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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 Daimanta (1140543) on Friday June 27, 2008 @06:58AM (#23965317) Journal

    "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.

  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:05AM (#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.
  • Shameful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashqwerty (1099091) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:08AM (#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.
  • by Henry Pate (523798) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:10AM (#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?

  • Certain Conditions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kintar1900 (901219) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:22AM (#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.

  • by Falstius (963333) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:23AM (#23965515)

    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 congress will have record turn out this fall.

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:30AM (#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 morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:35AM (#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?

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

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:40AM (#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 Shivetya (243324) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:44AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:58AM (#23965883)

    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 'naive".

  • by straponego (521991) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:04AM (#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.

  • Newsflash (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:21AM (#23966157)

    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 approval rating than President Bush. How is that even possible? And now they basically take the next week and a half off. Gee, don't let the country's business keep you from your fucking vacation. God knows you don't get enough of those. Fucking lazy cocksuckers - every last one of them. They wouldn't last a week at a real job.

  • Re:Shameful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:33AM (#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."

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:42AM (#23966415) 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.

    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 Nimey (114278) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:03AM (#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.

  • 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.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:33AM (#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 @09:51AM (#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.

  • False (Score:2, Insightful)

    by u8i9o0 (1057154) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:26AM (#23967963)

    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 occurred and the attention is shifted away from that shameful disgrace.

    This is especially true for holiday weekends. Think of it - your attention is focused on the details of that gathering/vacation/whatever and not on some interesting legalese document recorded in the Federal Register that the reporters haven't looked at yet either (since they too are on holiday).

    This technique has worked countless times for the last 7.5 years. And in most cases, almost nobody notices. It's the most practical method of recording a major shift in policy as a minor footnote.

  • by Joeyspecial (740731) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:49AM (#23968323)
    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.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:02AM (#23968527) Journal

    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 designated. The telecoms don't institute a court proceeding to see if the order is legal or anything. They take from the order that they certification is there. they check for a signature and check to see if that signiture is from a judge or the AGs office. If this is done, they did all their part according to the existing law.

    So what do you expect them to do that would have satisfied your "requiring proof of legal authority for the actions" statement? I mean the law gives them exemption from recourse if the order was from a judge or the AG and his authorized AG agents. It does this because if any of them request action, it is presumed to have been legal already. It shows that if they have that, the person who broke any law was someone besides the telecoms. I guess what makes this confusing is that the Bush administration Classified all the orders as state secretes and it is a felony for the telecoms or anyone to disclose the orders to anyone. This is why the so called immunity is needed. And this current bill doesn't give immunity, it gives a vehicle to which existing immunity can be reached. It requires the AG to certify if they gave orders claiming they had the authority and provides for a court to review abuse. It is also limited to the areas that is classified.

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