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Senate Delays Telecom Immunity Vote Until After July Recess 148

Posted by timothy
from the after-all-why-ruin-the-4th dept.
ivantheshifty writes with news of a delayed vote (failed filibuster attempt aside) on the updated FISA bill which has been discussed here recently, in particular because it would grant telecom companies immunity (under certain conditions) from suits for wiretapping conducted at government request. According to the Associated Press story carried by the Washington Post, "Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and more than a dozen other senators who oppose telecom immunity threw up procedural delays that threatened to force the Senate into a midnight or weekend session. The prospect of further delays was enough to cause Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to postpone the vote until after the weeklong July 4 vacation."
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Senate Delays Telecom Immunity Vote Until After July Recess

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  • by paroneayea (642895) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:54AM (#23965281) Homepage
    So, there's a chance here, in this brief window of opportunity, to drum up proper opposition to this bill. I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt deeply hurt by Obama not really opposing this bill. Perhaps now's a good chance to get him to show us that he's a candidate of change we can actually believe in?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Daimanta (1140543)

      "So, there's a chance here, in this brief window of opportunity, to drum up proper opposition to this bill."

      Yes, but it will fail. Tough luck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by monxrtr (1105563)

        Who cares. Let it fail, and let the politicians voting for it take the political hit to their reputations. It's not going to stand up in the courts anyway. And the Telecom companies can spend extra tens of millions in legal fees defending the law (or let the subpar public defender presidential administration attorneys lose even bigger for them), before it's overturn and thrown away, and they have to defend against civil damages suits later (and perhaps criminal violations).

        I foresee Telecom executives being

        • by Nimey (114278) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:03AM (#23966697) Homepage Journal

          You must be joking. The Supreme Court, I guarantee, will allow this law to stand by 5-4... assuming that it would even grant that a plaintiff has "standing" to bring the suit. The 4 conservative justices would almost certainly find for the government, and Kennedy would probably go with them.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Joeyspecial (740731)
            I disagree, I don't think judges like it when the legislature tells the courts what to do. Sometimes 'my branch vs. your branch' trumps political affiliation.
      • It doesn't have to fail. You just have to go about it in the right way. I'm still not entirely sure what that is, but I do know this - it has little to do with the Internet (save perhaps as a way to find others in your area willing to help out or to share resources) and everything to do with local life and dealing with real people.

        The first step is to raise awareness of the issue and help people to understand why it is important. This involves a fair amount of work with no guarantee of a big payoff, so I

    • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:05AM (#23965387) Journal
      Obama is lying to his supporters as much as any politician will, if it gets your vote. I foresee him conveniently missing the vote on this one, to avoid having taken sides, to placate all of this liberal supporters in not supporting it, while not giving the conservative the ammo of "he limits your rights!". Wow, lotsa commas in there, sorry about that. Ultimately, Obama and McCain will be blasted by all three sides as the agendas of each see fit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Falstius (963333)

        Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism. He's between a rock and a hard place, voting against the bill will give serious ammunition to McCain and voting for it hopefully goes against his principles and pisses off the party base. I'm extremely dissapointed in the democratic leadership that they haven't had the guts to stand against the whitehouse on this crap, which would have avoided this position in the first place. I think 3rd parties candidates for cong

        • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:35AM (#23965627) Homepage Journal

          I'm extremely dissapointed in the democratic leadership that they haven't had the guts to stand against the whitehouse on this crap, which would have avoided this position in the first place.

          Do you really think that either major party gives a flying fsck about you or about any principles?

          Large clue stick: they don't. They care about their campaign war che$t$. That's it. So they are going to do whatever they feel will garner the most cash from their brib^H^H^H^Hlobbyists.

          Really. Why are people in this country so naive?

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Probably because most of us have gone to public schools:

            "America is the best country"
            "We enjoy more freedoms then any other country in the world"
            "Join the military, support your country!"

            Also, things such as this would not surprise these people, schools have been essentially desensitizing people to this kind of control and unfairness for quite some time, along with montras of how great our country is, and implying how our country (government) can do no wrong by passing laws.

            That is why people in the USA are

            • by Miseph (979059)

              Maybe you should move out of the Bible belt to somewhere that actually wants to run decent public schools.

              I went to public school, and that's not at all what my curriculum sounded like. In fact, I seem to recall that my 10th grade U.S. History teacher was the first person to ever suggest reading Howard Zinn. It came up early in the semester when he was describing how bad the previous textbook had been in terms of pro-Anglo-American bias and hawkishness; he'd apparently tried to instead of merely replacing i

            • Probably because most of us have gone to public schools...

