people…

    (My Bold)

    So as to rallying the troops, as many here rightfully acknowledge is our duty, so too do we also acknowledge that the lay of the land is decidely against us.

    Wish it were not, but wishing won’t make it the reality we want.

    No Senator Obama, you yourself misread the American people, and perhaps tragically so!

    Thus I quote (with a minor modification, please forgive me William):

    …Once more into the breech dear friends, once more, Or close the wall up with our British American dead, In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man, As modest, stillness, and humility, But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard – favour’d rage…

  11. Peterr says:

    Dodd and Feingold’s “additional time” is typical, as they are the chief voices of the opposition. On the other hand, those two 10 minute carve-outs of time to Patrick Leahy strike me as unusual.

    My WAG: Leahy is seriously ticked off at the way Steny and Jello Jay went around the Senate Judiciary committee to work out this deal. This ought to add to his righteous indignation at the bill itself, and might also suggest that other democratic members of the Senate Judiciary committee might be open to a little pressure.

    Those other dems are these: Kennedy, Biden, Kohl, Feinstein, Feingold, Schumer, Durbin, Cardin, and Whitehouse.

    Biden, Durbin, Feingold, and Schumer voted NAY yesterday, and Kennedy did not vote (he’s still not back in DC after his health troubles arose). That leaves Kohl, Feinstein, Cardin, and Whitehouse.

    I wonder if Cardin noticed the WaPo ad for Steny today?

      • PetePierce says:

        I hope so, and I hope he has an atypical course for his neuroblastoma, and I hope he thrives for many years but none of that is gonna make a difference. This is a Congress looking out for their self interest, and their self interest alone their power, and their entitlement and they have done a magnificent job in supporting Bush, Cheney, Addington, and “Yoo want what when ’cause ah cain’t talk about thet” as you saw today at the hearings.

        It is impossible for me to tell the difference between the Democrats in Congress and the Republicans in Congress.

        And notice that Hillary Norma Rae Clinton continues to take her victory laps, horde her predominantly illicit hundred plus million dollar fortune, and can’t be bothered with her only day job which is to be on the Senate floor and in her office representing her constituents.

        Clinton for reasons bizarre has not returned to the Senate.

        Rather than use her vast fortune to pay off a tiny fraction of it, 11 million, she is asking Obama contributerRs to pay her debts so she can continue living as the Norma Rae petulant one hundred million plus airess that she is.

        Unfrigging believable.

        No doubt everyone at FDL is flocking to help pay Hillary’s debt so she can continue to live as the hundredmillionariess she is.

        • lokywoky says:

          Actually, Hillary is only asking her supporters to help pay off the part of the debt that is not owed to her.

          Under the campaign finance law she legally cannot pay this debt herself. She is limited to $2300 just like everyone else. She ‘loaned’ her campaign money, a total of $12 million dollars – which she will probably carry as an unpaid loan for the rest of her life. But the rest of the debt has to be paid by donations of the same sort that she got during the campaign. Most of her donors were maxed out already – and that is the problem, they had given more money for the general election – but she cannot use that to pay off the primary debt.

          It’s a quandary to be sure.

          • DWBartoo says:

            Quandary?

            The ‘perplexity’ of this ‘difficult situation’ is owing to rude and unforgiving ‘rules’?

            And HRC, herself, has had nothing whatever to do with the developement of this quandary?

            Perhaps it is time that the electoral ‘game’ has some real and actual consequence for the political class?

            Or, should the burden always be borne by ‘the people’?

            Surely, HRC and WJC still yet retain many corproate connections?

            Perhaps the CEO set might be approached, having benefited, one might suspect from some of WJC’s policies?

            Should a hand not be extended in their direction first?

            Whose ‘quandry’ actually, is it?

            Somehow, it does not fairly seem to be mine or yours …

            ;~D

            • lokywoky says:

              I was saying it was a quandary for any candidate who finds themselves in that position. The esteemed Senator Chris Dodd is carrying a load of financial debt from his failed run for the presidency as well. So…you can donate to his 2008 Presidential Primary Campaign if you want to. Or not.

              Hillary and Bill did not make up these rules. It’s McCain-Feingold. Isn’t that some karma! Anyway, all candidates are held to these standards. Except John McCain apparently.

              I heard the Mittens and Ghouliani also are in the same shape, I don’t know what the status is of the other Dem hopefuls.

              Hillary has written to all the people who already donated to her GE campaign fund and asked them to re-designate funds to pay off the primary. But a lot of them can’t because of the spending limits. So she actually has to return that money to the donors. (She had almost $21 million in the bank for the GE.

              So, it is a quandary. I don’t plan on ‘helping her out’ because I believe it’s her campaign’s fault for being/going into debt. Shows how she manages things (not). But she has to ask – it’s a lot of money. And some of that money is owed to small businesses and people for personal services and food and stuff for all the whistle-stops and stuff like that.

              I think she should tell Mark Penn to get at the back of the line for his share too. But that’s for another blog, another day.

              • DWBartoo says:

                I find, loky, that I am much in agreement with you. Let Penn take up the rear, in every way, fitting.

                Ah yes, the ‘exceptional’ John McCaint …

          • BlueStateRedHead says:

            HRC’s debt is the one not owed to her, but to her vendors. There are monies owed to vendors, ma and pa even planners in IA, and then there vast sums due to Mr. Mark –Big States, caucuses, and college educated voters don’t count–Penn and his ilk, the Beltway types, and loyal Clinton staffers from the old West Wing. How can anyone be sure the donations are not going into the pockets of the latter and not the former?

            Can we?

    • Mauimom says:

      I wonder if Cardin noticed the WaPo ad for Steny today?

      I wonder too. There’s absolutely NO hope of turning Mikulski [she really is pond scum], but I had thought Cardin would know better.

      Went to both web sites and left a note. Found it interesting that on Mikulski’s list of “topics,” there’s no “constitutional rights, shredding of.”

      I must say that I was disappointed to see Malcolm X included in the Hoyer ad as one of the objects of wiretapping. I think this just gives the Republicans [and Blue Dogs] a hammer with which to beat DFHs and paint them as far out crazies. I don’t think any “up” side of this compensates for the extreme “down” one. Kinda reminds me of “Betray-us.”

      • BooRadley says:

        WRT the ad, 35% of Steny’s district is African American. AFAIK, the ad was aimed at African American talk radio in the DC area and Steny’s district. Most of them are on the wrong side of the digital divide. The only way they’ll hear about this issue is via talk radio. We’re going to need that demographic to vote in 2010 for a liberal Dem to unseat Steny.

  12. PetePierce says:

    FISA and most other issues are so far off the radar of the comatose American public that nothing is going to change given the delay. The media has helped to kill/neutralize any interest in FISA including the NYT and Eric Lichtblau by distorting and dumbing down the issues that have been driven home on these threads for nearly two years.

    Comatose disinterested dumbasses are getting the surveillence state they don’t deserve and I would argue the reading level as to fiction, national events, politics, and non fiction has dumbed down considerably since your parents were in their prime years.

    You are royally fucked by your Congress and Cboldt has chronicled it admirably, EW and Bmaz have analyzed it admirably and the commenters here and @ FDL know how fucked they are and that they can’t do a frigging thing about it.

    The more you understand this egregious bill, the more it drives you up a wall.

    • BooRadley says:

      Very respectfully Pete, it’s an opportunity for the “strange bedfellows” coalition to demonstrate its political muscle going forward. Feingold/Leahy/Dodd gives us one last chance to show how close we can get to the 51 needed to strip out the retroactive immunity.

      IMHO, Harry crafted the amendment stripping out retroactive immunity in part to determine how strong liberals were within the Democratic. The closer we can get to 51, before July 8, the better it positions liberals within the Democratic party for the future. Also if by some miracle, we get to 42 or 43, by July 1, suddenly we can bring a lot more pressure on the last eight or nine. Where Norm Coleman is concerned, we’ll have to depend on our conservative allies to do some of the heavy lifting.

    • cboldt says:

      The more you understand this egregious bill, the more it drives you up a wall.

      Heh. Thanks for the notice – it’s appreciated.

      And yeah, watching Congress, and comparing what they say with what they do is an eye-opener. Then comparing THAT with what the media reports is still another disconnect, and finally down to the consumer of news, well, they are not being well served.

      I can point to 15 or so bills that really drove me up a wall that way. FISA is one of the bigger ones, but it’s not the only.

      Follow these things out of Congress and “into action,” and you’ll get even more cynical than you are now. Word to the wise, drink more bier and keep smiling.

    • bobschacht says:

      Yes, I should think so. Thanks for thinking of this.
      What are the ACLU, PFAW, Common Cause, MoveOn.org et al saying about our next move?

      Bob in HI

        • emptywheel says:

          I assume there’d be a hold on the suits–no immunity, but no further decisions in the case. Don’t know until when–maybe until after the IG report? So a year? Or maybe until we win a bunch new seats in November.

          • Nell says:

            I can’t understand even wasting time focusing on the Bingaman amendment, other than to plan the fallback position. Would discovery be ’stayed’ as well?

            We have to concentrate on immunity, and let the sellouts show themselves.

    • PetePierce says:

      The most appropriate count Jane, would be a “citizen whupp ass count” cause everyone’s ass in this country has been whupped and schtupped completely by the Democrats in the House and the Seante coverying their asses and the Republican asses in this farce of a bill.

      Welcome to Surveillance America–you and all your communications in the purvey of a panoply of agencies some known and some unknown for ever.

        • PetePierce says:

          I have hardly forgotten Obama’s stance if that’s what you’re referring to and commented on it emphatically on EW’s previous blogs analyzing the FISA bill.

          If there weren’t pcs/macs on every desktop, and I just had to depend on newspapers instead of the blogosphere/netroots, I wouldn’t have a clue about so many of these catastrophies.

          As to Obama’s pathetic response to FISA, however, there has never been a doubt that he was the best candidate of those available once Dodd and Biden were out so early thanks to the DNC Rules.

          I think anyone fondly contemplating that their will be criminal prosecutions of the Telcoms/Comcoms for illegal wiretapping by Obama justice is dreaming on.

          If you’re in the DC area, you can look forward to a rise in deaths from hand guns as well as robberys and breakins to steal guns. Whata great country where the NRA now sees momentum to file suit to eliminate gun background checks, and in some cities, guns that are not concealed are allowed on rail and buses.

          I love it when the Scalia/Alito/Roberts/Thomas/Kennedy swinging as far to the right as possible fan boys and girls bitch about activist judges when they perceive an adverse opinion, but glow when Scalia does his activist channeling of the framers’ intent.

          • wigwam says:

            I can’t believe the number of people whom I respect that have gone over to the dark side on this FISA stuff:
            – Obama, whom we’ve discussed.
            – Sheldon Whitehouse: http://www.dailykos.com/storyo…../71/541992
            – Kieth Olbermann: http://www.salon.com/opinion/g…..index.html

            I had judged each of them to be smart, sane, principled people. What the hell happened. Did they drink RNC cool aid?

