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…




Not Voting



Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby




Lisa Murkowski, Ted Stevens




Jon Kyl, John McCain




Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor



Barbara Boxer

Dianne Feinstein




Wayne Allard, Kenneth Salazar



Christopher Dodd

Joseph Lieberman



Joseph Biden

Thomas Carper




Mel Martinez, Bill Nelson




Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson



Daniel Akaka

Daniel Inouye




Larry Craig, Michael Crapo



Dick Durbin, Barack Obama




Evan Bayh, Richard Lugar



Tom Harkin

Charles Grassley




Sam Brownback, Pat Roberts




Jim Bunning, Mitch McConnell




Mary Landrieu, David Vitter




Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe



Ben Cardin

Barbara Mikulski



Edward Kennedy, John Kerry



Carl Levin

Debbie Stabenow



Amy Klobuchar

Norm Coleman




Thad Cochran, Roger Wicker




Kit Bond, Claire McCaskill



Max Baucus, Jon Tester




Chuck Hagel, Ben Nelson



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



Sherrod Brown

George Voinovich




Tom Coburn, James Inhofe



Ron Wyden

Gordon Smith



Bob Casey

Arlen Specter


Rhode Island

Jack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse


South Carolina


Jim DeMint

Lindsey Graham

South Dakota


Tim Johnson, John Thune




Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker




John Cornyn, Kay Bailey Hutchison




Robert Bennett, Orrin Hatch



Patrick Leahy, Bernard Sanders




John Warner, Jim Webb



Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray


West Virginia

Robert Byrd

Jay Rockefeller



Russell Feingold

Herb Kohl




John Barrasso, Michael Enzi




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.


    You are welcome.


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

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