              Not all public schools are the indoctrination type. Some of the most fun I had in high school was {with friends, and surprisingly administration support} was forming the "Anarchist Party" during student elections... Worked well enough that they had to start bribing students to vote. ;)

              ...and ended up doing similar to a local mayoral election. We forced a run-off {in a city of around 1,000,000, it only took around 500 votes!} that cost the "evil" candidate around $200,000 of his OWN cash. He made it in, but

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Not all public schools are the indoctrination type.

                The officially recommended curriculum and the choice of approved course materials are mandatory in some cases and have a chilling effect even when only "recommended" in practice - and are even then most frequently mandatory in all but name. Everything down to the pledge of allegiance is designed to be manipulative - you are no longer required to pay obeisance to Yahweh, but the entire culture in public school is one of conformity.

                We forced a run-off {in a city of around 1,000,000, it only took around 500 votes!} that cost the "evil" candidate around $200,000 of his OWN cash. He made it in, but he was frazzled

                He had two hundred large to blow on this election and he was "frazzled" and yo

                • He had two hundred large to blow on this election and he was "frazzled" and you're happy about the outcome?

                  Yup. He had to spend money to win a political position where he was regularly ridiculed until he left office. A local public access show had a royal mad on with this guy due to his allowing a killer nurse [wikipedia.org] to go loose so his hospital wouldn't look bad. So yeah, making the guy pay 200 grand to get made fun of is just ducky.

        • Deal with it! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:40AM (#23965701)

          Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism. He's between a rock and a hard place, ...

          So? Deal with it! He wants to be the President. And he's willing to fold on this issue? Just because he MIGHT not be elected if he doesn't fold?

          Courage would be standing up to the Republicans (and the bought and paid-for Democrats) and saying that we do NOT need this law and that it would violate our Constitution.

          Folding just so he can be elected ... that's the opposite of courage.

          Take the fight to the Republicans. Explain to the people HOW this bill is needed or NOT needed. No more of the platitude of "fight terrorism".

        • by Smidge204 (605297) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:54AM (#23965839) Journal

          Bear in mind that this is the same "Vital anti-terrorist" FISA bill that President Bush refused to sign last time when it came through without telecom immunity.

          In other words, it's all about covering their ass and has little or nothing to do with actual terrorist monitoring. If it was so important for national security, why would Bush refuse to sign it without telecom immunity?

          Unless I'm mistaken, all activities started before the most recent FISA bill expired on Feb 2007 are still valid for a whole year, so survielence will continue up to Feb 2008 even if this bill does not pass.

          That makes this bill doubly-moot and perfectly "safe" to vote against. Unfortunately the public will never understand this.
          =Smidge=

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TubeSteak (669689)

          I'm extremely dissapointed in the democratic leadership that they haven't had the guts to stand against the whitehouse on this crap, which would have avoided this position in the first place.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/19/AR2008061901545.html [washingtonpost.com]

          The war spending bill, for example, includes $162 billion for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional $95 billion worth of domestic spending on programs such as unemployment insurance and higher-education benefits for veterans. Bush, who had threatened for months to veto the legislation, said he will sign it.

          Leading Democrats acknowledged that the surveillance legislation is not their preferred approach, but they said their refusal in February to pass a version supported by the Bush administration paved the way for victories on other legislation, such as the war funding bill.

          The Democratic leadership feels that increased veterans benefits & increased unemployement is more important than rejecting de facto telecom immunity.

          The Democrats are literally allowing their votes to be bought by the Republicans.
          /Shame

        • by EllisDees (268037)

          >Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

          Honestly, who cares? The Democrats won the house in the last election by running on a 'Get out of Iraq' ticket, which could have certainly painted them as soft on terrorism, but they won by a landslide. Most Americans recognize what a sham the whole thing has been at this point, and a politician who panders to the opposition like this doesn't deserve our votes. I was seriously thinking about voting for Obama this fa

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sumdumass (711423)

          The party wouldn't be pissed off if they actually paid attention.

          Under existing law at the time, the telecoms should have have immunity already. the so called lawsuites aren't really about damage, they are to find dirt on the administration because the telecoms would simply show the orders they received authorizing the taps and all. But there is a hitch, the administration has declared them all classified and remanded them as a state secrete which means that the telecoms can't give any of the information ou

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            You wouldn't like life in prison for speeding because 2 months after you were caught speeding, they changed the speed limit on the stretch of road to 30 MPH lower making your penalty a newly found felony reckless op with no tolorance.

            Ah, a car analogy! I believe I can come in and clarify things here once again. (dun dun dun DUN!)

            The actual situation here is more closely analogous to a turn on a 50 mph road around which the safe speed is, say, 15 mph, but which is not posted. You go around the turn unsafely at 50 mph and somehow make it, but you seriously endanger the lives of others.

