Posted by Curt on 12 February, 2008 at 7:56 pm. 16 comments already!


Pretty damn good for a lame duck huh?

After more than a year of heated political wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers after giving legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program.

The Senate rejected a series of amendments that would have restricted the government’s surveillance powers and eliminated immunity for the phone carriers, and it voted in convincing fashion — 69 to 29 — to end debate and bring the issue to a final vote. That vote on the overall billwas an almost identical 68 to 29.

The House has already rejected the idea of immunity for the phone companies, and Democratic leaders reacted angrily to the Senate vote. But Congressional officials said it appeared that the House would ultimately be forced to accept some sort of legal protection for the phone carriers in negotiations between the two chambers this week.

The Senate debate amounted to a proxy vote not only on the president’s warrantless wiretapping program, but also on a range of other issues that tested the president’s wartime authority, from secret detentions to wiretapping issues. The discussion in effect presaged the debate over national security that will play out this year in the presidential and congressional elections.

Senator Dodd, that bastion of liberal idiocy tried his best to stall a bill that will protect this country and failed miserably.

He appears to have flunked the test on the Constitution also:

Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, who spoke on the Senate floor for more than 20 hours in an unsuccessful effort to stall the wiretapping bill, said the vote would be remembered by future generations as a test of whether the country heeds “the rule of law or the rule of men.”

But with Democrats defecting to the White House plan, he acknowledged that the national security issue had won the day in the Senate, even among many of his Democratic colleagues. “Unfortunately, those who are advocating this notion that you have to give up liberties to be more secure are apparently prevailing,” Mr. Dodd said. “They’re convincing people that we’re at risk either politically, or at risk as a nation.”

First, we are NOT giving up any liberties. I doubt Sen. Dodd raises much of a fuss when he goes through customs upon entering and leaving this country. Or when his luggage and personal property is subject to a warrantless search through that same customs line. No, he doesn’t raise a fuss because he understands it is patently legal and justified. Doug Ross gives a great example, using a make believe trip to Egypt to make his point:

In preparation for the trip, of course, you’ll need a passport that represents permission to leave and re-enter the country.

Once you get to the airport, you’ll go through security, where your person and belongings can be searched without a warrant.

And because you’re traveling on an international flight, you and your baggage will also go through Customs.

Customs may elect to detain you, search you and your belongings again, all without a warrant.

Any and all belongs, including your clothing, can be searched.

After submitting to these various — entirely legal — inspections, you are free to continue your trip. Provided, of course, you are not concealing contraband or other illegal items.

But apparently he doesn’t feel the same about calls going into and out of this country, to suspected terrorists at that! Physically leaving, ok for warrantless searches. Electronically leaving, not ok.

Where in the world do these liberals come up with this kind of stuff.

On the telephone company immunity portion of the bill all I can say is well done! Its just a fact that our intelligence agencies do not have the the kind of facilities or ability to effectively carry out the type of international surveillance needed to ensure al-Qaeda or any other group attacks us again. The help of our telephone companies is needed and required to be effective. If those companies have to defend against hundreds of lawsuits because they help to monitor international calls, the burden would just be too much. The Vice President:

As Attorney General Mukasey has said, “Even if you believe the lawsuits will ultimately be dismissed, as we do, the prospect of having to defend against these massive claims is an enormous burden; the companies also may suffer significant business and reputational harm” from allegations they cannot even respond to publicly. One might even suppose that without liability protection for past activities to aid the government, the private sector might be extremely reluctant to comply with future requests from the government — even though the requests are necessary to protect American lives. That risk is unacceptable to the President. It should be unacceptable to the United States Congress. Liability protection, retroactive to 9/11, is the right thing to do. It’s the right way to help us prevent another 9/11 down the road.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report puts into greater detail the reasons why the Senate overwhelmingly voted to give the Telecom industry immunity:

The extension of immunity in section 202 reflects the Committee’s determination that electronic communication service providers acted on a good faith belief that the President’s program, and their assistance, was lawful. The Committee’s decision to include liability relief for providers was based in significant part on its examination of the written communications from U.S. Government officials to certain providers. The Committee also considered the testimony of relevant participants in the program.

The details of the President’s program are highly classified. As with other intelligence matters, the identities of persons or entities who provide assistance to the U.S. Government are protected as vital sources and methods of intelligence. But it reveals no secrets to say–as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, this bill, and Title 18 of the U.S. Code all make clear–that electronic surveillance for law enforcement and intelligence purposes depends in great part on the cooperation of the private companies that operate the Nation’s telecommunication system.


The Committee has reviewed all of the relevant correspondence. The letters were provided to electronic communication service providers at regular intervals. All of the letters stated that the activities had been authorized by the President. All of the letters also stated that the activities had been determined to be lawful by the Attorney General, except for one letter that covered a period of less than sixty days. That letter, which like all the others stated that the activities had been authorized by the President, stated that the activities had been determined to be lawful by the Counsel to the President.

But…..and its a big but. The House isn’t too happy about the Senate version:

Because the immunity provision will likely remain intact, the House is expected to balk. The House measure does not provide immunity, and, in the eyes of the American Civil Liberties Union, provides better protections than the Senate for Americans who might get caught up in the wiretapping dragnet authorized by both the bills and the current law…

But without the Senate’s version of immunity, there are not likely 60 votes in the Senate needed to prevent a filibuster, Republicans said.

So what will the Democrats do?

Why, they will pass another two week extension and as Michael Goldfarb said, continue kicking this can down the road.

Just another star sticker to add to the list of Democrat incompetence. An exceptionally incompetent job at leading this country you Dem’s. Way to go!

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