Judiciary Committee strips telecom immunity from FISA bill.

Greg Sargent reports that the “version of the FISA bill that was just reported out of the Judiciary Committee does not — repeat, does not — contain retroactive immunity for the telecom companies.” Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) had threatened to place a hold on any FISA bill that contained immunity. The Judiciary Committee’s action today renders moot the need for such a hold.

UPDATE: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) issued the following statement:

“The FISA legislation reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today is a distinct improvement over the legislation passed by the Intelligence Committee last month. Though it still falls short in many areas, the bill includes several significant provisions that will better protect the privacy of innocent Americans. I applaud Senator Leahy for the package of changes he put together, and I appreciate my colleagues’ support in passing two additional amendments that I offered to further enhance privacy protections. I hope that, when the full Senate considers this issue, the Majority Leader brings up the Senate Judiciary Committee bill instead of the badly flawed Intelligence Committee alternative.

“There is still much to be done to fix this bill. In addition, the issue of retroactive immunity for companies that allegedly participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program will be fought out on the floor. I will continue to strongly oppose retroactive immunity when the full Senate considers this legislation.

“As a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees I have been fighting for months to pass a strong FISA bill that adequately protects the privacy of Americans who are not suspected of having done anything wrong. I will oppose and filibuster any bill on the Senate floor that fails this test or contains retroactive immunity.”

UPDATE II: Christy Hardin Smith explains what’s going on.