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House Declines To Vote On Telecom Immunity 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the ain't-over-till-it's-over dept.
freedom_india alerts us to news that the House of Representatives declined to bring the surveillance reform bill to vote, prompting House Republicans to walk out in the middle of a session. The bill, recently passed by the Senate, includes retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies who assisted with illegal domestic wiretaps. The walk-out comes after a proposal was shot down on Wednesday that would have extended the current legislation for another three weeks.
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House Declines To Vote On Telecom Immunity

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  • One can hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kierthos (225954) on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:25AM (#22433318) Homepage
    that the House doesn't end up bending over AGAIN for that sockpuppet masquerading as a President.

    The telecoms do not need immunity, and any existing wiretaps can continue for up to a year. But of course, President sockpuppet prefers not to mention that....
  • Matters Instead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techpawn (969834) on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:28AM (#22433360) Journal
    Turned to contempt of congress charges against Bush aides who did not testify when subpoenas. This outraged some republicans because they thought that the FISA was more important...

    A bill that would give the president more power is more important than maintaining checks and balances?
  • Re:Matters Instead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:31AM (#22433390) Homepage Journal

    A bill that would give the president more power is more important than maintaining checks and balances?
    Yes. It's much easier to build a theocratic state when you only have to control the President and you don't have to worry about any pesky liberals in the Legislature.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:41AM (#22433472)
    For anyone paying attention, the Democrats have just shown Bush to be the Lying Fascist he is.

    How? Bush said that people would Die, the Tarrraaarrusts would win if the bill isn't signed.
    However, he'd veto the bill without Telecom immunity

    So, let's see. It's more important to protect the Telecoms than to "Stop the Tarraa"

    Come on. Fascism isn't any clearer than that. We'll let terrorists kill people (if you believe
    you need one a bill at all, which you don't) instead of passing one without support for
    the Corporate Sponsors.

    Got Fascism? Yup. Damn, now you've even got proof.
  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:45AM (#22433510) Homepage Journal
    No, it is one sides. It puts a completely different spin on the report, effectively providing the reader with no option but to believe that the Republicans all were pissed off that the Telecom immunity bill didn't pass. In fact, the immunity bill may have had nothing to do with the events at the Capital. Spinning the story like that is simply irresponsible.

    As for the charges, it's just political maneuvering. According to the news report, the President invoked executive powers to keep his aides from talking. Congress can hold those aides in contempt all they want, but the Judicial Branch is unlikely to enforce the contempt charge. As a result, it accomplishes nothing more than grandstanding to look like they're doing something about Bush's policies.

    IMHO, start the impeachment process or don't. All this pussyfooting around is 100% impotent and accomplishes nothing more than a lot of publicity to make voters feel warm and fuzzy.
  • Re:I'm confused... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:47AM (#22433544) Homepage Journal
    Same walkout, different spin on the story. To be honest, TFA is misleading and bordering on sensationalist. Not even once mentioning the contempt issue is just plain irresponsible journalism.
  • No Immunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PaK_Phoenix (445224) <darin3NO@SPAMcox.net> on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:49AM (#22433566)
    There should be no retroactive immunity for the telcos. They broke the law, they knew they were breaking the law when they did it. They should now be open to civil litigation, now that their actions are out in the open.

    To pass a bill granting retroactive immunity, would set a precedent I'm not comfortable with. The government(executive branch) violated citizens rights (wether or not they had a 'good' reason), and are now looking to protect their cohorts in crime.

    What's next? Retroactive immunity for Microsoft, for installing a back door in windows, to help us catch terrorists?

    I'm just afraid that immunity will send the message, that it's okay to violate civil rights, if the government asks you to. The government is the last people you should want violating your rights, it says so right in the constitution.
  • by usul294 (1163169) on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:53AM (#22433618)
    A Republican representative, I forget who, was giving a speech, and basically said: "I'm tired of the democrat's grandstanding, I call on my fellow Republicans, and any Democrats who wish to join me, I'm leaving." The idea behind doing this was to make a big fuss so that what was going on in Congress yesterday would be covered by the news. Essentially, they felt that by making sure they got on CNN saying the Democrat's were busy sticking their tongues out at the Bush administration, when there was an important bill to pass. The bill in question, on granting immunity to companies helping the federal government, has enough support to pass the House, but not enough to force a vote on it if Nancy Pelosi doesn't want there to be. I think its fine, don't punish companies for doing what the NSA asks them to do, corporations are not responsible for upholding the rights of individuals. That is the job of the executive and judicial branch. (Executive enforces laws, judicial makes sure the laws are fair, legislative writes them) . A company in this case would not want to be found disobeying proper government authority if they said no. Even though a judge should have been involved.
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:56AM (#22433656)
    No, it is one sides. It puts a completely different spin on the report, effectively providing the reader with no option but to believe that the Republicans all were pissed off that the Telecom immunity bill didn't pass.

