Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dead, for now. The effort by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.- Nev.) to amend the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, euphemistically dubbed the "Protect America Act," has been tabled to January. The pernicious amendment which lead to a threat by presidential candidate Chris Dodd (D.- Ct.) would have granted telecom companies retroactive immunity against lawsuits for their role in providing information enabling the National Security Agency to listen to telephone and Internet conversations. Dodd never technically began a debate, reports Sam Stein on, but talked for several hours, leaving the floor only once, during which colleagues filled in. Eventually, yearning to pass an appropriations bill before the Senate is adjourned for Christmas/New Year's, Harry Reid, an ardent supporter of the bill, tabled the measure.

According to Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane at, an effort is being made to find a compromise, perhaps by substituting the federal government for the companies as a defendant in ongoing action. This effort is being spearheaded by Pennsylvania's Arlen Spector, whom the mainstream media like to portray as a "moderate," in an effort, I believe, to reinforce Repub philosophy that "government" is the problem and the corporate sector the solution. But there is little time left before the break and a bill therefore likely will have to be passed by the Senate thereafter, and reconciled with the bill passed by the House.

With sentiment expressed by Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, quoted as saying "those like myself, who are against immunity, really don't want to punish the phone companies as much as we want to hold the government accountable," Reid's support, and White House lust, for the legislation, the struggle of Chris Dodd and his allies appears especially heroic.

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