Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-UT) has made a decision to move legislation updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) out of committee and on to the senate floor for debate and vote sometime this week. OK, no problem there, that's his job. The problem is with which bill he is moving to the floor. The one he decided to take out of committee, over the objections of the ranking Democrats and ignoring a hold placed on the legislation by Senator Chris Dodd (D-MA) is the bill the president prefers. Why? Because this version of the bill contains a provision granting retroactive immunity to the major telecommunications carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, etc. who assisted the government in eavesdropping on communications without a warrant.
There was another version of the bill, that the Judiciary Committee had openly debated in public and that 14 Democratic senators have sent a letter to Reid asking that he move to floor for a vote. It does not contain the immunity provision and the president has threatened to veto it as a result of it lacking the protections for the telecommunications companies.
Senator Chris Dodd has decided to filibuster the bill. This will be the first filibuster in the Senate in 15 years, and he's interrupting his candidacy for the presidency to do something he cares greatly about. Protect the US Constitution.
Now, this entire mess is a result of the Global War on Terror and the Bush Administration's voracious expansion of presidential powers. Dodd thinks the warrantless eavesdropping is a violation of the 4th amendment of the Constitution protecting against warrantless search and seizures. So do I.
But regardless of the content of the bill, or why Dodd will filibuster, both of which are important topics for another post, the question to me is why is Harry Reid doing this? He was swept into power as Majority Leader as a result of the American people's resounding rebuke to the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration in general. Why is he consistently caving in?
My thoughts here are relatively sinister. I think Reid, Pelosi and others in the Democratic leadership have done something that the Bush Administration is holding over there heads. This somewhat came to light last week when it was revealed that Speaker Pelosi among others attended a briefing in 2002 where waterboarding was discussed as a tool used in our interrogations and kept quiet about it. So, is that the deal? Does George and company have some type of leverage against the Majority Leader? Perhaps. If so, it's sad, and Mr. Reid, you've let the country down in a moment where we need serious leadership. Thank goodness for Chris Dodd.
Tell me what you think,