What do you know, the House pulled a fast one and the Administration almost fell for it. For those of you who think that there is a FISA deal, guess what? It ain’t done yet. The house stuck in a little provision saying that the guarantee of Telcom immunity will not take place until four Inspectors General review the entire FISA program, starting from the 9-11 attacks through January of this year and report to the Congress; the immunity becomes effective 90 days after that report is sent to Congress. When will the Democrats in congress stop screwing around and put our protection in front of their political agenda? Read more below:
The U.S. House passed the “FISA Amendments Act of 2008” right before the July 4 recess, which provided a mechanism for immunizing telecommunications companies from possible lawsuits resulting from cooperation provided for the NSA wireless surveillance program after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. At the time, it was characterized as a victory for the telecoms, and the White House supported it. But they must not have read the bill until today. The House added another provision to the bill which guarantees that immunity wouldn’t become effective for months after the President signs the bill, and the White House is only now demanding that the Senate remove that provision. Under the House bill, at least four Inspectors General must review the entire program, starting from the 9-11 attacks through January of this year (corrected), and report to the Congress; the immunity becomes effective 90 days after that report is sent to Congress. The requirement has drawn a veto threat today from the Adiminstration (see this letter to the Congress). I worked for over 10 years as a supervisory auditor in the Commerce Department Inspector General’s office, and I can guarantee that such a report as contemplated, presumably to be prepared and written under generally accepted government auditing standards, cannot possibly be completed in any less than 15 months, and perhaps not for as long as two years (the provision, Section 301 in the House bill, gives the IGs a year after enactment, but they couldn’t meet that deadline). We’ll see how the Senate deals with this provision, now that the White House has withdrawn its support of a bill that the President’s staff obviously didn’t read carefully.