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Friday, January 25, 2008

Telecom Immunity: 12 Democrats Join With Republicans to Reject Democratic Legislation Omitting Immunity

[Update 2/12/08]--The latest from today, the Senate approves the telecom immunity amendment. This time 18 Democrats joined the GOP to approve it.

[Update below]

Once again highlighting the divisions in the Democratic party, 12 Democratic politicians joined with the Republicans to vote to table a motion, on a FISA bill version, sponsored by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, which would have omitted immunity for telecom companies that have cooperated with the NSA (National Security Agency).

In a last-minute parliamentary maneuver late yesterday, Senate Republican leaders sought to force a vote on Monday to close debate on the bill, which would effectively kill proposed Democratic amendments.

The vote was 60 to 36 and 4 not voting.

The twelve Democrats that crossed the aisle to vote to table the Democratic proposal were:

Bayh (D-IN)
Carper (D-DE)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)

The rejection of that bill leaves the version from the Democrats and Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee alive, which does include telecom immunity.

The White House has been pushing for telecom immunity to be part of the FISA bill which, unless passed by February 1st, which is when the previous bill expires, and this latest vote in rejection of the Democrats bill, a similar one that the House proposes, is being touted by NYT and Wapo as a legisative victory for the White House.

This time problem is one of the Democrats own making when they rushed a bill through so that they could go on recess last August, setting a six month expiration date on it, they did not take advantage of that six months to compromise and negotiate, but left it, once again, to the last minute, and now that date is looming and they are once again finding themselves rushed, cornered and in disarray within their own party.

President Bush said in a statement That the deadline “is just eight days from today, yet the threat from Al Qaeda will not expire in eight days. If Congress does not act quickly, our national security professionals will not be able to count on critical tools they need to protect our nation, and our ability to respond quickly to new threats and circumstances will be weakened.”

The same position they placed themselves in back in August.

This vote shows that the proposals from the Democrats in the House and Senate that do not include telecom immunity have virtually no chance of passing and becoming law, they do not even have a simply majority behind those versions.

Senate intelligence committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.) and other Democrats on the panel have backed the immunity legislation, with Rockefeller stating that the telecom companies "acted in good faith" and "provided assistance because they wanted to stop terrorist attacks," and groups such as have been pushing the Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in series of e-mails to supporters yesterday, to filibuster to block the version of FISA that does include telecom immunity, but Rockefeller told reporters this week that he is confident he has the 60 votes needed to overcome any filibuster.

Because of this latest vote to table the Democratic version not including immunity, further debate on the issue has been postponed until Monday, and if the Senate votes to resume debate, other amendments are on the table by Democrats to try to strip immunity from the FISA bill, from Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), that would make the federal government liable for privacy violations, instead of companies, and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has an proposed amendment that would allow a secret intelligence court to determine whether companies should receive immunity, and lastly, Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D.-Conn.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) also plan to offer a separate measure to strip the immunity.

According to the Washington Post (linked above), in the face of this last 60 to 36 vote, all of those amendments are long shots, with little likelihood of passing.

[Update] The freaks are already freaking out.....LOL

[Update #2] Now Reid is issuing ultimatums about allowing an extention or being held accountable if the FISA bill expires.... LOLOLOLOLOLOL

BOY is that going to backfire, because the Democrats are the majority in the Senate and they control the agenda and just because THEY waited so long and didn't get their asses in gear and get this done sooner, doesn't mean that the Republicans OR the President should pull their worthless hides out of the fire and they shouldn't.

Reid and Co. is responsible for postponing, wasting time on idiotic bill after idiotic bill most of which failed, and they WILL be held accountable for this.

He is huffing and puffing and the only house he will blow down is his own.