            • Loo Hoo. says:

              I’m just guessing, but I think it’s just plain politics. Can’t get jack done if you’re not elected. Their thinking…

              • wigwam says:

                Can’t get jack done if you’re not elected.

                That was Olbermann’s defense tonight. But what constituency do they lose by refusing to immunize lawbreaking telcos and/or allow the government to snoop on us without a warrant?

                These people are cowering. And I don’t understand whom or what they’re afraid of.

                • lokywoky says:

                  The Gang of Eight is as complicit as the Bush Admin in the crimes they have committed. This bill, while they all cry to the heavens, implicitly protects them through this grant of immunity, since the Telcom lawsuits were probably the only way John Q Public was ever going to find out what really happened.

                  They are covering their collective a**es from criminal prosecution.

                • Loo Hoo. says:

                  I don’t think they’d lose anyone by holding the telecoms responsible. Apparently all of the dem advisors do, though. Makes NO sense to me.

  13. darclay says:

    A strange thing to me is we have a war going on to ” start a new democracy” and save all these people from a tyrant like Saddam. Yet we somehow lost the constitution along the way. The very people that fought in WWII, Korea

    Is this what our Fathers died and fought for in WWII? Where is the courage that lead us to victory over our enemies that these heroes are sitting back allowing their sacrifice to be denigrated. Why are the heroes of all our wars allowing the travesty that now is going on in the Senate as I wright this to deny Veterans benifits, elderly medicare while we move on to spend more money on a war that has bankrupted the country for us and our children.

    What a sad commentary it is that as WE go forth, as the CONGRESS of the US adjourns, to celebrate the birthday of the USA we go to celebrate it demise as we lose the 4th amendment. We lost the fourth branch a long time ago, the justice Dept. 8 years ago…Happy Birthday AMERICA

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    • darclay says:

      some how it did not copy rest of sentence shoul read:

      A strange thing to me is we have a war going on to ” start a new democracy” and save all these people from a tyrant like Saddam. Yet we somehow lost the constitution along the way. The very people that fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, are for large part the vey ones that are supporting the Republicans and the Democrats in congress that seem to want to destroy the constitution.

      • JThomason says:

        This is about the perpetuation of the corporate usurpation of democracy displacing “the people” with the effective fiction of the legitimacy of the corporate constituency. rkilowatt had interesting observations several threads back about the uses of royal families in managing contracts with oil rich mid-eastern nations. If a calculation had not been made that the cover of democracy for perpetual corporate interests in the form that we see evolving here, were not a more effective vehicle than a propped-up royal family in the policy of the private control of petroleum resources this rhetoric and commensurate institutional effort would have not been deployed. The so-called “democratic” justification is a perpetuation of the dishonest distortions of principles that were used to justify the invasion in the first place.

  14. Funnydiva2002 says:

    Hi, Pups!

    Anyone know who the “journalist” on Randi Rhodes’ show is today? He’s saying that it’s actually a _good_ thing that the bill got cloture. Because it puts the FISA court back in charge…and because doing nothing would have let the Bush Admin continue to spy on Americans with impunity. Worse, Randi was agreeing with him. His punchline was “you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good…Well, this bill is only OK, but you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the OK.”

    WTF? Did I miss something? I thought doing nothing would revert us to the old FISA laws from the 1970s. Or am I totally confused?

    FunnyDiva

  15. Funnydiva2002 says:

    OT, but watching the re-run of Countdown.

    I’m sure Michelle Obama didn’t mean to diss on John Edwards, but her statement about Hillary today sure didn’t sound quite right to me.

    FunnyDiva

  16. JThomason says:

    Though T. Udall’s office told me he was undecided morning of house vote, he came through and voted against it. I was surprised Bingaman voted for cloture with him having voted against the bill in Feb. I am trying to figure out what he up to.

  17. cboldt says:

    There are some pretty funny things though. Reid’s chronic “I’ll make the Senate stay and work on Saturday” and “Mondays will be vote days,” and assorted other threats — I think everybody in the Senate knows to blow them off.

  18. ubetchaiam says:

    Great phrase “to stop channeling the barnacle”; question for other posters. Are we interested in stopping the immunity or showing how strong the ‘liberal base’ is? I vote for immunity but I don’t know what the Spector amendment says and don’t understand what a ’stay’ -Bingaman’s Amendment’ actually means.
    Spector is the only Republican offering an amendment and that MIGHT be a consideration for the few Republican ‘moderates’.

    • Eureka Springs says:

      Specter is all about Kabuki.. will vote against himself after making a big show about civil liberties.. Never trust the author of single bullet theory..

      • Blub says:

        ugh.. I have long since stopped being able to tolerate the sight of that little troll-prostitute. I have to kind of look the other way whenever he’s gabbing away on C-Span.

        Do we have a strategy or should we put one together if we don’t (who are the key people to contact/call. which offices, which staffers, etc)?

        • Eureka Springs says:

          I think strategy is what’s developing here.. I’m trying to figure out where my Senators will be during next weeks recess.. I live in a remote corner of the State but if they come anywhere close they are going to hear from me.

  19. DefendOurConstitution says:

    Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment to strike immunity

    Even if it “only” needs 51 votes to strike immunity – there is no way we can win. I presume Obama will vote for this as will most Democrats. I hope Kennedy will be there (I read he was back working on Medicare stuff, so he might make an appearance. Unfortunately we know there are many spineless Democrats that will vote against ammendment: DiFi, Landrieu, Baucus, Conrad, Dorgan, Pryor, Reid, Jello Jay, and others. It will be nice for Obama to vote against immunity, but meaningless in the end.

    McCain will not have vote for 3 whole months when this happens, but he doesn’t even need to show up since they will have all Rs + Lieberman + at least a dozen Spineless Democrats. It would be nice to at least have McCain on the record voting for immunity (on the odd chance that someone – are you listening Snuphagopolos? – could ask him about it), but unlikely.

    • cboldt says:

      Even if it “only” needs 51 votes to strike immunity

      The “strike immunity” vote on S.2248 was REJECTED Feb 12, 2008 at 11:03, on a 31-67 vote (Bayh, Carper, Conrad, Feinstein, Inouye, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Stabenow and Webb voted NAY. Clinton and Graham did not vote)

    • darclay says:

      Wish we could find out all the money and all the ties these wimpy Dems like reid pelosi feinstein are being paid to do this crap. But then again it could just be all those wiretaps actually turned up things..

  20. BooRadley says:

    I would just throw this out, we may only need to get to 50. If Cheney has to cast the deciding vote, I think some Republicans and Democrats, especially the ones up for re-election, rethink their vote.

    • DefendOurConstitution says:

      Unfortunately we can’t get to 50. Like it or not Republicans always stick together. That’s 49. Lieberman makes it an even 50. Throw in Jello Jay, DiFi, or any of the other weak Democrats (i.e. the ones that are raking in the $ from AT&T + Verizon) and they will have at least 60 votes against ammendment. At this point it is only an opportunity for Obama and other Democrats to show they have spine by voting against it. Funny thing is that, if enough Democrats vote against Feingold ammendment, some Republicans that are in trouble (Dole, Sununu, Stevens, etc.) get to vote against immunity to show their “independence” from Bush.

      I will throw up on that day, but the real damage – as pointed out by Marcy yesterday – was already done. This bill is as good as law.

      Funny thing is Housing bill may still die. Funny for Republicans that is.

      • BooRadley says:

        Thanks for the response.

        White supremacy used to be legal. Women, native American tribes, descendants of the slaves, and other groups have routinely been denied access to the Fourth Amendment.

        Governments at all levels have insulated corporations from the legal consequences of their actions. See the Pinkerton Detective Agnecy against the James Younger gang for an excellent parallel. IANAL and ‘ll accept that this FISA abomination may be more explicitly heinous than previous legal atrocities.

        I also don’t want to dilute the absolute seriousness of what is being done to the Constitution or our responsibilities to fight it in a non-violent way.

        If we could get to 46 or 47 on an amendment to strip out retroactive immunity, it would be an important sign of strength to Democrats and Republicans.

  21. cboldt says:

    I’m going to guess that Bingaman’s amendment is a conditional stay of some sort. Perhaps stay the court proceedings, pending the results of a Congressional or OIG investigation. It avoids the risk of an adverse ruling from Judge Walker while other bodies cover up the tracks.

    Specter’s amendment sucks pond water, for reasons I’ve expressed earlier. Smoke and mirrors that don’t force a ruling as to whether the TSP ran afoul of FISA. If the court finds the surveillance to have been constitutional, then the case is dismissed. There are other problems with his proposal, but that’s a big one.

    Stripping Title III retroactive immunity is easy to understand. It puts the issue out as a contest between the executive and the courts, as to the application of a law that applied at the time.

  22. msmolly says:

    Sorta OT…does anyone have a link to Dodd’s speech Wednesday OTHER THAN the one on his website? For some reason, when I play it from there, it is jerky and stuttering and I can’t stand to listen to that for 35 minutes. I looked around on the ‘net and what I find is his 2007 FISA speech.

  23. yonodeler says:

    So few elected to represent the public have been willing to frame discussion around the scope of federal surveillance. Pretensions that current FISA legislation is all about improving mechanisms for effective foreign intelligence gathering are being used quite successfully to divert the gaze of the public from the big surveillance picture. AT&T’s comprehensive splitting of piped data to Narus-equipped NSA rooms, to cite a prime illustrative example, goes way beyond the scope of FISA—as AT&T and George W. Bush knew from the beginning as well as anybody.

  24. Eureka Springs says:

    Maybe we should call for all Dems to swear of Telecom contribution this yea.. They won’t do it, but it lets them know we are going to be watching not only what they have already received but just how much more they will get after immunity passes and the constitution burn..

    Another semi twist for an ad or talking point… They outlawed flag burning so they burn the constitution instead!

  25. PJEvans says:

    Well, time to limber up the committees of correspondence and do it all over again. Independence, that is. Should get us a century or so (global warming permitting) before we get another attack of barnacles, if those @#$%^&*(s in DC don’t nuke Iran first and kill everyone that way.

    I think we ought to try asking these crappy senators what kind of flag we should fly after they pass this: the flag of the House of Cheney (white dollar signs on a field of green; if you have to ask, you can’t afford it) or the skull-and-crossbones, because we’ll be operating without benefit of law. (Hell, yes, I want to shock them! Shock is about the only way to get through to them any more.)

    • Eureka Springs says:

      Shock is a must.. we’re desperate, why pretend otherwise when it comes to messaging. GOPers when with it every time.

      here’s another play on timely themes:

      In July of 2008, The United States Senate authored the Declaration Of Impotence /s

  26. JThomason says:

    Similarly, today’s unexpected delay gives us time to shift the political dynamic in a more reasonable direction. The best hope lies in the amendments that will be introduced before the final vote on the bill. One, championed by Senators Dodd and Feingold, would strip immunity provisions entirely. Another, from New Mexico Senator Bingaman, would delay implementation of the immunity provisions until after Congress had the benefit of the Inspectors General report on the President’s surveillance program that is required by the bill.

