FISA reform passes the House

posted at 2:50 pm on June 20, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

As I predicted yesterday, the compromise bill on FISA reform easily passed in the House today, 293-129.  The bill, which provides for court-supervised immunity for telecoms that cooperated with the NSA over the past six years, will quickly get adopted by the Senate and go to the White House for Bush’s signature.  One interesting note can be seen in the breakdown of the House vote:

The measure was approved by 293 votes against 129, despite opposition from many Democratic legislators and reservations by expressed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

All of the chamber’s Republican members voted in favor, as did 105 Democrats.

Normally, the majority party shows great reluctance to bring bills for a vote when a majority of their own caucus doesn’t support it.  Pelosi brought the compromise to the floor anyway, and watched as her party fractured over the issue.  Does that indicate that Steny Hoyer overruled Pelosi?  No; she voted for the compromise in the end.

The AFP got one fact incorrect.   One Republican did vote against the compromise, Tim Johnson of Illinois’ 15th CD.  His website doesn’t indicate why he objected to the bill.  I called Rep. Johnson’s office to ask, and they promised to send me a statement.  I’ll update this post when I receive it.

Andy McCarthy is pleased (via Michelle):

Here is the bottom line: Our intelligence agencies will once again have authority to conduct aggressive monitoring of foreign powers, including terrorist organizations, which threaten the United States. In particular, this will be the case overseas — that is, when foreigners located outside our borders communicate with each other. The Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency will essentially be able to collect foreign intelligence without interference from the courts, the status quo ante that was U.S. law for decades before being upset by a secret court ruling last year.

Moreover, the telecommunications companies which patriotically complied with administration requests for assistance in the emergency conditions that obtained after nearly 3,000 Americans were mass-murdered in the 9/11 attacks will receive retroactive immunity. That is, they will be relieved of the potential billions in liability they (and their shareholders and customers) faced in scores of lawsuits.

Moreover, we can now get back to ensuring that we have all of our capabilities focused once again on attack prevention, this time with bipartisan support and the active engagement of Congress.  That’s good news for everyone.


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Ed broke hot air! :P

lorien1973 on June 20, 2008 at 2:52 PM

You can comment on any post, as long as it’s this one.

Viewtifulgare on June 20, 2008 at 2:54 PM

It’s really a shame that we have to fight America’s enemies with one hand while fighting the supporters of America’s enemies at home (or the ones who see a political point to be gained by opposing the fight) with the other hand. Someday history will render a verdict on the Quisling Democrats of this era, and it won’t be pretty.

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 2:55 PM

WTH Ed?? Did you divide by zero?

carbon_footprint on June 20, 2008 at 2:56 PM

Congratulations, Pres. Bush.

maverick muse on June 20, 2008 at 2:57 PM

Does that indicate that Steny Hoyer overruled Pelosi? No; she voted for the compromise in the end.

Interesting how she was so against it and all of a sudden she voted for it. Very odd.

upinak on June 20, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Dividing by zero can be dangerous.

apollyonbob on June 20, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Alright, who broke the blog?

amerpundit on June 20, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Ed broke hot air! :P

lorien1973 on June 20, 2008 at 2:52 PM

Who hasn’t broke it at one time or another?

upinak on June 20, 2008 at 2:58 PM

I’m starting to get worried about all those people trapped in the threads that disappeared. How long will their air hold out?

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 2:59 PM

The Obamessiah can lower sea levels AND “unpost” HotAir entries.

innominatus on June 20, 2008 at 3:04 PM

I’m sure these people will have to send in pictures with sadder faces now that it has passed.

My favorite pic: Gitmo and immunity all rolled into one.

Complete7 on June 20, 2008 at 3:06 PM

Moreover, we can now get back to ensuring that we have all of our capabilities focused once again on attack prevention, this time with bipartisan support and the active engagement of Congress.

‘Cuz, you know, when the Dems sign on to something like this, they never come back and say that it was a mistake, or that they were lied to or somehow duped into voting for it.

Kafir on June 20, 2008 at 3:08 PM

Viewtifulgare on June 20, 2008 at 2:54 PM

Very Ford-esque! Thanks for the laugh…

Rhinoboy on June 20, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Complete7 on June 20, 2008 at 3:06 PM

Quite an interesting bunch there. Here’s my favorite. A Constitutional scholar, to be sure.

amerpundit on June 20, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Republican’s enemies are terrorists.
Democrat’s enemies are Republicans.

Rhinoboy on June 20, 2008 at 3:12 PM

Oh, wait. This guy isn’t bad, either.

amerpundit on June 20, 2008 at 3:13 PM

Amazing how that dumb ole lame duck “W” keeps getting his way against the like of the great minds like Pelosi, Murtha Reid, et al. Yesterday is was funding with no withdrawal dates and today FISA.

I do see that my RINO Congressman, Walter “Surrender” Jones didn’t vote. Wonder if that was because he was out screwing off on a Friday or trying to make a statement?

