• Phil Carter misunderstands objections to telecom immunity. The point of lawsuits against the telecommunications industry is not to punish them for the misdeeds of the government, it is to compel them to testify against the government, something which they are not otherwise going to be especially eager to do.
  • Legal analysis outsourced to Marty Lederman and David Kris, here, here, here, and here.
  • Barack Obama’s current stand on the bill is: he supports it, with the immunity provision removed. The word ‘filibuster’ does not appear in his statement, nor in the statements of any of the core anti-immunity bloc. However, Obama had previously vowed to filibuster any bill with such a provision. Unless he’s going to flip-flop on that promise, then, this bill as written will have to go through the filibuster of the Democratic nominee. I’m just telling you what he’s been telling me.
  • I’m not sure what Michael Cohen is going on about here:

    Seriously, Greenwald and others need to get a grip. You want to disagree with those Democrats who supported this bill, fine – I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong. But to suggest that progressives should then raise money to lessen the Democratic majority in Congress and subsequently ignore the fact that the only reason we are even having this debate is because of the lawless practices of George Bush; well if you think this is a good idea, you need to have your head examined.

    Tell Grover Norquist how this doesn’t work. Tell the Service Employees International Union. Greenwald et al are targeting 3 House Democrats – Steny Hoyer, who has spearheaded this and all previous attempts to get a Republican-friendly FISA bill through the House (and who also happens to suck generally); Chris Carney, who is sort of a mini-Steny (and who is, ironically enough, being heavily funded by the SEIU); and John Barrow, who is facing a serious primary challenge. Hoyer’s not going to lose ever, so this is mostly posturing; Carney might lose to a Republican; and Barrow might lose in solidly Democratic district to a much more solid Democrat. You could argue about the specifics here – my money is going to primary challenges exclusively – but, in a year where the Democrats seem certain to pick up 10-20 House seats, it seems like the perfect time to cut some dead weight. Comparing this to Ralph Nader’s continuing work on behalf of Republicans, as Cohen does, is ridiculous.

    That’s tactics. People who, like Cohen, object to this on grounds of partisan solidarity need to consider that party loyalty flows both ways. Forget pissing on the grassroots voting hoi polloi: this “compromise” FISA bill, like the earlier (and even more objectionable) Protect America Act, passed the House with essentially unanimous Republican support and over the objections of most House Democrats. Believe it or don’t believe it, the vote breakdowns don’t lie. The House Democratic leadership has repeatedly allowed votes on bills which are opposed by a substantial majority of their caucus, and are hugely popular with the same people who are otherwise trying to ensure that your party’s agenda fails. If you want to avoid primary challenges and other reprisals, don’t undercut your own party.

  • I know I sound like a broken record, but it would be nice if someone would at least acknowledge that the Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is kaput, and so the whole national security justification for secret FISA courts and NSA wiretaps actually no longer exists. I’m open to arguments that current technologies, etc., means that the government needs expanded surveillance powers – it’s not my preference, but I don’t think I’m qualified to propose policy here. But it would be so nice if someone could relate it to the real world of the present day, rather than trying to make me believe that bearded religious nutters living in caves are more cunning and sophisticated than the Soviet Union. (Yes, the 9/11 hijackers did manage to escape the detection of the Bush administration. So did a class 5 hurricane.)
  • Has anybody done a comparison between US gov’t surveillance powers and those of other governments, especially Western Europe? It would provide some context for the non-immunity parts of the bill.
  • Tim Russert: still dead. We’ll keep you posted as this story develops.
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