It's time for your surveillance bill update. Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) says that he's drafted a compromise on retroactive immunity for the telecoms. How does it bridge the gap between the House Dems, who refuse to wipe away the forty or so lawsuits against the telecoms for collaborating with the administration's wireless wiretapping program, and the White House, who refuse to pass any surveillance bill without such a measure?
Well, he's not saying, although he's dropping some hints
"I think we've come up with some things that would involve the court, but not get to a position where it would endanger the program or the carriers."...
Bond said the language, drafted with White House consent, represented a "new provision we've come up with" on immunity. He would not give details other than to say that the FISA court would have a role. It is unclear whether the new approach will gain approval from Democratic leaders and negotiators.
Bond says that the measure is not the one
that was offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would have directed the secret FISA court to have determined whether the telecoms had followed the law or participated "in good faith with an objectively reasonable belief that such assistance was lawful." Most Democrats supported that, but all Republicans except Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) didn't. Since Bond says that his solution doesn't "endanger" the telecoms, one would think that his proposed solution would be even less risky than having the secret court make a determination as to whether the telecoms really believed they had legal cover. I can't wait to see it.
Meanwhile, The Hill
also reports that Bond is negotiating directly with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). It's unclear as of yet whether Hoyer is amenable to Bond's offer, but they're talking.