S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A bit of credit is due

- to a few Senators who let us know what they were thinking last Friday night.
Democratic senators, voting a week ago to pass the Bush administration's measure to amend FISA, get mixed marks for explaining themselves. Following is a narrative of the results of my search of all these senators' websites for any statements of explanation of a "yes."
Bob Casey, Jr.

“I voted for both versions of the temporary FISA fix in order to ensure that U.S. intelligence has the tools they need to target terrorists while a larger review of the FISA law is conducted. The Bond-McConnell version supported by the White House is far from ideal and I deplore the tactics employed by the Bush Administration to push its agenda through the politics of fear. A thorough review when cooler heads can prevail is needed for a permanent FISA fix that keeps the United States safe from terrorists while also safeguarding the rights of American citizens.”
Evan Bayh (no statement located) (D-IN); Thomas Carper (D-DE) quote:

Spirits on the Senate floor were surprisingly high late last Friday night as we prepared to vote on an important security bill. This interim measure will "sunset" in 180 days and involves interception of e-mail and phone calls by intelligence agencies of this country prior to receiving the permission of the court of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was created for this purpose in 1978. While no one — not the White House nor the most liberal of my colleagues — got what they wanted, people kept their cool while we passed a less-than-perfect bill that will expire in January, giving us time to revisit the issue and develop a more thoughtful approach later this fall once we return from recess.

Kent Conrad (no statement located) (D-ND); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) [separate floor statement** from Senator Webb's web page]. News release quote:

“I spoke with Admiral Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, at length this evening. He believes the United States is vulnerable, and that we need to move quickly to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The intelligence community is deeply concerned that chatter among suspected terrorist networks is up. I am concerned as well. We are living in a period of heightened vulnerability, and must give the intelligence community the tools they need to protect America. This legislation is a temporary fix. It is not permanent and it expires in six months. It immediately addresses critical gaps in our intelligence-collection efforts – while preserving a role for FISA court review. I voted for both bills because one needed 60 votes to pass. It is vital that we act now. We cannot leave the nation unprotected in this post-9/11 period.”
Daniel Inouye (D-HI):

“I support an immediate stopgap approach to provide temporary authority, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, also known as FISA, to ensure our domestic security. FISA has never been amended to reflect the present technological changes since the law was enacted in 1978.
“Accordingly, based on highly classified briefings, I felt it was necessary to provide the Director of National Intelligence, even though temporary, with the needed tools to collect time-sensitive intelligence against foreign targets. Protecting our homes and families transcends partisan squabbling, and I am proud to have gone on record as supporting an immediate solution to this important issue.
Amy Klobuchar (no statement found) (D-MN); Mary Landrieu (changed vote twice, no statement found) (D-LA); Blanche Lincoln (no statement found) (D-AR); Claire McCaskill (no statement found)(D-MO); Bill Nelson (no statement found) (D-FL); Ben Nelson (no statement found) (D-NE); Mark Pryor (no statement found) (D-AR); Ken Salazar (no statement found) (D-CO);
Jim Webb (D-VA) [His statement also included Intelligence Committee members Senators' Mikulski* and Feinstein's** floor statements.] Quote from Web statement:

“Yesterday I supported two measures to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. These measures were considered against the backdrop of heightened concerns from our nation's intelligence community abut the threat of international terrorism. The ramifications of the two amendments before us last night were not political. Instead they related to the urgent demands of national security. I chose to heed those warnings. We now have six months to work in earnest to bring full accountability to the process.
“This distinction and the threats to national security were stated clearly by Admiral McConnell as well as four of the eight Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. These members, Senators Feinstein, Mikulski, Bayh, and Bill Nelson, have extensive experience on intelligence matters and are respected champions of civil rights and liberties. They chose to give significant weight and deference to the intelligence community on FISA reform, and so did I.
“There is near uniform, bipartisan agreement on the need to reform FISA to reflect modern telecommunications and information technology. We must do so in a way that safeguards basic civil and constitutional rights. But we must also remember that the terrorist threat to the nation is extremely serious. I remain fully committed to bringing accountability to this process, and to protecting the privacy rights of all Americans.”
*Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Quote of floor statement:

Mr. President, I’m a member of the intelligence Committee, and like all member, I take my oath to defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, very seriously. Real threats to our country remain and as we approach the anniversary of September 11th, this is a time for more vigilance.
We have two proposals tonight. The Rockefeller-Levin proposal is the most desirable while the McConnell proposal is also acceptable. These proposals are consistent with the principles t at the D.N.I requested to improve the FISA process. It enhances Intel collection against terrorist operatives communicating overseas foreign to foreign. At the same time, it does provide legal safeguards to protect the rights of Americans consistent with law, a warrant is still required. I think it’s time to vote. I think it’s time to protect America.
Several Democratic senator besides ailing Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, did not take part in the FISA amendment vote. They are: Senators Barbara Boxer of California (no statement found), Patty Murray of Washington (no statement found), Tom Harkin of Iowa (no statement found), and John Kerry of Massachusetts (no statement found).
Reference: Legislative Information from the Library of Congress-Thomas (Hat Tip to Senator Ben Nelson's website for this resource).

No comments: