It’s not getting so much attention today, maybe because it happened nearly 2,100 miles away from the Cox Pavilion, at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Along party lines, the committee voted out a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization that does NOT include a provision granting legal immunity to the telecommunications companies that participated in the Bush Administration couterterrorism surveillance program. (About 40 privacy lawsuits are pending against the telcom companies.)
The Senate Intelligence Committee had voted the other way, and the Democratic leadership had at one point appeared ready to go along, so this sets the stage for a big fight on the floor. As we have talked about here before, presidential contender Chris Dodd stepped out early on this one, with a threat to filibuster the Intelligence Committee bill, which forced frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to follow. (Is a following frontrunner an oxymoron?) Anyway, Dodd issued this statement:
“I’m heartened to see that the Senate Judiciary Committee has affirmed, as I and thousands of other people around the country have, that those telecommunications companies that participated with the Bush Administration in trampling millions of Americans’ civil liberties should not receive retroactive immunity for their participation. This is a victory for the rule of law and everyone who cares about preserving our Constitution.
“Getting results begins with standing for principles that you believe in, stating your position clearly, and working toward that end.
“As the debate over retroactive immunity moves to the Senate floor, I’ll take this opportunity to reiterate my pledge to filibuster any legislation that grants immunity in any form to these telecom companies.”