December 18th, 2007
10:00 AM ET
2 years ago

Specter 'disappointed' by delayed Senate vote

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Delaying a vote on an overhaul of federal surveillance laws until after the holiday recess is not the best approach to deal with the matter, Sen. Arlen Specter told CNN Tuesday.

"I'm disappointed," Specter, R-Pennsylvania, told "American Morning."

"We will get back fairly late in January on the current schedule, and that doesn't give us enough time. I think it would have been a better approach to work through it now."

Specter is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided Monday to push back the vote on the matter after the Senate bogged down over granting retroactive immunity to companies that cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program.

"We have tried to work through this process, and it appears quite clear at this stage on this bill that we're not going to be able to do that," said Reid, D-Nevada. "It is in the best interests of the Senate that we take a look at this when we come back after the first of the year."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Christopher Dodd, who earlier spearheaded an unsuccessful filibuster attempt to keep the bill off the Senate floor, said he appreciated Reid's decision.

"I look forward to coming back in January, maybe with some suggestions on how we might ease the concerns people have and satisfy that without retroactive immunity," Dodd said after Reid's announcement. " ... I promise I will be willing to listen to all the ideas."


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. demwit

    Did these companies have a choice? Why would the dems, all lawyers, want to prosecute private companies acting under the direction of the US President?? Oh...

    December 18, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Humor of the Hour On the Campaign Trail

    Oh goody, maybe Senator Obama can finally find time in his busy campaign schedule to make that vote :)

    December 18, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Lee, Mays Landing, New Jersey

    No "retroactive" immunity! No executive clemency or pardons either in cases where the one of the conspirators/lawbreakers is the executive (President Dubya Bush)!

    What ever happened to the idea of following the LAW of the land to begin with? And if the law is something that needs changing, change it FIRST, rather than just pretending you are King and doing whatever you please and then "retroactively" excusing it?

    If the telecoms illegally cooperated with the criminals in the White House, they should be subject to the full remedies of the law that they are aware of.

    "Retroactive" is just another excuse and way out by the lawbreakers who are running this country without regard to the constitution. They are bigger threat to our values and nation than any band of criminals hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    December 18, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. More Humor of the Hour on the Campaign Trails

    Or NOT ;)

    December 18, 2007 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. Justin, NE

    Is it just me or do the law/policy makers in Washington work way less than they actually should. I think if you miss 5 votes throughout the year or don't show up to sessions, that's it you're done! Aren't they supposed to be rePRESENTatives,

    December 18, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. roberto belleville,nj

    i think is a great idea,thesetwo will help president hillary clinton repair our imageand bring more jobs to our country.

    December 18, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. Dave, Chicago, IL

    This is ridiculous. To have a congress equally as woeful as the president. Get it done! And no way should these companies be given any kind of immunity. They are complicit in this warrantless surveillance and the lawsuits against them should go through. Otherwise, this is an abuse against the rule of law. Can we not see what is happening in this country and our Constitutional rights??? Boy, do we ever need to elect someone like Ron Paul. Someone that will be a respector of the Constitution.

    December 18, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Martin, Clarksville, TN

    So what is Hillary's opinion on this issue? Oh I forgot, she doesn't take a firm stand on any important issue and now that this matter has been pushed back, she will not need to take any action until after the initial primaries.

    I don't expect this "Do Nothing" congress to accomplish anything significant and I certainly have learned not to expect candidate Hillary to take on any issue.

    December 18, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Alexander, Washington, DC

    I can't think of any clearer indicator that proves Hillary Clinton is a NEO-CON that supports the NWO, CFR agenda.

    December 18, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Drew, Gaithersburg, MD

    Of COURSE these companies had a choice. If you get a letter from your local police department saying, "Kick down your neighbor's door and tell us if he has drugs," its your RESPONSIBILITY to ask your self, "Is this legal?" and if you happen to have huge teams of lawyers (like these telecoms) then you will determine, "No."

    They need to be held responsible for folding so easily to the White House when the law on this matter (FISA) is so clear.

    December 18, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. Eric the red. Roswell. NM.

    I think that even though he is a republican, specter isn't to bad. Better than the candidates running for the GOP. I am a Democrat though. So I am voting for Joe Biden. I think he has the best credentials. We must have a president that can hit the ground running.

    December 18, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. Jayne, Santa Barbara, California

    Of course they had a choice. They could have asked for a warrant which would have been the legal thing to do. The President is not a dictator. He is not authorized to circumvent the Constitution. These companies did not protect themselves, their shareholders, or the American people. There is a right was and a wrong way to do things. The President and the telecoms made a conscious decision to do this the wrong way. Plain and simple.

    December 18, 2007 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Camille, CT

    The telecom immunity part of the bill would clearly reward illegal behavior. I'm glad it's stalled.

    December 18, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Chef Dred New Orleans, LA

    This just confirms my worst fears about the Clintons the Bushes and the rise of thier political dynasties. This makes me even more less inclined to vote for her.

    December 18, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Henry Leventis, Cambridge, MA

    Because Senator Chris Dodd flew back to Washington from campaigning in Iowa, phone companies that allegedly assisted this administration in unauthorized surviellance of Americans do not have immunity. Your characterization of Senator Dodd's efforts as unsuccessful are not accurate and unfair.