            Performing an illegal act is not legal, no matter who instructs you to do it. It doesn't matter if you're a soldier or a telecom exec. That's why we have su

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              Ah, a car analogy! I believe I can come in and clarify things here once again. (dun dun dun DUN!)

              The actual situation here is more closely analogous to a turn on a 50 mph road around which the safe speed is, say, 15 mph, but which is not posted. You go around the turn unsafely at 50 mph and somehow make it, but you seriously endanger the lives of others.

              Actually, if your going to go that route, imagine the sign said caution 50 MPH curve ahead when it should have said 15
              MPH. Either way, your or mine, you

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Either way, your or mine, you did not break any laws and if you did, instructions from the state (the speed limit sign) saves you from prosecution or lawsuits.

                NO, IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT. You don't need to be a lawyer to know that the laws state that you should not take a turn too fast for you to take it. It doesn't say that as long as you're under the speed limit, that if you run off the road, you're not at fault. Guess your nickname was well-chosen.

                Seriously, would you get busted for counterfeiting if you received counterfeit bills as change from your dinner?

                No, because counterfeiting is the act of creating counterfeit money.

                If you goto the store

                You shouldn't use goto.

                and buy a radio that was stolen when a truck going to a different store was hijacked, did you break any laws?

                What does the truck have anything to do with it? Oh, you mean a radio that was stolen from a truck going to a different store.

                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  NO, IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT. You don't need to be a lawyer to know that the laws state that you should not take a turn too fast for you to take it. It doesn't say that as long as you're under the speed limit, that if you run off the road, you're not at fault. Guess your nickname was well-chosen.

                  You spelled out that he made it through the turn. That means he did not take it too fast for him to take it. In order to make it through the turn, he would have had to stay in his lane, not lose control of the car,

                  • by Falstius (963333)

                    I'm going to ignore all the bullshit and ad hominum because this started out as an interesting thread and go back to the linchpin of your argument

                    The law says that the telecoms aren't responsible when presented with certain document claiming authority.

                    Were the teleco's presented with what looked like legitimate paperwork?

                    From my limited understanding that would mean a warrant. If they were presented with a plausibly legal warrant that was obtained illegally then I would agree that they aren't liable. But then why do they need this bill, the case should be trivial to win in court.

                    Somewhere else it was pointed

                    • by sumdumass (711423)

                      Were the teleco's presented with what looked like legitimate paperwork?

                      The claim is yes, they were.

                      From my limited understanding that would mean a warrant.

                      I'm glad you said limited knowledge because since the 70's the Attorney General and after Carter's Executive order, people he appoints, have been able to authorize wire taps themselves. The order states that they are for foreign intelligence purposes, the targets are a foreign power or entity as the law defines it, and the no us persons would be part

        • Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

          Telecom Immunity is the primary reason and purpose to this bill, and everyone in Congress knows this. They think we don't realize that however, and the spin on TV reflects that disconnect. For some reason, they see their spin and talking points on CNN and they think that's all most of us are aware of. That's why I'm so pissed. When Barak Obama goes on television and says something like "fight terrorism is more i

        • by roystgnr (4015)

          Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

          Yup. And his two possible reactions include the moral and intelligent response:

          "I'm willing to fight as hard as it takes to preserve our Bill of Rights against anyone who would try to use terror to take those rights away from you."

          Or the immoral and stupid response:

          "I'd kinda like to do the things I'm being accused of, but I must not have any good reasons for it since I'm willing to cave as long as I'm pushed hard enou

        • by Sloppy (14984)

          Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

          But if he votes for retroactive immunity, he's "soft on crime" and threatening to civil liberties. I'm not saying it isn't worth a few thousand dollars to him to vote in favor of crime, but there's no way he (or anyone else) can do it and not look dirty.

          Of course, McCain has the same problem, so it balances out.

      • by mspohr (589790)
        It's been widely reported that Obama does not support telecoms immunity but he has said he will vote for the bill even if it has the immunity provisions... so no lying here (but I'm not particularly happy that he says he will vote for the bill). The Dems have rolled over far too easily on issues like this under the Republican threat of being 'soft on terrorism'.
      • by Intron (870560)

        "I foresee him conveniently missing the vote on this one"

        Good call - Vote Smart [votesmart.org] says his record on FISA, Guantanamo and Real ID is to be "out of the loop".

      • by orielbean (936271)
        try a dash or a semicolon in place of some of the commas next time - it helps break up the flow of your thoughts.
    • by dreamchaser (49529) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:37AM (#23965673) Homepage Journal

      Not really opposing it? He supports [washingtonpost.com] it according to every [cbsnews.com] report that I have seen [cnn.com]. This is after saying he'd never support the bill if it had immunity for the telcos in it.

