Senate Passes Surveillance Bill

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On a final 68-29 vote, the Senate just easily passed the surveillance bill with retroactive immunity for the telecoms intact. Once again, a large number of Dems crossed over.

Since most of the amendments that sought to add civil liberty protections to the bill were voted down, the bill that’s emerging from the Senate is only a slight improvement of the administration’s Protect America Act. As CQ reported this morning:

According to most experts and advocacy groups, the bill would only slightly rein in the new powers granted to the administration in the temporary law (PL 110-55).

The new bill would authorize the president to conduct warrantless surveillance of foreign targets even when they are communicating with someone in the United States.

Among the Dems voting for the bill were Sens. Jim Webb (D-VA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Max Baucus (D-MT), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Note: both Whitehouse and Baucus voted for the Dodd/Feingold amendment.

So now it’s on to see what will happen in negotiations with the House.