    You're right. If it were written properly it would show that the Republicans got all pissy when the House Democrats made it a point to show that the executive branch is not above the law. Although something tells me you wouldn't be pleased with that either. Somehow you need to pin it all on the Democrats because the Angelic Republicans can never do any wrong.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:59AM (#22433704)
    The idea behind doing this was to make a big fuss so that what was going on in Congress yesterday would be covered by the news.

    Yes, that much becomes glaringly obvious when the ostensibly "spontaneous" walk-out ends in front of a bunch of microphones and cameras conveniently set up on the House steps.
  • by Zuato (1024033) on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:59AM (#22433706)
    I wish I could walk out of my job and still keep it AND get paid when I don't agree with something...Man, I could be at home asleep right now and getting paid for it if that were the case!
  • Partially Correct (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ranger (1783) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:03AM (#22433750) Homepage
    Yeah, as some other commenters have noted, the Republicans walked out because of the contempt vote. They were upset the House chose not to vote over telecom immunity. I'm pleased to see the Democrats finally showing they have a spine. It's only a baby step compared to what they should be doing, but after having let their spine atrophy for so long I guess it'll take a while before they actually do anything meaningful. I won't be holding my breath though.

    If the Dems don't capitulate again, and that's a BIG IF, and Protect America Act expires tomorrow, we are still protected under the old FISA law. Not only that, had the Bush Administration used the old FISA law, the telecoms could have gotten immunity easily. So why didn't they? Oversight, which seems to be anathema to this administration.
  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shining Celebi (853093) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:07AM (#22433790) Homepage

    As for the charges, it's just political maneuvering. According to the news report, the President invoked executive powers to keep his aides from talking. Congress can hold those aides in contempt all they want, but the Judicial Branch is unlikely to enforce the contempt charge. As a result, it accomplishes nothing more than grandstanding to look like they're doing something about Bush's policies.

    I'm curious why you think the judicial branch would uphold his claims of executive privilege. That's not a Constitutional privilege. If Presidential aides break the law, should they be immune from investigation as long as the President invokes executive privilege? The real issue is that the Justice Department has said they won't investigate and bring charges, meaning it wouldn't go to court in the first place -- seems a bit of an odd choice if the court wouldn't do something about it. But Congress still has its own power to enforce the citation. And how can you impeach if you don't have any evidence to go on? That's the entire point of calling the aids to TESTIFY, which they refused to do.

    And this is related to the FISA bill. Boehner was mad they weren't going to get straight to the spy bill like the President wanted.

  • by blindd0t (855876) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:08AM (#22433808)

    Or are we /.'ers different from most citizens, and if so, why?

    Voluntary Response is the answer to your question. Those who do care voluntarily voice their opinion in various ways, such as posting /. comments. ^_^ Many if not most citizens don't appear care enough to even follow what's going on with government. They're too preoccupied with their own little worlds, and until those bubbles are burst, they will continue living their lives in deliberate and blissful ignorance. Mod me as flamebait/troll for saying it for all I care, but when Britney Spears requiring medical treatment makes front page news, yet Russia resuming cold war patrol flights and threatening to point missiles at Ukraine (I'll refrain from writing a book of my opinions on that matter) is seemingly nowhere to be found (on the larger, more popular American news web sites), I'd say it's pretty difficult to deny this sad truth.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:09AM (#22433822) Homepage Journal
    I know, it's certainly not news that "Republicans Are Lying About FISA". But it's still important, because they're getting away with it. And as geeks (and probably as nerds), we're the most likely to have something we care about spied on.

