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Via TPM, Reid's statement on FISA in full:

The song they're singing in the West Wing tonight...

“I will shortly move to proceed to S 2248, the FISA Improvement Act of 2007. I spoke briefly on this subject earlier, but I want to provide a more complete explanation of the process by which the Senate will consider this important bill. Earlier this year, the Director of National Intelligence came to Congress and alerted us to what he described as a significant gap that had emerged in our nation’s foreign intelligence gathering capacity.

“Members on both sides of the aisle – and from all sides of this important debate – became convinced [became stampeded before the August recess] that this problem was real, and that we had an obligation to address it [because otherwise David Broder might say bad things]. Although we may differ on the solutions required, all Senators – both Democrats and Republicans [no, they don't] – want to ensure that intelligence professionals have the tools they need to keep our country as safe as possible. We worked in good faith with the Administration through July and August to provide those tools in a way that protects the privacy and liberties of law-abiding Americans. Unfortunately, the final bill signed by President Bush fell well short of that goal. [Nice use of passive voice.]

Yeah, and how'd that happen?

“Many other Democrats and I [ineffectually] opposed the so-called Protect America Act [before passing a Republican bill, at midnight, before blowing town on vacation]. That’s why we made sure that it had a six-month sunset so that we could come back to do a better job of ensuring judicial and congressional oversight of these sensitive activities.

As my colleagues know, the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees share jurisdiction over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Both Committees have worked diligently over the past few months, this hard work has resulted in two different versions of legislation to improve FISA – S. 2248 – reported out of the Committees. I consulted extensively with Chairman Rockefeller and Chairman Leahy about the best way for the Senate to consider this subject.

“I have determined that in this situation, it would be wrong of me to simply choose one committee’s bill over the other.

But that's what you did! You made the Intel bill the base text! That's choosing one bill Why?! Read on:

I personally favor many of the additional protections included in the Judiciary Committee bill, and I oppose the concept of retroactive immunity in the Intelligence bill. But I cannot ignore the fact that the Intelligence bill was reported favorably by a vote of 13-2, with most Democrats on the committee supporting that approach. I explored the possibility of putting before the Senate a bill that included elements of both two committee bills. Earlier this week, I used Senate Rule 14 to place two bills on the calendar.

But if the issues are Constitutional, then a 100-1 vote on Intel shouldn't matter, since that's the field in which the Judiciary Committee is expert. So, the real point here is that Reid buys into the frame that intelligence issues are primary, and that Constitutional issues are secondary. That just pins my bogometer. And what does any of that have to do with retroactive immunity for the telcos, pray tell?

“The first – S. 2440 – consists of Titles I and III of the Intelligence bill, but did not include Title II on retroactive immunity. The second bill – S. 2441 – consists of Title I of the Intelligence bill and Titles II and III of the Judiciary bill. But after consulting further with Chairman Rockefeller and Chairman Leahy, a consensus emerged [Cue tiny violin playing The Theme From Process Dodge! Nice use of passive voice, too] among the three of us that the best way to proceed would be by regular order. Both Chairmen agreed with this approach.

“Under regular order, and the rules of the Senate governing sequential referral, I will move to proceed to S. 2248 – the bill reported by each committee. When that motion to proceed is adopted, the work of both committees will be before the Senate. Because of the order in which they considered the bill, [And how did that happen?] the Intelligence Committee version will be the base text, and the Judiciary Committee version will be automatically pending as a substitute amendment.

[Reach me that bucket, wouldja hon?]

“In the weeks since the two committees acted, Senators Rockefeller and Leahy have been working hard to narrow the difference between their two versions of the bill. The ranking Republicans, Senators Bond and Specter, have been included in many of these conversations. I expect that when we begin debate on the bill, there will be amendments to incorporate many of the Judiciary Committee provisions into the Intelligence Committee text.

“In my view, that will make the final product stronger. There is one issue that cannot be resolved through informal negotiation. As some are aware, the Intelligence Committee’s bill provides the telephone companies with retroactive immunity from lawsuits filed by their customers for privacy violations. Many members, myself included, believe that such a grant of immunity is unwise. I expect there will be a full debate on this subject next week.

“Senators Specter, Feinstein, Whitehouse and others are working to craft a compromise that might give the phone companies some relief [that is, the risk the telcos took in breaking the law would be socialized, and the taxpayers would pick up the tab] – but allow the lawsuits to go forward in a manner that would preserve accountability.

And now the part that's threatening my cranial integrity.

In one way or another, we must ensure that President Bush is held accountable for his actions. It is important for the Senate to complete work on this bill next week to allow time for the Senate and House to produce a final bill. Our ultimate goal is a bill that commands broad bipartisan support in the Congress and in the country. The process I just outlined offers us the best opportunity to do so.”

Anybody see a flaw in this reasoning?

Nothing that holds Bush accountable will ever get Bipartisan support!!

[Aaugh! My head! It's exploding! Screams! Smushing sounds.]

UPDATE What they said over at Scholars and Rogues:

I used to support Harry Reid during the darkest days of GOP domination of Congress in the Bush era. He demonstrated gumption and courage when necessary. I don’t know what happened to that man, but this guy is no friend to progressives, the Constitution, or his own party.

In one fell swoop, he is enabling the Republican party agenda of protection for corporate malfeasance, dispiriting and disenchanting the Democratic activist base, and cementing the image in the minds of the public that the Democrats are weak, cowardly pussies who won’t fight for principle even when they can win at it. Nice work if you can get it.

Well, I don't know if he's cementing any image. Just like the last time, they're going to do the dirty at the very last minute, then blow town.

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Tinfoil Hat Boy's picture
Submitted by Tinfoil Hat Boy on

I'd love to think this was Reid theatrics, some nice kabuki before he offers the better version to the floor. But after all the Democrat holds he has ignored or worked around (Wyden's, for example) and his absolute reverence for the torture-loving holds of Coburn, I feel in my bones the jig is up. The fucking jig has been up for such a long time, I can't believe that I ever thought otherwise.

We will go to Christmas recess having granted the telecoms immunity, and having fully funded Bush's war.

I can't believe that I parted with semolians to any organization affiliated with these assholes. I have sent messages to the DNC, the DSCC, and the DCCC that until there is leadership change and party discipline on important matters, not a cent more.

It may not do any good, but somebody better hear that I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Complain here (won't do a damn bit of good, but what the hell):


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