      • Not really opposing it? He supports [washingtonpost.com] it according to every [cbsnews.com] report that I have seen [cnn.com]. This is after saying he'd never support the bill if it had immunity for the telcos in it.

        Sadly, people on here seem to be ignoring that fact. It was posted in another thread (a wired.com article) in the previous telecomm article on /. as well and it was pretty much ignored. I have and had hopes for Obama turning out to be something decent, but the closer it comes to election day, m

        • I am thinking that I'll vote for Kodos.

          As for Obama, I'm still surprised that anyone at all fell for his trying to come off as some kind of 'new, post partisan' politician who decrys 'Washington politics as usual'. He's no different than any other politician, and frankly having lived in Chicago I can't imagine anyone who isn't a typical dirty lying politician to rise up like he did. Chicago is especially known for it's dirty politics.

          I'm not saying he's any more evil than any other politician. I'm just s

        • Obama's just doing what every Democrat does after the primary season -- running to the center.

          If you look at it from his perspective, he knows he's already got the liberal vote, so why should he try and speak to their issues anymore? He has to go after the "swing vote". You know, the people who pay attention to the elections starting sometime around late October and vote based on network news reports and campaign commercials. It really gets me that ignorant, low information voters are courted more than people who actually try to make a reasoned and informed decision. That's just the nature of one man, one vote.

          If we had more than two major parties, Obama (and McCain on the other side) couldn't get away with simply flip-flopping on important issues because the farther left and farther right parties would step in to fill the void.

          • There is no more fucking center in the US. Rupert murdoch assured us of that with his "fair and balanced" news network. (no need to balance anything when there's only one side)

            try "running to the extreme right".

            there is nothing "centerist" or "swing vote" about fucking over our constitution and the rule of law by giving corrupt telecoms immunity. It makes the nixon pardon look outright heroic!

            His lack of a spine means I will be voting republican this year across the board. If he doesn't give a crap about w

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by ScentCone (795499)
          Sadly, people on here seem to be ignoring that fact.

          Yup, just like they're ignoring is somber promise not to use private campaign funds if McCain did the same, because the public campaign finance system was so important to support. And of course, he's completely lied about that, and is opting for big bucks from private bundlers, and has the gall to say it's really his way of supporting change ("Change We Can Believe In!" - [tm]) in the public financing system. Puh-lease. It's right up there with his ofte
          • by ScentCone (795499)
            There we go! There's the flamebait mod from one of the very people I'm talking about. Thanks for being so predictable! Obama is counting on that, too. Excellent work. Now, do as he says, and write a check to Hillary Clinton like he did today, since it's the right thing to do. How can you not like a guy with priorities like that? She agreed to endorse him if he agreed to get her back the money she loaned herself. Party Of Unity, man!
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:44AM (#23965735) Homepage Journal

      Clinton campaigned as the candidate of change too.

      Tell me how much different he was from any other administration. It is nothing more than a motto that implies more than it delivers.

      I am concerned strictly by how they have voted in the past. What is more telling are what votes they skipped out on or merely voted "present". The more important the issue that a candidate misses out on or votes present the more damning things it implies.

    • Actually, to me, this actually strengthens Obama's position. It shows he's willing to break from the expected stance, based on party affiliations. If Obama can run with common sense because of issues of National Security, I am comfortable voting for him (his Iraq policy being his only weakness in my book).
      • by Abcd1234 (188840)

        It shows he's willing to break from the expected stance

        "Expected" only because it was his own, previously expressed stance.

    • There's also a good chance of alienating a key vote by bothering them over their break.
    • Newsflash (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This isn't about Senators opposing FISA. It's about having the laziest fucking Congress in the history of the republic. Sometimes they just convene for a couple of hours to perform mindless tasks like congratulating the latest NCAA football/basketball/baseball champion. What exactly have these bums been up to? Weren't they trumpeting from every rooftop the (bogus) claim that they had a mandate from the American people just 2 years ago? What the fuck do we have to show for it? A congress with a worse a

    • People like to point at all the Congressional "recesses" as vacation time for lazy congressmembers. Some probably do fly on corporate jets to Scotland to play golf with strippers, but most of them spend the time flying back to their home district (or state, for senators) and meet with local people to work on their constituents' issues. Sure, those people are primarily local corporate types and other rich/powerful people who live, work or happen to pass through their home office neighborhood. But they're wor

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt deeply hurt by Obama not really opposing this bill. Perhaps now's a good chance to get him to show us that he's a candidate of change we can actually believe in?

      As long as its a cloture fight, and he stays out on the campaign trail rather than comming back to vote to stop the filibuster, Obama's essentially one more vote on the side of the senators fighting the bill. I'd rather see him on the Senate floor supporting the filibuster and using this as more fodder for his

  • I guarantee you that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    this bill will not be voted on until after November.

