Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Senate Takes Up Surveillance Again
The Senate is due to take up the controversial wiretapping legislation tomorrow, with the focus again on whether to grant immunity to the phone companies that cooperated with the Bush administration's secret program.
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., are expected to introduce an amendment striking the immunity provision, but most believe that effort will fail.
Meanwhile, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., favor substituting the government for the phone companies.
But that effort may also struggle to win support.
Finally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has an amendment that would require the FISA court in Washington to review whether the phone companies acted in "good faith" when they agreed to the government's request.
If so, the lawsuits pending in San Francisco will be dismissed; If not, they will proceed.
For civil liberties advocates keen to prevent immunity being granted, it could be an uphill battle.
Caroline Fredrickson, the American Civil Liberties Union's top lobbyist, admitted as much Tuesday.
With the clock ticking on the current legislation, which expires next month, Democrats are "backed into a corner," she said.
The silver lining, however, is that House leaders are still opposed to immunity, Fredrickson added.