Beleaguered Senator Backs Down

Faced with a full blown filibuster after resorting to procedural trickery to force through a pro-immunity amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to withdraw the controversial measure and allow the Senate to consider both versions after the Christmas holiday.

The controversy over amendments to FISA has been ongoing for months, and have culminated with two versions of the proposed amendments being voted out of committee. The Intelligence Committee's version includes a provision providing immunity to any telecommunication's company that cooperates with government surveillance activities, while the Judiciary Committee's version omits the controversial provision. Sen. Reid, who controls the scheduling of legislation considered by the Senate, attempted to prevent the consideration of the Judiciary Committee's version by invoking a procedural vote.

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd orchestrated the filibuster, which forced Reid to withdraw the proposal and leave the matter until after the Senate reconvenes in January. The immunity provision is intended to thwart a bevy of lawsuits filed by citizens who believe their privacy was violated by illegal surveillance undertaken by the Bush Administration. President Bush has pledged to veto any amendment that does not include the immunity provision.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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