    Which tells us what a hot potato it is and give us time to turn it into a rotten potato for the politicians. IOW, lobby them to not vote for it.

    • by Drakin020 (980931)

      No, if anything they want to rush it out before November.

      Think about it, if Bush leaves office that gives you a 50/50 chance of someone not supporting it. If McCain is elected, he will sign it in, if Obama is elected, I don't think he would.

      While Bush is in office, I would think they would want to get it out as quick as they can.

  • Shameful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashqwerty (1099091) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:08AM (#23965417)
    If you want people to talk about your fine work you do it just before a big holiday. Then families will get together and chat about how great things are. If your work is a shameful disgrace that you don't want people talking about you do it after everyone returns from their gatherings.
    • Re:Shameful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:33AM (#23966287)
      "What are you going do to celebrate America, daddy?"

      "Well, honey Daddy is going undercut the constitutional checks and balances and basic civil rights that have formed the basis of this Union since its creation."

      "But daddy, aren't you a Democrat?"

      "Yes honey, but daddy's very scared of standing up to the President, so he's decided to just PRETEND to stand up--like when you pretend you're a princess."

      "Daddy, when will the burgers be done?"

      "Sorry honey, Daddy can't reach the top of the grill on his knees."

    • False (Score:2, Insightful)

      by u8i9o0 (1057154)

      Your position may be true for local operations that very directly affect you, but applied to D.C. it is absolutely false.

      If your work is a shameful disgrace that you don't want people talking about, you do it right before the weekend (ideally after 5PM on a Friday). The reason is two-fold: the reporters that would usually notice these things already left for happy hour and the average citizen pays less attention to politics over the weekend. By the time Monday rolls around, a bunch of other events occurre

  • Good news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sixintl (956172) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:09AM (#23965423)
    This is the best outcome anyone hoping to hold politicians accountable for this could hope for. Now they can't just vote and shuffle it off into the past and tell people to get over it; their constituents have plenty of time to slam them with letters and phone calls and make them seriously rethink their support. Is it likely to still pass? Yes, that's the US for you. But now at least the bill's opponents have got a fighting chance.
    • by zappepcs (820751)

      Yes, and my letter is going to be rather simple so that the message remains clear. I won't have to spend time explaining why they should vote against it, or why it's a bad thing. Simply put, if they do NOT vote against telecom immunity I will work to scupper their next bid for office. That might be voting for an opposing candidate, or maybe just writing in bugs bunny. In any case the best they can hope for if they do not vote against it is a lost vote from this constituent. It will probably be worse than th

  • by Henry Pate (523798) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:10AM (#23965433) Homepage Journal

    The attorney general and national intelligence director on Thursday said President Bush would veto the bill if the immunity provisions were stripped from it.

    So it's vital to national security but not so vital if they can't have immunity along with it.
    They say they haven't broken any laws but are fighting like hell to make sure they can't be prosecuted.

    Is there any reasonable way to appear more guilty?

    • by raind (174356)

      Maybe were are not cynical enough.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:50AM (#23966531) Journal

      Is there any reasonable way to appear more guilty?

      Accidentally give the defense counsel call logs of wiretapped conversations they had with their client?
      http://www.google.com/search?q=Al+Haramain+log+wiretap [google.com]

    • by jank1887 (815982)

      Actually, it's immunity for the telecom companies, not for anyone in the administration who broke laws to get the wiretaps turned on.

      I wrote my senator a few months back about the telecom immunity provision. His response (Dem-MD) was that he supports holding the administration, and any specific government individuals, legally responsible if they took illegal steps in getting the warrantless wiretaps. But, he didn't agree with holding the telecom companies liable, as they were acting at the behest of the

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        While I can see his point (put the legal pinch where it belongs on the administration for the illegal authorization), I'd hate to see the telecoms get away scott free when they acted as they did without requiring proof of legal authority for the actions.

        what sort of expectation do you have of the telecoms. Under the law, someone presents them with a certification that they have authority for the tap they are requesting. This could be a court order or a certification from the AG or one of the offices desig

        • >If this is done, they did all their part according to the existing law.

          Sounds like a good defense to me, possibly even grounds for a summary judgment. In which case immunity doesn't buy them anything they don't already have. So why do they want it so badly?

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            The problem is that the administration has locked their defense away in national security secretes. All the warrants and information surrounding the programs have been classified making it a felony for the telecoms to present it. They want the immunity because they should rightly have it but with those restrictions in place and the administration not budging, the only answer left is either flat out immunity or some means for the AH to certify if they presented the proper documents or not according to each c

  • Certain Conditions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kintar1900 (901219) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:22AM (#23965513) Homepage

    ...because it would grant telecom companies immunity (under certain conditions) from suits for wiretapping conducted at government request.

