Wednesday, July 09, 2008



Chris Dodd's amendment to strip retroactive immunity for criminal telecom companies from the FISA bill failed 32-66. Not a single Republican stood up for the Constitution or the rule of law-- and enough Democrats were bribed by the telecom companies to hand Bush the victory he lusted for. Glenn Greenwald has excellent coverage of the minute to minute goings-on on the floor of the Senate today.

I'd like to salute the members of the Senate who courageously stood for the Constitution today:

Dan Akaka (D-HI)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Joe Biden (D-DE)
Jeff Bingamon (D-NM)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Robert Byrd (D-WV)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Robert Casey (D-PA)
Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Chris Dodd (D-CT)
Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Frank Lautenburg (D-NJ)
Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Barack Obama (D-IL)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Chuck Shumer (D-NY)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

I don't want to list all of the members of the Senate who voted with Bush to curtail American liberties today. But I will list the names of the worst ones. The figure next to their names is the amount of bribes they have received this year from the telecom companies whose special interests they put before their duty to the Constitution and to their own constituents. As you read the list please keep in mind what 20 year Navy vet and Democratic candidate running against GOP rubber stamp Adam Putnam, Doug Tudor told us yesterday:
“On five occasions during my Navy career, I raised my hand and affirmed ‘to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.’ Members of Congress take a similar oath. I believe that those members who voted in favor of HR 6304 did so in violation of their oath of office. I would have voted against this bill.”

Lamar Alexander (R-TN- $11,500)
Evan Bayh (D-IN- ?)
Tom Carper (D-DE- $1,000)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA- $13,800)
Thad Cochran (R-MS- $6,500)
Norm Coleman (R-MN- $7,700)
Susan Collins (R-ME- $35,850)
John Cornyn (R-TX- $15,250)
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC- $11,360)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA- ?)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC- $26,700)
James Inhofe (R-OK- $12,550)
Tom Johnson (D-SD- $9,750)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA- $15,750)
Joe Lieberman (R-CT- ?)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO- $9,000)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $20,250)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD- $6,000)
Ben Nelson (D-NE- ?)
Bill Nelson (D-FL- $4,000)
Mark Pryor (D-AR- $32,350)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV- $51,500)
Pat Roberts (R-KS- $14,250)
Gordon Smith (R-OR- $27,750)
Ted Stevens (R-AK- $41,400)
John Sununu (R-NH- $24,600)
John Thune (R-SD- $7,000)
Roger Wicker (R-MS- $26,600)

McCain didn't bother showing up to vote but this year he accepted bigger bribes from the Telecoms than any other member of the Senate or House, $365,955.

Jane, John, Digby, Glenn and I want to make some donations from Blue America to the heroes of this battle. We'd like to get some suggestions for who you think we should include.


It's worth reading Hillary's statement on why she voted for Dodd's amendment to strip retroactive immunity from the bill and then voted against the bill when Dodd's amendment failed. I wish Obama had done the same.
One of the great challenges before us as a nation is remaining steadfast in our fight against terrorism while preserving our commitment to the rule of law and individual liberty. As a senator from New York on September 11, I understand the importance of taking any and all necessary steps to protect our nation from those who would do us harm. I believe strongly that we must modernize our surveillance laws in order to provide intelligence professionals the tools needed to fight terrorism and make our country more secure. However, any surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today's vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue. Nonetheless, I could not vote for the legislation in its current form.

The legislation would overhaul the law that governs the administration's surveillance activities. Some of the legislation's provisions place guidelines and restrictions on the operational details of the surveillance activities, others increase judicial and legislative oversight of those activities, and still others relate to immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the administration's surveillance activities.

While this legislation does strengthen oversight of the administration's surveillance activities over previous drafts, in many respects, the oversight in the bill continues to come up short. For instance, while the bill nominally calls for increased oversight by the FISA Court, its ability to serve as a meaningful check on the President's power is debatable. The clearest example of this is the limited power given to the FISA Court to review the government's targeting and minimization procedures.

But the legislation has other significant shortcomings. The legislation also makes no meaningful change to the immunity provisions. There is little disagreement that the legislation effectively grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies. In my judgment, immunity under these circumstances has the practical effect of shutting down a critical avenue for holding the administration accountable for its conduct. It is precisely why I have supported efforts in the Senate to strip the bill of these provisions, both today and during previous debates on this subject. Unfortunately, these efforts have been unsuccessful.

What is more, even as we considered this legislation, the administration refused to allow the overwhelming majority of Senators to examine the warrantless wiretapping program. This made it exceedingly difficult for those Senators who are not on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees to assess the need for the operational details of the legislation, and whether greater protections are necessary. The same can be said for an assessment of the telecom immunity provisions. On an issue of such tremendous importance to our citizens – and in particular to New Yorkers – all Senators should have been entitled to receive briefings that would have enabled them to make an informed decision about the merits of this legislation. I cannot support this legislation when we know neither the nature of the surveillance activities authorized nor the role played by telecommunications companies granted immunity.

Congress must vigorously check and balance the president even in the face of dangerous enemies and at a time of war. That is what sets us apart. And that is what is vital to ensuring that any tool designed to protect us is used – and used within the law – for that purpose and that purpose alone. I believe my responsibility requires that I vote against this compromise, and I will continue to pursue reforms that will improve our ability to collect intelligence in our efforts to combat terror and to oversee that authority in Congress.

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At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WELL, heros of this fight? Hard to leave out Dodd and Feingold.

But I really wanted to add this thought. When/if you get a dollar amount for DiFI, don't forget to figure in all the lucrative GOVERNMENT contracts her husband is awarded for her treason.


I hope everyone will call her offices and speak to her staff about her vote today:

Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501

or, go find that blue box that blue america has to contact your senators, toll-free.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprised to see Baucus on the good guy list but not Tester. Agree with Jacqrat about Feingold and Dodd. Bernie Sanders seems to be on the people's side much of the time.
What is the possibility that Bush has been "tapping in" or " listening" to his political rivals and there could be some blackmail on the table? Or is it just a normal greed thing? You'd think rockefeller would have enough money?

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post says Obama protected the Constitution, but this article says he sold it out:

Can you explain further?

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I agree with the "R" next to LIEberman's name, what's with the "D" next to Gordon Smith!?!?

He's an atrocious Republican like the rest of them!

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama voted for the FISA bill in the end, he's no protector of the constitution.

At 12:50 AM, Blogger Frashure said...

Man, I love how you leave out the cardinally important fact that Obama voted in favor of renewing FISA.

But that would be counterproductive to your cause, now wouldn't it?

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama voted FOR this bill, as did
Baucus, and Whitehouse

Take those 3 out of the Nay vote list, to be saluted, and it will be correct.

Obama's take: > Influence & Lobbying > Industries > Communications/Electronics > Telecom Services & Equipment > Top Recipients (2008 cycle):

Obama, Barack (D) Senate $361,024 > Influence & Lobbying > Industries > Communications/Electronics > Telephone Utilities > Top Recipients (2008 cycle)

Obama, Barack (D) Senate $220,789

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also your link goes to the "motion to invoke cloture" votes not the bill vote, which is here:


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