    December 18, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    The reason the law existed in the first place–was to prevent the companies from having to be under the corrupt influence of the government–by legally place impediments to government access, and creating protections/ immunity if/when they refused the government without the proper legal authority. Once they accepted the governments "request" unchallenged, and without the legal authority of the law–they screwed up. No immunity from suit or prosecution should be allowed–they all knew what they were doing when they did it–and now have to belly up to the consequences. DON'T WE WISH LAWS WERE THAT WAY FOR THE REST OF US CITIZENS. COMMIT A CRIME–GET CONGRESS TO WRITE A NEW LAW AND GET IMMUNITY FROM ANY CRIMES COMMITTED UNDER THE OLD LAW. This is a "no-brainer" unless you're a Republican who seem to think skirting the laws and the constitution is O.K......

    December 18, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Jim - Tucson

    The reason President Bush and the NSA bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is because they didn't have any specific individuals they wanted to "wiretap".

    They are using a technique called data mining. They gather all the emails and phone call records (from AT&T for example) in a database and run a software program that looks for suspicious activity. As one can imagine this is a very daunting task that can implicate innocent people. PBS's Frontline had great expose about this whole mess. The best thing we can do as American's is remain diligent, report suspicious activity, and get to know your neighbors.

    As Dodd said, the next things being "mined" will be our medical, financial and academic records.

    Live Free or Die

    December 18, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Stanley Lehto Washington

    It goes to show you how this administration has ruined our reputation abroad, that the presidents father is willing to help a democrat restore our reputation.
    S Lehto , Washington

    December 18, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. Lee, Mays Landing, New Jersey

    No "retroactive" immunity! No executive clemency or pardons either in cases where the one of the conspirators/lawbreakers is the executive (President Dubya Bush)!

    What ever happened to the idea of following the LAW of the land to begin with? And if the law is something that needs changing, change it FIRST, rather than just pretending you are King and doing whatever you please and then "retroactively" excusing it?

    If the telecoms illegally cooperated with the criminals in the White House, they should be subject to the full remedies of the law that they are aware of.

    "Retroactive" is just another excuse and way out by the lawbreakers who are running this country without regard to the constitution. The lawbreakers and their republican "enablers" are a bigger threat to our values and nation than any band of criminals hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    December 18, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Philip

    Maybe we should think about what's best for the country, not what's best for the senate...

    "We have tried to work through this process, and it appears quite clear at this stage on this bill that we're not going to be able to do that," said Reid, D-Nevada. "It is in the best interests of the Senate that we take a look at this when we come back after the first of the year."

    December 18, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. Curt, Corona CA

    These companies broke the law for 6 years! They had a choice. Qwest refused to hand over data without a court order. ATT illegally sent ALL of your and my electronic data to the NSA without a court order. It is described as "the largest database ever assembled in the world" according to an NSA insider.
    In the last 20 years FISA court has passed 18,000 court orders to wire tap and rejected 5. Why would the President circumvent the FISA court?
    If your Congressman votes yes on retro-active immunity, your right to privacy will continue to be destroyed. That is not Patriotic and is not American. Time to investigate and make sure this doesn’t happen again. Unless of course you WANT the government to read, hear and see everything you ever do.

    December 18, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Kevin Hale, Kennewick, Washington

    Will you liberals please listen to yourselves? Repair our image around the world.....the Evil Bush Empire spying on everybody.....bring those jobs back to America.....stop Bush from destroying the environment (that's not part of this article, but I thought I would throw it in anyway). Wake up!!!!! You guys tried the same song and dance with Kerry. How did that turn out for you? But go ahead, keep it up. Your relentlessness is going to get yet another Republican elected. Thanks!!!!!

    December 18, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Mike USMC 95-99

    Did these companies have a choice? Why would the dems, all lawyers, want to prosecute private companies acting under the direction of the US President?? Oh…

    Posted By demwit : December 18, 2007 10:58 am

    As in the Military, An illegal order is just that: illegal...Telecoms knew it was & the only CEO that said no (Qwest CEO) now sits in jail for SEC violations...

    Was he guilty; maybe, but we'll never know how & why the government went after him or what tipped them off so readily to prosicute in early the 2000s

    Unfettered rule by fiat is NOT allowed in the US...Maybe all you Originalists, Neocon-baffoons should look at the original intent of the Bill of Rights for a change...

    December 18, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. vicky Crampton,bozeman,mt

    Yes,these telecoms did have a choice..to obey the law and require a warrant(Quest did this)and refuse to comply with this "above the law" administration. Remember ,this started before 9/11. Congress needs to hold this Administration accountable,and in so doing,will likely reveal alot more about what laws were broken and civil liberties violated.

    December 18, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. heartlight 3, Maui, HI

    Of course these companies had a choice. They could respond to the government's request like sheep and betray their customers' confidence and privacy like AT & T and Verizon did, or they could tell them to get a warrant as the law requires and then we'll allow you access to our customers' records, like Qwest did. Now AT & T and Verizon want immunity for breaking the law.

    December 18, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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