    It's important to note that these "certain conditions" boil down to basically any time the administration says, "We really want to".

    On the one hand, I'm utterly sickened by the fact that this is still up for debate. No one should have protection from doing something unconstitutional. It was the telecoms' duty as American citizens to tell the government to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, and then call the newspapers and blow a huge freaking whistle. On the other hand, I'm glad it hasn't just flown through Congress without any resistance.

    • Actually, from what I read, it's a directive from the executive & legislative branch directing judges to dismiss cases if the Telco has a written request from the Govt requesting a tap. From what I know of judges, there are a lot of them that would look at that directive & decide the paper was too course to wipe their ass with. You do not tell a judge to toss out the law & dismiss a case because you want it done. You either change the law, or argue why the action is within the law - those are yo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EgoWumpus (638704)

        I think you're correct; most good judges wouldn't deign to listen to an illegal directive. However, the federal courts are being stacked with cronies - people who are going to listen to the directive and know that there is no one that can second-guess that decision.

        My biggest fear is that despite seeing the obvious corruption in the system, few people realize the extent to which the neo-conservative (fascist) movement has infiltrated the mechanics of our system. They're breaking down the matrix of checks an

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:30AM (#23965581)

    ...but threaten to get between these a-holes and a week off and they'd even put legislation that would save starving children and kittens on the back burner.

    It sounds to me like a lot of Senators and Congressmen (from both parties) need to be given a permanent holiday. And the added joy of a fine-tooth-comb tax audit as a going away present.

    • by jank1887 (815982)
      My government agency just switched from the old pay system to a 'pay for performance' scale. (A lot of us are quite pleased with the change.) I propose Congressional pay be put on a similar scale. I guess the voters would have to regularly determine their performance rating, however. Maybe a few negative pay periods would wake them up a little.
  • Now I won't have to worry about the scoundrels for a week. The issue is, am I referring to congress, the telcoms or both? Hmmm.
  • I thought the bill had already passed, but apparently the last vote was just to stop a filibuster. Now I have more than a week to get my hopes up only to have them dashed again!

  • I'm sorry, but telecoms gaining immunity fits far too perfectly in America's paradigm. Thomas Paine has been rolling over in his grave since the mid 70's. I'm surprised the right to bear arms was upheld in Washington, but that is less of an issue where industry is concerned IMO.
    • by sumdumass (711423)

      I'm sorry, but telecoms gaining immunity fits far too perfectly in America's paradigm. Thomas Paine has been rolling over in his grave since the mid 70's. I'm surprised the right to bear arms was upheld in Washington, but that is less of an issue where industry is concerned IMO.

      I'm shocked that you think you are surprised. The telecoms already had immunity. Title 18 section 2520 already gave them immunity if the government presented the authority to them (it doesn't require it to have authority, just if t

  • by shma (863063) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:42AM (#23965723)
    The only reason we have this delay is because the cloture vote occurred on the eve of a week long holiday. When cloture is invoked, there is a limited amount of time you can delay in the senate before a full vote must be held. When the senate returns it will be forced to vote on this wiretap bill, and unless 51 senators vote against the bill, it will pass. I'd like to believe this is possible, but it really isn't. Telecom immunity is all but guaranteed.

    One additional piece of information: the results of the cloture vote [senate.gov]. Look very carefully at the names under "not voting".
    • by Hoplite3 (671379)

      Well, Kennedy gets off with a doctor's note. He's got brain tumors. The others have all tacitly supported immunity by not voting.

      It shows a distinct lack of character, but more importantly a total lack of patriotism and also oathbreaking.

      They swore an oath to enter the senate to the constitution. This bill tears apart a critical piece of the bill of rights because someone somewhere is afraid of crazy men with beards halfway around the world.

      The republicans keep their fascism out front, which embarrasses

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shma (863063)
        Actually, I was trying to draw attention only to Clinton, McCain and Obama. Byrd has also been hospitalized recently (June 2nd), and may have missed the vote for medical reasons. Although I will note that Byrd was in the senate for a vote on June 12th. The others, though, have no excuse. They are out raising cash for their campaigns (or to pay off debts in Clinton's case) instead of doing their jobs.
  • by straponego (521991) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:04AM (#23965949)
    Almost every Republican supports this crap, and enough Dems do that their majority is useless. For example, in the House, the R's voted for this bill 188-1. The Dems 100-128. Yet you will notice almost all the comments from people against this bill blame the Dems (because, hey, they have the majority!). And the people who support the bill hate the Dems anyway. So they lose across the board politically... it helps their enemies and it's the wrong thing to do... so why are they doing it? Bribes from telcos? Blackmail from warrantless wiretaps (hey, why do you think so many GOP Congressmen are closeted homosexuals?).

