FISA Senate Order of Battle

Here’s what the Senate Leadership has cooked up for FISA. Sen. Reid’s office spins this as “the GOP blinked” as they backed down from their insane demand that no amendments be considered, or at least that they all require 60 votes.

From here, it looks somewhat different: the GOP is graciously allowing a majority vote to prevail on small things, or on things where there isn’t a Democratic majority. Big things that the Democrats could win still take 60 votes — a concession that is achieved by the empty threat of a real GOP filibuster…the political equivalent of suicide.

Meanwhile, Sen. Reid’s office also says that Sen. Dodd was involved in these negotiations and implies that he signed off on it. I’d like to hear that from him. I find the details of this agreement a bit opaque, but if I understand it, there is no opportunity for Sen. Dodd to mount his filibuster if his amendment to remove telecom immunity fails.

Note that the Democrats start from a bad position — one imposed on them unnecessarily by Sen. Reid — since the base bill is the Intelligence committee one not the much preferable Judiciary Committee version, and the rules favor inertia.

Has Senator Dodd caved in here? Or does he think he can find 50 votes? Senator Nelson (FL) now says he will vote for Dodd’s amendment, but I don’t think many others of the dozen DINOs who voted to table the Judiciary version of the bill have announced they are switching.

This would be a good time to call your Senator and ask nicely but firmly that Dodd’s amendment to remove the retroactive immunity for illegal wiretaps be removed fromadded to the FISA bill.

(Some people have asked why I focus on this rather than some other, possibly worse, features of the bill that make Richard Nixon seem unambitious. It’s because the others can be undone later. There’s real doubt that this can be.)

Update Thanks to James Tyre for a link to the final version as agreed by the Senate (Current status)

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4 Responses to FISA Senate Order of Battle

  1. PHB says:

    Remember that the suit is merely a means to an end: preventing or at least trying to prevent the administration shredding the details of the operation.

    Looks to me like that particular goal is achieved regardless of what happens in Congress. Disputes over the constitutionality of any immunity would ensure that the cases remained live up to the inaugural.

    From a security professional’s point of view one can only commend the Bush Administration for providing so many valuable practical demonstrations of the need to protect privacy.

  2. Adrian says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the media’s lack of questions to the presidential candidates about global warming. Now that it is down to just a few candidates I would think that this would be a bigger issue.

    Live Earth just picked up this topic and put out an article ( ) asking why the presidential candidates are not being solicited for their stance on the issue of the climate change. I just saw an article describing each candidate’s stance on global warming and climate change on . So obviously they care about it. Is it the Medias fault for not asking the right questions or is it the candidates’ fault for not highlighting the right platforms? Does anyone know of other websites or articles that touch on this subject and candidates’ views? This is the biggest problem of the century and for generations to come…you would think the next president of the United States would be more vocal about it.

  3. Bob King says:

    This has to be a misprint!

    >>>>>>”This would be a good time to call your Senator and ask nicely but firmly that Dodd’s amendment to remove the retroactive immunity for illegal wiretaps be removed from the FISA bill.

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