Dingbat63 on June 20, 2008 at 3:18 PM

Rhinoboy on June 20, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Well, I really have no place judging…I’m a graphic and web design student, and I couldn’t pull off what these guys do. It’s all in good fun, Ed!

Viewtifulgare on June 20, 2008 at 3:20 PM

Nekkid emo girl hates teh telecom immunity.

Wrong issue buddy.

“I can haz terist talkn to each other.”

Complete7 on June 20, 2008 at 3:20 PM

Dingbat63 on June 20, 2008 at 3:18 PM

If I were them, I wouldn’t be so quick to trot out the “Bush is a dummy” meme…what does that imply about these supposedly enlightened progressives?

Viewtifulgare on June 20, 2008 at 3:21 PM

Oh, wait. This guy isn’t bad, either.

amerpundit on June 20, 2008 at 3:13 PM

Oh good, more Photoshop fodder!

Dave Shay on June 20, 2008 at 3:22 PM

What will the NY Times and WaPo do now? Back to the drawing board I guess.

Rick on June 20, 2008 at 3:33 PM

Moreover, the telecommunications companies which patriotically complied with administration requests for assistance in the emergency conditions that obtained after nearly 3,000 Americans were mass-murdered in the 9/11 attacks will receive retroactive immunity.

This is a steaming load of authoritarian government-trusting B.S.

The illegal spying went on for years. It wasn’t a short period of “emergency conditions.” This was (and likely still is) sustained illegal spying on American citizens on American soil. Furthermore, the immunity sets a precedent for law-breaking at the government’s request. Break the law with a “note” from Daddy Government and he’ll make sure you don’t face consequences for your crimes.

And only those private actors who can show, by “substantial evidence” that they were complying with a written request from government will be afforded immunity.

McCarthy would support his own execution if the assassin could show a note from the government requesting the action. That’s authoritarianism — the power for the government to break the law.

Mark Jaquith on June 20, 2008 at 3:35 PM

Blue Dog Democrats were putting pressure on the House leadership. But more importantly were the surveillance projects that were taking place before the old law expired. They were soon to expire leaving U.S. intelligence agencies in the dark. Democrats were smart enough to know a terrorist attack because we were blind would be (justly) dropped into their laps.

One of the Democrats who voted against the bill was Rep. Steve Kagen (WI) who in 2006 said he’d fight terrorist on a plane. Obviously he’d rather do that than prevent them from getting on the plane.

seanhackbarth on June 20, 2008 at 3:36 PM

Sorry, forgot the Kagan video clip.

seanhackbarth on June 20, 2008 at 3:36 PM

Did they pardon Benedict Arnold while they were at it?

alphie on June 20, 2008 at 3:38 PM

I can hear the thunderous stampede of petrified jihadists fleeing the country already.

Feel safer yet?

Didn’t think so.

LimeyGeek on June 20, 2008 at 3:41 PM

Me thinks they did it because they wanted to abuse the power now that they may be fully taking over. Remember that is the only reason. you will see real abuse.

tomas on June 20, 2008 at 3:49 PM

FDR made sure that the press did not print bad war news or photos. The Democrats sure have come a long way from their great icon.

Freedom and justice for all the enemies of the great satan.

Hening on June 20, 2008 at 3:53 PM

The illegal spying went on for years. It wasn’t a short period of “emergency conditions.” This was (and likely still is) sustained illegal spying on American citizens on American soil.

Mark Jaquith on June 20, 2008 at 3:35 PM

Okay, I’ll bite.

As an attorney with some modest experience in federal communications law, I have this weird need to see a citation to authority when someone makes an accusation of criminality. Which specific law did the Bush Adminstration violate by international calls to or from persons in the U.S.?

Waiting…

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:01 PM

Which specific law did the Bush Administration violate by monitoring international calls to or from persons in the U.S.?

Please excuse the typo.

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:05 PM

Mark Jaquith on June 20, 2008 at 3:35 PM

Really? The government broke the law?

Please cite which action broke which section of the Code of Federal Regulations, and also which person in which agency was responsible.

You see, I don’t think the telecoms could find any section of the CFR which they were breaking – so I ask you this:

When the government requests a corporation to do something, and gives them a letter explaining that the request is legal, when should that corporation be allowed to ignore them? If the government tells an ISP to give them the name of someone downloading kiddie porn, should the ISP ignore them? When the SEC demands accounting records, should the corporations simply tell them to piss off?

What exactly is your set of circumstances wherein a corporation should be encouraged to ignore a request from the United States government, when the gov’t has provided paperwork assuring them the request is legal?

Also, if the gov’t ordered wiretaps, and the company complied, and those wiretaps are truly illegal, then who should be held accountable?

apollyonbob on June 20, 2008 at 4:12 PM

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:01 PM

I see we’re on the same wavelength there, haha.

apollyonbob on June 20, 2008 at 4:12 PM

I believe the Bushies were listening in on any American phone calls they wanted to, Cicero.

That’s why there corporate cronies needed immunity.