    Anyway, there is a non-partisan way to hit back at these bedwetters. A contribution here http://www.actblue.com/page/fisa [actblue.com] will support campaigns against anybody who voted to approve this bill.

  • The Dems don't actively oppose some of these abuses (e.g. politicizing the intelligence apparatus, politicizing the Justice Dept., rendition, warrantless wiretapping, etc., etc.) because they're looking forward to this coming January, when (odds are) they will have both houses of Congress and the White House in their control. They don't want to legislate away any powers that they might make use of in the coming four (or eight) years. I think our only hope of a restoration of some of our recently abrogated c
  • by Rakeris (1114111)
    Not sure about all of you, but I called both my senators. Obama being one of them. To voice my opposition to the bill. Will it do any good? Don't know, but I can honestly say I tried. I hope you all will do the same.
  • Webb:

    Thank you for contacting my office regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2007 (S. 2248). I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with me. As you know, the FISA Amendments Act would amend current law by expanding the intelligence community's authority to collect foreign intelligence through electronic means. Having served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy and as Assistant Secretary of Defense, I relied on decades of experience in dealing with national security matters and classified intelligence when I voted in favor of final passage of this bill on February 12, 2008. I also met with a wide variety of people who were both supportive of, and opposed to, these changes. During the Senate debate, I supported a number of amendments that were designed to improve the constitutional protections of our citizens. Further, Senators Russell Feingold, Jon Tester, and I introduced an amendment that would have added additional checks and balances with respect to assessing the appropriate use of surveillance. Unfortunately, this amendment was not passed by the full Senate. After passage of the Senate bill, I sent a letter urging Members who sit on the Senate-House Conference Committee to strike a more appropriate balance between protecting constitutional rights and providing the intelligence community with the tools needed to monitor terrorists. Regarding retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies that participated in the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless wiretapping program, I do not support full immunity for companies who aided Government surveillance. I prefer a middle-ground solution that would allow court cases to proceed under appropriate circumstances. For example, I supported an amendment offered by Senators Arlen Specter and Sheldon Whitehouse, which would have allowed the U.S. government to be substituted for telecommunication companies in certain civil actions. I also supported an amendment offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein, which would have allowed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to determine whether telecommunication companies acted in good faith when complying with government surveillance request. If the FISC determined a telecommunication company did not act in good faith, the company would not be immune from consumers' legal actions. As the U.S. Senate continues to debate matters pertaining to electronic surveillance, please be assured I will keep your views in mind.

    Warner:

    Thank you for writing to share your views on surveillance activities conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) and oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance CourtAct (FISA) court. I appreciate your thoughtful inquiry. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provides a statutory framework for the federal government to engage in electronic surveillance to obtain foreign intelligence. Under current law, the FISA court, an eleven-member court created by Congress in 1978, reviews government requests to conduct certain domestic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. If the court finds probable cause to believe that the target of the proposed surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power, the court may issue an order authorizing surveillance. As you know, citing his authority under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the President authorized the NSA to collect signals intelligence from communications involving foreign persons who were reasonably believed to be al-Qaida members and who called into the United States or someone in the United States. The President's program was intended to fill a gap in intelligence collection for those calls that were not purely domestic and not purely foreign. On August 17, 2006, a federal district judge ruled court ruling in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union determined that the NSA surveillance program was unconstitutional and ordered that the program be halted. On October 4, 2006, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA program may continue while the Department of Justice continues to appealed the ruling of the District Court. And, on July 6, 2007, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision of the District Court on the grounds that none of the plaintiffs had standing to bring their claims. On August 3, 2007, the Senate passed the Protect America Act (S.1927) by a vote of 60 to 28, with my support. Subsequently, the House of Representatives also passed this legislation, and President Bush signed it into law on August 5, 2007 (P. L. 110-55). S.1927 allows the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Attorney General to authorize jointly, with a detailed certification, the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside of the United States for periods of up to one year. As I stated on the Senate floor at that time, I strongly believe that any solution to reforming FISA must have the certification of the DNI that the legislation will provide the intelligence capabilities needed to protect our nation and our allies. I am pleased to note that S.1927 meets this criteria. Because the Protect America Act had a six-month sunsetA number of the provisions of S.1927 sunset on February 15, 2008. While the Senate has acted and passed legislation on thismatter, the House of Representatives has not concurred with the Senate-passed measure. Specifically, on October 18, 2007, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, of which I am pleased to be a member, continued to review the law subsequent to its enactment and voted to report favorably the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 (S.2248). The Committee approved this legislation by a vote of 13 to 2, with my support. The Committee's report on this legislation noted that, among its provisions, S.2248 would mandate FISA Court review and approval of procedures used by the intelligence community to minimize the collection, retention, and dissemination of non-public information regarding United States persons and their identities. Also, S.2248 would provide narrowly circumscribed civil liability protectionimmunity to companies that may have participated in the Terrorist Surveillance Program based on written requests or directives from the government that asserted the program was determined to be lawful. After extensive debate on this legislation before the full Senate, on February 12, 2008, the Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 68 to 29, again with my support. Unfortunately, the Protect America Act expired on February 16, 2008 and S.2248 TheSenate-passed measure has not been acted upon by the House of Representativesat this time. In my view, it is critically important for the Congress to pass this bill. I believe that S.2248, as originally passed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and as amended and passed by the full Senate, strikes an important balance between protecting civil liberties and ensuring that our dedicated intelligence professionals have the tools they need to protect the nation. While concerns have been raised about carrier liability protection, the companies who participated in the Terrorist Surveillance Program did so voluntarily to help America preserve its freedom and security. The protections extended to these companies only includes protection from civil liability; further, this legislation does not prevent those individuals who believe that the federal government violated their civil liberties from pursuing legal action against the government. I value the benefit of your views on this legislation. There is little question that we must leverage all available assets against terrorist organizations to prevent further attacks on America, but in the process, it is vitally important that all such actions be lawful within the law and the rights of Americans be protected.

