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As the Senate continues debate over final passage of a bad FISA bill, the House is getting ready to take up the reconsideration fo the bill, and the conference. In light of that, and the Senate's action, House Judiciary Chair Conyers weighs in with a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding regarding telco amnesty. In his communication, Conyers "indicated that the secret documents recently provided by the White House do not justify the Senate amnesty provision. In addition, Chairman Conyers reiterated previous requests for additional information that the White House has not yet provided and requested declassification so that more information on this crucial issue may be provided to the American public."

Here's an excerpt of Conyer's letter.

Throughout this past year, the Administration has sounded a drumbeat that Congress enact the Administration’s request for amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, during this same time, the Administration has denied to Congress essential documents and information that would permit Congress, in the exercise of its Article I responsibilities, to consider the proposed amendments to FISA in a prudent and careful manner. This Administration cannot be heard to complain about the unwillingness of Congress to enact legislation that the Administration claims to be so vital for the national security when the Administration at the same time has denied to Congress documents and information that are essential to its legislative responsibilities. Frankly, the Administration’s refusal to provide the requested information belies its position on the importance of the legislation: rather than the Administration giving Congress all the information it needs, the Administration has provided a slow trickle of information to only selected members of Congress, almost assuring that Congress cannot adequately consider its requests.

Once again, I have set forth below our request for documents and information. I further reiterate my request that all these materials, as well as those provided so far, be made available to the entire Judiciary Committee and, to the extent possible, to the American public via immediate and appropriate declassification.

Sen. Leahy just spoke on the Senate floor, making a stand against telco amnesty, a rare and strong rebuke of the work of a fellow chair, Jay Rockefeller. Joining Sen. Leahy are Rep. Conyers and Rep. Reyes, committee chairs who are strongly opposed to telco amnesty, and who will probably be on the conference committee for working out the final bill. Three out of four Congressional Committees rejected giving the telcos amnesty for their illegal action. They need to stand up for that principle in conference.

Update: FDL has a petition to House members, demanding that they reject the Senate version of the bill and defend their version, the RESTORE Act on the House floor and in conference. Sign the petition and write or call your representative.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Feb 12, 2008 at 01:19 PM PST.

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