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How they voted on FISA telecom immunity

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, July 9th, 2008 at 1:38 pm in Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Civil liberties, Dianne Feinstein, General, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Senate today passed a bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 so that telecommunications companies which cooperated with the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping will receive retroactive immunity from lawsuits. The final vote came after several amendments seeking to strip out or curtail that immunity were defeated.

And how did the Senators whom Californians presumably find most important cast their votes? Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, R-Ariz., was absent for the vote, out on the campaign trail. And as for Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:

S.Amdt.5064, introduced by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., to strike the section of the bill granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program:
Boxer: Yes
Feinstein: No
Clinton: Yes
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 32-66 (defeated)

S.Amdt.5059, introduced by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to limit retroactive immunity for providing assistance to the United States to instances in which a federal court determines the assistance was provided in connection with an intelligence activity that was constitutional:
Boxer: Yes
Feinstein: No
Clinton: Yes
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 37-61 (defeated)

S.Amdt.5066, introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., to delay any claim of retroactive immunity until 90 days after the date the final report of the Inspectors General on the President’s Surveillance Program is submitted to Congress:
Boxer: Yes
Feinstein: Yes
Clinton: Yes
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 42-56 (defeated)

Motion to invoke cloture (ending debate and bringing the bill to a vote) on H.R. 6304, amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978:
Boxer: No
Feinstein: Yes
Clinton: No
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 72-26 (passed)

On passage of H.R.6304, amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978:
Boxer: No
Feinstein: Yes
Clinton: No
Obama: Yes
Final tally: 69-28 (passed)

American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero calls the bill “not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American;” the ACLU plans to sue to challenge it as soon as President Bush signs it into law.

UPDATE @ 5:10 P.M. WEDNESDAY: The liberal blogs are abuzz with dissatisfaction…

Glenn Greenwald at Salon: “With their vote today, the Democratic-led Congress has covered-up years of deliberate surveillance crimes by the Bush administration and the telecom industry, and has dramatically advanced a full-scale attack on the rule of law in this country.”

DownWithTyranny: “…enough Democrats were bribed by the telecom companies to hand Bush the victory he lusted for…”

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster: “…gutted the Constitution… trashed the Fourth Amendment…”

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake: “We need to punish those who stood against us.”

So it would seem Dianne Feinstein might have some ‘splainin’ to do to many of her constituents… but apparently not to the California Democratic Party, even though Chairman Art Torres late last year said Feinstein wouldn’t vote this way:

I said I think it’s important that you hear this from me because there’s also concern about the telecom immunity issue which will come before the senate judiciary committee. Don’t believe me, ask my friend Senator Dodd, who will tell you that she led the effort along with him to make sure that that wasn’t in the FISA bill that emerged from the senate judiciary committee. That bill as you know does not include the telecom immunity issue, which was a very important issue for me, and I’m proud that she listened, because she does.

So I contacted the party today to see if Torres would comment on today’s votes. I got a callback from party political advisor Bob Mulholland, who noted Obama voted for immunity today too as a compromise. “Our attitude as a political party is, let’s win the election and we can start cleaning up the constitutional mess Bush gave us,” Mulholland said.

With retroactive immunity, that is.

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  • Linda Sutton

    RECAP of how the House voted on this BEFORE it went to the Senate:
    THE CALIFORNIA PATRIOTS who had the courage to stand up and vote AGAINST the FISA bill authorizing surveillance over just about everything AND giving telecoms retroactive immunity from prosecution for not requiring warrants are: Xavier Becerra, Lois Capps,Susan Davis, Anna Eschoo, Sam Farr, Bob Filner,Mike Honda,Barbara Lee,Zoe Lofgren,Doris Matsui, George Miller,Grace Napolitano, Lucille Roybal-Allard,Linda Sanchez, Loretta Sanchez, Hilda Solis, Jackie Speier, Mike Thompson, Maxine Waters, Henry Waxman,Diane Watson, and Lynn Woolsey. THESE I WOULD CATEGORIZE AS PROGRESSIVE.

    Eleven CA Democrats and 19 Repubs voted yea on FISA and contributed to the final destruction of the 4th amendment as well as creating a two-tier legal system to retroactively re-define criminal behavior.

    The DEMOCRATS who JOINED THE REPUBLICANS to form a majority to take away our rights and should be CENSURED for this vote include: Joe Baca, Howard Berman, Dennis Cardoza, Jim Costa, Jane Harman,Jerry McNerney, Nancy Pelosi, Laura Richardson, Adam Schiff, Ellen Taucher,and Brad Sherman.

    ALL CA REPUBLICANS voted FOR FISA.
    Of course, we should be asking WHY did so many DEMOCRATS join them? Ask yours if he/she voted for this, please.

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