    EFF

  27. cboldt says:

    Draft Amendment [Specter]

    In section 802(b) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as added by section 201 of the Act, strike paragraph (1) and insert the following:

    “(1) REVIEW OF CERTIFICATIONS.–

    “(A) IN GENERAL.–Except as provided in subparagraph (B), a certification under subsection (a) shall be given effect unless the court finds that such certification is not supported by substantial evidence provided to the court pursuant to this section.

    “(B) COVERED CIVIL ACTIONS.–In a covered civil action relating to assistance alleged to have been provided in connection with an intelligence activity involving communications that was authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007, a certification under subsection (a) shall be given effect unless the court–

    “(i) finds that such certification is not supported by substantial evidence provided to the court pursuant to this section; or

    “(ii) determines that the assistance provided by the applicable electronic communication service provider was unconstitutional.

      • lokywoky says:

        Translation: Short version.

        This is a ‘poison pill’ amendment. It makes provision for the ‘determination’ of whether the request to the phone companies was legal – which the current incarnation of the bill does not require. It allows the judge of the District Court to find out whether the request was legal or not, not just the fact that the Administration asked them.

        It’s also cover – since this is one of the major flaws in the bill, Specter can argue that he tried to fix it. This amendment will not pass – it needs 60 votes and because a Rethug offered it no Democrats will vote for it. Specter can vote in favor without worrying that it will actually pass. Everyone gets to go home happy.

        Except The People of course.

        It would be nice if it did pass though – then Pretendsident Bush would veto the entire bill. That would be just fine with me!

  28. wigwam says:

    To get anywhere, we need to get Obama on board, and conventional beltway wisdom (possible oxymoron) is that getting attacked by the left is good for him — it enhances his credentials as a “centrist.” Some think that he might be shamed into doing the right thing. But I expect that he doesn’t do shame either.

  29. PetePierce says:

    I would just like to emphasize that in many major newspapers, FISA warranted three sentences of one paragraph which reported that a FISA bill passed the House and will soon pass the Senate, and it makes Bushco delighted.

    All is well with the country, an SUV or two in every garage, no ecomonic problems, and the lawn is mowed with the pickett fences or whatever the hell brightly painted.

    The Senate is revving up to further screw up medical care in the next couple days if they didn’t get it done late this evening.

  30. yonodeler says:

    Well, there’s opportunity to apply some timely Independence language to the issues. As I recently posted on another thread, when revisiting the Declaration of Independence I was particularly struck by the phrase “a long train of abuses and usurpations”.

  31. waynec says:

    Here is the letter I got from Feinstein re her position on FISA.
    Sorry to take up so much space, but it shows what we’re up against, and how she’s pulling the wool over the eyes of the people.
    Her take on the thing is that telecoms did the right thing considering 911.

    “I write this in response to your communication indicating your concerns on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) now before the Senate. This bill has passed the House of Representatives.

    This legislation contains multiple sections, including one that deals specifically with liability for telecommunications companies. However, the primary intent to this new bill is to modernize our intelligence gathering capacity. The technology and communications industries have seen vast changes in the past thirty years since FISA was first written in 1978. This has changed the way surveillance is conducted, and the original law cannot adequately address these procedures. This is precisely why FISA needs to be modernized.

    It is important to understand the consequences if the Senate does not pass this bill. We would either have to extend the temporary surveillance bill passed last August – which should not happen – or allow surveillance on certain foreign targets to expire, which would lay the Nation bare and decrease our ability to identify and protect against terrorist threats. Neither of these options is acceptable.

    I strongly believe that this bill is substantially better than the version the Senate passed in February 2008, which I opposed. It is also a major improvement from the Protect America Act that passed in August 2007, which had few privacy protections and was never intended to be a permanent solution. This bill:

    οIncludes provisions I authored that make clear that FISA is the exclusive (or only) authority for conducting surveillance inside the United States. This is crucial as it requires that all future Presidents must act only within the law. FISA would be the only legal authority for conducting surveillance on Americans for intelligence purposes, and only legislation that specifically provides wiretapping authority in the future would be an exception to FISA.

    οRequires the government to obtain a warrant before surveillance can begin. This applies to all Americans – anywhere in the world. The Protect America Act allowed surveillance for up to six months before getting a warrant. This bill ends all warrantless surveillance of U.S. persons. In this sense it is precedent setting.

    οBans reverse targeting, which was a concern under the Protect America Act. Reverse targeting would allow the government to collect the contents of telephone calls and e-mails of an American by conducting surveillance on the people with whom they communicate. This is prohibited in this bill.

    οRequires that the government implement procedures approved by the Court for minimization. If an American’s communication is incidentally caught up in electronic surveillance while the Government is targeting someone else, minimization protects that person’s private information. This has been a hallmark of FISA for 30 years, but court review and approval of minimization procedures was not included in the Protect America Act. It is here.

    οRequires the government to receive a warrant to conduct surveillance on an American outside of the United States. This means that Americans’ privacy rights are protected everywhere around the world. A court warrant has never been required outside the United States before; this would be the strongest protection ever.

    I understand your concern regarding Title II of this bill, which creates a process that may result in immunity for telecommunications companies that are alleged to have provided assistance to the Government. I agree that this is not the best approach to the current legal challenges to these companies. Earlier this year, I pushed an amendment that would require court review of the legality of these companies’ alleged actions. Under my proposal, cases against the companies would only be dismissed if the Court found that they acted legally. I continue to believe this is the right approach.

    There may be amendments offered to the FISA legislation to strip or modify the telecom immunity provisions. Know that I will support any that I believe improve the current bill.

    Bottom line: this FISA legislation, while not perfect, would bring intelligence activities back under U.S. law. It provides significant improvement in oversight and accountability of our intelligence collection programs while still giving the intelligence community the tools needed to keep our Nation safe. And, it provides the strongest privacy protections to U.S. persons in history.

    In conclusion, I have served on the Intelligence Committee for seven years and I take the responsibility extremely seriously. If there is no bill, our Nation goes bare in mid-August, unless the Protect America Act, which does not offer, even remotely, the privacy protections for U.S. persons that are included in this bill, is extended. Additionally, the President – any President – cannot enact a program outside of this law in the future.

    I hope this helps you understand my concerns. “

    • ubetchaiam says:

      That’s just an iteration of what she said on the floor of the Senate; now she is saying ““I remember both Justice Roberts and Justice Alito sitting in front of us and indicating how they would respect stare decisis and precedent — and this decision takes down 70 years of precedent,” Feinstein said during a business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

      So ask her -fax,email/call- now that she sees she has been lied to suuport the Dodd/Feingold/Leahy amendment.

    • wigwam says:

      Per DiFi:

      This legislation contains multiple sections, including one that deals specifically with liability for telecommunications companies. However, the primary intent to this new bill is to modernize our intelligence gathering capacity. The technology and communications industries have seen vast changes in the past thirty years since FISA was first written in 1978. This has changed the way surveillance is conducted, and the original law cannot adequately address these procedures. This is precisely why FISA needs to be modernized.

      There’s nothing precise or specific or informative about the foregoing. So technology has changed; so what?

      FISA gives permission to surveil without warrant foreign targets except when they’re talking to Americans, in which case a warrant is needed after a week or so. Yet DiFi claims:

      It is important to understand the consequences if the Senate does not pass this bill. We would either have to extend the temporary surveillance bill passed last August – which should not happen – or allow surveillance on certain foreign targets to expire, which would lay the Nation bare and decrease our ability to identify and protect against terrorist threats. Neither of these options is acceptable.

      What the hell is wrong with these people?

      • lokywoky says:

        All this stuff is pure bullshit – and she used to be my Senator. The original 1978 FISA bill has been updated and modernized several times – and doing nothing would NOT leave us ‘bare’. The original provisions remain in effect – to this day, and would continue to do so if this latest mess does not pass. What a load of crap.

        This President has been ‘operating outside the law’ for his entire term in office. There is nothing in this bill that would keep that from happening – or provide any more punishment than what Bush is already getting. Not.

    • yonodeler says:

      From the second bulleted paragraph (sixth overall) in the Feinstein letter you received:

      This bill ends all warrantless surveillance of U.S. persons.

      Wow

  32. Funnydiva2002 says:

    BTW, does Keith Olbermann still have an email address? It’s sure not ovious on the new Countdown website…

    FunnyD

  33. BooRadley says:

    Olbermann and Congress live in a “retail” world.

    They understand that when the next terrorist attack hits, the neocons will paint anyone who voted against this abomination as a limousine liberal, who could have prevented the attack had they not been so soft on terror.

    • PetePierce says:

      As you know well, the only thing this bill is preventing is the uncovering of the complicity of countless Democrats in wiretapping you and covering their corporate masters the Telcoms and their political masters Bushco.

      • BooRadley says:

        My understanding is that it’s a little worse. It’s not “countless Democrats,” it’s primarily the leadership. Then the rest of the Dems feel like they have to cover for them in order to curry favor with the party bosses.

        Maybe I’m wrong.

        Jane and emptywheel have been screaming about the “incumbency protection rackets” since 2005.

  34. BooRadley says:

    I agree they’re cowering in the FISA bill, but imho, they’re not doing it gratuitously. They’re making reasonable assessments about the mood of the legacy media and the voting public after the next terrorist attack.

  35. ubetchaiam says:

    Re ‘next terrorist attack’ presupposes such an attack; why bother attacking? Bin Laden has already stated his plan is to bankrupt us; sure seems to be working. And how many politicos or KO is speaking to that idea?

    • BooRadley says:

      Excellent point.

      The failure of regional banks looms imho as a much more imminent and signifcant threat.

  36. lokywoky says:

    The biggest problem we have is that too few people actually know what is at stake in this law. Unless you have a computer and the time to spend hours a day digging through stuff to find out what’s going on, it’s really hard.

    The MSM isn’t talking about it except in the most general terms. And we get all the spin from the Bushies and the Bushdogs who caved in to him.

    But nowhere is there a layman’s explanation for what is at stake.

    People forget that almost half of the people in this country do NOT OWN A COMPUTER – and a lot of the ones that do, don’t have access to the internet. It is a pet peeve of mine when any government agency posts a required notice on the internet and thinks that is sufficient – especially to an elderly population where the non-computer people outnumber the computer literate ones by an even larger margin.

    Instead of running ads that are threatening dorky Congresscriminals – we need to run some that actually inform people of what is really going on.

    Please.

    Or run some ads to try to convince some more Senators to vote against the bill.

    • DWBartoo says:

      I fear, loky, that this ‘law’ this FISA bill, is but the last nail in the coffin of the Fourth Amendment, the major damage being done some time ago; it was called The Partiot Act, and few of those who ‘represent’ our interests even bothered, as I’m certain you well know, to read it …

      • lokywoky says:

        Yes, I do know that. It is a a bit difficult to read a bill that is 600 pages long when you get it only 5 hours before the vote. The only people who actually ‘read’ it were the ones involved in writing the thing and unfortunately, half of those were staffers – not actual concresscriminals.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Would you have signed on to something you had not read?

