A lot of left wing blogs are hammering Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi for reaching a compromise on the FISA legislation, but this is difficult bi-partisanship at work and it ultimately means getting to a better place than we previously were.
Ending a year-long battle with President Bush, the House approved, 293 to 129, a re-write of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that extends the government’s ability to eavesdrop on espionage and terrorism suspects while providing a legal escape hatch for AT&T, Verizon Communications and other telecommunication firms.
The companies face more than 40 lawsuits that allege they violated customers’ privacy rights by helping the government conduct a warrantless spying program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
A majority of House Democrats opposed the surveillance legislation. Some argued that the new law would lead to illegal surveillance of Americans, while others contended it was a principled compromise that provided greater civil liberties than a version favored earlier this year by the White House and Senate.
Again, the law before this was awful, and even though this legislation isn’t what many Dem interests would hope for, I think some consideration has to be given to the idea of getting to a less worse place. In other words, completely blocking this legislation would get in the way of providing more civil liberties.
You know, like making sure the government actually uses the FISA court…
The legislation also would require court approval of procedures for intercepting telephone calls and e-mails that pass through U.S.-based servers — another step that the White House and GOP lawmakers previously resisted.
If Dems want to revisit this after the 2008 elections they can, but for now it’s a compromise I’m glad they made.
It’s encouraging to see that Obama supports this compromise too.