The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, March 02, 2008

FISA Bill To Be Split in Two

For months the House has been refusing to pass a FISA bill that provides immunity to the telecommunications companies that supplied information to the government after the Sept. 11 attacks. Meanwhile, class action lawsuit Hepting v. AT&T waits in the wings on behalf of the "millions" of Americans they claim were affected by the surveillance program. They're asking for $1,000.00 for each class member for each of two different violations PLUS an additional $100 for each "victim" per day of the alleged violations. The suit is filed on behalf of ALL individuals who were customers of AT & T after September 2001.

The president has been warning that if lawsuits go to court, it could lead to disclosures about how the government conducts surveillance, thereby aiding the enemy. It would also penalize companies for acting out of good will to help the government keep Americans safe. While House Democrats contend that the government should not shield the companies who engaged in an illegal operation, it seems more imperative to ensure that they will receive cooperation when monitoring the communications of terrorist groups.

The L. A. Times reported today that House Democrats are considering a plan to split the FISA bill into two components to be voted on separately:

"Republican officials said they likely would back the proposal to divide the bill into two pieces, as long as there was no delay in taking up the immunity provision. "We would be OK with that as long as the immunity provision [can] become law," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

"Officials from both sides acknowledged that there are probably enough votes in the House to pass the measure protecting telephone companies. But splitting the bill would give Democrats who oppose the immunity provision political cover for voting in favor of the broader legislation."
While the final decision has not been reached, splitting the bill seems like an equitable solution for Bush to get the immunity he wants for the phone companies as well as for the Democrats to save face. But, it doesn't excuse the negligence of the House Dems to stall the passage of this important bill, allowing the law to lapse, and failing to provide the intelligence community with the proper tools to protect us.

Posted by Two Sisters from the Right, 3/02/2008 01:18:00 AM |