Lawbreaking Is Now the Law

The Senate earlier this afternoon passed the so-called “compromise” FISA bill, 69-28. Obama voted yes; Hillary Clinton voted no. Obama and Clinton also voted yes and no, respectively, on the vote to invoke cloture (which ended debate on the legislation and allowed the Senate to vote on the bill itself). Three separate amendments concerning the telecom immunity provision failed. The first, and strongest, amendment, would have stripped immunity from the bill. The second one would have delayed immunity to allow the Supreme Court to determine whether the NSA spy program is constitutional. The third (and weakest) amendment called for the immunity provision to take effect only upon completion of an audit of the NSA program by the Inspector General.

Obama voted for all three amendments (as did Clinton), but Obama’s yes votes were merely for show. They became meaningless the moment he voted for cloture, and then joined Senate Republicans in approving the underlying legislation.

Glenn Greenwald has two massive posts on the shameful proceedings (the second is linked from the first). There really is no need to go elsewhere, because his pieces have all the details, all the authoritative commentary, and all the links to additional information that you might need.

It is minimally comforting to know that my senator, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, voted for all the amendments, and against the final bill. One source of anger and outrage that I am spared from having to feel.

I also want to say here that Glenn deserves all of our thanks and appreciation for his unending, consistent, and truly fierce efforts to keep this issue front and center, not to mention the work he has done to prevent this disastrous legislation from passing. He, and the folks at Firedoglake — in particular, Jane Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith — have labored tirelessly to inform and advocate on FISA and warrantless surveillance. The fight to hold the betrayers of the Constitution accountable continues; for more on that, you can start here.

7 Responses to “Lawbreaking Is Now the Law”

  1. Mark says:

    I didn’t realize you were from NJ. That gives me an excuse to launch into a brief comment on the role of NJ Dems in this entire issue.

    I, likewise, was unusually happy to hear that both NJ senators voted the right way, even though I generally have a pretty low opinion of Lautenberg (I don’t know enough about Menendez, though).

    I was far more proud of Rush Holt, though, who actually took a real leadership role in fighting for the Fourth Amendment, as sort of the House’s version of Feingold – even though he’ s no longer my Congressman due to redistricting. (The weird thing is that I hated him when he actually was my Congressman, if only because he unseated a guy I had interned with, thus contributing to the end of my one-time hopes of a career on Capitol Hill). As much as I disagree with Holt on other things (libertarian that I am), he’s easily one of the most principled politicians around.

  2. Chief says:

    Last night on Countdown, Rachel Maddow was talking with Prof Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Law professor about This colossal mistake. I have a post up here with a transcript of last night’s Countdown

  3. For a very good review of the thing NOT mentioned in the debate over telecom immunity have a look at this article from ars technica.

  4. Kathy says:


    I don’t know a lot about Rush Holt. I’ll have to fix that. Which district does he represent?

  5. Mark says:

    I don’t know the district number, but he’s out of Princeton (in his previous life he was a nuclear physicist IIRC).

  6. Bryan says:

    It wasn’t absolutely clear whether or not you view Obama as one of the betrayers of the Constitution.

  7. Kathy says:

    It wasn’t absolutely clear whether or not you view Obama as one of the betrayers of the Constitution.

    Is that a question? If so, the answer is yes.

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