Akaka and Inouye go separate ways on FISA bill
WASHINGTON » Hawaii's U.S. senators split their votes yesterday as the Senate approved a bill that overhauls bitterly disputed rules on secret government eavesdropping. The House passed the same bill last month.
Sen. Daniel Inouye was one of 21 Democrats to join Republicans in voting for the measure, which shields telecommunications companies from lawsuits complaining they helped the U.S. spy on Americans.
His fellow Democrat, Sen. Daniel Akaka, opposed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which President Bush said he will sign.
"I voted for the FISA bill because it protects our freedoms and liberties, while at the same time provides our intelligence agencies with the capabilities and tools they require to protect us in the post-9/11 world," Inouye said in a news release issued by his Washington office.
But Akaka said, also in a release, that he voted against the bill because "it fails to ensure that innocent Americans' privacy rights are protected, and because it provides blanket immunity for telecommunications companies who allegedly participated in the administration's illegal wiretapping program."
"We all agree we need to give our intelligence agencies tools to combat terrorism, but we must be careful to ensure that any new authority protects Americans' privacy and civil liberties, and that we do not shield the administration from accountability for conducting surveillance outside the law," Akaka said.
Inouye said that while most of the debate over the bill centered on liability protection, the measure expands protections to Americans while they are out of the country, and it increases the oversight role of the FISA Court.