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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Senate Votes to Approve Changes to FISA Law: Updated with Roll Call

[Update] It just passed in the house also, we will bring you roll call when we have it. Updated thread here.

Fox has provided the roll call for the Senates vote.

Alabama- Sessions (R) Yes; Shelby (R) Yes.
Alaska- Murkowski (R) Yes; Stevens (R) Yes.
Arizona- Kyl (R) Yes; McCain (R) Not Voting.
Arkansas- Lincoln (D) Yes; Pryor (D) Yes.
California- Boxer (D) Not Voting; Feinstein (D) Yes.
Colorado- Allard (R) Yes; Salazar (D) Yes.
Connecticut-Dodd (D) No; Lieberman (I) Yes.
Delaware- Biden (D) No; Carper (D) Yes.
Florida- Martinez (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.
Georgia- Chambliss (R) Yes; Isakson (R) Yes.
Hawaii- Akaka (D) No; Inouye (D) Yes.
Idaho- Craig (R) Yes; Crapo (R) Yes.
Illinois- Durbin (D) No; Obama (D) No.
Indiana-Bayh (D) Yes; Lugar (R) Not Voting.
Iowa- Grassley (R) Yes; Harkin (D) Not Voting.
Kansas- Brownback (R) Yes; Roberts (R) Yes.
Kentucky- Bunning (R) Not Voting; McConnell (R) Yes.
Louisiana- Landrieu (D) Yes; Vitter (R) Yes.
Maine- Collins (R) Yes; Snowe (R) Yes.
Maryland- Cardin (D) No; Mikulski (D) Yes.
Massachusetts- Kennedy (D) No; Kerry (D) Not Voting.
Michigan- Levin (D) No; Stabenow (D) No.
Minnesota- Coleman (R) Yes; Klobuchar (D) Yes.
Mississippi- Cochran (R) Yes; Lott (R) Not Voting.
Missouri- Bond (R) Yes; McCaskill (D) Yes.
Montana- Baucus (D) No; Tester (D) No.
Nebraska- Hagel (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.
Nevada- Ensign (R) Yes; Reid (D) No.
New Hampshire- Gregg (R) Not Voting; Sununu (R) Yes.
New Jersey- Lautenberg (D) No; Menendez (D) No.
New Mexico- Bingaman (D) No; Domenici (R) Yes.
New York- Clinton (D) No; Schumer (D) No.
North Carolina- Burr (R) Yes; Dole (R) Yes.
North Dakota- Conrad (D) Yes; Dorgan (D) Not Voting.
Ohio- Brown (D) No; Voinovich (R) Yes.
Oklahoma- Coburn (R) Yes; Inhofe (R) Yes.
Oregon- Smith (R) Yes; Wyden (D) No.
Pennsylvania- Casey (D) Yes; Specter (R) Yes.
Rhode Island- Reed (D) No; Whitehouse (D) No.
South Carolina- DeMint (R) Yes; Graham (R) Yes.
South Dakota- Johnson (D) Not Voting; Thune (R) Yes.
Tennessee- Alexander (R) Not Voting; Corker (R) Yes.
Texas- Cornyn (R) Yes; Hutchison (R) Yes.
Utah- Bennett (R) Yes; Hatch (R) Yes.
Vermont- Leahy (D) No; Sanders (I) No.
Virginia- Warner (R) Yes; Webb (D) Yes.
Washington- Cantwell (D) No; Murray (D) Not Voting.
West Virginia- Byrd (D) No; Rockefeller (D) No.
Wisconsin- Feingold (D) No; Kohl (D) No.
Wyoming- Barrasso (R) Yes; Enzi (R) Yes.

[End Update]

16 Democratic Senators, along with Joseph Lieberman, joined the Republicans to to vote to approve the changes in the FISA Law, the vote was 60-28.

The 60 to 28 vote, which was quickly denounced by civil rights and privacy advocates, came after Democrats in the House failed to win support for more modest changes that would have required closer court supervision of government surveillance. Earlier in the day, President Bush threatened to hold Congress in session into its scheduled summer recess if it did not approve the changes he wanted.

The legislation, which is expected to go before the House today, would expand the government's authority to intercept without a court order the phone calls and e-mails of people in the United States who are communicating with people overseas.

As currently written, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act already gives U.S. spies broad leeway to monitor the communications of foreign terrorism suspects, but the 30-year-old statute requires a warrant to monitor calls intercepted in the United States, regardless of where the calls begin or end.

At the White House, where officials had voiced concern about that requirement, a spokesman praised the Senate vote and called on House leaders to quickly follow suit. The legislation will "give our intelligence professionals the essential tools they need to protect our nation," spokesman Tony Fratto said.

Democratic leaders expressed disappointment about the result, but they pointed to language that would require lawmakers to reconsider the key provisions in six months.


Sixteen Democrats and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) joined all 43 Republicans in supporting the measure, which is nearly identical to a proposal prepared by the Bush administration. "We're at war. The enemy wants to attack us," Lieberman said during the Senate debate. "This is not the time to strive for legislative perfection."

