There was a report out of Capitol Hill late last week that the Congressional battle over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act--and more specifically the inclusion of telco immunity in the new FISA--is fading into the background as economic issues move front and center. Republicans in Congress reportedly aim to focus more on fighting what they say are Democrats' plans to support tax hikes while the U.S. economy struggles to stay afloat.
It looks like Congress might be moving on to issues that voters actually seem to care about and understand. Despite attempts by the Bush administration, which has been pushing for telco immunity, to make the lack of resolution over a new FISA an issue of threatened national security, troubling news about the economy reigns. Opponents of telco immunity, largely House Democrats, also have not done any better in promoting any kind of movement on telco immunity. Their stubborn resolve has not amounted to anything more than a stalemate.
Economic problems affect the daily livelihood of Congressional constituents in a real way, whereas telco immunity might be seen only as something that could affect the fortunes of a few giant corporations (and potentially affect national security process, though most of us have no real understanding of how).
Yet, the lack of resolution is a bad thing for both sides of the issue. Security legislation should not be left out in the cold, and neither should telcos, who have dozens of wiretapping lawsuits looming over their heads, ready to crash down on them should telco immunity be left out of a new FISA. Whatever the ultimate resolution to this battle might be, all concerned would benefit from Congress making the effort to find it.
- see this report at The Hill