          Terror! Terror! Terror!

          No, loky, neither of us would have done …

          • lokywoky says:

            Agreed. But then I’m a speed reader – and it would have only taken me about 4 hours to read the damn thing. Although I’m not a lawyer and that might have slowed things down a bit. >snark

            People are always exasperated because I DO read everything – you know, medical releases, loan papers, all that fine print. Lately I’ve resorted to carrying a magnifying glass with me when I know I’m going to have to do that – they keep reducing the font size – I think it’s down to 6 now…..

            • DWBartoo says:

              Speed-reading ’tis where its at.

              But my use of the magnifier starts several font sizes up …

              Aging eyes, ya know?

              • lokywoky says:

                Me too – ditto the aging eyes.

                I just think all these people who write contracts – and directions and warnings on OTC medicines – and all the rest, have taken to heart the old canard about the ‘fine print’.

        • DWBartoo says:

          BTW, ‘congresscriminal’ is quite choice indeed. Might just ‘borrow’ that from time to time, if you don’t mind?

          • lokywoky says:

            I don’t mind a bit. If the shoe fits, wear it as they say! I like it too, also congresscrooks, congresswimps, etc etc.

            Be my guest. Think up more and better ones! Have fun!

    • PetePierce says:

      The blogs like this one, Glenn’s and a considerable number of others have explained what’s going on pretty well.

      Computer access is one aspect, but most of the people who have computer access aren’t interested in getting this information. There is pandemic disinterest in FISA and so many of these issues. The MSM has absolutely done a reprehensible job of covering FISA and frankly most of the issues that Marcy does an excellent job of tackling and many of issues FDL analyzes.

      • lokywoky says:

        Well, it depends on what you mean by computer access of course. People with limited computer abilities use their computers for emails and whatever is on the front page of the ISP – kind of like the entertainment section of the newspaper.

        Older folks and people without any college education, while they may have computers, have heard all the ’smear’ stories about those lying websites and the internet scams and all that so for them, ’surfing’ isn’t high on the list.

        My biggest blame-recipients are the MSM. Most people do have TV, and most people listen to one of the ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX channels. None of them have covered this story at all – at least as it pertains to the average American. Yes, Marcy and everyone here at FDL and Glenn and others like them do a great job. But they aren’t the MSM and although the media is changing, the MSM is still the dominant way most people get their news. And the worst part is, the less education, the more likely they are to watch Fox.

  37. wigwam says:

    It’s like discussion of FISA causes people to lose all sense of logic. Here’s Jonathan Alter on CountDown on Wed evening:

    And I actually think one of the big points, Keith, that hasn’t been made about this bill is that currently, as of last August, since last August, we’ve been operating in an unconstitutional environment, clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

    So, there was tremendous urgency to get the FISA court back into the game. And does this bill do it imperfectly? Yes. But it does do it and it restores the Constitution, which is a point that’s not getting made very much.

    They’ve got these fools running around talk all kind of crazy shit:
    — This bill gives the intelligence community tools they badly need. (Obaman and DiFi)
    — “It is important to understand the consequences if the Senate does not pass this bill. We would either have to extend the temporary surveillance bill passed last August – which should not happen – or allow surveillance on certain foreign targets to expire, which would lay the Nation bare and decrease our ability to identify and protect against terrorist threats.” (DiFi)
    — We’ve been operating in violation of the Constitution since August, and this bill “restores the Constitution.” (Alter)

    The only way to restore the constitution is to obey it. This bill cannot make what we’ve been doing since August constitutional; it’s not an ammendment. What part of that is not obvious to anyone with a lick of sense?

    • lokywoky says:

      I don’t understand this

      since last August, we’ve been operating in an unconstitutional environment, clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

      ???

      We’ve been operating in an unconstitional environment since the day Bush took office! And it has nothing to do with FISA, PAA or this latest abomination.

      • DWBartoo says:

        You’ve got a powerful lot of truthin’ goin’ there, loky.

        And, since it is so true, it desreves a heartfelt LOL 707 LOL …

        But the tears in my eyes are not from laughing.

        • lokywoky says:

          Thanks for the h/t. I have to do this – gotta keep laughing or I’d never get out of bed in the morning.

          My life is a mess, my health is a mess, my country is a mess. Gotta keep goin’ – made up my mind it WILL get better, and little teensy bit by little teensy bit, it is!

          • DWBartoo says:

            Absolutely, change, for the better, for humanity and for justice is already underway, in spite of what the hateful and selfish may think.

            They shall have to mend their ways or they shan’t be allowed back into human society.

            Some, in fact, should be confined to a relatively small place for the remainder of their days. That we may have peace on Earth …

      • wigwam says:

        Exactly! Jonathan Alter is normally a rational human being. For him to say that we’ve operated unconstitutionally since August but passing this law, which legalizes that behavior, will “restore the constitution” is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard.

        But Olbermann didn’t laugh. He saw nothing wrong with it.

        • lokywoky says:

          I’m sorry Olbermann didn’t get it – but then he’s a sort of comedic talking head, not a legal scholar, unlike Senator Obama. So I’ll give him a partial pass on this one. Maybe we can send him some actual facts so he can put himself on the WPITW list again.

  38. bobschacht says:

    I’m watching a replay of Artur Davis’s questioning of Addington & Yoo, and I really like his line of questioning about a “policy that only has your fingerprints on it” because they didn’t even consider consulting with Congress.

    Addington showed himself to be an arrogant SOB with open contempt for his questioners, and deserves to have his ears pinned back.

    Bob in HI

    • lokywoky says:

      I take comfort in the fact that all previous persons tried for war crimes were tried after they left/were removed from office. We are almost there – so since the congressrats have not got any backbones to impeach this lot, I guess we’ll leave it for ‘history to judge’ as Georgie Porgie says to us.

      And that judge just me be sitting in the Hague.

      • wigwam says:

        I’m predicting accountability to become a horrible fiasco:
        — Obama won’t prosecute. He’s conflict averse.
        — When the evildoers are indicted by international courts, Obama will not extradite on account of the American Service Personnel Protection Act of 2002, aka the Hague Invasion Act.
        — The evildoers will be tried and convicted “in absentia”.
        — Various governments and international organizations will offer bounties and/or dispatch apprehension teams, citing past precedent by the U.S. and Israel.
        — If those methods are successful, the U.S. government will retaliate with military weapons against whatever government and/or organization they’d like to attack.

        And thus the bloody pendulum of revenge will be set in its inexorable motion.

        • lokywoky says:

          Well, Obama won’t be president forever. And those convictions don’t have a statute of limitations. They are still rounding up Nazis who escaped, but were tried and convicted at Nuremberg.

          Did you see that story where someone tried to make a citizens arrest of John Bolton already? Apparently he’s traveling with two huge bodyguards as a precaution and the citizen was unable to complete the arrest. But Bolton’s on notice – he can’t step foot outside the US now. Yay!

          • PetePierce says:

            He’ll be President until Hillary Clinton is 68.

            Chutzpah Index definitions:

            Severe Chutzpah Index – Passing Legislation immunizing a criminal Telcom industry from civil legislation and covering up the Telcoms civil liability and essentially obviating their criminal prosecution by an already immunized Congress.

            Severe Chutzpah Index – having your party ridicule Obama for saying he’d talk with enemies and then ponying up a ton of money to get the North Koreans to make mild concessions–they have said nothing about what they would allow inspected and whether they would allow inspection of their ectopic, well hidden enriched Plutonium which they undoubtably have, and which they and the Iranians were trying to help the Syrians use until Israel presciently bombed it when the US once again lacked the balls to do so.

            Severe Chutzpah Index–you are a rich lady very analagous to the mindset of Leona Hellmsley with money in her magnitude. You ran a failed campaign and now are stiffing even small pizza venders in the midwest for money. You owe $22 million but you have between $100-$200 million that is liqued in the bank from secret deals you steadfastly refused to reveal even though you wanted to be and never will be President, and your iron grip of the Democratic party has been wrested from your cold bitchy fists. You come whining to the victor for a handout. You are a 200 million dollar enterprise with pending deals that amount to being a walking ATM for money and you have the chutzpah to ask donors to Obama’s campaign to give you a handout–you are a hundred to two hundred millionairess and you are begging like a homeless individual not because you’re starving but because you don’t want to spend any of your Queenly secret ill-gotten gains (only a fraction of which has to do with speech making or book co-writing with ghost authors).

            Now those are Chutzpah — writ large. And nobody in the liberal blogosphere wants to talk about the last severe chutzpah index–only the former two.

            • PetePierce says:

              The misspelling of Hellmsley was intentional. Chutzpah is also drawing a salary as U.S. Senator and weeks after you were removed from the race, you’re still taking petulant victory laps while a cowed and stupid media keeps wringing their hands over what you want when the Senate is conducting “bizness” aka 3 card monte and instead of exhibiting leadership and conviction you’re still on a self-proclaimed vacation because you’re entitled. Nothing is stopping you from returning to the Senate to work, but you’re a Queen, and you don’t have to show up to work if you don’t feel like it where you have no seniority, are going to head no committees, and have accumulated a lot of hostility and emnity that is going to albatross your Lady Macbethesque aspirations forever.

        • lokywoky says:

          — When the evildoers are indicted by international courts, Obama will not extradite on account of the American Service Personnel Protection Act of 2002, aka the Hague Invasion Act.

          I wonder – do you know if this protects people other than active duty military personnel?

          And another thing – apparently the Hague Conventions explicitly state that their authority to prosecute war crimes supersedes laws by any nation trying to get around them – even if that nation has not signed on to the International Criminal Court – which we have not.

          So…it doesn’t matter?

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      I should go back and just watch Addington with no sound. His demeanor throughout was revolting. Throwing his head back, looking over his glasses, waving his arms around. All of it.

    • strider7 says:

      although it’s important to establish the individual complicity of everybody involved I still think that the primary approach should be a constitutional one rather than administrative.The ability to circumvent the constitution in a variety of ways is what has enabled these people(if you can call them that)to acomplish all these things,IE fisa,torture,doj,imperial exec etc
      The idea that a group of people can use the power of the olc and article 2 to overide scotus,congress the constitution and the people is breathtaking in it’s scope

      • lokywoky says:

        Well, I guess the administrative part is that it was determined and codified at Nuremberg that if a ‘legal’ opinion was used to justify illegal conduct, the lawyer giving the legal opinion was just as guilty of war crimes as the person they gave the opinion to – even though the person asking was ‘relying’ on the opinion for justification.

        In this particular case, several laws have been passed that are clearly unconstitional in their scope, language, and reach. Most of them have not made it to the courts yet because of trying to get standing certs for any plaintiffs due to the excessive secrecy and criminality of this administration.