    The lie I'm talking about is "FISA will expire right away". That's a moronic lie:

    Section 2 of the Protect America Act:

    `ADDITIONAL PROCEDURE FOR AUTHORIZING CERTAIN ACQUISITIONS CONCERNING PERSONS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    `Sec. 105B. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General, may for periods of up to one year authorize the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States


    Even the "sunset" provisions that Republicans are lying about making the PAA expire don't actually apply:
    Section 6(c) of the Protect America Act:

    (c) Sunset- Except as provided in subsection (d), sections 2, 3, 4, and 5 of this Act, and the amendments made by this Act, shall cease to have effect 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.


    The PAA that Republicans are clamoring to replace "because it sunsets" was passed late last Summer. It's got another six months left for spying, even if that spying is un-Constitutional.

    Every single thing about this spying not only violates the Constitution, but it's being forced on us with the worst kinds of lies. (Hi, Dick!)

    That's why you sould sign the petition to pressure the House to stand up for keeping amnesty out of the final bill [firedoglake.com]. It's your last chance to say something publicly to the government on a voluntary basis.
  • I have faith (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EllisDees (268037) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:10AM (#22433832)
    That our ever brave Democratic congresspeople will cave at some point today and give the Bush administration everything they want. Wouldn't want people to think you're "soft on terror", even if that means allowing anyone that has Bush's approval to break whatever laws he says are necessary.
  • Correction.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by raehl (609729) <raehl311@NosPAm.yahoo.com> on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:11AM (#22433834) Homepage
    but felt that REPUBLICAN President and adviser communications should have some degree of privilege.

    Remember that the amount of executive authority the President should have is based on the political party of who you're asking.

    Were it a Democratic President who was stomping all over our civil liberties, the situation in Congress would be reversed.
  • Re:Wow (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:15AM (#22433882)

    In fact, the immunity bill may have had nothing to do with the events at the Capital.
    Well, let's consider just how much telecom immunity had to do with the walk-out. Before walking out, Boehner and the Republicans claimed they were doing so because the all important revision to the Protect America Act (which includes telecom immunity) was not being considered. The Republicans walked out, and the Democrats proceeded with and passed the contempt resolution. Then they went on with several mostly symbolic and fairly inconsequential matters, such as a Black History Month resolution honoring African American scientists and mathematicians. The Republicans immediately returned from their walk-out, even though the all important PAA and telecom immunity were still not being considered. Hmmmmmm....
  • Re:Matters Instead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raehl (609729) <raehl311@NosPAm.yahoo.com> on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:17AM (#22433908) Homepage
    as it was Bush himself who invoked executive powers to keep them from testifying.

    1) Bush doesn't have those powers. He's just pretending he does.
    2) Following orders isn't an excuse. The aides are in contempt of Congress if they refuse to testify, whether someone else told them not to testify or not.

    Separation of powers means the executive branch can't legislate and the legislative branch can't ... uh ... execute. It doesn't mean that the Executive branch isn't subject to the lawful acts of Congress.
  • by EllisDees (268037) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:17AM (#22433912)
    >I think its fine, don't punish companies for doing what the NSA asks them to do, corporations are not responsible for upholding the rights of individuals.

    But they are responsible for following the law, as Quest did by refusing their request. Fact is, the telecos broke the law by following those orders and should be held responsible just like anyone else.
  • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:19AM (#22433928) Journal

    Or are we /.'ers different from most citizens, and if so, why?

    Several reasons, actually:

    • Many of us realize that the choice isn't between liberty and effective counter-terrorism. The choice is between liberty and a security illusion meant to make people feel safer.
    • Knowing that we aren't actually becoming safer, it is much easier for us to realize how scary it is to be placing these kinds of powers in the hands of people who are already blatantly corrupt and whose interests clearly lie contrary to the public's.
    • There is a fair amount of skepticism that anything beyond simply locking cockpit doors on airplanes is a necessary response to 9/11. Even if you could convince us that we are actually more secure, it could still be a hard sell that the additional security is worth the cost in liberty.
    • There are many other causes of death in our country besides terrorism that vastly outweigh the losses suffered on 9/11... on a yearly basis. Why haven't we taken any steps to solve those? Why is a single event where 3,000 people died cause to go batshit insane protective give-up-our-liberties mode, when Heart Disease [cdc.gov] causes over 200 times that many deaths on a yearly basis, and we can't convince ourselves to hit up a gym?
  • Re:Correction.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:20AM (#22433938)

    Were it a Democratic President who was stomping all over our civil liberties, the situation in Congress would be reversed.

