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Even Minor FISA Amendments Act Amendment FAILS, Look for More

While primary elections splash their way across our television screens, the substantive train of legislative politics keeps right on chugging along in the background, taking this country to a dark destination. The FISA Amendments Act, a bill to institute six years of wiretapping and physical searches without a warrant, is up before the Senate now. A variety of amendments are being voted upon this morning. The most notable — an amendment to let people sue corporations for breaking the law, violating Americans’ privacy, and giving Americans’ most intimate conversations up to the government without a warrant — is being voted upon as I write.

A second amendment, also important, has NOT passed.

This amendment stipulated that one of the Bush administration’s tricks — ignoring a law and instituting programs that work outside it — would not be legal. Amendment 3910, the Feinstein Amendment, required that all surveillance programs at least work under the FISA Amendments Act and not outside that measly, impotent, authoritarian, anti-constitutional law. Amendment 3910 was like putting a band-aid on an exploded aorta, but at least the band-aid would have been there, and the White House couldn’t have started up new programs flouting even the measly FISA Amendments Act.

But guess what.

Amendment 3910 failed, 57-41.

Yes, Virginia, 41 Senators voted to let George W. Bush operate surveillance programs on Americans outside the law. Any guesses as to who they were?

57 plus 41 equals 98. That’s not 100. Two senators didn’t bother to show up to vote. One of them was Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton was not there to do her job and cast a vote on this amendment to the FISA Amendments Act.

Barack Obama showed up for work, and cast a vote for this meagerly helpful amendment.

Hillary Clinton threw the rule of law under under her campaign bus.

Senator Clinton can’t claim that this was an unimportant vote, and she can’t say it wasn’t a close vote. It WAS a close vote. The amendment almost passed. It would have passed with 60 votes. Clinton should have shown up for this. But Clinton couldn’t be bothered with that work, the work she signed up for when she was elected to the Senate just fourteen months ago.

Hillary Clinton couldn’t be bothered to vote to uphold the rule of law. So you tell me why I should be bothered to vote for Hillary Clinton when the primaries come to my state of Ohio in March.

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