The FISA Trial Balloon Goes Pop? What's next ...

by: Tim Tagaris

Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 12:48

( - promoted by Chris Bowers)

Once again, I no longer work for Chris Dodd and post here as an unemployed DFH -- Tim

When the Senate returns from Christmas break next week, a large question still lingers: what will become of FISA?

When we last heard from our intrepid defenders of the Constitution, they were floating the idea of an 18-month extension of the FISA, sans retroactive immunity.

Best I can tell today, that was little more than a trial balloon ... and one that just might be about to burst as the clock ticks towards next Tuesday.

You see this kind of thing all the time in the Senate.  When compromise can't be brooked with the Bush Administration, Democrats take to the pages of newspapers to float an idea they've already proposed privately.

We saw it during the last Iraq war debate, when word of the Levin-Reed compromise was discussed on the pages of the New York Times.

Of course, there was no compromise from Republicans and the bill went down to defeat by a 47-47 vote.

It's a weak strategy that hasn't worked at all on the important issues of the day during the Democratic controlled Congress.  To give a poker analogy, it's like Democrats leading out with a weak minimum raise and the Bush Administration coming over the top with an all-in bet .... and then we fold.

This time, the all-in shove came from Bush Spokesman Tony Fratto on January 15th.

"We're exactly three weeks away," he said, "from the date when terrorists can be free to make phone calls without fear of being surveilled by U.S. intelligence agencies".

Maybe there will be a one-month extension.  Maybe.  But I don't see an 18-month elongation without immunity in the cards here.  President Bush has said the expanding FISA and providing retroactive immunity is his *number one priority.*  What have we seen from this President and his congressional enablers in the past seven years to suggest they'll back down now?

So, here's where we'll probably pick up next week:

1.) The Senate returns at 10 AM on the 22nd and there are no votes scheduled.  They will most likely resume debate on the 23rd.

2.) Cloture has been filed on the Motion to Proceed and we are still in the 30 hour period of debate because of Dodd's objection to unanimous consent.

3.) The Motion to Proceed will probably pass overwhelmingly.

4.) Then the Congress goes to amendments.

5.) Dodd and Feingold has an amendment that would strip retroactive immunity from the Intelligence version of the bill.  That will probably lose, sadly.

At which point, the battle falls squarely on the shoulders of Chris Dodd and whatever allies he can muster for a potential filibuster.

And we are back to where we were before the break.

Who will stand with Dodd here?  Can we mount enough public pressure on Democrats to vote for the Constitution?  Can Dodd close the deal with his colleagues?  Are they even willing to listen?

Or will they fight back against his leadership by continuing to throw him under the bus on the pages of Roll Call?

I guess we'll find out next week.

Tim Tagaris :: The FISA Trial Balloon Goes Pop? What's next ...

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Pressure? (0.00 / 0)

Do we have a sense of people who MIGHT stand with Dodd?
The various sites united around Dodd (Sentinel, Open Left, FireDogLake) could ask their readers to call those reps and pressure them to stand with Dodd.

We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join and fight for progressive change.  

Last Time (0.00 / 0)
In the last FISA the cloture vote was 76-10. The 10 people opposing cloture were:

Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Dodd (D-CT)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Wyden (D-OR)

Other key voices in opposition to retroactive immunity on that day were Bill Nelson and Ted Kennedy, though I may be leaving people out.

[ Parent ]
I have a message for Senators (4.00 / 1)
Clinton and Obama. Here it is:

If you expect any help from me and my netroots companions, and we number in the millions, you had better get your Armani-sheathed asses down on the floor of the Senate and stand with Senator Dodd to stop this.

If this goes through and you're not there taking a stand I cannot see how having McCain as President would be worse than having either  of you.

Might be better for the progressive movement as all progressives know  McCain is a ReichWinger.

Many are still in doubt about you.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

Questions (0.00 / 0)
Is this an attempt to get the issue off the table until after the election?  (Shades of 2002 and 2006).

Why not just dare Bush to go back to the old FISA unless he will make public (or at least share with all Senators) why the old one was criticized by the FISA court?  After all, there wwere no attacks before the FISA court ruling either.

And on another subject, the Defense Bill, why doesn't Congress refuse to tske Bush's bait and just declare that they have passed the bill and it became law without his signature because the Senate was in session so go spend the money they already gave him.  I.e., his pocket veto was null and void because Congress was not on recess.  Just tell him he has all the money he said he needed so shut up and go spend it.  Put him in the wrong.  He will look ridiculous.  Just don't play the game for once.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

Do It Before Super Tuesday (4.00 / 2)
Declare the intention to filibuster before Super Tuesday.  Make Clinton and Obama take a public posture before the election, so we all know just where they stand.  Both of these candidates abandoned Lamont for Lieberman in 2006.  Their refusal to support Dodd in filibustering the FISA immunity provisions will make clear that they continue to support Lieberman's policies on domestic security and individual privacy and liberty.  Dodd's declaration helps clarify the primary as well as helping to preserve the Constitution. 

His opponents have disarmed themselves by letting slip their intent to deny him promotion in the Senate.  Let Senator Dodd transcend mere political activity and move on to historical immortality by filibustering this misbegotten legislation.  Dodd's actions will have justified his time pursuing the Presidential nod.  It will confirm his purity when he struck against this bill back in December.  The time for resolve has arrived.

He's already declared it n/t (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Links to past FISA votes? (0.00 / 0)
Do you have the links to past votes on FISA? That way we would know who has to be turned around.

Sen. Rockefeller statement on "three weeks away" comments (0.00 / 0)
Maybe there won't be as much willingness in the Senate Intelligence Committee to move on FISA reform with telco immunity. Sen. Rockefeller issued a press release yesterday essentially calling bulls*it on Bush administration claims about the "three weeks away" from losing surveillance authorization.

In fact, he used the adjectives ludicrous, reckless, inaccurate and inflammatory. Those are rather strong words for usually soft-spoken Sen. Rockefeller.

They call me Clem, Clem Guttata. Come visit wild, wonderful West Virginia Blue

One year left (0.00 / 0)
Olbermann made the point that while the law might expire on February First, its measure and works last another full year.  Is he right about that?  If so, JayRock's right about the inaccurate part.  I'd like to hear and see him say the other words on teevee, though.

PS Welcome home, Tim.  Hope you are rested!

[ Parent ]
Mock Them (0.00 / 0)
This time, the all-in shove came from Bush Spokesman Tony Fratto on January 15th.

  "We're exactly three weeks away," he said, "from the date when terrorists can be free to make phone calls without fear of being surveilled by U.S. intelligence agencies".

Christ on a crutch, when are the Democratic members of Congress going to learn how to mock these buffoons.  All of them should be using the meme that "three weeks" must refer to expected  missed payments the government should be making to the telecoms, a la the FBI problems.  Force the Bush administration to explain why they can allow needed surveillance to lapse whle claiming they need this immunity for the telecoms.


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