    Are you saying that if the President was a Democrat, the republican congressmen would go so far as to impeach him for something as trivial as a blowjob?

  • Impeachment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phoenix666 (184391) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:32AM (#22434060)
    If Republicans are angry with Democrats for pursuing the matter of contempt citations against Bolton and Miers instead of voting to condone the telecom's crimes, then I'm angry with the Congress for holding hearing after hearing on steroids in baseball instead of holding hearings on impeaching Bush and Cheney for repeatedly breaking the law and violating the Constitution.

    For those out there who oppose Constitutional checks and balances, and oppose impeachment of the Pres. and VP for running roughshod over our rights, consider what will happen if Hillary Clinton gets into office with that impunity and immunity and absolute power established by Bush's precedent. That should make you shudder. I know it does me.
  • Correction #2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by remmelt (837671) on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:05AM (#22434420) Homepage
    ... about a blowjob?

    vs. ... about a war on a sovereign nation under false pretense?

    Fixed that for you. Now you fix your country please.
  • Re:Correction.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by feed_me_cereal (452042) on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:15AM (#22434530)
    Why was he even under oath if republicans didn't feel a blowjob was more important than anything the Bush administration has done? Bush hasn't had to testify under oath over ANY of the insane shit his administration has pulled. If you don't think the republicans were just looking for a way to hang Clinton when they forced him into either: 1) lying under oath ...or 2) guaranteeing extreme embarrassment for himself, his family, his party and the entire country, then I really don't know what to say....
  • Re:Correction #2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:24AM (#22434622) Homepage
    Because they know they are likely to win the election, and they want all of that power for themselves? </conspiracy>
  • Re:One can hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IdleTime (561841) on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:37AM (#22434754) Journal
    The only threat to US security is the current administration which is comprised of a bunch of common criminals who should all be arrested and charged with a plethora of crimes. I'd like to see both Bush and Cheney hanged!
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:38AM (#22434770) Journal
    the truth. Neither do I. We have absolutely NO idea why they walked out. You also have NO idea of what the media was told. For all you know, the reporters heard exactly what they reported. Calling it spin makes you just as guilty of what you are accusing the media of doing. That is talking and making accusations before you have all the facts.

    Normally, I have respect on your opinions, but on this, I do not. Bush has NO capabilities to invoke executive powers on them WRT this. The reason is that ALL have claimed that they had no dealings with Bush on the very matters that congress wants to see them on. If they had dealings, well, then maybe. But bush and the others have all claimed that they did not. Or are they all liars?

    As to impeachment, there is zero doubt in my mind that W and his cronies belong in prison. But it will never happen. The reason is that dems do not control congress and I think that even if they get control of congress on the next go, they will give W and his entire staff a pass because they are afraid that it will come back to haunt them. I am not sure which is worse. The fact that so many of these GD pubs have been as illegal and corrupt as they have been or that the dems have appeared to join them in that they do not go after where the real evidence is; Sibel Edmunds. If the dems REALLY wanted to bring down bush, all that would have to happen is that they would ungag sib edmunds, which is in their powers. Yet, waxman and others who PROMISED her that they would do this, will not even take her calls.
  • Re:One can hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mmalove (919245) on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:38AM (#22434772)
    I agree. If the telecoms have immunity, then they have no reason to maintain their records proving that our government mandated their cooperation - they can simply sit back and wave the immunity flag and sit smug.

    For some reason I just can't see giving companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc immunity to prosecution for failure to take proper care of my privacy with information they collect. Maybe it's the completely dishonest PR I've seen out of Comcast recently with relation to P2P trafficing. Maybe it's the anti-competitive buyouts of AT&T. Maybe it's just a general mistrust of anyone worth over a million dollars.

