According to Fox News' Cameron, the Senate "tweaked" FISA "a little bit"

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

On Special Report, Carl Cameron reported that Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama "were both present for the debate and vote on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] being tweaked a little bit today." However, if the FISA amendments bill becomes law, it would do far more than "tweak[]" FISA "a little bit" -- as The Washington Post reported, it "include[s] major revisions to the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established a secret court to issue warrants for domestic spying on suspects in terrorism and intelligence cases."

On the February 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reported that Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL), both presidential candidates, "were both present for the debate and vote on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] being tweaked a little bit today." Cameron was reporting that "perhaps the shot of the day took place on the Senate floor" during that debate and vote, "and we have some video of the two of them on the Senate floor shaking hands and it raises the question, is that the fall contest right there?" However, the FISA amendments bill that the Senate was considering at the time -- and which it later passed -- would, if it became law, do far more than "tweak[]" FISA "a little bit." Rather, as The Washington Post reported on February 13, the Senate bill "include[s] major revisions to the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established a secret court to issue warrants for domestic spying on suspects in terrorism and intelligence cases."

The Senate-approved bill would, for the most part, extend until the end of 2013 revisions to FISA enacted by Congress in August 2007 as the Protect America Act (PAA). The PAA, which is set to expire on February 15 if Congress does not act, is not simply a "tweak[]" to FISA. Rather, as the Post article explained, the PAA "expanded the government's authority to intercept -- without a court order -- the phone calls and e-mails of people in the United States communicating with others overseas." The Post article continued: "U.S. intelligence agencies previously had broad leeway to monitor the communications of foreign terrorism suspects but needed warrants to monitor calls intercepted in the United States, regardless of where they originated."

As Special Report guest host Bret Baier noted about 10 minutes after Cameron's report, the Senate version of the FISA amendments bill would also grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications providers who cooperated with the Bush administration in the conduct of its warrantless domestic wiretapping program.

From the February 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

CAMERON: So, McCain has this problem of a rival picking up support of conservatives and highlighting that he still has some problems sowing up the socially and religious conservative base of the Republican Party. While all that's going on, they also recognize that they have to begin to build an organization for a national campaign in the general election, hiring former [Rudy] Giuliani staffers, former [Mitt] Romney staffers.

And today, perhaps the shot of the day took place on the Senate floor when John McCain and Barack Obama were both present for the debate and vote on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act being tweaked a little bit today, and we have some video of the two of them on the Senate floor shaking hands and it raises the question, is that the fall contest right there?

Barack Obama seeming to pick up more and more momentum on the Democratic side, and John McCain confident that, statistically, he's going to be a lot closer to the nomination by the end of this evening -- Bret.

[...]

BAIER: As Carl Cameron mentioned, Senators McCain and Obama were on the Senate floor today, although Hillary Clinton was not. McCain voted for and Obama against ending debate over a bill giving retroactive immunity to telecom companies that helped the government eavesdrop on suspected terrorists. The cloture resolution passed 69-to-29, and the bill itself also easily passed, 68-to-29. There is a chance the House may not act by the end of the week when the current temporary law expires.

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