I called Senator Nelson's (D-Fl) office today to find out what his position was on the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy Amendment to FISA. (I used the great tool set up to help voters make these FISA calls as an experiment and it worked perfectly. Try it, it's free.) The amendment would remove the immunity provision from the bill, making it less bad in one respect, although still bad in others.
Only problem is, the two staff people I spoke to said they did not know how the Senator plans to vote. It seems strange to me that on a matter of such public interest neither the front-line staff nor the person who happened to be in the press office (not the actal press secretary) would know, but there you have it. Maybe Floridians have not been calling in droves. (This is your chance, guys.)
The staff were very charming, took my number, said they'd try to find out and would call me back.
Interestingly, saying I was a law professor got not a spark of reaction. But mentioning that I have a blog…that got their attention.
Update: I received the following email:
Nelson supports new intelligence-gathering legislation that enables the U.S. to get the information it needs to stop terrorist plots – as long as the final version contains protections for our civil liberties, such as requiring a court order before any American is targeted for eavesdropping.
Previously, in committee, he offered an amendment to deny telephone companies immunity for prior acts. That was defeated.
Subsequently, on the Senate floor, he offered an amendment to have the FISA court review requests for immunity. That amendment was defeated, too.
And, last week he co-sponsored an amendment that would allow the federal courts to determine whether the telephone companies acted in good faith and with reasonable belief that compliance with the government requests was lawful. The Senate has not acted on the amendment.
The current version of the legislation requires federal courts to review legal opinions that the telephone companies received from the government. Nelson will support that approach.
United States Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Does that answer the question? And if so, is that a “no” or a “yes”?