Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Senate Caves on FISA

The Senate passed H.R. 6304 amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, granting telecom immunity. You can view the roll call vote here.

The New York Times reports:

More than two and a half years after the disclosure of President’s Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program set off a furious national debate, the Senate gave final approval on Wednesday afternoon to broadening the government’s spy powers and providing legal immunity for the phone companies that took part in the wiretapping program. [...]

The plan, approved by a vote of 69 to 28, marked one of Mr. Bush’s most hard-won legislative victories in a Democratic-led Congress where he has had little success of late. Both houses, controlled by Democrats, approved what amounted to the biggest restructuring of federal surveillance law in 30 years, giving the government more latitude to eavesdrop on targets abroad and at home who are suspected of links to terrorism.

The issue put Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in a particularly precarious spot. After long opposing the idea of immunity for the phone companies in the wiretapping operation, he voted for the plan on Wednesday. His reversal last month angered many of his most ardent supporters, who organized an unsuccessful drive to get him to reverse his position once again. And it came to symbolize what civil liberties advocates saw as “capitulation” by Democratic leaders to political pressure from the White House in an election year.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who was Mr. Obama’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted against the bill.
Hummmmmmmm ...


Mary Ellen said...
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Mary Ellen said...

For those who continue to support Obama, I hope you realize you've been bamboozled. This change in his position's aren't a surprise to me. If any of the die-hard Obama supporters had bothered to really look at his record in Illinois (not just what HE said his record was), you would have seen that he is NOT a progressive and has always leaned to the right.

So, this so-called Constitutional scholar, the guy who said that he was going to protect your rights just took the first step towards taking them away from you.

I've seen many Obama supporters say that they will vote for him anyway because they think he's better than McCain. Instead of fighting for our rights, they are willing to give them up with a shrug of their shoulders. The thing you CAN do is pull together in force and contact Howard Dean AND every Super Delegate that is throwing their support to Obama and tell them that you don't like being hoodwinked and you want them to support Hillary Clinton. Or is your pride more important than our Constitution? Insist that Howard Dean and his minions NOT take Hillary's name off the ballot for the Convention.

I've seen our Progressive wing of the party call Republicans a bunch of sheep because they continued to support Bush no matter how much he lied to them. Are the Democrats turning into a bunch of sheep now? Words...everything he told you were just words, face it. REAL Democrats would ban together to fight for our rights instead of singing the praises of the man who has used you and then tossed you under his bus.

Oh, and for those who think that Obama will change back to supporting your causes if he is elected President....I have some swampland to sell you.

Infidel753 said...

Are the Democrats turning into a bunch of sheep now?

Well, some of them are. Others are becoming PUMAs. It's one thing or the other.

Mary Ellen said...

Here is the statement by Hillary Clinton regarding her vote on this bill. There is none from Obama. Gee, I wonder why? I imagine it is the same sound of crickets that we'll be hearing from the Obama supporters.

Hillary Clinton Statement on FISA vote.

Dean Wormer said...


You didn't really comment here but the "Hummmmmm..." is certainly providing an implication.

With that in mind and with your years of experience in politics and with Hillary Clinton's record in mind, I'm going to ask you a question and beg you to provide an honest answer.

Do you think that if Hillary Clinton had won the nomination she would've voted differently?

Because I'm pissed at Obama, Harry Reid and the lot of 'em but I truly believe the only way we could've avoided having our candidate vote for this bill would've been to nominate Russ Feingold.

At this point screw 'em all.

Mary Ellen said...

Senator Obama voted with EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN on this FISA bill. Which should indicate that on Iraq, if Obama had been in the senate, he'd likely have voted for the AUMF, just like Hillary and all the other Democrats.

He said he would do what he could to strip the immunity clause from this bill, and yet he didn't vote to do so when it came to any of the amendments, including Dodd's amendment which would accomplish this. He voted with the Republicans. That shows that he didn't even make an effort to strip the telecom immunity. Why would anyone believe he will do it later? Hillary voted for the amendments to strip this from the bill. That says it all.

Honestly, I don't get those who are continuing to make excuses for him! I was wondering how long it would take for the Obama supporters to say that Hillary might have done the same thing as Barack if she were the nominee. It sure didn't take long.

BAC said...

Dean – Hillary Clinton cast one vote that I think ultimately cost her the nomination … her vote on Iraq. I think following this complete primary season if it had ended with Clinton as the nominee she would have voted the same way she did today. I don’t think she would make that same mistake twice. Particularly given that Sen. Schumer voted against it as well. It would be hard to paint both NY Senators as “soft” on terrorism.