    So yea - if there are breaches of my privacy, someone should be held accountable. If it's the government mandating it unjustly, they need publicly defamed and removed from office. If there's no public official - then let the suing of large private information collecting giants like the telecom industries serve as a lesson that maybe, just maybe, they should stop tracking everytime I sneeze.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:48AM (#22434888) Homepage

    There has to be something really embarrassing for Bush that will come out unless "telecom immunity" passes. The political push for this from the White House doesn't make sense otherwise. Bush has limited political capital left, and he's spending it on the "telecom immunity" issue. Not the surveillance issue, which might actually have something to do with terrorism, but the immunity issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2008 @11:57AM (#22434976)

    Of course, in the Dems world, lying is just a way to do business.
    Are you even REMOTELY trying to imply that lying is something exclusive to Democrats? Given the last 7 years, you really come here and talk that shit with a straight face???

    It's beyond believable that there are actually people in this world as totally fucking devoid of intelligent thought as your comments indicate you must be.

    You sir, completely lose at life and there is no reset button this time. Get your special brand of retardation off my country please.
  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brad Eleven (165911) <brad.eleven@gmail.com> on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:01PM (#22435022) Homepage Journal

    I read _somewhere_ that Congress does have some sort of enforcement capabilities for cases like this when Justice won't do their job


    I have, too, but all I find is the Department of Justice asserting in a 2005 opinion that they don't: IMPERMISSIBILITY OF DEPUTIZING THE HOUSE SERGEANT AT ARMS AS A SPECIAL DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL [usdoj.gov]. Rather pre-emptive, isn't it?

    IMHO, this is either going to turn out like Iran/Contra or Watergate. My guess is that it's not so much public opinion and approval ratings as it is media mogul opinion and Nielsen ratings.

    Or it could turn out like the 2000 Presidential election, i.e., the Supreme Court rules, and that's that.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else keep hearing this message that We the People don't really have any say?
  • Re:One can hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thuktun (221615) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:04PM (#22435048) Homepage Journal
    Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence, was interviewed on NPR this morning. [npr.org]

    Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, told Renee Montagne the main issue is liability protection for the private sector.

    "We can't do this mission without their help," he said. "Currently there is no retroactive liability protection for them. They're being sued for billions of dollars."

    He said the lawsuits are causing them to be less cooperative and that their actions are not illegal.
    If the actions are to comply with legal government activities, then why would they need immunity? IANAL, but shouldn't that be a slam-dunk against such a lawsuit?
  • Re:Correction.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:10PM (#22435118)

    I'm not going to argue that Clinton's perjury impeachment was a good investment of our congresscritters' time and effort, but comon! As long as you are going to intentionally mischaracterize the basic premise of the impeachment, you aught to stay out of the discussion entire

    I've haven't mischaracterized anything.

    My point being that the republicans slowed legislation to a crawl and caused a media frenzy over the Clinton impeachment. It is these SAME republican congressmen that demanded the full respect of congress during the impeachment (over a blowjob) of Clinton, that are actively turning a blind eye toward the Bush administration. They are walking out protesting that congress is over-stepping their bounds when it comes to forcing the Bush administration to abide by our laws over REAL issues, but they are the ones that created the precedence during the previous administration.

    We all know that the impeachment and the Kenneth Star investigation were nothing but a fishing expedition to take away executive privilege from President Clinton. Ironically, it is this same executive privilege that they are trying to reinforce in a attempt to keep President Bush in power.

    Or did you mean that the impeachment was more about lying to congress than about an extra-marital affair? Hmmm. A funny thing happened during the Bush administration, when Libby lied under oath about the Valarie Plame leak. Let's look in Wikipedia about how the current administration handled it:

    "On March 6, 2007, Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and two counts of perjury. He was acquitted on one count of making false statements. His sentence included a $250,000 fine, 30 months in prison and two years of probation. On July 2, 2007, President George W. Bush commuted Libby's sentence, removing the jail term but leaving in place the fine and probation, calling the sentence "excessive."

    So "lying to congress" is only bad when it's a democrat lying to a republican, but not the other way around?

  • by dave562 (969951) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:31PM (#22435466) Journal
    I'm going to call my representative right now and tell them how pleased that I am that the House sided against the Senate and with the American people. Give your Congress-critters some positive feedback people.
  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ROU Nuisance Value (253171) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:38PM (#22435536) Homepage
    Batman is, as usual, a completely biased right-wing idiot. FISA had almost nothing to do with the walkout yesterday. That there is such confusion about it on this site is just another demonstration of how really wonderful and effective the right wing are at obfuscating reality. [thinkprogress.org]

    Ringdev, your reasons 1 and 3 are just plain wrong. Republicans didn't prevent the contempt issue from being "settled". Democrats had a quorum and passed the contempt of congress resolution yesterday [speaker.gov].

