Here is the deal. Yesterday, the Senate received a closed door briefing from DNI McConnell, and AG Mukasey. I can't imagine what kind of sunshine was pumped up kilts by McConnell and Mukasey in order to scare the Senators this time? What dire calamity will befall America if the Telcos don't get retroactive immunity? Maybe Osama will steal Christmas. The administration is dead set on granting retroactive immunity to the Telcos and I can imagine will do anything to keep the whole story on the back burner.
The show is all about Telco immunity this time and the choice is Harry Reid's. He has a choice of which of two bills he can bring to the floor. The Intelligence Committee reported out their "fix" of the bill which includes Telco amnesty. The Judiciary Committee reported one that doesn't include it.
Fourteen members of Reid's caucus, including all of the presidential candidates, are on record expressly asking Reid to to make the FISA bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) the base bill to be considered on the Senate floor. That's the one that doesn't include amnesty. Or he can bring the bill that the administration wants to the floor that will be more likely to keep the record of illegal spying by this administration hidden from the courts.
Word has it that Reid is going to reject the request of his fellow Democrats, and bring Telco amnesty to the floor in the form of the Intelligence Committee bill. I have absolutely no idea why he thinks this is a good idea. Remember that Chris Dodd has stated his intent to place a hold on any amnesty bill, and even mount a potential filibuster by his own caucus. Reid intends to offer the Judiciary bill as an amendment to Intelligence committee bill which pretty much means it will fail. You really have to ask yourself whose side Reid is on.
Here's what the NYT editorial page has to say:
Mr. Bush, of course, wants fewer, not more, restrictions and wants those powers to be made permanent. He also wants amnesty for telecommunications companies that gave Americans’ private data to the government for at least five years without a warrant.
Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, seems intent on doing the president’s bidding. He has indicated that instead of the Judiciary Committee’s bill, he may put on the floor a deeply flawed measure from the Senate Intelligence Committee that dangerously expands the government’s powers and gives undeserved amnesty to the telecommunications companies. The White House says amnesty is intended to ensure future cooperation but seems truly aimed at making sure the public never learns the extent of the companies’ involvement in illegal wiretapping.
That will leave Democratic senators like Christopher Dodd and Russ Feingold in the absurd position of having to stage filibusters against their own party’s leadership to try to forestall more harm to civil liberties.
If Reid does go this way he will not only be going against Feingold and Dodd but also be going against Senators Biden, Clinton, and Obama, all of whom promised to support Dodd's filibuster, if it became necessary.
I have a real fear that Reid is not going to stand up to Shrub on this and I would sure like to know why. We need some real leadership in the Senate and this would be a good place to start.