  • So let me get this straight, after celebrating July 4th - the day we declared independence from a tyrannical leader, we're going to have the senate vote that the president has the power to command the courts to avoid the issue of illegal wiretapping?


    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature'

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:33AM (#23967079)

    Write your damn representatives and senators. Let them know their job is on the line. People are pretty pissed about this one, we need to stand up and be heard. Write them, protest, march! Lets do this!

  • Huge Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:51AM (#23967345) Homepage

    I guess I don't have to say this, but I will anyway.

    The point that I find most alarming is that with this thing Bush did, he has made all of our consumer goods and services into something we need to be suspicious or untrusting of. And a point I attempted to make before, this also makes moves in the direction of enlisting all US (and other) providers of goods and services into government espionage programs which makes spies of these people. It is a dangerous and slippery slope short-sighted-Bush has taken us down and it's time to stop the slide before it starts. And YES let the telecoms be sued! They NEED to be sued. The can afford to be sued. And they deserve to be sued! Qwest didn't take the blue pill and the others shouldn't have either. So the issue of right or wrong, or legal or illegal was probably pretty well known by the decision makers when they decided to comply.

    I would go so far as to say not only should they be sued as a company, but the actual decision makers should also be sued personally for the abuse of their company resources for illegal purposes and actually removed from their jobs.

    All of this, of course, hinges on whether or not this immunity bill passes. It should not be allowed to pass. It's among the most dangerous bits of legislation yet.

    • by kadehje (107385)

      And a point I attempted to make before, this also makes moves in the direction of enlisting all US (and other) providers of goods and services into government espionage programs which makes spies of these people. It is a dangerous and slippery slope short-sighted-Bush has taken us down and it's time to stop the slide before it starts.

      (empahsis added)

      You're giving the White House way too much benefit of the doubt. Given the measures Bush's administration took to get Congress to sign on to the Iraq war, his insistence of getting the PATRIOT Act re-upped with little changes other than removal of most of the sunset clauses, and everything else that he's done in the past seven years, I'm not convinced I'd call this short-sighted. He's laying the groundwork to allow McCain to continue the U.S. along the path that Bush started to follow, or

      • Indeed. The facade of the "Two party system" is cracking, and we're seeing that the system is _one_ party. Vote them ALL out. Until we get that through our heads, there _IS_ no change. Not from Obama, McCain, Clinton... NO ONE in the current system will change.

        EVER. Dems and Repubs can throw barbs at each other until the cows come home... it's all a smokescreen for the 1 party system.

  • If you don't take the five minutes required to find your Senator's office number and give it a call, you don't deserve to complain about the bill.
  • You spelled out that he made it through the turn. That means he did not take it too fast for him to take it. In order to make it through the turn, he would have had to stay in his lane, not lose control of the car,

    Uh, in what parallel universe does someone have to stay in their lane to make it around a turn? That's only what they have to do to make it safely. Also, there is an immediate assumption of unsafeness any time you drift the vehicle, so pretty much any tire noise is justification to ticket you. If it's on braking, they assert that you are not in control of the vehicle (skid) whereas if it's on acceleration it's excessive use of the throttle (exhibition of acceleration) and if it's sideways then you're really

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

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