    Which leaves your reason 2, which is closer to the truth. The real reason these idiots walked out are:
    1. To make a stink about not passing the telecom immunity act the way the President wanted.
    2. To spare themselves the popular heat of voting against the contempt of congress resolution. Had they done so, they're going to look awfully phony once Miers and Bolton testify and the Justice Department scandal blows up again.

  • Re:One can hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moeinvt (851793) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:43PM (#22435622)
    I heard Mike McConnell (Director of National Intelligence) on NPR this morning stating that the Senate had determined that the telecom companies hadn't done anything wrong . . .

    Unfortunately the reporter didn't ask the obvious follow up question . . .

    "If they've done nothing wrong, why do they need a law granting them immunity?"
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ROU Nuisance Value (253171) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:45PM (#22435656) Homepage
    If veto=oversight, then a police arrest=investigation. Not.
    BTW: You really should do something about that cold. It's starting to lower your IQ.
  • Re:One can hope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnomaliesAndrew (908394) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:47PM (#22435692) Homepage
    By giving the telecoms immunity, it effectively makes them the scape goat and will eliminate any further investigation... protecting the people who really violated our rights... like the politicians who ordered the operation.

    That's not to say these telecom's should get off, either. Those involved should be fired and investigated.

    It's not just foreign terrorists we need to protect ourselves from, but the fascist government ours relentlessly attempts to become when unchecked. By allowing our government to violate our privacy in such a crass way, I see it as no different than housing a terrorist or providing secrets to the enemy.

    TREASON [wikipedia.org]. "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]."

    Any time you diminish The Constitution, you are doing just that.

    There is no accountability in this world anymore.
  • Re:One can hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fjandr (66656) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:48PM (#22435694) Homepage Journal
    Yes, it should be. Either they acted legally, or at least in good faith, or they did not. This is a matter that should be easily resolvable to find whether they are culpable or not, but that would require the release of information that the Bush administration does not want to release in their defense. He'd rather axe the legitimate method of determining the truth of the matter with legislation than to actually give up any information on his secret programs.
  • Re:Matters Instead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:57PM (#22435832)

    2) Following orders isn't an excuse. The aides are in contempt of Congress if they refuse to testify, whether someone else told them not to testify or not.

    Following orders can be an excuse. Personally, I would be fine with the aides saying "I have been ordered not to testify," getting off scotfree, and having the person who gave them the order take their place in the hotseat. Repeat as necessary until someone is responsible.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:00PM (#22435870) Journal
    A part of what I will say, was said here on January 31st.

    Unfortunately it is both sadder and truer now, than it was, then.

    "Who's to blame?" Mr. Bush also said this afternoon, "Look, these folks in Congress passed a good bill late last summer... The problem is, they let the bill expire. My attitude is: if the bill was good enough then, why not pass the bill again?"

    You know, like The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

    Or Executive Order 90-66.

    Or The Alien and Sedition Acts.

    Or Slavery.

    Mr. Bush, you say that our ability to track terrorist threats will be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. Yet you have weakened that ability! You have subjected us, your citizens, to that greater danger!

    This, Mr. Bush, is simple enough even for you to understand.

    For the moment, at least, thanks to some true patriots in the House, and your own stubbornness, you have tabled telecom immunity, and the FISA act. You. By your own terms and your definitions -- you have just sided with the terrorists.

    You got to have this law or we're all going to die.

    But practically speaking, you vetoed this law.

    It is bad enough, sir, that you were demanding an Ex Post Facto law, which could still clear the AT&Ts and the Verizons from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who are stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail. But when you demanded it again during the State of the Union address, you wouldn't even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared.

    "The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America."

    Believed?

    Don't you know?

    Don't you even have the guts Dick Cheney showed in admitting they did collaborate with you?

    Does this endless presidency of loopholes and fine print extend even here?

    If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business -- come out and say it! There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend. Fascism.

    You're a fascist -- get them to print you a t-shirt with "fascist" on it!

    What else is this but fascism?

    Did you see Mark Klein on this newscast last November?

