Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), the FISA bill is toast…for now.
Senator Chris Dodd won a temporary victory today after his threats of a filibuster forced Democratic leadership to push back consideration of a measure that would grant immunity to telecom companies that were complicit in warrantless surveillance.
The measure was part of a greater bill to reorganize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Earlier on Monday, the Senate, agreed to address a bill that would have overhauled FISA, authorized the monitoring of people outside the United States, given secret courts the power to approve aspects of surveillance, and granted telecom companies retroactive immunity for past cooperation.
But the threat of Dodd’s filibuster, aimed primarily at the latter measure, persuaded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, to table the act until January. A compromise on the immunity will ostensibly be worked out in the interim period.
Sen. Dodd basically put his presidential campaign in Iowa on hold while he went back to D.C. to lead the fight. Apparently some things, like the Constitution and our right to privacy, mean more to him than scoring poll numbers in the presidential race. And apparently it means more to him than it does to Sens. Obama, Clinton, and Biden, who stayed away.
It’s good…actually, it’s amazing…to see a senator and a presidential candidate make the choice between his own interests and those of the nation and come down on the right side. If Mr. Dodd has to give up his ambitions for the White House — as if he actually had a chance in Iowa — it tells you that someone at least has his priorities in the right place.