Warrantless Wiretapping Update   2 comments

Since Congress’s website is always a day behind, I got these results from the Washington Post. Likely the new updated FISA bill is going to sail through Congress. Boy, it’s a good thing the Democrats got into control of Congress so that they could… continue to do whatever Bush told them to do, just like the Republicans whose jobs they took. Go here to throw spitballs at the battleship.

I do not claim to be a bona-fide expert in this area, as I’m not on the Senate Intelligence Committee or a member of the Bush Administration and as such I cannot evaluate the veracity of all of the claims I’ve read regarding the wholesale surveillance of the telecommunications network by the NSA. I don’t know how many serious terrorist plots have been disrupted by this program (there have been claims of “many”), I don’t know exactly what the possibility is for misuse for information gathered by this program (although the capabilities of the technology are pretty staggering, and the mind boggles with the consequences of the misuse could be, there is no real way to evaluate the checks and balances in place).

I do know, however, that one of the central arguments against the Dodd-Feingold amendment to this bill is heavily flawed. I heard today one senator (Democratic, unfortunately I did not catch the name) quoted as saying, “If we don’t include the immunity provision, in the future companies will be reluctant to cooperate with the government.”

This is demonstrably false. Not all telecommunications companies complied with the government’s request to tap their lines, but the majority did so. Those who did so have very, very competent legal departments staffed by lawyers who are intimately aware of federal communications law. It is simply inconceivable that these companies would provide this level of access to the government without being fully aware of the fact that they were violating those laws.

Moreover, it’s a false dichotomy: we want companies to adhere to the law, don’t we? If someone representing a federal agency shows up at your doctor’s office and demands to see your medical records without a warrant, wouldn’t you want your doctor to refuse? Isn’t that the whole point of having illegal search and seizure laws in the first place?

In the interests of full disclosure, it’s my firm belief that the entire bill is bad, and that the push to “updating FISA” is a bunch of baloney. However, I recognize that this is just a belief, and I cannot state this as a solid intellectual position precisely because much of the relevant evidence is being withheld on the basis of “National Security”. Take my complaints about this particular amendment with that in mind. Also, there is a subtle additional point to this whole discussion in that some of the people who voted “no” may have voted for Arlen Specter’s alternative amendment (I’ll try to dig those up later edited -> they’re here, the only differences are that Specter voted for his amendment and “no” on Dodd; and Bacus, Biden, Dodd, Dorgan, and Klobuchar all voted “no” on Specter and “yes” on Dodd; and McCaskill, Nelson, Stabenow, and Webb voted “yes” on Specter and “no” on Dodd), which allows the lawsuits to continue but takes all the liability off of the telecom companies and puts in on the federal government. Personally, I can’t see any reason to vote “no” on that one, even if you buy into the whole “reluctance” argument.

As a tangent off on the topic of political hypocrisy, it is intellectually fascinating that if you intersect the list of “no” voters with a list of senators who voted against immigration reform solely on the position, “I don’t believe in amnesty, they broke the law, they should suffer the consequences” you’ll find more than one commonality…

State

Yes

No

Not Voting

Alabama

 

Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby

 

Alaska

 

Lisa Murkowski, Ted Stevens

 

Arizona

 

Jon Kyl, John McCain

 

Arkansas

 

Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor

 

California

Barbara Boxer

Dianne Feinstein

 

Colorado

 

Wayne Allard, Kenneth Salazar

 

Connecticut

Christopher Dodd

Joseph Lieberman

 

Delaware

Joseph Biden

Thomas Carper

 

Florida

 

Mel Martinez, Bill Nelson

 

Georgia

 

Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson

 

Hawaii

Daniel Akaka

Daniel Inouye

 

Idaho

 

Larry Craig, Michael Crapo

 

Illinois

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama

   

Indiana

 

Evan Bayh, Richard Lugar

 

Iowa

Tom Harkin

Charles Grassley

 

Kansas

 

Sam Brownback, Pat Roberts

 

Kentucky

 

Jim Bunning, Mitch McConnell

 

Louisiana

 

Mary Landrieu, David Vitter

 

Maine

 

Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe

 

Maryland

Ben Cardin

Barbara Mikulski

 

Massachusetts

Edward Kennedy, John Kerry

   

Michigan

Carl Levin

Debbie Stabenow

 

Minnesota

Amy Klobuchar

Norm Coleman

 

Mississippi

 

Thad Cochran, Roger Wicker

 

Missouri

 

Kit Bond, Claire McCaskill

 

Montana

Max Baucus, Jon Tester

   

Nebraska

 

Chuck Hagel, Ben Nelson

 

Nevada

Harry Reid

John Ensign

 

New Hampshire

 

Judd Gregg, John Sununu

 

New Jersey

Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menéndez

   

New Mexico

Jeff Bingaman

Pete Domenici

 

New York

Chuck Schumer

 

Hillary Clinton

North Carolina

 

Richard Burr, Elizabeth Dole

 

North Dakota

Byron Dorgan

Kent Conrad

 

Ohio

Sherrod Brown

George Voinovich

 

Oklahoma

 

Tom Coburn, James Inhofe

 

Oregon

Ron Wyden

Gordon Smith

 

Pennsylvania

Bob Casey

Arlen Specter

 

Rhode Island

Jack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse

   

South Carolina

 

Jim DeMint

Lindsey Graham

South Dakota

 

Tim Johnson, John Thune

 

Tennessee

 

Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker

 

Texas

 

John Cornyn, Kay Bailey Hutchison

 

Utah

 

Robert Bennett, Orrin Hatch

 

Vermont

Patrick Leahy, Bernard Sanders

   

Virginia

 

John Warner, Jim Webb

 

Washington

Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray

   

West Virginia

Robert Byrd

Jay Rockefeller

 

Wisconsin

Russell Feingold

Herb Kohl

 

Wyoming

 

John Barrasso, Michael Enzi

 


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Posted February 13, 2008 by padraic2112 in politics, security

2 responses to “Warrantless Wiretapping Update

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  1. Clearly, you haven’t met Snuggly the security bear. He explains this all quite well.

    http://gizmodo.com/356837/snuggly-the-security-bear-explains-warrantless-wiretapping-is-all-about-love-and-freedom?autoplay=true

    You are welcome.

    Vinnie

  2. Pingback: Warrantless Wiretapping, Part VI « Pat’s Daily Grind

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