The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that will overhaul rules on terrorist surveillance while giving the Bush administration a win it had sought for months: legal immunity for telecommuncations companies that helped in its secret eavesdropping program.
The Senate approved the changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on a 69-28 vote.The action sends the bill the president's desk. The House approved the measure last month.President Bush is expected to give remarks from the White House Rose Garden at 4 p.m. ET.
Earlier Wednesday, senators affirmed their intention to follow through on a promise to protect telecoms by turning back three amendments that would have altered the bill.
The long fight on Capitol Hill — lasting nearly a year — has centered on one question: whether to shield from civil lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on American phone and computer lines after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, without the permission or knowledge of a secret court created by FISA.
Hot Air has all the latest updates. I predicted months ago that we would be where we are now and that ultimately this bill would pass largely in the condition it is in. The Democrats have spent the last four months doing a lot of accusing, fingerpointing, and espousing soaring rhetoric and in the end, they backed down to the President and gave him what he wanted. I predicted this because the Democrats have played chicken with the President on national security multiple times since 2006 and each time they have backed down. They have just done it again.
As for Obama, he voted in favor of two separate amendments that would have put retroactive immunity for telecom companies in jeopardy. Each failed. He ultimately voted in favor of the final bill which will give them retroactive immunity. Hillary voted against the final bill and Hot Air hypothesizes that the netroots might have a last minute change of heart.
The nutroots for their part are lamenting. Here is Daily Kos , the Huffington Post, and this stinging rebuke from Glenn Greenwald at Salon. More troubling for Senator Obama is the mutiny going on at his own web site over FISA. Here is the Chicago Tribune story (H/T to Red State). I continue to predict that this move to the center won't have a large effect on Obama however if he moves to the center on Iraq...that is another story.
We aren't going to know how much damage, if any, this has had until the July fundraising numbers come out. If those are poor, the Barack Obama may really be rethinking his plan to reject public financing. No predictions here. I will just wait for those numbers to come out.