Let’s hope the goobers at the NSA erase all the records before Obama takes over…

alphie on June 20, 2008 at 4:20 PM

alphie on June 20, 2008 at 4:20 PM

That’s factually incorrect – and will remain so until you can prove otherwise.

apollyonbob on June 20, 2008 at 4:21 PM

I believe the Bushies were listening in on any American phone calls they wanted to, Cicero.
alphie on June 20, 2008 at 4:20 PM

You “believe”? Brother.

You guys on the Left don’t get challenged much, do you?

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:28 PM

You guys on the Left don’t get challenged much, do you?

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:28 PM

They are challenged. Severely challenged.

LimeyGeek on June 20, 2008 at 4:29 PM

It’s already been proven in several courts that the Bushies were listening in on purely domestic calls, apply.

That’s why the we had such a rush to grant these traitors amnesty before they slink on home.

alphie on June 20, 2008 at 4:32 PM

This is actually a smart move by the Democrats to go along with the FISA bill. If there is another attack on America, Democrats can just say “Don’t look at us. We passed that FISA bill.” Sure, Daily Kos and the rest of the nutroots will go crazy. But you and I know that they will still vote for the Democrats in November regardless.

SoulGlo on June 20, 2008 at 4:33 PM

alphie on June 20, 2008 at 4:32 PM

Then name the court case(s). I’m willing to admit that the facts are different than I understood them to be, but you gotta prove it man. Vague references to “several courts”, of which I’m sure the court case that was thrown out against someone because they could not prove they had actually been damaged by AT&T is not one, will not suffice.

apollyonbob on June 20, 2008 at 4:35 PM

FISA won’t stop a damn thing. If they want to hurt us, they will.

LimeyGeek on June 20, 2008 at 4:37 PM

Which specific law did the Bush Administration violate by monitoring international calls to or from persons in the U.S.?

Hey Mark Jaquith, where’d you go? Don’t you want to play anymore?

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:38 PM

I’m referencing the Supreme Court rejecting the ACLU because the ACLU could not prove who had actually be spied on.

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Supreme_Court_rejects_ACLU_challenge_to_0219.html

apollyonbob on June 20, 2008 at 4:41 PM

Which specific law did the Bush Administration violate by monitoring international calls to or from persons in the U.S.?

When it comes to our government, it need not be a law it has broken. It can also be judged as having operated outside the bounds of its authority – opening the possibility of constitutional challenges and maybe impeachments.

LimeyGeek on June 20, 2008 at 4:42 PM

This is unconstitutional!

Is nobody going to stand up and stop this government from expanding and expanding it’s power and stomping on our constitution?

It’s time to take back our country and stop the expansion of the government’s unconstitutional power.

SaintOlaf on June 20, 2008 at 4:48 PM

When it comes to our government, it need not be a law it has broken. It can also be judged as having operated outside the bounds of its authority – opening the possibility of constitutional challenges and maybe impeachments.

LimeyGeek on June 20, 2008 at 4:42 PM

“Illegal” means a law has been violated. Law can come from statutes or a constitution. However, if you’re going to argue that the federal constitution makes a certain act illegal, you’d better have five Supreme Court Justices to back you up. Your personal opinion won’t count for much.

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:53 PM

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 4:53 PM

Illegal does indeed mean “in violation of the law”. I did not say argue otherwise.

I know of no law the government violated (in that sense, I’m with you), so I find the charges of ‘acting illegally’ highly dubious.

My point was that the behaviour of our government can be judged in different ways – and yes, we’ll need the SCOTUS to mount a constitutional challenge.

LimeyGeek on June 20, 2008 at 4:59 PM

Pelosi brought the compromise to the floor anyway, and watched as her party fractured over the issue. Does that indicate that Steny Hoyer overruled Pelosi? No; she voted for the compromise in the end.

That’s because the republicans and democrats are now essentially one party.

There is the far left democrats and the center left republicans.

That’s frightening!

Why are only 12% of republicans ok with Mccain as our nominee?

Does that mean only 12% or less of republicans voted for him?

Why is he our nominee?

Our voting process is screwed up.

Our representatives pass this type of crap almost unamiously..they’re not representing us!

It’s time to start rolling back their unconstitutional power.

SaintOlaf on June 20, 2008 at 5:09 PM

Well! We are one leg closer to a new standard for evidence similar to FREP 801 D2(d) which is kinda slick. Sorta makes the ‘you can’t use that evidence ’cause it was acquired illegally’ equal to the ‘drug user, using drugs to capture the drug dealer’, good faith process. I for one, think its wonderful. But it still have to pass the Senate. Once it does. Hold on to your hat.

http://www.doomedreport.com cause it ‘could happen’.

ilitigant on June 20, 2008 at 5:23 PM

“All of the chamber’s Republican members voted in favor, as did 105 Democrats.”

Dammit, shoulda, remembered the “genuine original document” before relegating it to the “round file”…!

Jerkbahs…one and all, forever!
We will record your names for postarity!

J_Gocht on June 21, 2008 at 12:15 AM

On the face of it, it would seem that the Dems have surrendered to common sense. I’m a tad suspicious.

OldEnglish on June 21, 2008 at 3:57 AM