Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cleaver and FISA

I don't agree, but this is his excuse (sent in his weekly email):

Today cautiously I joined a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives in support of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This was a very difficult vote for me. I have opposed previous measures to reauthorize the legislation but felt this legislation represented the best compromise possible. The legislation was approved by a vote of 293-129 after months of bipartisan negotiations led by my friend and colleague Senator Bond.

Most importantly the bill:
  • Prevents any President from using executive power to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance and clarifies that to conduct surveillance of a person in the United States, the government must first obtain an individual warrant from the FISA Court based on probable cause.

  • Requires prior review and approval by the FISA Court of the targeting and minimization procedures to ensure that U.S. citizens are not targeted and that any inadvertently intercepted communications are not disseminated.

The legislation passed today replaces the controversial and hastily prepared Protect America Act and ensures there is no gap in intelligence collection against terrorists, while strengthening our civil liberties by preventing the government from surveilling citizens without a lawful warrant.

Previously I had voted against measures that included blanket immunity to telecom companies who participated in illegal activities at the request of the Administration. This legislation rejects blanket immunity for telecommunications companies and instead allows federal district courts to determine whether substantial evidence supports civil liability protection for companies which assisted in post-9/11 activities. Additionally, the bill does not provide immunity to any government official who may have violated the law.

This is not a perfect solution, but without this compromise there would be no guarantee that the Administration would not continue pursuing wiretaps on citizens without a warrant. I believe this bill makes it clear to the judiciary, law enforcement and private telephone companies that we are a nation of laws and those laws cannot be ignored.

Despite some disappointment, without 60 votes in the Senate this compromise is the best we are going to get. The reality is there are legitimate security reasons for surveillance, and now the independent FISA court is once again solely responsible for reviewing and authorizing domestic wiretaps.

This legislation sunsets at the end of 2012, and it is imperative that we scrutinize its implementation over the next four years, and make any necessary changes.

We'll see. It's not like Bush obeys the law as it stands anyway, you know.

1 comment:

xoites said...

Repeal FISA is up and running. Anyone who wants to is welcome to sign up and become a Poster on it. The purpose of the blog is to organize a drive to repeal the FISA laws and all laws that pardon or give immunity from prosecution anyone who has violated the Constitution during the Bush Administration.

That is why we want everyone to be able to Post so they can start a conversation about an idea they have to make this happen.

Stop on by and check it out. By all means leave a comment and sign up to blog with us as we figure out what needs to be done to return our Fourth Amendment Rights and our rule of law.

If you have a blog already and you become a poster we will link to your site.