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FISA Debate In The House

Debate on the FISA bill on the floor of the House will be coming up shortly. It will begin with a rules vote and then debate onthe bill itself will proceed after that. The rules vote is critical on whether the bill vote will proceed — and I have no good idea where folks stand on the rules vote, although Pete Hoekstra seemed pretty confident about its outcome this morning on C-Span.

Will be following this as it happens here. Ryan Singel sums up my disgust this morning. If you haven’t called your Representative, please do so now.

And consider chipping in for our campaign to take action on this — if we don’t hold people accountable for their actions on this, who else will? We’re well over $245,000 this morning and climbing and we promise to put it to very good use. More to follow…

10:50 am ET: Conyers speaking on the floor of the House now — regarding the RESTORE Act being a good bottom line, and how the current proposed bill has issues although it is better than the initial proposal from the WH. Walking through the issues with Title I and Title II of the bill. Requirement for individual warrants and probable cause determinations is an improvement in this legislation.

Allows for AG and Dir. of Intel. that in emergency circumstances can approve emergency surveillance with later oversight — to be used only very rarely, and agreement that it will not be used routinely. [CHS notes: because that’s worked out SO well with the FBI of late…]

Conyers says that Title II of the bill has substantive problems. Changes substantive standard of legal liability, and does so on a retroactive basis. I appreciate that the final bill does not send the matter to a new secret court — unfortunately, these improvements do not redeem the bill. Title III allows for further inquiry, which would hopefully allow for oversight to reveal what had been done. Strenuously objects to provisions allowing for wiretaps of any Americans under this without adequate safeguards for civil liberties. Says needs five days to look at this since it was only released yesterday — need more discussion, debate and study.

Lamar Smith luvs it. Gosh, it makes him feel cozy and safe. Like a fuzzy sweater or a teddy bear, perhaps.

Reyes up now — he’s a sponsor of hr 6304. This represents the culmination of more than a year’s work, together with his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee. [CHS notes: Not in the last few weeks, from what I’ve heard, the Judiciary committee was shut out of discussions to keep them from objecting to Title II and III provisions.] Endorsed by Dem. Caucus chair and Blue Dog coalition, and Steny Hoyer who led this effort — Reyes thanks all of them. [CHS notes: I may barf.] Post 9/11 blah blah blah — Congress doesn’t grant immunity, the district court will. [CHS notes: Dude, we can read exactly how yo are passing the ball directly to the court so that they are required to grant immunity. Reading comprehension is not the problem — the fact that you are okay with doing this IS.]

Pete Hoekstra lurvs it too.

Conyers has 10 1/2 minutes. Recognizing Nadler, Lofgren, Scott, Jackson Lee, Kucinich, and a host of others.

Scott: Opposes HR 6304. Allows widespread tapping, mass untargeted surveillance of communications coming into the US without any finding of terrorism or other particularized reasons. Only court review is whether the government certifies that the process is followed. Can be done under emergency provision before the court acts, and can still be done even if the Court object if the government appeals. We can protect national security and protect civil rights — there needs to be meaningful court review and this bill should be rejected.

Forbes: Sun comes up in America. There are all too many people who criticize this nation trying to tear it down. What terrifies us are people who try to harm Americans.

Skelton: Pleased we’ve resolved this issue through bi-partisan work. Gosh, he loves Hoyer and Pelosi. More rigorous review, gives courts meaningful role in determining liability of telecoms. Supports intel needs of those who wear the uniform.

Thornberry: boogah boogah booogah terrorists are scary boogah boogah boogah political issue blah blah blah

Lofgren: Title II means no accountability — they are deeply flawed, including the telecom immunity. Cannot support this. Review is an empty formality that will lead to a preordained conclusion on immunity, and Lofgren is appalled. Judiciary will act as a rubber stamp for the executive — this is all the more aggrevating because immunity already exists under the law where the company has acted in accordance with the law’s requirements.

Pence: Strong 4-year extension on our surveillance laws — gosh, I luv the Republicans who negotiated this and the patriotic telecom companies who aided our nation after 9/11. [CHS notes: No word about the ones who capitulated to the WH demands for taps on every and all emails and other streaming communications taps in the US BEFORE 9/11 — or why information gathered there didn’t prevent 9/11.]

Harmon: Her e-mail box is full and her phones are ringing off the hook: Don’t shred the US constitution. Says she concludes the compromise is better than the prior bad law.

Boehner: Sounds like he had dental surgery this morning. Hope someone has a spare hankie available, just in case it’s needed. Gosh this bill protects the American people. boogah boogah boogah pre-9/11 mentality is baddddddd boogah boogah scary terrorists blah blah blah retroactivity is awesome boogah boogah boogah.

Nadler: Quoting Walker in the AT&T case — good on him. Telecom’s action cannot be reasonably seen as constitutional based on the plan reading of the law. Urges a no vote on this legislation.

Heather Wilson:  Didn’t find out about the Administration’s actions until the NYTimes revealed it, even though her subcommittee was supposed to have oversight on this.  Putting any limitations on the Administration’s actions made three soldiers get kidnapped in Iraq.  [CHS notes:  I’m not kidding, she just said that.  If the Administration cannot read the plain language of the FISA law, whose fault is that?  there is a 72-hour emergency window that allows for an immediate tap already written into the law.]   

Jackson Lee:   We did have legislation that would protect the constitution and provide security for troops and the intel community — that was the RESTORE Act.  Opposes HR 6304 — very hard to put lipstick on a pig.  This allows for mass, unatrgeted surveillance.  The government can now surveil you for 7 days without any approval, if the FISC denies the tap, the government can appeal and allow for 60 days of continued surveillance pending appeal.  This is not protection.

Franks:  Jihadist terrorism and nuclear proliferation…boogah boogah boogah… 

Am going to start a fresh thread… 

(YouTube: Everything Sucks by Reel Big Fish)

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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