The 72 members of the House Progressive Caucus has told Steny Hoyer that, unless eight specific principles were included in a new FISA bill, they would fight it.
See Dems Postpone Rollout Of Controversial Wiretapping Bill article at Huffington Post and below for their statement and the principles outlined by the Progressive Caucus.
Progressive Caucus Official Position and Fundamental Principles Governing FISA Reform, as adopted
October 3, 2007
We, Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, fully recognizing we live in a dangerous world but proud of, and deeply committed to, the values that have made the United States an exemplar for the world, affirm the following principles to guide consideration over the debate regarding surveillance of foreign intelligence. We hold that these principles represent the pillars by which America gives no quarter to terrorists who would do our country harm, while at the same time ensuring fidelity to the distinctively American commitment to the rule of law, the dignity of the individual, and separation of powers.
- It should be the policy of the United States that the objective of any authorized program of foreign intelligence surveillance must be to ensure that American citizens and persons in America are secure in their persons, papers, and effects, but makes terrorists throughout the world feel insecure.
- The best way to achieve these twin goals is to follow the rule of law. And the exclusive law to follow with respect to authorizing foreign surveillance gathering on U.S. soil is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). As initially enacted by Congress, the exclusivity of FISA was unambiguous. Legislation must reiterate current law that FISA is the exclusive means to authorize foreign surveillance gathering on U.S. soil.
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) should be modernized to accommodate new technologies and to make clear that foreign to foreign communications are not subject to the FISA, even though modern technology enables that communication to be routed through the United States.
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is indispensable and must play a meaningful role in ensuring compliance with the law. This oversight should include, where possible, regular judicial approval and review of surveillance, of whose communications will be collected, of how it will be gathered, and of how content and other data in communications to and from the United States will be handled.
- Congress must have regular access to information about how many U.S. communications are being collected and the authority to require court orders when it becomes clear that a certain program or surveillance of a target is scooping up communications of U.S. persons.
- Once the government has reason to believe that a specific account, person or facility will have contact with someone in the United States, the government should be required to return to the FISC to obtain a court order for continued surveillance. Reliance on the FISC will help ensure the privacy of U.S. persons' communications.
- Congress should not grant amnesty to any telecommunications company or to any other entity or individual for helping the NSA spy illegally on innocent Americans. The availability of amnesty will have the unintended consequence of encouraging telecommunications companies to comply with, rather than contest, illegal requests to spy on Americans.
- Authorization to conduct foreign surveillance gathering on U.S. soil must never be made permanent. The threats to America's security and the liberties of its people will change over time and require constant vigilance by the people's representatives in Congress.
Sorry for adding nothing to the debate, but there was no fresh Open Thread available, and this is the first news I've heard in days that actually lifted my heart a bit. It seems the Progressive Caucus is becoming large enough to begin affecting legislation.
Update: Guyermo supplies us with the site for the Progressive Caucus.
Update II: irishamerican has added the contact page for the Progressive Caucus