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FISA: GOP Blinks (Somewhat)…Let’s Get To Work

I’m sure Dick Cheney’s admission that telecoms handed over private communications records without a warrant to the Bush Administration had nothing at all to do with this.  (H/T to C&L.):

…But the moment he says anything else, any doubt that the telecoms knowingly broke the law, is out the window, and with it, any chance that even the Republicans who are fighting this like they were trying to fend off terrorists using nothing but broken beer bottles and swear words couldn’t consent to retroactively immunize corporate criminals.

Which is why the Vice President probably shouldn’t have phoned in to the Rush Limbaugh Propaganda-Festival yesterday.

Sixth sentence out of Mr. Cheney’s mouth: The FISA bill is about, quote, “retroactive liability protection for the companies that have worked with us and helped us prevent further attacks against the United States.”

Oops.  Mr. Cheney is something of a loose cannon, of course.  But he kind of let the wrong cat out of the bag there.

Good one, Dick. In my business, we like to call this an "admission against interest."

The Senate agreement?  Via CQ (sorry, no link), a bit of procedure is explained:

…After days of complex negotiations over a floor procedure for legislation (S 2248) rewriting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA, PL 95-511), Senate leaders reached agreement Thursday evening on which amendments to allow.

The Senate is now set to hold a debate, beginning Feb. 4 and lasting two days, on a dozen amendments that will address some of the bill’s most controversial aspects.

McJoan has more, including descriptions of the amendments.  cboldt lines out the vote requirements for each.   Marcy parses Dick(Hmmm…that doesn’t read well.)  And, for fun, Glenn has some thoughts on "bi-partisanship" and "trust us" that are quite applicable here.  UPDATE:  BooMan has a good summary as well.  (H/T snowbird42)  Some ideas for conversations with your Senators here as well.  And EW walks through more possibilities.

It is worth saying, again, that a lot of this could have been avoided had Majority Leader Harry Reid opted to use his power under Rule 14 to use the SJC bill as the base bill — or the House-passed RESTORE Act, which includes the good amendment provisions already. But we’ve run a flood under that bridge, and can’t go back. The good news in all of this is that the GOP blinked, and with some serious work, we may be able to pull off some of these amendments.  So let’s get to work.

Let’s hit the phones and FAXes. Numbers for Senators are here, including click-thrus to their web pages which include phone and fax numbers for DC and local offices. Also, ProjectVoteSmart has a great compilation of information that you can search by zipcode. Credo has a fantastic tool for contacting your representatives.  EFF has a great tool as well. 

You can send FAXes for free through a number of internet spots, including  FreeFax, eFAX, faxzero, and any number of other places if you don’t have a FAX of your own.  (Do read the fine print on all of these before using them.)

Toll-free numbers for Congress from Katymine:

1 (800) 828 – 0498
1 (800) 459 – 1887
1 (800) 614 – 2803
1 (866) 340 – 9281
1 (866) 338 – 1015
1 (877) 851 – 6437

Every Senator needs a call, so please take the time to call or FAX yours today.  Several Senators could use extra contact on this — uncommitted Democrats, members of the Gang of 14, and a number of wavering Republicans.  Tell them you want (1) NO telecom immunity, (2) NO basket warrants or reverse targeting — this violates the 4th amendment, (3) sequestration of illegally harvested evidence, and (4) a 4 year sunset.  That’s at a minimum.  It is well past time that respect for the rule of law and the role of Congress in the balance of powers was restored:



Bayh (202) 224-5623 (202) 228-1377
Carper (202) 224-2441 (202) 228-2190
Obama (202) 224-2854 (202) 228-4260
Inouye (202) 224-3934 (202) 224-6747
Johnson (202) 224-5842 (202) 228 5765
Landrieu (202)224-5824 (202) 224-9735
McCaskill (202) 224-6154 (202) 228-6326
Mikulski (202) 224-4654 (202) 224-8858
Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274 (202) 228-2183
Clinton (202) 224-4451 (202) 228-0282
Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551 (202) 228-0012
Pryor (202) 224-2353 (202) 228-0908
Salazar (202) 224-5852 (202) 228-5036
Specter (202) 224-4254 (202) 228-1229
McCain (202) 224-2235 (202) 228-2862
Graham (202) 224-5972 (202) 224-3808
Warner (202) 224-2023 (202) 224-6295
Snowe (202) 224-5344 (202) 224-1946
Collins (202) 224-2523 (202) 224-2693
Sununu (202) 224-2841 (202) 228-4131
Lieberman (202) 224-4041 (202) 224-9750
Byrd (202) 224-3954 (202) 228-0002
Lincoln (202)224-4843 (202)228-1371
Chambliss (202) 224-3521 (202) 224-0103
Coleman (202) 224-5641 (202) 224-1152
Dole (202) 224-6342 (202) 224-1100
Smith (202) 224-3753 (202) 228-3997
Stabenow (202) 224-4822 (202) 228-0325
Kohl (202) 224-5653 (202) 224-9787
Feinstein (202) 224-3841 (202) 228-3954

(Video above is the Olbermann special comment on telecom immunity.)

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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