        Yoo and Addington’s fingerprints truly are all over this crap – and they can obfuscate and be jerks all they want, but when Bush/Cheney et al are tried for war crimes, Yoo and Addington will be sitting right next to them in the defendants box.

        Further, it doesn’t seem to matter to Bush et al what the law says or doesn’t say. They have done and continue to do whatever they want – there have been no consequences for all the lawlessness, will be none from this Congress, and for all intents and purposes – they have gotten away with it.

        • strider7 says:

          Another jaw dropper is the hauge act.I think it means that if anyone of our representitives is captured we can do what ever we have to to get him out.Like attacking the hague right?

          • wigwam says:

            That’s what I was referring to in #144. It’s official name is the American Service Personnel Protection Act, but it’s jokingly called the Hague Invasion Act. The Wikipedia has a good treatment of it.

          • lokywoky says:

            I’ll have to read up on that one tomorrow – I just found out about that from wigwam @ 144 on this thread. I would assume that if it was Bush in charge, yes we would invade the Hague whether there was a law or not.

            Under Obama – open question at this point. I kind of doubt it but who knows?

              • lokywoky says:

                Well, I just went to Wiki and read the summary – I agree. This piece of legislation is ‘immunity’ for any US person from criminal prosecution for anything. Unilaterally decided by us. And punishment for anyone else who is a party to the ICC if they help enforce the laws.

                But I think the ICC Conventions supersede – and they would at least attempt to come get them without extradition.

                Nasty standoff ensues. What a mess. Boy oh boy. And people in this country wonder why the rest of the world ‘hates us so much’. Hmmm. Wonder why?

                We break every law, treaty, convention, and standard of decency going back 500 years. Unilaterally decide we are completely immune from any responsibility (this from the party that preaches individual responsibility as a virtue) and not only refuse to play well with others, we steal all the toys, break the ones we can’t get, then take our cookies and go home.

              • lokywoky says:

                Oh, one other possibility – the law can be ‘waived if the President deems it in our national interest’ to do so.

                Same old – pass a law, and then ignore it when you feel like it.

                Hmmmph.

              • strider7 says:

                Right , but if they catch em on their turf they’re in troubles.Like Bolton!! God damn I would have paid to see the look on his face. also Pinochet even with Thatchers protection.Thing is these are our policies that create these kinda people.They get so much power that thet think they’re beyond the reach of law,which they might very well be but someday someone will spot them or track them down.

      • lokywoky says:

        I guess one more point. The neo-cons have developed an excellent propaganda machine over the last 50-60 years, and they have become masters at its use against the people, the congress, and yes – even SCOTUS. The machine was ginned up with the fear, fear, and more fear all the time meme, and all the checks folded.

        For an interesting read – Mein Kampf – details just how Hitler legally came to office, stripped Parliament and the Supreme Court of its power through passing laws like the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2006 and the FISA Amending Act of 2008. He then dissolved Parliament, declared martial law, invaded Poland and well, you know the rest.

        As you can see – we are pretty far down that road. That’s why I am really worried about all this stuff – and why everyone in this country should be too. But they mostly don’t know about all the crap that has been put into these bills in the dead of night and in the back rooms and not read and/or understood by the very people who are supposed to be protecting the Constitution.

    • kspena says:

      I, too, thought that was a good moment. Before he said that, Davis said, “If you were smart, you’d realize…” That was a visible jolt to Addington who thinks he is the poster child for ’smart’…

      • bobschacht says:

        What comes to mind is Zorro (AKA Davis) using his rapier so that his opponent imagines that he is winning the battle, only to find that his pants have mysteriously fallen around his ankles. Addington is not used to dealing with people smarter than he is.

        Bob in HI

          • skdadl says:

            Reliving great moments from yesterday: as well as Davis and Cohen, there was that jolt of an exchange between Addington and Delahunt:

            Addington told Delahunt he couldn’t discuss specific techniques being used, or even discussed for use, by CIA agents because terrorists may be watching his appearance and would gain insight into what U.S. intelligence agents are up to.

            “You kind of communicate with Al Qaeda if you do. I can’t talk to you because Al Qaeda may watch C-SPAN,” Addington said.

            Delahunt responded: “I’m sure they are watching. I’m glad they finally have a chance to see you, Mr. Addington, given your penchant for being unobtrusive.”

            I think that Addington managed to get in a brief rejoinder (something like “I’m sure you’re glad”).

            And then there was Addington’s rudeness to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (”Is there a question pending, ma’am?”) and his presumption in instructing her how to ask questions. Does Addington have any courtroom experience?

            I’m just a simpleton who gets carried away by the drama — I’m not sure how the smarter observers here would rate the usefulness of that session yesterday. It sure confirmed a lot of guesses about the characters involved, though.

            Addington’s arm-waving was curious too, wasn’t it. I use my hands too much when I talk — lots of us do — but Addington takes over all available space, even over his head. Very strange.

            • DWBartoo says:

              Yes, Davis made Addington ‘blink’ while Delahunt just might have encouraged him to think, “OMG!!! Now they ALL know what I look like. Wah!This is not right, I, the Great and Wonderful ME, might actually become a target for future ’scrutiny’ … Oh dear! Oh dear! ‘Unobtrusive’, no more,
              I fear …”

              Addington loves to suck all of the air out of whatever place he occupies … well, let him suck!

              Addington; ‘the most-supercillious TWIT’

            • MarieRoget says:

              Reviewing the vid of the hearing this a.m., Addington was as I would have expected him to be. He’s @ the apex of power, Cheney’s Cheney. In his own mind, he can easily afford to display all that arrogance, rudeness, condescension. Who’s going to call him to account, to trip up his narrative? This Committee? The MSM? He thinks he’s safe, as he may well be, despite our horror & disgust @ what he’s wrought.

              Yoo is another matter. I’ve seen a lot of interviews w/John Yoo & he always came across as arrogant & defiant as hell. As someone remarked yesterday here, perhaps it finally is dawning on Yoo that he will be forced to be the fall guy for the bearded gent on his right (& the bearded gent’s bosses) & that, except for Johnny Yoo making a deal & spilling a lot of beans, Addington & Co are very happy to hang any consequences for their actions around his neck.

              Boalt Hall have enough to unload Yoo after yesterday, I wonder? He certainly didn’t bring credit to the grand old Hall…

              • PetePierce says:

                Since almost no one you’re going to run into on the street even in DC knows who Addington is or cares, ain’t no one going to call him to account.

                Congress doesn’t even have the ability to enforce its subpoena power currently and HJC, COGR, and SJC are flailing helplessly in trying to subpoena Miers, Bolten, and Rove. They have been mocked by people as dumb as Gonzales when they have shown up and answered no questions meaningfully.

            • PetePierce says:

              In fact the prick has no significant courtroom experience. From wikipedia:

              Addington graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1974. He is a graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and holds a J.D. from Duke University School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1981.

              Addington was assistant general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1981 to 1984.[5] From 1984 to 1987 he was counsel for the House committees on intelligence and international relations. He served as a staff attorney on the joint U.S. House-Senate committee investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal as an assistant to Congressman Dick Cheney, and was one of the principal authors of a controversial minority report issued at the conclusion of the joint committee’s investigation.

              Addington was also a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan for one year in 1987, before becoming Reagan’s deputy assistant. From 1989 to 1992, Addington served as special assistant to Cheney who was then the Secretary of Defense, before being confirmed as the Department of Defense’s general counsel in 1992.[7]

              From 1993 to 2001, he worked in private practice, for law firms Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz and Holland & Knight, and the American Trucking Association.[8] He headed a political action committee, the Alliance for American Leadership, set up in large part to explore a possible presidential candidacy for Cheney.

              Let’s be clear.

              In the US:

              there are 179 court of appeals judgeships and 678 district court judgeships, are 352 bankruptcy judgeships and 551 full-time and part-time magistrate judgeships.

              The Federal Judgeship Act of 2008, sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is aimed at easing judges’ caseloads in federal courts.

              The measure would add 12 permanent seats to U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and 38 permanent seats to U.S. District Courts across the country. It would also make five temporary judgeships – one each in Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri and New Mexico – permanent. It would also put two temporary seats in the Ninth Circuit and 14 temporary district court seats around the country. It would take effect the day after the next president is inaugurated.

              Of all these judges, including an additional complement of 208 Immigration judges many of whom were vetted and appointed by a twit right out of law school with no litigation experinec e whatsoever named Monica Goodling (see Scandal, Hijacked DOJ and Congress No Balls to Investigate Adequately or Force Rove to Testify):

              The vast majority of non-former DOJ judges have had not one second of experience litigating in a federal courtroom, and many have had next to no experience litigating even a traffic ticket.

  39. wigwam says:

    Per Barak Obama http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25390842/

    The issue of the phone companies, per se, is not one that overrides the security interest of the American people. I do want accountability and making sure that, as I’ve said before, somebody’s watching the watchers. That you don’t have an administration that feels it can make its own determinations about when warrantless wiretaps are applicable without going through a FISA court; can we get to the bottom of what’s being taking place; and, most importantly, do we have safeguards going in place going into the future, so that American civil liberties are not being violated?

    The problem is that this bill is aimed at getting rid of everything about which Obama says, “I do want …”:
    – To get accountability, you have to hold people accountable rather than immunize them.
    – To force the administration to go through FISA court, you leave FISA in place rather than legalizing the circumvention of FISA courts.
    – To get to the bottom of what’s been taking place, you let the discovery processes of the current lawsuits run their course rather than support a law that forces the judges to dismiss those suits.
    – To keep safeguards in place you don’t support legislation to remove them.

    Obama and the rest of the leadership of the Democratic party are all talking shit on this matter.

  40. redtankhouse says:

    I suggest that if anyone knows someone with an Arab sounding name that lives overseas, have them call a Senator and point out their conversation is open to eavedropping – indeed, that ANY conversation the Senators have with ANYONE overseas is open to wiretaps and if they vote for this bill, there’s nothing they can do about it. Point out that it’s not just us chump citizens that are liable, but ALL Americans, even the august and pedestaled. Though, of course, they would never have anything to hide. No.

  41. wigwam says:

    I wonder – do you know if this protects people other than active duty military personnel?

    It protects essentially all U.S. government officials. There’s a good article on it in the Wikipedia, which is where I really learned about it.

  42. masaccio says:

    Totally OT, reporting from Hong Kong.

    There are only a few things to do here, eat, drink, and shop. Thank heaven we shopped in China, prices are through the roof here. Once upon a time, you could get a real bargain on tailored clothes, but now, prices are similar to Joseph Bank. At least they will fit.

    The South China Morning Post had an editorial wondering why the US doesn’t do more to fight inflation. It argues that US policy is hurting the rest of the world, especially those countries, like Hong Kong, which tie their currency to the dollar. China revalued a few days ago, primarily to get cheaper petroleum for their RMBs, and other countries will be forced to do the same thing.

