December 14th, 2007
04:30 PM ET
15 years ago

Dodd challenges rivals to filibuster FISA bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd said Friday he will follow through on threats to filibuster the FISA bill next week – and the Democratic contender is calling on three of his fellow presidential candidates to come back to Capitol Hill to support him, as promised.

Dodd announced in October that he would oppose the measure over a provision that contained legal protection for the telecom industry from lawsuits over invasion of privacy if they allow the government access to individuals’ phone records.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on the Senate floor Friday that the FISA renewal bill, which contains the controversial immunity provision, will be taken up this Monday.

Dodd’s campaign immediately sent out an e-mail message to supporters in which they called on the other senators in the presidential hunt - Hillary Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois, and Joe Biden of Delaware – to leave Iowa behind to support Dodd’s filibuster effort, as they’d promised to do.

“Remember when this all started playing out? A lot of people rushed to send out strongly worded press releases about how committed they were to "supporting a filibuster."

They'll have a chance to show they are true to their word,” said Dodd staffer Tim Tagaris.

“Call or email the Senators that pledged their opposition to this bill to support the Dodd Amendment and a filibuster if necessary. And ask them to be there with Dodd when it counts.”

Biden, Clinton and Obama are all currently scheduled to be on the trail Monday, with less than three weeks to go until the Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.

- CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Bravo to Chris Dodd. While he has only a snowball's chance of becoming President, I admire that he is calling out the rest of the field to live up to their own rhetoric. At a time that Congress' approval numbers are in the dumpster, congratulations to someone who is actually willing to be courageous.

    December 14, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. michael dallas, tx

    kudos to Chris Dodd for defending our privacy against king george!

    December 14, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Terry, El Paso, TX

    I disagree with Sen. Dodd on this one. If during wartime the President or the Justice Department goes to an internet provider and says, "For purposes of national security we need for you to give us information that is stored on your computers. American lives could be at stake." then what should we expect AOL or Google or Microsoft to do? The problem is that the White House is not required to go to a judge and ask for a warrant. That would protect us all. The judge, presumably, would only issue a warrant if the search was legal and reasonable.

    We can't expect corporations, including small businesses, to try to guess whether it is legal for them to comply with a request. If there's a warrant, the search is legal. If there's no warrant, the search is illegal. Case closed.

    There cannot be a warrantless search. The administration says it doesn't always have the time to get a warrant. That is a transparent lie. They don't want anyone to know what they are doing, and we all know that is the reason.

    Believe me, next December when the Bush Administration is preparing to give the office up to the new President, the Washington shredders will be working day and night as the Conservatives start trying to hide what they've been doing for 8 years.

    December 14, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. Mike, East Liverpool , Ohio

    They speak of issues that have affected
    Americans for years and yet the corpora
    tions are still in control. The democrats blame the Republicans for past injustices because they controlled
    the House and Senate. Now the Democrats are in control and the Republicans still set policy. (democrats need to see chiropractors to see if they have spines). How ironic. Bottom line is, there is no difference between the two parties. I say to replace them all next November.

    December 14, 2007 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  5. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    As Lily Tomlin's telephone operator character might say, "we're the phone company– we don't have to care about liability, because we struck a deal with W to help spy on you." Snort!

    December 14, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Tim

    I doubt they will listen to you Senator Dodd. Unless of course the polls warrant them to chase supporters instead of doing their duty of defending the constitution.

    December 14, 2007 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. Bryan, CA

    You are doing the right thing Dodd, and standing up for Americans. If America would wake up and start following what is going on they would be outraged. I am glad that someone in DC is looking out for our interests because for so long our interests have been sold down the river.

    December 14, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. therealist

    And yet, it has produced only terrorist related convictions since its inception. Get a grip libbies, our protectors need these tools..

    December 14, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. RightyTighty

    Well, sounds like a lot more CO2 is about to be dump on the campaign trail again by the do nothing 110th Congress. No way these loser would go back on their word huh.. I'll bet Al's proud.

    December 14, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  10. Frank Va. Bch., VA

    Dodd is behaving like a retarded child.

    December 14, 2007 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  11. Get Smart,and 88 in Iowa

    If I had this power to eavesdrop on anyone,would I listen in on my political enemies as they prepare an election against my party? How about some inside tips on the stock market?Geee even people who dislike me and say so on blogs can be rounded up and sent to prison camps eventually.Hey this is getting to be fun, maybe I will hack a few MILLION computers and see what people have on them.Think about it,WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THIS KIND OF POWER???

    December 15, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. Karen, Des Moines, Iowa

    While Americans trade their Bill of Rights for the illusion of "security" and quibble about torture, the Europeans are putting terrorists away by the dozens the old fashioned way – they try them in a court of law. Of course that is difficult to do when you have an InJustice Department that thinks it is ok to break the law to get evidence that can never be used in a trial. Nothing takes the starch out of a wannabe martyr like a fair trial and nice long prison sentence. They are publicly exposed as the murderous thugs they are, and the cloak of victimhood is denied them. Leave it to the Republicans to poison a much needed update for the FISA bill with protection for their corporate sponsors. What we need to stop this nonsense is a dozen more Democrats in the Senate.

    December 15, 2007 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  13. Independent in IA

    At least Senator Dodd has the integrity to pay attention to the reason he was do the people's business. I'm not a big fan of filibustering, but if this is what it takes, so be it.

