Tuesday, February 12, 2008

RIP freedom from snooping, RIP (partially?) Democratic conscience — telco immunity passes

Sixteen Democrats, more than a dirty dozen, were in the 67-31 majority to vote down the Senate’s Dodd-Feingold amendment and so give telecommunications companies retroactive immunity from spying on Americans — spying that went on BEFORE 9/11, remember. (Independent Joe Lieberman, I-Neocon, also was in the majority; Obama was on the right side and Clinton failed to show to vote.

Alternatives, such as Sen. Arlen Specter’s amendment to have the government stand in the lawsuit box in place of the telcos, also failed, as did Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Betty Crocker) bill to stipulate FISA is the sole mechanism for wiretapping, and an amendment to increase oversight of wiretapping of American citizens.

Yes, I know the House passed a version of FISA renewal without immunity, but given the margin in the Senate, you know what’s going to ultimately happen to that.

IMO, the only way of salvaging an impression would be if someone like Chris Dodd follows through on his idea of doing an old-fashioned actual filibuster, since he doesn’t have 40 votes to block cloture.

If nearly one-third of Senate Dems, including a “bright new face” like Jim Webb, can vote in favor of immunity ...

Update: There is hope for now. Dodd has indeed promised to filibuster if a House-Senate conference doesn’t strip telco immunity.

Of course, per the “faint hope” of “The Lord of the Rings,” whether any other Democratic Senators will step to the microphone for a real filibuster, as opposed to six-plus years of GOP fake filibusters, remains to be seen.

That said, per the Senate of the 1950s and 1960s, for historical value alone, it would be fun to see a real filibuster.