And the President Gets What the President Wants, But I Want Nothing That Society's Got

|

Glenn Greenwald has a preview of the FISA bill likely to pass the House. It's as wonderful as you'd expect.

The current draft does not contain telecom immunity (solely for temporary strategic reasons—see below), but incorporates every substantive warrantless surveillance provision of the Rockefeller/Cheney bill passed by the Senate, with several small and worthless exceptions that they'll try to sell to what they obviously think is their stupid base as some vital "concessions":

  • The House bill has a 4 year-sunset provision rather than the Senate's 6 years;
  • It provides for an audit by the DOJ's Inspector General of the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" (the only change that I would describe as something other than worthless);
  • It contains a provision stating that the bill is the "exclusive means" by which the President can conduct electronic surveillance (the same provision that FISA has now which the President violated, and which the Senate refused to insert into its bill); Nancy Pelosi was trying just yesterday, lamely, to sell this provision as some sort of vital safeguard;
  • The bill mandates some minimal re-review of some of the provisions in 2009; and,
  • It contains some mild changes to some of the definitions (the specifics of which I don't know).

The plan of the House leadership is to pass this specific bill in the House, send it to the Senate (where telecom immunity will be added in by the same bipartisan Senate faction that already voted for immunity), have it go back to the House for an up-or-down-vote on the House-bill-plus-telecom-immunity (which will pass with the support of the Blue Dogs), and then compliantly sent on to a happy and satisfied President, who will sign the bill that he demanded.

More reason on FISA here. Headline explained here.

NEXT: TJ Rodgers on John McCain, Reason, Libertarians...and Love

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If this passes, the server at Unqualified Offerings will be overwhelmed by the ensuing flame war.

  2. It’ll pass.

    It’s a good thing the Democrats are better on civil liberties and have the majority in Congress, right?

    AARRRGGHHHH

  3. So, where’s the language that intentional violation of FISA is a criminal offense?

  4. So what happens when the next president takes surveillance a step further and violates this bill the same way bush violated FISA?
    nothing, that’s what.

  5. How does Glenwald know “The plan of the House leadership”? Also, the link is broken, although it contains the proper link inside the broken one.

  6. So what happens when the next president takes surveillance a step further and violates this bill the same way bush violated FISA?
    nothing, that’s what.

    The commenters at Unqualified Offerings keep assuring me that the Republicans won’t let a Democrat get away with any of this in the next administration. Their basic argument seems to be that we shouldn’t worry about the Dems capitulating on civil liberties because the Republicans will protect our civil liberties starting on January 20, 2009, and there’s absolutely no way that even a Democrat with sweeping powers could find a way to abuse them under the watchful eyes of the Republicans.

    Not exactly a statement that fills me with confidence, you know?

  7. Geotpf, RTFA

  8. thoreau,
    are you saying that the republicans stand is that when it comes to constitutional law, they don’t give a fuck,but if politics are at stake, katy bar the door?

  9. Let me be the first to say
    Yaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!
    for the Jam reference.

    Best song ever

    Thanks, Dave!

  10. Why is the monitoring of foreign communications controversial?

  11. Why is the monitoring of foreign communications controversial?

    Because you’re already missing the point so badly that we don’t want any foreign phone calls to distract you.

    Look! Something shiny!

  12. Makes sense to me.

    The Democrats are expecting (and with good reason!) a Democratic president come 2009. They’re probably thinking that Bush can’t do too much damage in the last few months of his career, and things like retroactive immunity will be extremely useful in getting companies to cooperate with extralegal requests from the new Democratic administration.

    Then again, it might just be the Dems rolling over and playing dead again. I don’t know what the hell the Democratic leadership is thinking – first they make big noises about limiting Bush’s powers, pissing off the Republican base and getting Limbaugh to suggest necktie parties on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then they quietly give Bush whatever he wants, pissing off the Democratic base just as much. Pelosi and Reid couldn’t be doing better if they were on the Republican payroll themselves…

  13. So which Congressman promised to fillibuster a while ago?

  14. It’s a good thing the Democrats are better on civil liberties and have the majority in Congress, right?

    AARRRGGHHHH

    I second that. We heard from a lot of left-libertarians that the Democratic control of Congress would be a good thing, because we could work with them on restoring civil liberties and other social issues.

    Looks like that idea is down in the toilet.

  15. “thoreau,
    are you saying that the republicans stand is that when it comes to constitutional law, they don’t give a fuck,but if politics are at stake, katy bar the door?”

    Yes, and if you think that is wrong lets see some evidence.

  16. Love The Jam…hate control freaks.

    “Law and order takes a turn for the worst,
    In the shape of a size 10 boot
    Rape and murder throughout the land,
    and they tell me that you’re still a free man
    Well if this is freedom I don’t understand
    ’cause it seems like madness to me.

    We came out of it naturally the worst,
    Beaten and bloody and I was sick down my shirt,
    We were no match for their untamed wit,
    Though some of the lads said they’ll be back next week.”

  17. I predict it will be passed and…

    ..it will be violated often.

    /Nobody expects the surveillance society.

  18. http://www.cindyforcongress.org/

    ??Congress, under the Speakership of Ms. Pelosi has done nothing but protect the status quo of the corporate elite and, in fact, since she has been the Speaker, the situation in the Middle East has grown far worse, with Congress’ help, and recently more of our essential freedoms were given to BushCo by Congress. That is not what we elected them to do!

    A great majority of citizens in California’s 8th Congressional district believe Ms. Pelosi has lost touch with the people of this district and America and it’s time for our reps that aren’t doing their jobs by upholding their sworn oaths to the Constitution to receive a wakeup call!

    I agree that with over 45 million American uninsured, we need universal health care?.. I agree that the people in the administrative branch are corrupt, as are many members of Congress??.

    Cindy Sheehan, California’s 8th Congressional district truth teller.

  19. Great reference, Dave!

    (seconding Highnumber.)

    when you coming back to Chicago? We have a not-quite-as-big-a-dive recommendation for next time!

    cheers

  20. Actually, since no one in the government will ever face criminal charges for their blatant violations of FISA, it’s probably fair for telecom companies to get immunity. In most cases where the government fucks something up, the left loves to blame private cooperators. The way I see the companies’ involvement is this: Someone from the government asks you to cooperate in a government program, for national security reasons, in the wake of a terrorist attack. Now, if they hadn’t played ball with the government and helped wiretap phones, and there had been a terrorist attack, then I can’t imagine what a field day the left would have with it. In any case, I think people are looking for a goat, and the telecom companies are damn convenient.

  21. So, after they pass this, can they get to work on the bill where they monitor whether you have health insurance so they can force you to buy it?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.