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Senator Feingold on Immunity - July 8, 2008

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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 01:34 PM
Original message
Senator Feingold on Immunity - July 8, 2008
Video at link

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/As_FISA_heads_toward_vote...

Full Text of Feingold's Remarks:

"Mr. FEINGOLD: Mr. President, I strongly support Senator Dodds amendment to strike the immunity provision from this bill, and I want to thank the Senator from Connecticut for his leadership on this issue. Both earlier this year when the Senate first considered FISA legislation and again this time around, he has demonstrated tremendous resolve on this issue, and I have been proud to work with him.

Now, Mr. President, some have tried to suggest that the bill before us will leave it up to the courts to decide whether or not to give retroactive immunity to the companies that allegedly participated in the Presidents illegal wiretapping program. Make no mistake this bill will result in immunity being granted, because it sets up a rigged process with only one possible outcome.

Under the terms of this bill, a federal district court would evaluate whether there is substantial evidence that a company received a written request or directive from the Attorney General or the head of an element of the intelligence community indicating that the activity was authorized by the President and determined to be lawful.

But, Mr. President, we already know from the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee that was issued last fall that the companies received exactly such a request or directive. That is already public information. So under the terms of this proposal, the courts decision would be predetermined.


As a practical matter, that means that regardless of how much information the court is permitted to review, what standard of review is employed, how open the proceedings are, and what role the plaintiffs are permitted to play, the court will essentially be required to grant immunity under this bill.

Now, proponents will argue that the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the companies can participate in briefing to the court. This is true, but they are not allowed access to any classified information. Talk about fighting with both hands tied behind your back. Mr. President, the administration has restricted information about this illegal wiretapping program so much that roughly 70 members of this chamber dont even have access to the basic facts about what happened. So lets not pretend that the plaintiffs will be able to participate in any meaningful way in these proceedings -- in which Congress has made sure that their claims will be dismissed.

This result is extremely disappointing. It is entirely unnecessary and unjustified, and it will profoundly undermine the rule of law in this country. I cannot comprehend why Congress would take this action in the waning months of an administration that has consistently shown contempt for the rule of law perhaps most notably in the illegal warrantless wiretapping program it set up in secret.

Mr. President, we hear people argue that telecom companies should not be penalized for allegedly taking part in this illegal program. What you dont hear is that current law already provides immunity from lawsuits for companies that cooperate with the governments request for assistance, as long as they receive either a court order or a certification from the Attorney General that no court order is needed and the request meets all statutory requirements. But if requests are not properly documented, FISA instructs the telephone companies to refuse the governments request, and subjects them to liability if they instead decide to cooperate.

When Congress passed FISA three decades ago, in the wake of the extensive, well-documented wiretapping abuses of the 1960s and 1970s, it decided that, in the future, telephone companies should not simply assume that any government request for assistance to conduct electronic surveillance was appropriate. It was clear that some checks needed to be in place to prevent future abuses of this incredibly intrusive power the power to listen in on peoples personal conversations.

At the same time, however, Congress did not want to saddle telephone companies with the responsibility of determining whether the governments request for assistance was legitimate or not.

So Congress devised a system that would take the guesswork out of it completely.
Under that system, which is still in place today, the companies legal obligations and liability depend entirely on whether the government has presented the company with a court order or a certification stating that certain basic requirements have been met. If the proper documentation is submitted, the company must cooperate with the request and is immune from liability. If the proper documentation has not been submitted, the company must refuse the governments request, or be subject to possible liability in the courts.

This framework, which has been in place for 30 years, protects companies that comply with legitimate government requests while also protecting the privacy of Americans communications from illegitimate snooping.

Granting companies that allegedly cooperated with an illegal program the new form of retroactive immunity that is in this bill undermines the law that has been on the books for decades a law that was designed to prevent exactly the type of abuses that allegedly occurred here.

Even worse, granting retroactive immunity under these circumstances will undermine any new laws that we pass regarding government surveillance. If we want companies to follow the law in the future, it sends a terrible message, and sets a terrible precedent, to give them a get out of jail free card for allegedly ignoring the law in the past.

Mr. President, just last week a key court decision on FISA undercut one of the most popular arguments in support of immunity -- that we need to let the companies off the hook because the state secrets privilege prevents them from defending themselves in court. A federal court has now held that the state secrets privilege does not apply to claims brought under FISA. Rather, more specific evidentiary rules in FISA govern. Shouldnt we at least let these cases proceed to see how this plays out, rather than trying to solve a problem that may not even exist?

And thats not all. Mr. President, this immunity provision doesnt just allow telephone companies off the hook. It also will make it that much harder to get to the core issue that Ive been raising since December 2005, which is that the President broke the law and should be held accountable. When these lawsuits are dismissed, we will be that much further away from an independent judicial review of this illegal program.

