A Ray of Hope on FISA

House leaders plan to introduce Substantially improved FISA bill. Not a good bill, but not an evil bill either. Notably it doesn't have a telecom immunity provision. In other words, much better than anything to emerge from the Senate so far.

Could it be that the results from the recent Illinois special election — in which the losing GOP candidate tried to demagog on FISA and fell flat — have stiffed a spine or two?

Actually, the House text has a pretty clever move in it: the bill makes clear beyond doubt that telecoms may submit classified exculpatory evidence to the court reviewing the legality of their behavior notwithstanding the administration's assertion of state secrets privilege. As this alleged lack was often cited as a major reason for the immunity provision, there's one fewer specious argument available for immunity — and a lifeline for anyone who'd like to climb down from that increasingly unpopular viewpoint.

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