    That being said, I doubt seriously he will receive the backing of his co-campaigners. They're too busy with their own agendas of duping voters with promises they can't keep.

    December 15, 2007 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  14. NO DEMS,LA.


    December 15, 2007 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  15. Terry, El Paso, TX

    "And yet, it has produced only terrorist related convictions since its inception. Get a grip libbies, our protectors need these tools.." – therealist

    Actually, we have no idea what it has produced since it's all secret. I presume you just made that up about the convictions, since you can't possibly know. We don't know what the feds are doing or whom they're doing it to.

    Since 9/11, about 7,000 Americans have died, both civilians and military. "During that time, more than 40,000 Americans have died from the use of aspirin, 175,000 from gunfire, 156,000 from automobile accidents, 510,000 from alcohol use, and 2,500,000 from tobacco use. Tobacco company executives have killed 350 times more Americans than Osama bin Laden and his friends."

    I am more frightened of tailgating or drunk drivers than I am of terrorists, and I am more frightened of the federal government's secret activities under this administration than I am of either of them.

    Now, I know that conservatives like Therealist love and trust anything that big government does and they feel that it is unpatriotic to question anything the federal government does.

    We Liberals, however, like to exercise a little oversight. We dislike secret activities and we dislike classified documents that are classified to keep the truth away from Americans instead of terrorists.

    December 15, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. Laura - Tulsa OK

    I want the US to prevail in the fight against Islamic extremism, so if that means opening up my cell phone calls to scrutiny, I say "PLEASE, listen to my phone calls !"

    December 15, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. zandyman

    This isn't that complicated people. No one is saying the telcos shouldn't provide information to the government for national security purposes. What Senator Dodd and anyone with common sense is that the process should have in place something that is a pillar of American Government....CHECKS & BALANCES.

    December 15, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. John, Brooklyn, NY

    To those who want to dismantle the Constitution in the name of national security, I have a simply solution that the Bush administration has seemed to consistently forget about. Its called a WARRANT! Its the way that the founding fathers made sure that civil rights are protected, that government stays off our backs, and protects the other two branches of governments from a loose cannon presidency.

    December 15, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    "If during wartime the President or the Justice Department goes to an internet provider and says, "For purposes of national security we need for you to give us information that is stored on your computers. American lives could be at stake." then what should we expect AOL or Google or Microsoft to do?"

    I would expect them to turn down the request if it was unlawful. You cannot simply break a law because "the president asks you to". The rule of law is one of the things that is supposed to separate our country from your run of the mill dictatorship.

    "The problem is that the White House is not required to go to a judge and ask for a warrant. That would protect us all. The judge, presumably, would only issue a warrant if the search was legal and reasonable."

    Wrong. Sorry Terry, but you are clearly not up to speed on the FISA statute.

    Under FISA, it is a criminal offense to eavesdrop on Americans without the oversight and approval of the FISA court. Section 1809 of FISA expressly provides that "[a] person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally – (1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute. . . ." And Section 2511(2)(f) provides that FISA "shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted." Thus, a person has broken the law if - as the President admits he did - he orders eavesdropping on Americans without complying with the warrant requirements of the statute. Period. Furthermore, the president does NOT have the power to order other people or entities to break the law on his behalf.

    In addition, It is rare for FISA warrant requests to be turned down by the court. Through the end of 2004, 18,761 warrants were granted, while just five were rejected. Fewer than 200 requests had to be modified before being accepted, almost all of them in 2003 and 2004. The four known rejected requests were all from 2003, and all four were partially granted after being resubmitted for reconsideration by the government.

    Bottom line, the telecom companies cannot disclose their customer's information simply because the president says so. They have armies of lawyers working for them to tell them as much. If the president wants the right to dig through the private information of American citizens, then he needs to CHANGE the FISA law to give him the power to do just that. In America, no one (even the president) can just break a law because they dont like it or find it inconvenient.

    December 15, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Ima, St, Louis, MO

    Dodd is about the only candidate right now that has the guts to stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law. Others talk about it, but Dodd is actually DOING something about it.

    He has my respect (and my vote).

    The larger story is that Harry Reid is selling out his own party by ignoring Dodd's hold, while he respects the hold placed by Lindsey Graham on the torture bill.

    Hopefully, the

    December 15, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Mario Preston ID

    harry and the boys! get rid of them.

    December 15, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. Newton, Chicago, IL

    Obama better start doing his job by voting on these issues. He's been completely worthless as our Senator lately. I realize he wants a new job, but he should pay attention to the one he already has.

    December 16, 2007 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  23. Broadway C

    therealist wrote: our protectors need these tools..

    No problem, Realist. Just get a warrant.

    December 16, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. Eric, from THE, yes THE, Republic of Texas (take THAT, Yankee Bed-wetters)

    Senator Dodd, 14 Dec 07: "I support a filibuster of the FISA bill."

    Senator Dodd one day after the NEXT 9-11): "I'm going to hold Congressional hearings to find out why we didn't prevent this attack."

    Hello, Cause. Meet Effect.

    December 17, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Mike USMC 95-99

    The prevent terrorisim argument is fales for the FISA bill...

    The president & his cronies have been hard at work spying on Americans...

    Think of this; the CEO of the only major Telecom that refused BushCo now sits in jail on SEC violations...

    were they guilty? Maybe, however, the Administration asked well before 9/11 for the Telecom's help...Conveinetly enough, the suit alleges that starting in 1999-2000, Qwest began fradulent activities...

    December 18, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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