As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 07, 2008

FISA Developments

Glenn Greenwald sez that the Dems are about to cave on FISA. TPM Muckraker has more and the details are quite different from what Greenwald reported.

The proposal, the contents of which the aide described to me, does not contain a measure granting retroactive immunity to the telecoms for their participation in the warrantless surveillance program. The aide also stressed that the bill "is in the exact same ballpark" in terms of civil liberties protections as the RESTORE Act, the bill which the House passed last year. The draft as described by the aide:

-- requires an audit by the Department of Justice's inspector general of the administration warrantless wiretapping program (not in the Senate bill)

-- has a two-year sunset, as opposed to the Senate's surveillance bill, which has a six-year sunset

-- has an "exclusivity" provision, which specifies that the President cannot circumvent the bill with claimed Constitutional powers (not in the Senate bill)

-- has guidelines to prevent the NSA from tapping foreigners' communications into the U.S. when the real intention is to target a U.S. person, which is called "reverse targeting" (not in the Senate bill)

-- requires pre-approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of the "basket warrants" (surveillance of entire terrorist groups, as opposed to just individuals) allowed by the House and Senate bills, except in emergency situations, where the government must seek approval within seven days after initiating surveillance. (also in contrast to the Senate bill)

The compromise bill does not have immunity, but there's still a possibility that they'll ping-pong the bill back and forth from the House to the Senate to get it back in. I'd have to look further, but the compromise bill does look to me to be "in the ballpark" of the RESTORE Act, which was a good bill. We're not out of the woods on this and all your reps. deserve a call. But it's not clear to me that this is a bad development... yet.

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