Thursday, July 03, 2008

Congress' July 4 recess -- Implications for FISA

By Carol Gee

Congress will be away from Washington for a time to celebrate our nation's birthday. Given the manner this congress has been operating, it is often a good thing for our senators and representatives to be out of the city. Less mischief happens that way. As my regular readers know, much mischief has happened regarding the erosion of citizen privacy over the past few years. And Congress has aided and abetted that assault on the Fourth Amendment. The current fight is over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the "FISA" bill set for revision. The best post on the current and future situation regarding the FISA bill, as yet unresolved by Congress, was put up about a week ago by -- guess who -- my favorite, Glenn Greenwald, writing for Salon.com. Another of his excellent posts sets the stage for what is likely to happen to the FISA bill when Congress comes back from its July 4 recess. To quote (includes his links):

UPDATE: Two Democratic Senators actually fighting against the FISA bill -- Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd -- succeeded in blocking a vote in the Senate until after the July 4 recess (the vote is now scheduled for July 8). Jesselyn Radack -- the DOJ lawyer who became the whistleblower concerning the Bush administration's treatment of John Walker Lindh -- writes here about this success. It's only a temporary reprieve, but delays of this sort can enable further opposition to build and/or allow unanticipated events to intervene.

There is a surprisingly vigorous feud among three of my favorites over the future of FISA. Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann are going at it over Senator Barack Obama's unwelcome support for a bad FISA bill. Former White House Counsel John Dean is also in the middle of it. In my opinion, the disagreements are not so much over the back and forth criticisms between Greenwald and Olbermann over Obama's FISA stance, as they are about a general frustration due to the country's inability to stop the FISA bill's apparent momentum to passage. Empty Wheel weighs in with some helpful insight into this whole bizarre controversy. We all want the same things out of Congress on this matter; we just disagree on how to get there. Congress needs to exercise vigorous oversight over a law-breaking Executive. It needs to defend the Constitution. And it needs to stop caving in to the nasty tactics of Republicans.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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