    It got me to wondering, who will benefit from this? Bin Laden has urged a strategy of attacking America financially. There are a group of nations whose own national interests would be served by weakening the dollar, which eventually will force US interest rates up. Consider the Saudis. They have hundreds of billions in US treasuries, which are earning far less than inflation. It would serve their interests to drive up US interest rates.

    I would love to see some analysis of this. Ian Welsh: are you out there?

  43. kspena says:

    OT This may have been mentioned—Murray Waas has more news on DOJ investigations:
    http://murraywaas.crooksandliars.com/

    “Last week, when the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform held a hearing into the politicization of the Department of Justice’s quarter of a billion dollar grant program, one DOJ official, Michelle DeKonty, refused to testify, citing her Fifth amendment rights. Today, she was fired…”

  44. kspena says:

    I agree. I watched the hearing again as you did to follow arguments more closely and watch body language. During the day I was mostly listening. One thing that impressed me was how attentive Addington was to individual Democratic questioners. It was quite evident in the wide camera shots. He seemed intent on projecting a calculated arrogance and boredom, but in the wide camera shots he appeared quite subservient.

  45. victoria says:

    Wouldn’t you love to have been a fly on the wall when Addington got back to the Carbuncle’sBarnacle’s office. Bet they trashed that House committee up one side and down the other. Perhaps if the Reps could see the pure, naked contempt (not that they didn’t get a taste of it today) that Cheney and his pet viper feel for the Legislative Branch and the Constitution, they would rethink impeachment. In the good universe.

  46. victoria says:

    I am interested in Dodd’s statement, “When and if FISA does come back to the Senate floor”. Would someone please explain the ‘if’ portion of that? Is that hopeful?

  47. wigwam says:

    M.S. Bellows has a HuffPo article, “Republicans taunt Obama as spineless over FISA reversal”:

    In a press conference call this morning, John McCain surrogate Sam Brownback (R-KS) pointed at Barack Obama and essentially called him a spineless panderer — and welcomed it, saying he expected Obama to cave in on Iraq withdrawal next. McCain senior policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, with tremendous self-assurance, described Obama’s support for the FISA bill — a bill McCain also supports! — as an example of Obama’s supreme commitment to his own “political fortunes” above all else. And then, to underscore how weak they now consider Obama to be, the McCain campaign then issued an “In Case You Missed It” press release with a transcript highlighting these statements.

    In other words: it’s not just MoveOn.org and others on the left who are questioning Obama’s principles over the FISA flap; even his opponents are pointing the finger and laughing at him for being such a panderer and accommodationist. And Obama hasn’t even voted on the bill yet!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..09445.html

    • PetePierce says:

      I’d also question these priniples:

      A very small fraction of the blogosphere understands the dynamics of what went down in FISA. Huffington Post isn’t one of them and Ariana probably understands the surface.

      The vast majority of voters for either Clinton or Obama doesn’t understand what went down.

      Almost any Republican I’ve tried to discuss it with regadless of megaincome or miniincome level doesn’t have a clue what the bill is or its components and can’t even talk about immunity much less the other compoents that are never mentioned or analyzed in MSM or mentioned by any talking head debating it the very rare number of times it’s discussed on what I call the TV as do newspapers and bloggers call the teevee as if “TV” could be mistaken for a principle of nuclear physics or a neurosurgical technique.

      Senorita de Hundred-Two Hundred Millionariess Secret de Money no Reveala Incoma Taxa, Foundationa nor Libraria Clintonista is not in the Senate working and leading a fillibuster on FISA after arguably being the Senator with her name most in the news because…

      MSNBC is intrigued with the profound and monumental metaphysical question of the decade how many Clintons will speak at the Democratic convention:

      Will it be Senorita de Thirty Year Old No Talkee to the Press even 8 year old reporters livee in 3.4 million dollar NYC mansion apartmente she no pay for and work at $210,000job her co-workers say she not trained for and she no do?

  48. masaccio says:

    More OT, reporting from Hong Kong.

    We went up Victoria Peak, a very steep hill, with a stunning view. As we left the hotel, we had some sprinkles (it rained all morning), but it was clear at the top, and just lovely. We rode the subway on the way back to the hotel, clean and quick.

    Now it’s about 7:30 p.m., and dark. There is a light show in half an hour and then dinner, Italian, pumpkin risotto with roast duck….

  49. masaccio says:

    Well, actually, it’s just before 8. Someone else grabbed the computer before I posted the comment.

    And Spain beat Russia, so it’s Germany v. Spain in the Euro football finals. And that’s your early morning sports.

  50. klynn says:

    Marcy,

    Thank you again for your patriot effort with the live blogging and this update. Appreciated more than my words will ever capture.

    BTW, I like the Feingold t-shirt. I’ve been working on a few designs for sign or t-shirt use. Should I continue? Should I send them to Christy? Or is the Feingold t-shirt the design best to go with?

    FYI

    July 8th 1776 – The first ringing of the announcement of Independence by the Liberty Bell. The first day the news of our Independence hit the streets and was announced to the people.

  51. skdadl says:

    An honest question to y’all: how many Americans do you think are still falling for the scare tactics? When Addington falls back on that (to me) stupid line about al-Qaeda maybe watching (as I’m sure they are too, but really, what are they going to learn that they don’t already know?), how many people are there left who don’t think that is stupid?

    • yonodeler says:

      Fewer people, it seems to me, are scared in the vivid sense that was commonplace in the two years or so after 9/11. There’s a generalized sense in many of us that the risk of terror attacks is not over and that anti-terror programs must be ongoing and adaptive, but the effectiveness of the be-very-afraid approach that has influenced many in the public to not question any ostensible security measure taken by government may be slowly waning. Scare tactics are still considered by candidates and party leadership to be so effective that candidates not engaging in scare tactics adjust their campaign strategies and even their positions (as we see) to counter attacks that call into question their seriousness about protecting the public, and even their patriotism. Pandering to fear will be with us for a long time, I fear. Education of the public plus more election success by non-pandering candidates can gradually reduce the success of pandering to fear.

      I like what Bruce Schneier advises: “Refuse to be terrorized.”

      • yonodeler says:

        And, there is great fear among officeholders, candidates, and even the voting public of being blamed and perhaps blaming oneself for any successful terror attack. To a large extent, the fact that many of us accept a reasonable degree of risk is not getting across or is not considered of major political significance.

      • brendanx says:

        I think Democrats have failed to explain to the public what is alarming about this bill. You hear constant refrains to the effect that “we can’t sacrifice our civil liberties for security”, as if there were no question that this spying makes us secure, or is even intended to. I don’t think most people regard “civil liberties” that highly when it’s put this way and they might be willing to make a “tradeoff”, or at least not be outraged by such a tradeoff. It’s not about “civil liberties”, it’s about the White House’s crimes and coverup.

        No one, other than Dodd and Feingold, is comparing this to Watergate, i.e., making the point that if this is not yet just a contemporary version of that break in and bugging, it will be. No one seems to have questioned Bush/Cheney’s motives, or our friendly neighborhood phone companies’. Still less are they complaining that the bill makes the executive and his flunkies a law unto themselves. Out of decorum, I guess.

  52. Leen says:

    The Diane Rehm show is on doing the weekly Round up. Send in your questions or comments about the weeks news (several million people listen to this show) I sent in some questions about the HJC trial yesterday.

    [email protected]
    1-800-433-8850

    You will go through a screener (Dorie is wonderful). Be clear, polite and to the point. They really like first time callers and folks from out west (trying to increase listening audience).

    Give it at shot. A great way to bring more attention on particular issues and to plug another point that needs to be driven home. 2 hours of Round up on Friday

  53. Leen says:

    Might want to get a copy of Lilly Tomlins “Ernistine” the phone operator to our Senators.

    “One Ringy Dingy”


  54. MadDog says:

    From EFF:

    DNI and AG Fear Court Ruling on Warrantless Wiretapping

    EFF and others have long suspected that one reason the White House and its allies have fought for telecom immunity so fervently has been their fear that a judicial ruling on the legality of telecoms’ participation would lead to a ruling rejecting the legality of the Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program itself.

    Today, the Director of National Intelligence McConnell and Attorney General Mukasey confirmed as much in a letter opposing amendments to the FISA bill. The DNI and AG wrote that allowing a court to rule on the constitutionality of the Administration’s arguments for warrantless wiretapping “is unacceptable.” They argue that “the aim of the amendment appears to be an adjudication of the Government’s prior actions,” and that “by requiring a merits adjudication of the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims” the proposed amendment “would significantly negate a major purpose of the retroactive liability protections” (emphasis added).

    • MadDog says:

      And wrt to a point that EW has reiterated over an over again, Mikey McConnell and Mikey Mukasey must have caught on to Fredo’s “authoriztion” (without the legal authority to do so) when only the White House Counsel:

      The liability protection…applies only in a narrow set of circumstances. An action must be dismissied if the Attorney General certifies to the district court that…the assistance was provided…and was the subject of a written request or series of request from a senior Government official indicating that the activity was authorized by the President and determined to be lawful…

      (My Bold>

    • skdadl says:

      They argue that “the aim of the amendment appears to be an adjudication of the Government’s prior actions,” and that “by requiring a merits adjudication of the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims” the proposed amendment “would significantly negate a major purpose of the retroactive liability protections” (emphasis added).

      Does that not come under the heading of the blindingly self-evident?

      I understand that Mukasey has a portrait of George Orwell in his office. Before I even remembered that, though, I was reading that sentence — “would significantly negate,” eg — and wondering where Orwell’s grave is. Somebody should be checking its stability about now.

    • bobschacht says:

      From EFF:

      DNI and AG Fear Court Ruling on Warrantless Wiretapping

      EFF and others have long suspected that one reason the White House and its allies have fought for telecom immunity so fervently has been their fear that a judicial ruling on the legality of telecoms’ participation would lead to a ruling rejecting the legality of the Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program itself.

      Today, the Director of National Intelligence McConnell and Attorney General Mukasey confirmed as much in a letter opposing amendments to the FISA bill. The DNI and AG wrote that allowing a court to rule on the constitutionality of the Administration’s arguments for warrantless wiretapping “is unacceptable.” They argue that “the aim of the amendment appears to be an adjudication of the Government’s prior actions,” and that “by requiring a merits adjudication of the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims” the proposed amendment “would significantly negate a major purpose of the retroactive liability protections” (emphasis added).

      Thanks much for this! This information is what I wanted in communicating with my Senators as to why the present bill is unacceptable.

      Bob in HI

    • Leen says:

      I keep wondering if the FISA retroactive immunity ties into the lack of access our Reps have had to the NSA intercept that they have been demanding that have to do with the claims that John Bolton was spying and wiretapping Colin Powell’s negotiations with Iran.

      I just can not get that John Bolton nomination hearings out of my mind. When Biden, Kennedy, Boxer, Lincoln Chaffee, Kerry and Dodd looked as if they were going to jump over those tables and beat Bolton to a pulp when he arrogantly ignored their demands for those NSA intercepts

      Does anyone think that these “retroactive immunity” efforts have anything to do with continuing to blocking access to these intercepts.

