Dodd's Filibuster Threat Stalls Wiretap BillChris Dodd on Bush's threat of a veto:
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.
While he never technically conducted a filibuster, according to aides, Dodd left the floor only once, to address a press gathering. He did, on occasion cede time to his Democratic colleagues. But even then, they say, he remained engaged in the debate.
"Everyone who spoke on the floor said they were grateful for Dodd taking a stand," said a staffer to the Senator who asked not to be named. "They said if it weren't for him they wouldn't be having this much-needed debate."
Dodd was the one Senator currently running for the White House who left the campaign trail to debate the Protect America Act, an absence he hinted at while on the Senate floor.
From Sen. Chris Dodd’s first speech on FISA today:
For the last six years, our largest telecommunications companies have been spying on their own American customers.What the telecoms did that Bush wants to cover-up by giving them blanket immunity:
Secretly and without a warrant, they delivered to the federal government the private, domestic communications records of millions of Americans—records this administration has compiled into a database of enormous scale and scope.
That decision betrayed millions of customers' trust. It was unwarranted—literally.
What's happening in Room 641A of 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco remains one of the most closely-held secrets in the U.S. government. According to a former AT&T employee who assisted two technicians cleared to work in the telecommunications complex on Folsom Street, 641A served as a vacuum cleaner for phone calls and e-mails of terrorism suspects, routing them to the National Security Agency.If you can, you might want to throw Dodd some $$$ --- he needs to stay in this race:!
The claims made by the ex-employee, Mark Klein, are the basis for a class-action lawsuit against AT&T and affiliated telecoms for illegally harvesting information from U.S. citizens.
Klein provided a detailed list of 16 communications networks and exchanges targeted in San Francisco, including MAE-West, a Verizon-owned Internet hub that is among the largest in the country. Klein also said "splitter cabinets" similar to the one on Folsom Street were installed in Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
[J. Scott] Marcus, the former FCC adviser, said in a legal declaration recently
unsealed in the case that the operation described by Klein "is neither modest nor limited" and was far more extensive than needed if it was focused only on international communications or on tasks other than surveillance.
"I conclude that AT&T has constructed an extensive -- and expensive -- collection
of infrastructure that collectively has all the capability necessary to conduct large-scale covert gathering of [Internet protocol]-based communications information, not only for communications to overseas locations, but for purely domestic communications as well," said Marcus, a veteran computer network executive who worked at GTE, Genuity and other companies before joining the FCC.