Washington – Senate lawmakers today passed a bill to update the FISA law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The bill contains an unusual amendment which grants Vice President Cheney unlimited use of every U.S. citizen’s cell phone. It also grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies, and allows the National Security Agency to listen in on Americans’ phone calls whenever there is a human being on either end of the call. The bill was sponsored by Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and passed by a vote of 68-29.
Asked about the bill’s odd amendment relating to Cheney, Rockefeller said, “Well, we needed to come up with a bill that the president would actually sign. And he’s given every indication, and so has the White House, that the only way he would sign it is if it contained the amendment that Cheney is granted access to every person’s cell phone. So we put it in. What can we do? I mean, look, he’s already listening anyway, you may as well just hand the guy the phone. What’s the big deal?”
Before the bill gets to President Bush, however, it will likely face opposition in the House of Representatives. Several Democrats have said they will do everything they can to block its passage, and some have threatened to filibuster. But Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says he hopes it doesn’t come to that. “I certainly hope they don’t filibuster,” Reid said. “I mean, the Republicans, they don’t like it when we make trouble. If we just go quietly along with what they say, they’re so much nicer to us. I love it when they’re like that. They joke around with me, treat me like a buddy. Slap my back and say hello. It’s so nice.”
President Bush said the bill’s passage is urgently needed to protect the nation from another terrorist attack. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr. Bush said, “This bill is vital for the protection of the people of this country. It contains provisions that allow us to do the things necessary to keep this country safe. And that includes the Vice President having access to your cell phone, if necessary. He will use that access to make sure you’re not calling an Al Qaeda member or some other radical terrorist or extremist. He may call some of the numbers, to make sure the person listed in your ‘contacts’ is actually the person they’re supposed to be, and not some impostor – some terrorist impostor intending to harm our great nation. And then, once he’s through, which shouldn’t be longer than a few days to a week at most, he’ll give the phone back. And don’t be surprised if all your information is erased, for example. Just know that whatever was done, it was done in the interest of our national security. Consider yourself a patriot. You’re a patriot, and your phone is a patriot, too. It gave of itself for our country. It gave that data. And that is the essence of patriotism. So, be proud of that phone. That little guy may have just saved your life. Tell it how thankful you are. Buy it a new case. Something soft and furry, that will keep it warm. You owe it that much.”