Thursday, October 18, 2007

Senator Chris Dodd places a hold on telecom immunity bill

Talk about a monkey wrench here. This is from TPM Election Central:

Senator Chris Dodd plans to put a hold on the Senate FISA renewal bill because it reportedly grants retroactive immunity to telephone companies for any role they played in the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program, Election Central has learned.

Dodd will send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this afternoon informing him of his decision. Dodd also plans to put up a page today at his campaign Web site where opponents of the immunity provision can register their opposition.

“Later today Senator Dodd will be sending a letter to Majority Leader Reid informing him that he plans to put a ‘hold’ on a bill that would provide for retroactive amnesty for telecom giants that were complicit in the Bush Administration’s assault on the United States Constitution," Dodd spokesman Hari Sevugan told Election Central. "Senator Dodd said that he would do what he could do to stop this bill, and with this announcement he has again shown that he delivers results.”

By doing this, Dodd can effectively hold up the telecom immunity bill, because bills are supposed to have unanimous consent in the Senate before going forward. One Senator can make it very difficult to bring a bill to the floor by objecting to allowing it to go to a vote.

Dodd's planned action comes amid reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has reached a deal with the White House on the legislation that would give telephone carriers legal immunity for whatever role they played in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, which was approved by President Bush after 9/11. The White House and the phone companies have been lobbying aggressively for immunity, and the announcement of the immunity deal today dismayed many opponents.

The bill is getting marked up by the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon.

Dodd, who has aggressively courted the liberal blogosphere as part of his Presidential run, was being loudly appealed to by top liberal bloggers today to put a hold on the bill. Dodd has for some time now spoken out against the immunity provision but had stopped short of saying that he would exert his power as a Senator to hold up the legislation.

Now, however, he is going to do just that.

So Senator Chris Dodd has thrown a huge monkey wrench into stopping this supposed "bipartisan" deal in allowing the telecoms immunity against legal action in supplying the government customer phone records without a warrant. The problem with the Democratic leadership here is that they are so afraid of the Republicans calling them wimps and accusing them of being "soft on terrorism," that the Democrats are so willing to sign away Americans' civil rights to stop this GOP name-calling. And the Democratic leadership still has not yet learned that the Republicans will still call the Democrats "weak" and "soft on terrorism" anyways. It is why there is a lot of anger against the Democrats on the liberal and progressive blogs in that the Democrats still refuse to stand up for anything--even against a president with a 24 percent approval rating! Dodd basically told both Senators John D. Rockefeller IV, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Christopher S. Bond, the ranking Republican, that they could take their compromise bill and stick it up their wahoos. This is where politics can get really fun. Because Dodd is acting the way the congressional Democrats should be acting with serious brass balls, and a desire to pull this country away from the cliff that both President Bush and the Republicans have been happily sending us over. Had the telecoms been granted immunity from civil lawsuits for their own role in Bush's illegal domestic spying program, not only would have negated the hundreds of civil lawsuits that the telecom industry is currently facing, but it would have also clamped down on future discoveries regarding the details of this illegal Bush spying program. In other words, the telecom immunity makes the Bush spying program secret from the courts.

Good work Dodd.

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