      Sidney Blumenthals article
      The general’s revenge
      http://dir.salon.com/story/opi…..s_revenge/

      “When British Foreign Minister Jack Straw complained to Powell that Bolton was obstructing negotiations with Iran on its development of nuclear weapons, Powell ordered that Bolton be cut out of the process, telling an aide: “Get a different view.” The British also objected to Bolton’s interference in talks with Libya, and again Powell removed Bolton. But much as he may have wanted to, Powell could not dismiss Bolton because of a powerful patron: Vice President Dick Cheney.

      The Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria, and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration’s stonewall reflex. The Foreign Relations Committee discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?

      Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was likely spying on Powell, his senior advisors, and other officials reporting to the secretary of state on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies in the Pentagon and the vice president’s office, with whom he was in daily contact and well known to be working in league against Powell. If the intercepts are ever released, they may disclose whether Bolton was a key figure in a counterintelligence operation run inside the Bush administration against the secretary of state, resembling the hunted character played by Will Smith in “Enemy of the State.” Both Republican and Democratic senators have demanded that the State Department, which holds the NSA intercepts, turn them over to the committee. But Rice so far has refused. What is she hiding by her coverup? “

      SO WHO WAS BOLTON SPYING ON AND WHAT COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS DID HE USE TO DO SO?

    • cboldt says:

      From EFF: DNI and AG Fear Court Ruling on Warrantless Wiretapping

      Thanks for that. I don’t haunt EFF regularly.

      What strikes me as different about this “Policy Statement” (there is none at AUthoritative collection of Statements of Administration Policy), compared with previous pronouncements about retroactive immunity, is that this one expressly recognizes a risk that a Court might find the program to be unconstitutional.

      All the previous pronouncements rely heavily on the indefinite “determined to be lawful.”

  55. Leen says:

    Ew/All have you seen this?
    http://www.miamiherald.com/new…..84558.html
    Lawyer wants world to see Gitmo interrogation
    Posted on Thu, Jun. 26, 2008
    reprint print email
    Facebook Digg del.icio.us AIM
    By CHARMAINE NORONHA
    Associated Press
    In this May 10, 2004 file picture, Judge Col. Patrick Parrish walks out of the Judge Advocate’s office at Fort Bragg, N.C. following a motion hearing for Hassan Akbar. He is now the Military Commissions judge of Canadian captive Omar Khadr, on trial for war crimes at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
    DAVID SMITH / ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this May 10, 2004 file picture, Judge Col. Patrick Parrish walks out of the Judge Advocate’s office at Fort Bragg, N.C. following a motion hearing for Hassan Akbar. He is now the Military Commissions judge of Canadian captive Omar Khadr, on trial for war crimes at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
    » More Photos

    TORONTO –
    A lawyer for a Canadian detainee at Guantánamo Bay said Thursday that he expects to release a video of his then-teenaged client being interrogated by Canadian officials, potentially offering the first public footage of an interrogation at the U.S. prison.

    Nathan Whitling’s announcement came a day after Canada’s Federal Court ordered the government to hand over the 2003 interrogation video of terrorism suspect Omar Khadr to his defense team.

    • skdadl says:

      Thanks, Leen. I wrote somewhere yesterday that Judge Mosley’s decisions about what must be handed over to Khadr’s defence team are especially significant because, in an earlier life, Judge Mosley was the assistant deputy minister who wrote the main draft of our Anti-Terrorism Act (2001-02).

      And besides, you’ve reminded me: check Miami Herald every day …

  56. squirm says:

    How about this: get some little footballs printed up with “retroactive telecom immunity” or just “FISA”, or heck, the “4th Ammendment”, and then just hand them to our senators in person, or ship them en-masse, with the tag line “I think you dropped this.” A little bit of theatre, something to get the media yacking.

  57. wigwam says:

    They argue that “the aim of the amendment appears to be an adjudication of the Government’s prior actions,” and that “by requiring a merits adjudication of the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims” the proposed amendment “would significantly negate a major purpose of the retroactive liability protections” (emphasis added).

    Let me see now. “[T]he aim of this ammendment appears to be an adjudication of the Government’s prior actions.” So far so good. “[And, requiring a merits adjudication of the plaintiffs’ claim] would significantly negate a major purpose of the retroactive liability protection.” What are they trying to tell us? Are they truly admitting that the purpose of immunity is to prevent “adjudication of the Government’s prior actions”? It seems so to me.

  58. Mary says:

    I haven’t read all the comments (some though) and even though no one’s asking for it, here are my opinions.

    1. There is behind the scenes intimidation going on using the likelihood of upcoming Hezbollah attacks (which Bushco has invited and encouraged by encouraging the assassination in Lebanon and then doing a public Snoopy dance afterwards) It’s no doubt more a matter of when than if, and while the unconstititutional surveillance program won’t stop it, if Dems haven’t capitultated thoroughly on every point, then the attacks will be used as fodder that somehow it would have been different if only …

    2. There absolutely will not be anything productive done by the Dems in Congress on the legislation. Period. Shows of discontent over the breakd are probably helpful, but more so from the standpoint of more getting people paying attention than anything else. And shows of discontent by Dems who are all overwhelmingly begging to do nothing else but vote for Dems, no matter what they do, aren’t really going to accomplish much. Your opinion has no worth in the process right now. The levee that will hold isn’t going to get the sandbags.

    3. The most productive efforts are going to be those invested in making life a litigation nightmare for all those involved. And I do mean ALL those involved. There needs to be as much digging and prying and poking as possible to come up with plaintiffs with better standing. Then there need to be Bivens actions tacked to the statutory actions. The “gang of four” and particularly Nancy Pelosi, need to be added as named parties. There needs to be shares bought and shareholder actions filed against the CEOs of the companies and whatever decent grounds can be cobbled together after some work and investigation. There needs to be attack after attack after attack on all the holes and gaps of the legislation. There needs to be investigation of alternative sources for redress involving foreign courts and the duties of the telecoms under foreign law in those forums. There needs to be attacks on the very basis and concept of the secret courts for ANY surveillance involving US citizens on US soil and attacks on the inability to have legitimate redress and appeals in such a secret court forum. THere need to be attacks on the administrative warrant nature of the new amendment vis a vis the attacks on American privacy. There need to be further pushes on the abuses of the NSLs that are already known.

    In short, if there is no political price, then there has to begin to be a personal price paid for the involvement or nothing will change. I think the rest is just kabuki and I’m not really all that optimistic of results even with this kind of strategy, but it’s a real gameplan and not a squaredance.

    • cboldt says:

      in short, if there is no political price, then there has to begin to be a personal price

      The two realms intersect a bit, but I think your strategy is excellent. If Congress is going to play deaf, and “dummy up,” then beside whatever election pressure can be brought to bear, application of pressure via the independent third branch is the next step.

      • bmaz says:

        I am kind of intrigued by the foreign attack idea. Lot of issues figuring out who a target plaintiffs would be and how exactly to leverage that into the desired discovery access, etc., but it could be the telcos’ nightmare. Especially if it could be one in several different forums/countries concurrently.

      • PetePierce says:

        I’m talking here about Senator Clinton’s refusal to return to the Senate and her nonchelance regarding her day job there.

        I’d like to pose a question to Cboldt or anyone else who is an afficianado of Senate rules. If a Senator is not deemed ill, and not running for President (there are two of those now) is there any sanction or penalty when the Senator simply refuses to show up and participate in any votes after being absent for nearly a year but does not refuse to pick up their paycheck and receive their enormous perks and benefits–the free 3G phone service, and the medical benefits that are not on the same planet with health care plans as I’ve dealt with them?

        I’ll check the rules later when I have time, but I suppose like everything else that tiers them apart economically from their subjects i.e the commenters and bloggers hear who are being screwed on FISA and so many other key caputilations to the Bush administration and coverups to protect their own law breaking asses, I imagine the answer is “No.” You can be a Senator and never show up and still collect the benefits and the paycheck.

        • cboldt says:

          is there any sanction or penalty when the Senator simply refuses to show up and participate in any votes

          The rule is “2. No Senator shall absent himself from the service of the Senate without leave.” The remedy is “Senators present may direct the Sergeant at Arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel the attendance of the absent Senators.”

          Senate Rule VI

          IIRC, there was some action taken outside of the Senate, against Senator Kerry when he was running in 2004. I don’t recall if it was an ethics complaint, or a legal action to deny him his pay. But it never went anywhere.

          The voters can elect any deadbeat they want to. That a minority of voters object is tough shit.

          • PetePierce says:

            Thanks much. I’ve got to say if everyone was a fiftieth as good at their job as you are at tracking and analyzing the Sentate and the House, the world would be a much better place and you also have an excellent background for doing it.

            • cboldt says:

              you also have an excellent background for doing it.

              Ex drug-addict alcoholic john, like Congress would be if they got caught?

        • cboldt says:

          is there any sanction or penalty when the Senator simply refuses to show up and participate in any votes

          I found the Kerry “case.”

          There’s a federal statute that purports to require the Secretary of the Senate to deduct pay from a Senator, for absences. An ethics complaint was filed against both Kerry, and the Secretary of the Senate, Emily Reynolds. The complaint was filed by one “Jonathan Stein.”

          Ethics Committee Chief Counsel Robert Walker rejected the complaint. I’ve never sought source documents or even looked up the federal statute that Mr. Stein claims was violated.

          • bmaz says:

            Don’t waste any time, he is only concerned about hating on Clinton, in spite of the fact that Obama is every bit as bad as far as attendance, and McCain far worse. Better fish to fry than feeding Pete’s one man waste of thread space with his hate show.

            • cboldt says:

              he is only concerned about hating on Clinton, in spite of the fact that Obama is every bit as bad as far as attendance

              I’m just curious. I think good citizenship directs that the Senators resign if they’re going to run, or at least volunteer to forego pay. I’d zing McCain in a heartbeat, he’s a weasel.

              • bmaz says:

                Yeah, but i have the distinct pleasure of McCain not representing me. His lack of attendance pisses me off, but we are probably better off as opposed to him actually being on the job.

                • cboldt says:

                  His lack of attendance pisses me off, but we are probably better off as opposed to him actually being on the job.

                  I think the whole lot of them is entertaining at best, worthless, and unfortunately, dangerous if permitted to assert their sense of “this makes good law” against the public.

                  So yeah. We’re better off if he isn’t there. Likewise Obama and Clinton. Maybe we could get about 80 of them to run simultaneously.

                • PetePierce says:

                  We’re sure better off without his 95-97% vote with Bush depending on who counts in 2007 and 100% Bush voting record. I’ve said it before and I mean it, Senator Bmaz, Senator Wheeler, some of the commenters there or Senator Hamsher or Senator Christy Smith and we’d have an infinitely better situation than Senator McCain.

                  I know you’d like to see Janet Napolitano as AG or Senator. I know of some instances where the Republican incumbent in the Senate is being challenged by Democratic lawyers with significant legislative and criminal litigation experience that would make you happy if they won and got onto SJC.