    Mark Klein was the AT&T Whistleblower, the one who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all AT&T circuits -- everything -- carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your web browsing into a secure room, room number 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it. Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some spy -- a spy both patriotic and telepathic -- might able to divine had been sent or spoken by -- or to -- a terrorist. Everything!

    Every time you looked at a naked picture.

    Every time you bid on eBay.

    Every time you phoned in a donation to a Democrat.

    "My thought was," Mr. Klein told us last November, "George Orwell's 1984. And here I am, forced to connect the big brother machine."

    And if there's one thing we know about Big Brother, Mr. Bush, is that he is -- you are -- a liar.

    "This Saturday at midnight," you said today, "legislation authorizing intelligence professionals to quickly and effectively monitor terrorist communications will expire. If Congress does not act by that time, our ability to find out who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning, will be compromised... You said that "the lives of countless Americans depend" on you getting your way.

    This is crap.

    And you sling it, with an audacity and a speed un

  • what Bush said (Score:5, Insightful)

    by juan2074 (312848) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:01PM (#22435900)
    [Bush said,] "The House's failure to pass the bipartisan Senate bill would jeopardize the security of our citizens."

    How does this bill jeopardize the security of any citizens? Is he serious?

    Secrecy in his administration is a more serious threat to the citizens. Why doesn't his administration reveal its e-mail, telephone, and written communications to the people? Executive branch secrecy jeopardizes our security.

    Why can't we have an open government? We pay the bills. Or stop using our taxes to pay for the executive branch.
  • Re:One can hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheWizardTim (599546) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:20PM (#22436162) Journal
    The companies don't need immunity, Bush needs it. The second that a lawsuit gets approved, then the depositions start. The first thing that the companies will say is, "Bush made us do it. Our lawyers said this was breaking the law, and we did not want to, but Bush held a gun to our heads." That puts Bush and staff in the court room, then in jail.

    It's funny, but the job of president only has one task:

    "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    That's his/her only job. It's not a lot to ask for. So breaking that oath is a big deal, and should come with some jail time.
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:34PM (#22436368)

    If Presidential aides break the law, should they be immune from investigation as long as the President invokes executive privilege? The real issue is that the Justice Department has said they won't investigate and bring charges, meaning it wouldn't go to court in the first place -- seems a bit of an odd choice if the court wouldn't do something about it.
    Going after his aides won't get the aides. The President will still Pardon or Commute sentences for them like he did for Libby. But he won't want Pardon them until he leaves office at the end of his term. To Pardon them now leaves them no recourse for refusing to testify. Claim privilege and he can keep them silent (or amnesiac) until his departure and avoid investigation, impeachment, and removal from office. Then he can resign at the very end, swear in Cheney, and have Cheney Pardon him (as Ford did Nixon).

    That he can leverage Pardons and Commutations of his co-conspirators to get them all off scot free becomes the basis of the executive privilege he's asserting.

    The one chink in the armor is the investigatory arm of a civil suit against the cooperating telecoms. Unless he can convince Justice that his power to Pardon can block a civil suit. It would be difficult argument to win without a better stacking of SCOTUS, which is why he'd rather get Congress to do it for him.
  • Re:One can hope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pugugly (152978) on Friday February 15, 2008 @07:14PM (#22440876)
    Yet this is a President that reportedly exploded at people yelling 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper' [capitolhillblue.com].

    Which, as much as I consider Capital Hill Blue an untrustworthy resource (Call it a left-wing Drudge Report. At one time they were known to single source things, though they told you when they did.), they've had way too much of a tendency to be ahead of the curve on stuff for me to assume they're wrong on anything.

    Pug

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pugugly (152978) on Friday February 15, 2008 @07:55PM (#22441266)
    I confess - I mainly want them impeached because I want this whole "Unitary Executive" theory challenged and sent back to the bowels of hell from which it came.

    I don't *want* Obama or Hillary to have this kind of power, and I certainly don't want McCain to have this kind of power.

    The only reason I can come up with that the Republicans haven't bucked the White House on this is that, fundamentally, they don't think the Democrats will have the imagination to really abuse it the way they have. What the hell are they going to do if Obama get's elected, and turns out to be a charming, charismatic, and ruthless SOB?

    I hate to say it - but 60% of the country hate's Bushes guts. What the hell are they going to do if we have a likable person with a 65% job approval rating doing unto them as they've done to us?

    Pug

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