Privacy advocates accused the Democrats of selling out and charged that this bill gives the government more authority than it had under a controversial warrantless wiretapping program begun in secret after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Under that program, the government could conduct surveillance without judicial oversight only if it had a reason to believe that one party to the call was a member of or affiliated with al-Qaeda or a related terrorist organization. This bill drops that condition, they noted.

The following Democrats voted for it: Evan Bayh ; Tom Carper ; Bob Casey ; Kent Conrad ; Dianne Feinstein ; Daniel Inouye ; Amy Klobuchar ; Mary Landrieu ; Blanche Lincoln ; Claire McCaskill ; Barbara Mikulski ; Bill Nelson ; Ben Nelson ; Mark Pryor ; Ken Salazar ; Jim Webb .

The FISA Law was 30 years old and was created in time where there wasn't the massive amounts of technology in play as there is now, which made it much more difficult for the agencies responsible for protecting America to do their job.

It needed to be overhauled.

We showed you yesterday the key points of the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell's proposal and the Democrats in the house insist, once again, that they knew better than he did on what the Intelligence agencies needed to do their job.

For Nancy Pelosi, partisanship trumps National Security, once again.

But Republicans cited a letter from McConnell yesterday afternoon calling the proposal unacceptable and warning that it would prevent him from protecting the country adequately from terrorist attacks. That assertion in turn prompted charges by Democrats that the White House had overruled McConnell in an effort to gain political advantage by painting their party as weak on terrorism.

"We did everything he wants," Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said of McConnell, "and now he says he doesn't like the bill. They didn't move the goal post; they moved the stadium." Pelosi herself accused the Republicans of not caring "about the truth."

White House officials disputed Democrats' account of the tentative deal, and Republicans said McConnell's objections were justified by the Democrats' decision to subject more surveillance to oversight by a special intelligence court than the administration wants.

Adding to the drama was Bush's pressure on lawmakers to stay in Washington until a new measure is passed. The president said he opposes Congress's adjournment for its summer recess this weekend unless it approves "a bill I can sign." Presidents have the power to call Congress into emergency session to consider matters of national importance, although the power is rarely used.

"We have worked hard and in good faith with the Democrats to find a solution," Bush said at a news briefing after a meeting with counterterrorism officials at FBI headquarters yesterday morning. "But we are not going to put our national security at risk."

In a time of war when you know, for a fact, that there is a group of people doing everything in their power to mount an attack on the U.S., you do whatever needs to be done to protect yourselves, that is not scare tactics, it should be common sense.

The fact that months have gone by without us having the power to monitor calls coming in or going out, limits the information we now have, especially since al-Qaeda keeps issuing threats for a "summer surprise", whether they have the capability at the moment to actually plan and implement an attack of any magnitude cannot be known by one side or the other, but when madmen SAY they will attack, you must take them at their word and do whatever is necessary to hinder those efforts.

White House officials complained that Democratic proposals do not give them a crucial tool: the ability to begin wiretapping without having to go to a court. "Every day we don't have [this wiretap authority], we don't know what's going on outside the country," a senior White House official said. "All you need is one communication from, say, Pakistan to Afghanistan that's routed through Seattle that tells you 'I'm about to do a truck bomb in New York City' or 'about to do a truck bomb in Iraq,' and it's too late."

The New York Times tells us that since the Senate approved the Bill, that Congress would "probably" follow along.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 —A furious push by the White House to broaden its wiretapping authority appeared on the verge of victory on Friday night after the Senate approved a measure that would temporarily give the administration more latitude to eavesdrop without court warrants on foreign communications that it suspects may be tied to terrorism.

The House is expected to take up the White House-backed measure on Saturday morning before going into its summer recess.

Democratic leaders acknowledged that the bill would probably pass.

Democrats in both the House and the Senate failed to pass competing measures on Friday that would have included tougher judicial checks and oversight on the eavesdropping powers.

The White House and Congressional Republicans hailed the Senate vote as critical to plugging what they saw as dangerous gaps in the intelligence agencies’ ability to detect terrorist threats.

Our safety really shouldn't be a partisan issue, it should simply be an issue of keeping us safe and the sooner the Democrats in the house, join the Democrats that crossed the aisle in the Senate, in understanding this, the better off our country as well as the Congressional approval ratings will be.

Power Line reminds us that the request by the Director of National Intelligence, was sent to Congress in APRIL, so this last minute shuffle and accusations that the President was pushing this at the last minute, is due to the lack of concern or importance shown regarding this by our the Democratically controlled Congress.

Hugh Hewitt makes this point:

At this moment, as has been the case for many months, terrorists abroad are communicating their plans and we are not intercepting those communications though we have the technical ability to do so because of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in control of Congress.

17 Senate Democrats understood that this situation cannot continue. Is Nancy Pelosi so blinded by partisan rage that she will leave the nation blinded rather than pass a bill the Administration demands? The House switchboard is 202-225-3121.

Needless to say the ACLU and the far left liberal bloggers are all atwitter over this, because of course, in their world, no one really wants to attack us, they never have, 9/11 and every attack on us before that, was simply a figment of everyones imagination.

So, one again, we wait on Congress to pass something they have had since April but waited until the last minute to start getting serious about National Security.

Reactions from both sides of the aisle can be found at memeorandum.

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