On top of all this, we are considering granting immunity when roughly 70 members of the Senate still have not been briefed on the Presidents wiretapping program. The vast majority of this body still does not even know what we are being asked to grant immunity for. Frankly, I have a hard time understanding how any Senator can vote against this amendment without this information.

I urge my colleagues to support the amendment to strike the immunity provision from the bill."


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DeeDeeNY Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 01:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. K & R
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Thanks n/t
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DeeDeeNY Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Feingold has been my hero for a long time now
He takes his oath of office seriously. He was the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act.
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. And that took courage and clear headed thinking at the time n/t
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 12:23 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. and that proves how consistent he is. nt
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midnight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
2. I wish that I could recommend this post more than once. It clearly
explains that there is no one watching the watchers as Senator Obama wants us to think. Bless you Senator Feingold, Dodd, and others who have steadfastly held on to our constitutional rights. I believe that justice is coming,and not this crafty legislation: "it sets up a rigged process with only one possible outcome."

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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Feingold also warned us of the Patriot Act, unfortunately
too many just go along.

:(

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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 01:58 PM
Response to Original message
5. Daniel Ellsberg - What Every American Needs to Know (and Do) About FISA
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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 02:29 PM
Response to Original message
6. K&R.
Thank you for the full text.
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. YW and thank you :) n/t
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 03:21 PM
Response to Original message
10. Still time to call your Senator and tell them to vote NO on Retroactive Immunity!!
"As a practical matter, that means that regardless of how much information the court is permitted to review, what standard of review is employed, how open the proceedings are, and what role the plaintiffs are permitted to play,
the court will essentially be required to grant immunity under this bill."


Subject : Once More To The Phones

Date : Tue, Jul 08, 2008 12:22 PM


Dear Breeze54;

This is it.

Today the Senate will be debating FISA and retroactive immunity.

By tomorrow, it's likely that voting will be done.

And what we do together over the next 24 hours will determine what the legislation looks like.


I've offered an amendment to strip retroactive immunity from the FISA legislation.

On Monday you joined thousands of Americans online by calling your Senators (with the help of our friends at FireDogLake) and asking them to vote "NO" on any bill containing retroactive immunity.

There's still time for more calls to be made.

http://tools.advomatic.com/7/fisa

I promise you that your voices are being heard in the halls of the Senate.

I promise you that I will continue to fight alongside you until the last vote is counted.

Help me now to ensure that my next email to you will be a celebration of our commitment to the rule of law.

Thanks once again,

Chris Dodd



:kick: & Recommended
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 03:31 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. February vote on immunity - only 31 voted to strip the immunity
provision

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/r...


The 18 Democrats who voted to grant immunity


Bayh (D-IN)

Carper (D-DE)

Conrad (D-ND)

Feinstein (D-CA)

Inouye (D-HI)

Johnson (D-SD)

Kohl (D-WI)

Landrieu (D-LA)

Lincoln (D-AR)

McCaskill (D-MO)

Mikulski (D-MD)

Nelson (D-FL)

Nelson (D-NE)

Pryor (D-AR)

Rockefeller (D-WV)

Salazar (D-CO)

Stabenow (D-MI)

Webb (D-VA)








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Krashkopf Donating Member (965 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
12. Don't get me wrong - I think Feingold is the BEST DAMNED SENATOR, PERIOD.
But, I am old enough where I just can't shake the image of Soupy Sales every time I see him!

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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-08-08 06:42 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Luckily we still have a few people who are willing to protect
our rights.

I'm not that old...or at least not willing to admit it :)
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 12:30 AM
Response to Original message
15. I wonder if Feingold would be willing to be Attorney General. nt
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 04:28 AM
Response to Reply #15
19. I can only hope!
:grr: We need him front and center... now!!
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berni_mccoy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 12:31 AM
Response to Original message
16. There's one loophole in this logic: The Domestic Spying that Occurred Before 9/11
Ashcroft did not know about the program then and he vehemently opposed the NSA wiretapping program when he found out about it. Comey testified that Gonzalez actually tried to get Ashcroft to sign a statment that would retroactively authorize the program when Ashcroft was in the Hospital. Ashcroft refused and the Office of the AG had labeled the program illegal.

And the agency that is required to grant written approval outside the AG is the Director of National Intelligence, a branch of the government that did not exist until 2005.

This is a huge loophole that will negate the immunity clause since the spying by the telecoms started pre-9/11.
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vaberella Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 12:40 AM
Response to Original message
17. Confused...Isn't this what Obama said he wanted done with the FISA when it went up for voting?
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 04:29 AM
Response to Reply #17
20. He flip-fllopped...again!
Google it!
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Breeze54 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 04:27 AM
Response to Original message
18. Kick!
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. Thank you for keeping this kicked n/t
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a kennedy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 06:54 AM
Response to Original message
21. Senator Boxer is with Dodd on this too....
love her.... :patriot:
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katty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 05:16 PM
Response to Original message
23. thanks for trying to hold the fort, Russ
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