Feinstein Buckles to Grassroots Pressure, FISA Bill Passes Without Telecom Immunity

Human Rights
This post, written by Howie Klein, originally appeared on Down With Tyranny!

Earlier this evening the House passed by a vote of 227-189 a bill that would strengthen court oversight of government surveillanceand refused the Bush Regime's and their Republican rubber stamp allies' demands that law breakers inside the big telecom corporations be granted retroactive immunity for criminal behavior. Bush, of course, has vowed to veto the bill. He may not have to.

Obstructionists in the Senate are determined to kill the bill in the Senate. Today they suffered a mini-setback when Dianne Feinstein, Bush's main Democratic ally on the Senate Judiciary Committee, grudgingly voted for a bill that doesn't allow for retroactive immunity. Corporate hacks like Mitch McConnell (R-KY) went bonkers and are promising to filibuster it. Just so you don't get the idea that Feinstein has seen the light, just before she voted to allow the bill without the retroactive immunity go to the ful Senate, she had voted against Russ Feingold's amendment to specifically kill retroactive immunity.
Just minutes before the vote, the committee had voted 11-to-8 in favor of immunity for the phone companies.
Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Cal., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., voted with the nine Republicans on the panel in favor of preserving the immunity clause.
But in a strange twist that left many wondering what had happened, just minutes after this vote, Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, called for a separate vote to approve the bill without the section of the legislation with the immunity provisions.
The committee approved Leahy's call 10-9, along party lines.

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