Congressional leaders reached a compromise on a telecom immunity bill and the House passed it handily 293-129, AP reports.
Compromise hardly seems like the word it, though. Listen to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the lead Republican negotiator, quoted in the Wall Street Journal:
The White House got a better deal then they even hoped to get.According the journal the deal would "permit the federal government, in certain circumstances, to listen to communications of U.S. citizens without a specific warrant. It would also expand government powers to monitor communications on topics other than terrorism." Here's the big compromise. Telecom companies that cooperate with warrantless eavesdropping wouldn't get automatic immunity. They would have to show "substantial evidence" they received a written request from the government.
"They will be sued and the lawsuits will be dismissed," predicted House Republican Whip Roy Blunt.The Democrats' position: While the law will lead to dismissal "in most cases," it's important to have judges make that decision. Talk about hollow victories. Caroline Frederickson, head of the ACLU's D.C. office, said Democrats are caving so they can put the national security issue behind them and move on to winning the election. "It's a very reprehensible calculation," she said. That signals the difficulty Barack Obama is now in. Will we go along with his party and risk the wrath of the party's left wing?