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The Next Stage Of The FISA Battle


One of my favorite Schoolhouse Rocks — I’m Just A Bill…

As I said earlier, there are a lot of possibilities on the legislative front on the FISA bill. While we are waiting to find out for certain which one will be exercised, there are a number of things that we can do.

We have an opportunity to influence the next steps, and we should do so as much as possible to keep the momentum moving in a constitutional direction. Here is what we are working with thus far (from Sen. Reid’s press conference today, this is a partial transcript that I obtained via e-mail):

QUESTION: Senator, on FISA, two of your committees have approved vastly different bills. Which of the…

REID: I, first of all, wouldn’t say they’re vastly different. I thought what the work of the Judiciary Committee was exemplary. I think that’s what should happen. And we have a process now where it will be brought to the Senate floor.

As I understand the process, we’ll have the Intelligence bill. There will be a substitute offered by the Judiciary Committee. We’ll have a vote on that. That’s the way things should be.

QUESTION: Which of those do you support?

REID: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Which measure do you support, the Intelligence Committee or…

REID: Well, we’ll — to be very honest with you, I have the broad outlines of what the Judiciary Committee did. They finished it this morning. And I haven’t studied it.

But I think that we need to take a real close look at the immunity provisions. They caused a lot of consternation within the caucus….

I am hearing through back channels that negotiations are still ongoing and that parliamentary procedure on this is far from clear, and that no firm decisions have been made as to how to proceed. Note that Sen. Reid mentions the SJC bill expressly, and says nothing at all about the Intel bill. I’m taking that as an indication of preference, but one that it is not set in stone. The bottom line: We have a window of opportunity to influence the direction of this, because the parliamentary requirements of procedure on this are still unclear. And we should take full advantage of it.

Here’s what could make the biggest difference in terms of shifting the momentum from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate as a whole:

— As Prof. Foland pointed out in the last thread, calling Sen. Harry Reid’s office — 202-224-3542 — in support of the SJC bill is a good idea. Line out why you support it: no basket warrants due to the 4th Amendment, no telecom immunity, follow the constitution and the rule of law.

— Every Senator needs contact starting today from their constitutents on this issue. You can find direct dial numbers for the DC offices, and links to web pages with FAX numbers and/or local office contact information on this handy web page. Democratic Senators, especially, need to hear from their constitutents that the FISA issue and standing up for the constitution and the rule of law is important. And they need to hear from you today.

— There are GOP Senators who live in predominantly libertarian, civil liberties-oriented, and/or rule of law oriented states that need to hear from their constituents starting today. Please, pass this information along to every local blog you know of in the following states and let’s try to turn up the heat on the following as much as we can:

State Name Phone Fax
NH John Sununu (202) 224-2841 (202) 228-4131
ME Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344 (202) 224-1946
ME Susan Collins (202) 224-2523 (202) 224-2693
NH Judd Gregg (202) 224-3324 N/A
NE Chuck Hagel (202) 224-4224 (202) 224-5213
MN Norm Coleman (202) 224-5641 (202) 224-1152
NV John Ensign (202) 224-6244 (202) 228-2193
IN Richard Lugar (202) 224-4814 (202) 228-0360
OR Gordon Smith (202) 224-3753 (202) 228-3997
SD John Thune (202)224-2321 (202)228-5429
PA Arlen Specter (202) 224-4254 (202) 228-1229
VA John Warner (202) 224-2023 (202) 224-6295
IA Charles E. Grassley (202) 224-3744 (515) 288-5097
OH George Voinovich (202) 224-3353 (216) 522-7097

— More information is available here from the ACLU.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com