Posts

Roll Call–Then and Now

Phred asked what we had accomplished with all our work in the last five months. I’ve got a more specific post (among other things, calling out my Senator Stabenow for another one of her ridiculously bad votes). But for now, here are Democrats who voted for the Protect America Act, in August (bold are those who voted differently today; final vote was 60-28-12):

Bayh (D-IN)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Salazar (D-CO)
Webb (D-VA)

And here are the Democrats who voted for S.2248 today (bold are those who changed their vote since August; underline did not vote in August; final vote was 68-29-3).

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)

Read more

FISA Fight Reconvenes at 2

The Senate will take up the FISA fight again today at 2:00, now missing not just the three presidential candidates, but possibly others campaigning for their colleagues. Among the many ways last week’s compromise on FISA really hurt our cause, scheduling the vote for the day before Super Tuesday is at the top of the list. [Update: there will not be a FISA related vote today, we’ll have debate. But I still doubt we’re going to hold off the votes until Wednesday, when everyone will be back from Super Tuesday.]

cboldt has a slightly updated post on what the Senate will be voting on here. By far his most important update is this:

The Senate has formally signaled that it will not request a conference with the House, to resolve differences. At this point of the process on the FISA bill, a conference request is premature because the House has yet to weigh in on the Senate’s proposed legislation. While the two bills are different, the formality of disagreement is presently absent. See Riddicks – Conferences and Conference Reports, in particular pp 467-8, which describe the interaction between both chambers.

For those of you hoping we’ll restore some of the protections from the House Bill (sorry, no pun intended) during conference, I take this to mean that we may well never get to conference, and therefore may never get to improve on the Senate bill once the Senate passes it.

So it behooves us to call our Senators and lobby for them to improve this bill now, in the Senate. When you call, I suggest you tell them to:

  • Oppose telecom immunity. While it’s unlikely that we’ll get the 51 majority vote to pass Dodd and Feingold’s amendment, pushing hard against immunity may convince them to support one or both of the compromise immunity amendments (I just learned this one requires majority vote of those voting, not 51).
  • Support court review of minimization procedures. Right now, the Administration is obligated to tell the FISA Court how they intend to make sure your data and mine isn’t rounded up in un-related searches and then used. But they don’t have to prove to the Court that they’re doing what they say they’ll be doing. Encourage your Senators to support Whitehouse’s amendment giving the FISA Court review of whether the Administration is doing what they say they’re doing. As we know, more often than not, they’re NOT doing what they say. Minimization is one of the things that Republicans consistently say they support, so if your Senator(s) is a Republican, remind him or her that this is really about protecting Americans’ civil liberties and privacy. Read more

FISA Update

Apparently, Reid has brokered a Unanimous Consent agreement that everyone, from Feingold and Dodd to Jeff "Mutual Defense" Sessions, have bought off on.

cboldt’s description is, not surprisingly, the best description of what we’re looking at. What the UC sets up is the following:

  • Four uncontroversial amendments that will pass with the UC. These cover getting the FISC rulings for the past five years, emphasizing prohibitions on domestic targeting, and eliminating a 7-day deadline.
  • Two Bond amendments that will receive very little debate (20 minutes) and will pass–and I do believe they will pass–with a 50 vote margin. One of these permits wiretapping those proliferating in WMDs without a warrant. From CQ:

One by the vice-chairman of the Intelligence panel, Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., would change definitions in the law to allow surveillance without a warrant in cases that involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Its adoption would require a simple majority vote.

  • Three Feingold amendments that shouldn’t be controversial–basically two just raising the bar on whether nor not the government is really after foreign intelligence or not, and another allowing FISC to require the government to stop wiretapping if their application sucks (though via a Bond amendment, they still get to tap for 90 days). I assume they’re accorded a 50 vote margin because the Republicans don’t find them controversial.
  • Two of the three immunity provisions–both the one striking immunity altogether, and the one substituting the government for the telecoms. I assume they’ve been subject to a 50 vote margin because the Republicans know they won’t win 50 votes. In other words, our chances of using the courts to learn what Bush did will almost certainly lose.
  • One Feingold/Whitehouse amendment on sequestration–probably a better guarantee on minimization than is in the bill. I’m guessing the Republicans have wagered this won’t get the votes to pass, since they’ve agreed to a 50 vote margin. Read more

SJC Mukasey Hearing, Part Two

DiFi: I’ve been reading your letter. For the first time you disclose that waterboarding is not part of the approved methods. You disclose the method by which a new method is approved. Was this the case in the past?

MM: I’m not authorized to say what happened in the past.

DiFi: It is widely alleged that at least three people were waterboarded. Did the President approve that?

MM: I can’t speak to that.

DiFi: Both MCA and Detainee Treatment act, loophole is CIA. I proposed amendment that would put the entire govt under Field Manual. Accepted by House and Senate. If it comes to floor and remains in bill, once and for all, waterboarding be prohibited by govt.

MM: CIA director becomes aware, however he becomes aware of a technique, describes circumstances by which it’ll be done, to me, I consult with whomever I have to consult with, then it goes to President.

