Friday, March 14, 2008

House passes immunity-free FISA bill

The vote was pretty much party-line at 213-197; all Republicans voted no, joined by 11 aisle-crossing Democrats. Here’s some highlights:

“I believe that the nation is deeply concerned about what has gone on for the last seven years, and I want to restore some of the trust in the intelligence community,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes said. ..

“Congress is not fully informed, and it would be reckless to grant retroactive immunity without knowing the scope of programs out there,” Congresswoman Jane Harman said.

The telco immunity issue will be booted to a trial court judge.

The bill also would initiate a yearlong bipartisan panel modeled after the 9/11 Commission to investigate the administration's so-called warrantless wiretapping program.

All sounds pretty good.

Unfortunately, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller has already made noises he doesn’t like everything in the House bill, and it’s believed that part of what he doesn’t like is that’s its missing telco immunity.

Some real progressives need to slap him upside the head and tell him to either get on the train or become a Republican in fact.

OK, I have the 11 aisle-crossers.

Dennis Kucinich and Jim McDermott (I assume a “conscience” vote on a bill they thought not strong enough on civil liberties), Dan Boren (Blue Dog), Michael Capuano, Christopher Carney, Jim Cooper (Blue Dog/lite), Bob Filner, Maurice Hinchey, Tim Holden, Nick Lampson, Heath Shuler (not much more than a Republican) and Peter Welch.

Capuano, Carney, Filner, Hinchey, Holden and Welch may also be conscience voters. Filner represents the Mexican border portion of California and the rest are all northeastern.

Also, I’d like to have someone with a legal background weigh in on how likely a judge is to grant immunity or not, should this bill be the final baby, and we get to that point.