    • wigwam says:

      There is behind the scenes intimidation going on using the likelihood of upcoming Hezbollah attacks (which Bushco has invited and encouraged by encouraging the assassination in Lebanon and then doing a public Snoopy dance afterwards) It’s no doubt more a matter of when than if, and while the unconstititutional surveillance program won’t stop it, if Dems haven’t capitultated thoroughly on every point, then the attacks will be used as fodder that somehow it would have been different if only …

      It appears that U.S./Israel is deliberately trying to provoke a Hezbollah attack:

      http://emptywheel.firedoglake……ment-80127

      http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/…..038;page=1

  59. cboldt says:

    they truly admitting that the purpose of immunity is to prevent “adjudication of the Government’s prior actions”?

    I think that’s just “definition” anyway. The general point of immunity is to cut the court out of making a substantive review and reaching an independent conclusion.

    “Why” that is legitimate is a further inquiry.

    But when the “why” is “because the Court might find the conduct to be in violation of the Constitution,” well, that sort of immunity CAN’T be granted by Congress. They can immunize against breaking their own laws (although it undermines Congress’s credibility, and the credibility of their laws in general), but they flat out lack the power to authoritatively declare “it’s constitutional.”

  60. wavpeac says:

    Do you think the Iran issue plays into the fisa “positions” of the dems at all??

    I mean it’s been very difficult to get a handle on the direction of things with Iran. One day this way, the next day that…Bushco clearly pushing war. Where does it play in, if at all?

    Just wondering.

    • Leen says:

      Aipac has been pushing war with Iran for five years

      here is one of their false claims at their website RIGHT NOW about what El Baradei says about Iran

      IAEA Chief: Iran Could Build Nuclear Bomb in Six Months

      ElBaradei warned of Iran’s enrichment activity.
      IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei recently said that with Iran’s current nuclear capabilities, the country would need “six months to one year” in order to produce one atomic bomb. “It would need this period to produce a weapon, and to obtain highly-enriched uranium in sufficient quantities for a single nuclear weapon,” ElBaradei said. The interview, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on June 20, was translated by MEMRI. In recent months, Iran has accelerated its efforts to enrich uranium – a key step toward developing nuclear weapons – violating multiple binding U.N. Security Council demands that the Islamic Republic suspend its illicit nuclear program.

      Sounds like this interpretation of what El Baradei has said has more than likely come through Aipac’s broken filters.

      El Baradei has said that he will resign if Israel strikes Iran
      http://www.jpost.com/servlet/S…..2FShowFull

  61. PetePierce says:

    I’d like to pose a question to Cboldt or anyone else who is an afficianado of Senate rules. If a Senator is not deemed ill, and not running for President (there are two of those now) is there any sanction or penalty when the Senator simply refuses to show up and participate in any votes after being absent for nearly a year but does not refuse to pick up their paycheck and receive their enormous perks and benefits–the free 3G phone service, and the medical benefits that are not on the same planet with health care plans as I’ve dealt with them?

    I’ll check the rules later when I have time, but I suppose like everything else that tiers them apart economically from their subjects i.e the commenters and bloggers hear who are being screwed on FISA and so many other key caputilations to the Bush administration and coverups to protect their own law breaking asses, I imagine the answer is “No.” You can be a Senator and never show up and still collect the benefits and the paycheck.

  62. cboldt says:

    On the immunity thing — it wouldn’t be “clean,” (meaning the legislation might not withstand attack), but hypothetically Congress is empowered to say “The remedy in 50 USC 1810 is not effective as against actions alleged to have occurred from Sept 11, 2001 to January 17, 2007″

    The effect of this is a plaintiff who claims a right under the statute, and claims the action was in that time frame, has those claims tossed out. Congress granted the particular right to sue that is in 50 USC 1810, and can pull it out.

    But Congress has no power to say “No plaintiff has a right to claim a fourth amendment violation, for actions taken between Sept 11, 2001 and Jan 17, 2007.”

    And that is, in part, what Congress is purporting to do with the “immunity.”

    It’s avoiding expressly saying it’s own laws are to be powerless in the time frame, and it is asserting a power it doesn’t have, as to Constitutional claims.

  63. Leen says:

    ot The Iran issue
    Is Israel planning to bomb Iran (El Baradei says he will resign if this happens)
    http://www.democracynow.org/20….._bomb_iran
    June 23, 2008
    Is Israel Preparing to Bomb Iran?
    The New York Times reported Friday that Israel recently carried out a major military exercise that Pentagon officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter planes took part in the maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece. [includes rush transcript]

    The Coming Catastrophe?
    The finishing touches on several contingency plans for attacking Iran
    http://www.informationclearing…..e20164.htm

    Talking to Iran is not so controversial
    http://www.prospect.org/cs/art…..troversial

  64. Mary says:

    “The two realms intersect a bit” You are more than right. I didn’t word it well, but I can see you caught my drift.

    OT – Laura Rozen has a bit up on from the Italian trial.

    http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/007610.html

    I think one of the intersting things is that a SISMI asset was keeping files on journalists who were looking into links between SISMI and the Niger forgeries.

  65. cboldt says:

    The short version of the Title III immunity provision is “We (Congress) hereby dub the Attorney General to be vested with the power of an Article II Court.”

  66. cboldt says:

    Article III Court – but you get the idea.

    Take that pronouncement and wrap it up in a few pages of statutory mumbo jumbo, and hope that the viewer is baffled with the BS.

    • bmaz says:

      I thought for a minute there that your much ballyhooed right wing bent was finally evidencing itself through extra-constitutional creation of courts….

      • cboldt says:

        I thought for a minute there that your much ballyhooed right wing bent was finally evidencing itself through extra-constitutional creation of courts….

        Although Congress has pretty much created a mess of Article II Courts (Admin law), that wasn’t what I had in mind. And of course (unlike the bulk of my right-wing brethern), I reject the contention that the executive is empowered to makes courts of his own say so, even if he decides to call them “military courts in a time of war.”

  67. yonodeler says:

    How broadly the public have been surveilled and subjected to personal data collection has not been laid out for the public by those the public has elected, with relatively few exceptions. Elected officials’ not diligently seeking the facts is nonfeasance. Knowing the facts but not disclosing them as much as classification allows–in other words, withholding significant information concerning the treatment of the public and the Constitution–is malfeasance. Neither having actual or feigned ignorance nor misleading the public should be acceptable; most individual Members of Congress can be fairly accused of having practiced malfeasance, nonfeasance, or both in relation to domestic surveillance. Considering all the technical and legal information that is readily available to legislators, the I’m-not-a-geek excuse won’t cut it.

  68. Mary says:

    I cboldt, I agree on Congress being hypothetically able to take away a statutory right that it conferred earlier, and also with the point that doesn’t mean they can take away rights to sue for violations of the 4th Amendment. Of course, the statute makes recovery lots cleaner and easier, so if there is a way to attack not so much the hypothetical right of Congress, but they way they tried to exercise that right in this legislation, I think that is worthwhile to tack on. The approach they are using isn’t really to just void the recovery rights under the statute, but to attempt to void them only for a certain class of plaintiffs (equal protection?) and to do it by somehow requiring that a court rule (separation? it’s almost like a Congressionally issued mandamus to the Dist ct) that an Executive branch determination of legality (more separation and other issues) is somehow now sufficient for a carve out of protection in cases limited to actions against “teh program” and that something that might be clearly prohibited by the Constitution (unilateral administrative searches and seizures of US communications involving US citizens on US soils) is nonetheless a valid “defense” to a statutory claim.

    I’m not sure if there are any winners in those parentheticals, it would all take lots more time and research and fact access etc., but I do think there are lots more grounds for attack in this statute than if Congress had just statutorily granted the immunity rather than incorporated the courtroom playacting.

    I also have to wonder about some of the claims made under service contracts and the claims by State AGs on state law privacy violations that have all been put on hold. If the service contract provided for privacy only subject to valid requests of govt, and the request was not valid, and the injured party has a suit pending for their contract claim already, then can that contract claim be negated statutorily by legislation that doesn’t ever require that the telecoms acted legally or lawfully, but rather that the unilateral Executive determination bars the statutory claim under FISA? And if it can, then has there been a taking for the public plaintiffs. Can the dismissal of Federal civil statutory penalties effect any state law pursuit of claims of violation, if there is never a requirement in the Federal dismissal that the telecoms acted legally?

    I think the facts, or law, or access that can be obtained to facts, might combine to cause a lot of things to fail or mitigate against being able to craft valid claims, but I sure think there are lots of possible options to be explored.

    • bmaz says:

      Equal protection – that is exactly what I was getting at a day or two ago when discussing the question of whether the Boumediene argument will work here. If the plaintiffs get this plead, at least partially, under the auspices of equal protection, then I think they can assert they are a protected class. If they don’t get the strict scrutiny standard, I don’t think they can win. May be dicey anyway, but you need that.

      I thought there was some mechanism where any of those state law claims were deemed pendant and therefore are gone with the FISA claims; is that wrong?

    • cboldt says:

      I’m not sure if there are any winners in those parentheticals, it would all take lots more time and research and fact access etc., but I do think there are lots more grounds for attack in this statute than if Congress had just statutorily granted the immunity rather than incorporated the courtroom playacting.

      I agree. And I’d like to see Congress humiliated for attempting this “special carve out,” with illogical rationale. If the risk inherent to suits is too great to permit the suit, then where is the repeal? I won’t go though the other rationales proffered, but none of them is worth spit, if analyzed logically, except on the rock bottom basis of “nobody has any right to examine my surveillance activity.”

      Your remarks about rights of action under contract or state privacy regulations also have merit. Contract more, I think. I don’t see a way to permit a state’s privacy laws and guarantees to have priority over federal constitutional law when it comes to foreign intelligence surveillance.

      In the end, I don’t necessarily see the facts coming to light – but the contest ought to be held as between the administration and the court, without interference from Congress. If the admin wants to assert “state secret,” then that’s part of the contest. But it’s happening in view of the public, and the public can draw whatever inferences it wants to.

  69. wigwam says:

    How broadly the public have been surveilled and subjected to personal data collection has not been laid out for the public by those the public has elected, with relatively few exceptions.

    IMHO, it’s likely that they are recording and archiving in perpetuity everything the telcos will give them, ie., ALL email and phone calls. And, they are reviewing and data mining that archive.

  70. cboldt says:

    2 USC 39

    The Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives (upon certification by the Clerk of the House of Representatives) shall deduct from the monthly payments (or other periodic payments authorized by law) of each Member or Delegate the amount of his salary for each day that he has been absent from the House, unless such Member or Delegate assigns as the reason for such absence the sickness of himself or of some member of his family.

    So, the law no longer applies to Senators.

    From the Senate Report on Public Law 109-55:

    SEC. 5. ABSENCES. This section eliminates a provision of 2 U.S.C. 39, relative to member absences from the Senate, which has no practical application in today’s Senate and was last acted upon in 1865.

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