Read the Bills Act Coalition

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

No more debate for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

From Leigh Hornbeck at the Albany Times-Union Blog

Update: Rocque does have some thoughts on FISA, as it turns out. He also said Gillibrand “puts party politics ahead of our national security.” And, “I would have voted for legislation that takes into account the massive changes in communication technology - changes that our enemies understand and exploit in their efforts to organize and execute attacks against us and our allies. I understand the threat our country faces and would not have voted to extend the current law.”
Sandy Treadwell and the National Republican Congressional Committee accused Kirsten Gillibrand this week of playing fast and loose with national security. Gillibrand’s votes show during the debate over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, she supported a 21-day extension, but voted against taking up the Senate-approved bill on the House floor. House Republicans opposed the extension because they wanted a vote on longer-lasting amendments to FISA.
In Treadwell’s words, “The (Senate) bill authorizes surveillance of foreign-to-foreign communications of terrorist suspects without having to obtain a prior court order, which is a necessary tool to ensure our ability to take timely action against terrorist plots.”
In a story published yesterday, Congressional Quarterly described the Republican and Democratic differences this way:
“A major sticking point for House Democrats is retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies facing lawsuits for their alleged participation in warrantless surveillance. The Senate bill would grant such immunity, while the House-passed measure would not. Bush has said he would veto the House version.”
Despite the press release from the NRCC screaming “Kirsten Gillibrand and House Democrats play political chicken with America’s security,” because they adjourned Thursday for the holiday without reauthorizing the Protect America Act, the congresswoman was one of 10 Dems who went against Speaker Pelosi and voted to stay at work.
“The Senate bill contains immunity for telecoms, which the Congresswoman doesn’t support,” spokeswoman Rachel McEneny said Friday.
The current PAA bill expires Saturday. Congress is on vacation next week.
Mike Rocque and John Wallace, who plan to primary Treadwell in September, didn’t comment on this issue.

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