My “hummmm” was a statement. I find it remarkable that the Democratic convention is weeks away and yet before it even starts Obama is throwing many in his base under the bus. FISA, abortion, and the ‘faith-based’ initiatives are issues many in his base feel very passionate about. He seems to think we can all be taken for granted, as he appeals to people who are NEVER GOING TO VOTE FOR HIM.

I am not one who likes to bring up Pres. Bill Clinton in these discussions, but let’s use him as an example of why Obama’s strategy is so flawed. Pres. Clinton signed into law a welfare reform bill (more appropriately called a repeal bill) to try and win over conservatives. He had vetoed two previous bills that were virtually the same as the one he signed. And look how the conservatives in Congress responded to this gesture … THEY IMPEACHED HIM.

Obama is crazy if he thinks he is going to be able to get evangelicals to support him. Many evangelical leaders, who have not been that keen on McCain, met recently to discuss backing the presumptive Republican nominee. The only hold out was James Dobson, and HE’S never going to support Obama.

With the problems we are facing in this country the presidential election should have been a cakewalk for Democrats – but right now I’m not at all certain Obama can win. I just got an email this morning from a friend who said “please convince me I need to vote for Obama, because right now I’m thinking about staying home.”

I’m becoming more convinced that progressives/liberals need to be placing our energy and resources on Congressional races – but NOT for the hand-picked candidates of Rahm Emanuel. We need to elect REAL progressive/liberal Democrats. A strong Congress could stop pretty much anything a bad president wanted to do.


John J. said...

Mary Ellen and BAC, I ask you who you would have chosen that would have fought against this bill; according to the voting record, only Dodd and Kucinich have been consistently against it (I may have missed one of the other long tail options or a Republican). When Sen. Clinton was still in the race, she was the one voice among the candidates who avoided the vote on FISA reform the first time while Obama was a member of Dodd's coalition against it. Even two weeks ago she (and Obama) chose not to vote on cloture or speak up against this bill. It isn't that she might have done the same thing, she DID.

Don't get me wrong, I don't defend Obama's vote. I know why he voted the way he did and what changes in the compromise bill he was weighing, but I don't agree with him. He did not vote so that he can spy on us and he did not vote to "move to the right." According to his statement released two weeks ago (before the original cloture vote), he chose not to fillibuster the bill because of the extra Congressional oversight of the program and very clear restrictions from spying on American citizens, at home and abroad, that the new compromise bill has. Obama did vote with every single Republican, but he also voted with half the Democrats, the majority of Democrats if you include the House.

I agree with you BAC that Hillary's vote on Iraq was probably the heart of what cost her the election, but it was only the most recognized of many similar votes - Iraq, Iran, and her silence on the original FISA.

As for the Congress idea, while it holds merit for the first two years, if there is a McCain presidency and the Democrats do stonewall him (something I seriously doubt will happen with Reid and Pelosi in charge...) they will be ousted in 2010 under very true charges of being obstructionist - whether or not they were blocking bad bills/nominations. These charges are part of what helped the Republicans hold on to power in 2002 and '04 and they will be used just as effectively in 2010 unless we are able to set the agenda through a Democratic president.

That isn't to say that we shouldn't concentrate on Congress. The Congressional battles I believe are probably more important than the presidential one, but we can't ignore either if we want solid footing for 2010 and beyond.

BAC said...

John - is it hard for you to breath with your nose so far up Obama's ass?


John J. said...

BAC, did you ignore the fact that I said I disagreed with Obama's vote?

Dean Wormer said...


Actually I think that's an pretty damned good argument that Clinton learned from the AUMF vote and, hopefully, from Kyl-Lieberman and that was reflected in this vote.

I hope you're right because one of my biggest problems with Democratic politicians right now is moderates running in solid blue states. We need flaming progressives in states like New York and California because that's the only way to push the political dialog to the left, imo.

It also provides cover for Democratic politicians in purple states to occasionally do the right thing.

As an example- Feinstein has to go.

I’m becoming more convinced that progressives/liberals need to be placing our energy and resources on Congressional races – but NOT for the hand-picked candidates of Rahm Emanuel. We need to elect REAL progressive/liberal Democrats. A strong Congress could stop pretty much anything a bad president wanted to do.

I could be wrong but I don't think we're too far off from each other with this idea.

BAC said...

John - I couldn't get past "I know why he voted the way he did and what changes in the compromise bill he was weighing..." Pure Obama-apologist language.

Dean - I think we are probably very close on our Congressional election ideas. I always thought Feinstein would be more conservative that I would like, but she has been a huge disappointment.