FISA Debate and Votes

Sounds like we’ve got two votes coming up–two roll call and two voice votes.

Feingold: Use limit. Gives FISC option to limit use of data collected illegally.

Bond: Recommend veto, reading from Mukasey/McConnell letter directly.

Jello Jay: This amendment would prevent dissemination of any US person data. No need to add another penalty. Amendment gives statute court whether non-disclosure is required. I oppose this amendment strongly.

Reid: Resume Feingold amendments, and time until 5:25 be for debate, and then vote.

Bond: Four minutes each for next vote.

Feingold: Respond to burden bc require govt to identify info about US persons. Kick in only if govt proposes to disseminate information, in which case minimization already requires govt to identify US person information. My amendment imposes no addition burden.

Bond: Makes no sense to exclude information simply becase [it was illegally gathered]. Calls for roll call.

DiFi hanging out with Jello Jay by the table. Read more

FISA Debate Liveblog

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

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

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

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

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


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

3979, Feingold and Webb.

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

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

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

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

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

Jello Jay Advocates Illegal Spying on Americans

Thanks to Selise for making this YouTube.

The most eye-popping moment from yesterday’s FISA debate came when Jello Jay spoke against a Feingold amendment designed to ensure the government does not use US person information collected after the FISA Court has judged that that particular collection program does not adequately protect US persons from being spied on.

Feingold’s amendment is modeled on one in the existing FISA law, which prohibits the government from using information gathered during an emergency 72-hour period of collection if the FISA Court later finds that there was not probable cause to justify the warrant itself. Feingold simply transfers that concept onto the collection programs of the new FISA bill, with the logic that, if the FISA Court rules that a program does not sufficiently protect Americans, then the government should not be able to use that information on Americans even after the Court has given the government 30 days to fix it.

Barring this amendment, the government can continue to use information collected on US persons, even if it gathered that information in defiance of a FISA Court ruling. Without this amendment, there is nothing preventing the government from simply ignoring one after another of the FISA Court’s rulings. Which says that, without this amendment, there is nothing preventing the government from spying on Americans, because they will be able to disseminate information on Americans even if that information was improperly collected.

But Jello Jay doesn’t think we should put those kind of restrictions on the government. Read more

FISA Liveblog

Reid is on the floor talking about what votes we’ll have tomorrow:


Argh. This means we won’t have 60 there for exclusivity.

Reid and Mitch McConnell had some back and forth on the stimulus package.

Kit Bond:

Thank colleagues for agreeing to a way forward on this bill. Hehehe, it would do no good to pass a good that is good for politics, but does not do what those who protect our country need. With these fixes we’ll have a bill the President will sign.

Shorter Kit: this is very very technical and so we’ve decided to just do away with Congressional review and, while we’re at it, privacy. What Mike McConnell wants, Mike McConnell gets.


In this debate about revising FISA and cleaning up the damage done by the President’s warrantless wiretap program, the Administration expends all its rhetorical focus on what we agree on.

On what terms will this Administration spy on Americans?

The privacy of Americans from government surveillance.

Both Chairmen–Leahy and Rockefeller–have given it their blessing.

As former AG and USA, I oversaw wiretaps, and I learned that with any electronic surveillance, information about Americans is intercepted incidentally.

In domestic law enforcement, clear ways to minimize information about Americans. Prospect of judicial review is an important part of protecting Americans. Bond and Rockefeller have already put into the bill that the authority to review the minimization if the target is an American inside the US. But as will often be the case, the target will often be outside the US. An American could just as easily be intercepted in these situations. This protection (review of minimization) should apply when the intercepted It makes no sense to strip a court based on the identity of the target. It may be that if there’s litigation that a court will decide that it is implied. The mere prospect of judicial review has a salutary effect. The opposite is true as well, when executive officials are ensured that a Court is forbidden to police enforcement, then they are more apt to ignore compliance. Both here, where the FISA bill creates an unheard of limit on Court powers, and in the immunity debate, where we intercede to choose winners and losers. Bad precedent for separation of powers. Those of you who are Federalist Society members should be concerned about this absence of separation of powers. Read more

What Ever Happened to “Upperdown Votes”?

Say what you will about Senator Reid. But right now, he’s in a giant showdown with Mitch McConnell (and, disgustingly, Jello Jay Rockefeller), and I guarantee you’d rather have Reid win than McConnell.

The Republicans have refused to allow an "upperdown" vote on any amendment since the Leahy substitution amendment went through. They’ve called for a cloture vote to vote on the SSCI bill, with just one minor amendment. Which means, if cloture passes, we’ll get screwed by Jello Jay, and Bush will get his wet dream of a spying bill.

Reid, on the other hand, wants a fair hearing for the amendments being offered–including immunity, but also things like oversight on minimization and restrictions on wiretaps of Americans overseas. He basically wants the Senate to have a chance to improve on the work of the SSCI. And though he’s not saying it, several of these amendments, though they propose something the Administration has said would be okay, would really cause Bush to veto the bill.

