Thursday, March 13, 2008

Telecom Immunity: The Stand-off Continues

If you remember, I labeled the Democrats the Party of Pusillanimity after the Senate caved to Bush on the surveillance bill, . For those (like me) who expect almost nothing from the Democrats in congress, the fact that this lot is finally standing up to Caesar is heartening. See this post.
Later today, the House will vote on its surveillance bill, a bill that rejects retroactive immunity for the telecoms who cooperated with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program and provides a number of tougher civil liberty checks on the surveillance going forward.

The general expectation is that the bill will pass, but the vote might be quite close. As CQ reported last night, none of the 21 Blue Dog Dems seem prepared to say where they'll vote -- a number saying yesterday that they hadn't even read the bill yet.

It was a defiant move for the House Dem leadership to bring such a bill to a vote, and the administration clearly is not happy. This morning, President Bush just made umpteenth public statement on the surveillance bill, full of the usual canards about greedy trial lawyers exploiting the telecoms' patriotic participation in the program, "dangerous intelligence gaps," and the specter of the telecoms refusing to cooperate going forward because the lawsuits did not get wiped out. His message was clear: "voting for this bill would make our country less safe" and (just in case they weren't clear on this) Americans "want their children to be safe from terror." The House should not leave for its planned two-week Easter recess, he said, without passing the Senate's bill, which the White House supports.

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