DiFi: I know how they say it works, I don’t know if it’s legal or not.

DiFi: What about contractors?

MM: I don’t know?

DiFi: I’d like to know if it’s legal to contract out enhanced techniques to a contractor.

DiFi: Why hasn’t DOJ responded to Scott Bloch?

MM: There are investigations going on by OPR and OIG into those subjects. A response has gone out to Mr. Bloch is in process.

DiFi: After receiving no cooperation for four months, Mr. Bradbury reiterates the request that we step down. I assume there is some conflict with this.

[So this is coming from OLC? Wow]

MM: Bloch is in an office that is not within the department. I will see to it that he gets a response.

DiFi: Will you copy us on that?

Kyl: Thanks for writing us a letter. Can you send up a list of all vacant slots that this committee needs to act on? [plus lots of stuff about putting brown people in jail]

Leahy: In addition to the list of empty spots, will you also send a list of those spots for which we have not nominee, and a list of letters to which DOJ has not yet responded.

Feingold: Thanks for call regarding treatment of GLBT employees at department. You appear to be embracing the Administration’s position without judgment. You say you don’t want to say whether waterboarding is torture, bc it would tip off our enemies. We have a system of public laws. Your statement suggests you’d not prosecute a govt official for violating such laws. Read more

DiFi’s Amendment

I raised DiFi’s rather interesting amendment to the FISA bill in this post. Now that the transcripts are up from yesterday’s debate, I’d like to fine tune what I said about the amendment.

First, I was mistaken when I told a few people that Leahy and Jello Jay were co-sponsors of DiFi’s amendment. They are co-sponsors of her exclusivity amendment, but only Bill Nelson is co-sponsor of her immunity amendment.

I ask unanimous consent that Senator Nelson of Florida be added as a cosponsor of the FISA Court evaluation on the immunity question amendment.

Second, here’s what DiFi says about her reluctance to vote for the bill with immunity that doesn’t include her amendment.

I voted for telecom immunity in the committee. I am not inclined to vote for it, to be candid with you, unless this amendment is adopted.

Not an absolute commitment, particularly coming from DiFi. But a start, at least.

Now here’s her description of what her amendment says. She starts with a characterization of the immunity included in the SSCI bill:

So let me begin by talking about the immunity provision of the bill. It is not as expansive as some would make it sound. The language would only cover cases where the Attorney General certifies that the defendant companies received written requests or directives from top levels of the Government for their assistance.

In other words, the Government, in writing, I stress in writing, assured those companies that the program was legal, the President had authorized the program, and that its legality has been approved by the Attorney General.

DiFi’s first paragraph is curious. It describes immunity broadly, including "written requests" or "directives"–I can’t tell whether the "directives" here, given the context, are written or not. She further says it would cover those who got these written and possibly non-written requests from "top levels of Government," but doesn’t specify that, by law, the immunity should be restricted to those who received written requests from the AG.

That said, I’m not sure what her following paragraph means. Is it conditional, implying that companies would only get immunity if they had something in writing. Or does DiFi’s, "I stress, in writing," mean the companies did, in fact, get something in writing? Also, her second paragraph seems to imply that only those who got authorization beforehand from the AG would qualify for immunity, which is different from what her first paragraph says. Read more

Why Did Reid Pull the Bill?

This rather snotty article from the WaPo says that Reid didn’t pull the FISA bill yesterday because of Dodd’s efforts.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the decision had nothing to do with the efforts of Dodd and his allies. Indeed, for most of yesterday, Dodd appeared to be fighting a losing battle. His initial filibuster effort was steamrolled when the Senate voted 76 to 10 to take up the measure at noon.

Manley is, of course, full of shit. At the very least, Reid did the math to see that Dodd could filibuster this issue until the Christmas break, and since Reid intended to get funding done before the break, he was faced with postponing the break or punting the appropriations bills to the next year. So whatever else caused Reid to pull the bill, Dodd’s demonstration that he was willing to hold the Senate floor was one factor (apparently, Dodd only left the floor once during yesterday’s debate).

Snotty article also points to the amendments as one of the reasons Reid pulled the bill.

But in the face of more than a dozen amendments to the bill and guerrilla tactics from its opponents, Reid surprised his colleagues when he announced there would not be enough time to finish the job.

Now, best as I can count, I think I know of at least five amendments:

  1. Dodd’s amendment to pull immunity from the bill
  2. DiFi’s amendment to declare FISA the exclusive means of electronic tapping
  3. DiFi’s amendment to have the FISA Court review the authorizations the telecoms got before they received immunity
  4. [I think] A Whitehouse amendment to prohibit wiretapping of US Persons abroad
  5. [I think] A Whitehouse amendment to provide oversight of minimization
  6. Update: Beth Meacham says Leahy’s amendment–to substitute the SJC bill–came up just before Reid pulled the bill (thanks Beth).

I’ll try to clarify these later today. In addition, I’m sure there were going to be Republican amendments seeking to allow Bush to wiretap each and every Dirty Fucking Hippie and similar authoritarian fun.

Read more