The idea is cloture allows Bush to conduct his spying as he wants to, with Congressional approval. Whereas Reid wants to deliver what Bush has said he needs, rather than what he really wants but won’t admit to.

The cloture vote is scheduled for 4:30 on Monday. We’ve got three and a half days to get at least three of the following people to flip their votes from the vote on the Leahy substitution:

Bayh (202) 224-5623
Carper (202) 224-2441
Inouye (202) 224-3934
Johnson (202) 224-5842
Landrieu (202)224-5824
McCaskill (202) 224-6154
Mikulski (202) 224-4654
Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274
Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551
Pryor (202) 224-2353
Salazar (202) 224-5852
Specter (202) 224-4254 (What the hell–he had an amendment ignored today, too)

And to convince those Senators who want to be President that this is a vote they need to be present for. (This assumes Rockefeller won’t flip, since he’s co-sponsoring the bill with Bond.) It’s probably also a good idea to touch base with Senators DiFi (202-224-3841) and Whitehouse (202-224-2921) to make sure they remain on the side of the good.

Several years ago, when they were on the wrong side of a close Senate, Republicans insisted on the sanctity of an "upperdown vote." But now, they want to refuse that right to any legislative action save the one Bush supports.

We can win this one. And boy, Read more

Lying to Congress before the Torture Tapes

This morning I suggested that one reason the CIA destroyed the torture tapes was to protect the European countries in which the interrogations took place. I then showed that Mary McCarthy, who was fired from the CIA for allegedly serving as a source for Dana Priest’s black sites article, claims that a high level CIA official (who is likely to have been involved in the torture tape destruction) lied to Congress in the lead-up to the McCain Amendment and, therefore, in the lead-up to the destruction of the terror tapes. Now, I’d like to show how the lies alleged by McCarthy coincide with Jello Jay Rockefeller’s attempts to learn more about the CIA’s torture practices (I’ve updated my torture tapes timeline accordingly).

McCarthy alleges that a senior CIA official lied to Congress on two occasions. Once, to HPSCI (and particularly Jane Harman), in February 2005.

In addition to CIA misrepresentations at the session last summer, McCarthy told the friends, a senior agency official failed to provide a full account of the CIA’s detainee-treatment policy at a closed hearing of the House intelligence committee in February 2005, under questioning by Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the senior Democrat.

And once, to staffers of (presumably) SSCI, in June 2005:

A senior CIA official, meeting with Senate staff in a secure room of the Capitol last June, promised repeatedly that the agency did not violate or seek to violate an international treaty that bars cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees, during interrogations it conducted in the Middle East and elsewhere.

While Harman has only publicly noted her written objection to the terror tape destruction in 2003, Jello Jay has outlined his attempts to exercise oversight over the CIA’s torture.

In May 2005, I wrote the CIA Inspector General requesting over a hundred documents referenced in or pertaining to his May 2004 report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation activities. Included in my letter was a request for the CIA to provide to the Senate Intelligence Committee the CIA’s Office of General Counsel report on the examination of the videotapes and whether they were in compliance with the August 2002 Department of Justice legal opinion concerning interrogation. The CIA refused to provide this and the other detention and interrogation documents to the committee as requested, despite a second written request to CIA Director Goss in September 2005. Read more

Congress and the Torture Tapes

First, let me start with some congratulations. For once, Jane Harman appears to have been on the right side of an issue, in this case warning the CIA (in writing) not to destroy the torture tapes. She’s now demanding that Michael Hayden declassify that letter so we can all see it.

This matter must be promptly and fully investigated and I call for my letter of February 2003, which was never responded to and has been in the CIA’s files ever since, to be declassified.

Congratulations Jane. Glad to have you on the side of light and goodness for the moment.

Harman’s then-counterpart in the Senate (Harman is no longer in HPSCI, which is why she didn’t learn of the tapes when HPSCI did), Jello Jay Rockefeller, appears to have followed the CIA’s script they gave him–until he stopped to think or someone did so for him. On Thursday, as this news was coming out, Jello Jay released the following statement.

While we were provided with very limited information about the existence of the tapes, we were not consulted on their usage nor the decision to destroy the tapes. And, we did not learn until much later, November 2006 — 2 months after the full committee was briefed on the program — that the tapes had in fact been destroyed in 2005.

And then, yesterday he revealed that that story was what the CIA had told him, not what he knew or believed to be true or, more importantly, what the record proved.

Last night, the CIA informed me that it believes that the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee was told of the decision to destroy the tapes in February 2003 but was not told of their actual destruction until a closed committee hearing held in November 2006.

The committee has located no record of either being informed of the 2003 CIA decision or being notified late last year of the tapes having being destroyed. A review of the November 2006 hearing transcript finds no mention of tapes being destroyed.

No wonder Jello Jay always touts the CIA party line–his first instinct is to read from the script they give him.

Meanwhile, Crazy Pete Hoekstra, current Ranking Member of HPSCI, sounds remarkably like Dick Durbin. Here’s Durbin: Read more