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Telecom Amnesty Opponents Back New Amendment 250

Posted by kdawson
from the putting-on-the-sensible-shoes dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "With the telecoms all but assured of amnesty for their participation in illegal spying, there's now one last amendment in their way — the Bingaman amendment. Because President Bush is unwilling to sign FISA reform without immunity, and because Blue Dog Democrats fear for their reelection unless FISA reform as a whole passes, most compromise positions are already off the table. So the new amendment seeks to sidestep part of the problem by moving it to a later date. It would put the court cases and amnesty provision on hold until a report is completed detailing exactly what happened, allowing Congress to consider denying amnesty at that time. There's an EFF campaign to support both this and the Dodd-Feingold amendment, which would strip immunity altogether."
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Telecom Amnesty Opponents Back New Amendment

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  • step one (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    step 1: retroactive immunity
    step 2: retroactive crimes
    step 3: prophet

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by clang_jangle (975789) *

      step 1: retroactive immunity step 2: retroactive crimes step 3: prophet

      Look, can we just leave Mohammed out of this, please? Also, you left out ????.

  • Hum interesting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Erie Ed (1254426)
    I firmly believe that any immunity for the telecos is too much immunity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by falcon5768 (629591)
      I firmly believe immunity for ANYONE is too much. The idea that immunity makes whistleblowing more likely is a bunch of bullshit and always has been. You shouldnt need immunity if you did nothing wrong, and you deserve to rot in jail if you did. Its just a question of do you want to be the person rotting or do you want to bring everyone involved down with you.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Elldallan (901501)
        Well the problem is that wistleblowers are doing something very illegal most of the time. What they are divulging can be considered business secrets most of the time and it is a felony to make business secrets known to anyone not privileged to the information.

        They are doing society a service by making the information public but it's still a crime that they could be prosecuted for and most likely go to jail for if they became known.
      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:56AM (#24099429) Journal

        I firmly believe immunity for ANYONE is too much

        Really? So you'd willingly testify in front of a Grand Jury without it? Is giving immunity to Al Capone's bean-counter (who only committed white-collar crimes) in exchange for his testimony to convict Capone of murder a bad idea? Immunity as a concept has been around in our legal system for quite some time and has nothing to do with retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

        The idea that immunity makes whistleblowing more likely is a bunch of bullshit and always has been. You shouldnt need immunity if you did nothing wrong

        I guess you've never heard of being scapegoated?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I thought Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion [wikipedia.org].

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Shakrai (717556) *

            He was -- I was referencing a well known name to make my argument. If you have to let someone skate on lesser charges to convict someone else of murder.... well that's usually worth doing, isn't it?

      • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @11:38AM (#24100951) Homepage

        Sometimes immunity is simply recognition that any illegal actions the whistleblower took were under duress and so shouldn't be prosecuted. It's also a handy way to prevent well connected people who wish he had kept quiet from abusing the prosecutor's office to exact revenge.

        Finally, it weakens the strategy of slowly leading people (such as the whistleblower) into a position where they are no longer able to blow the whistle due to peripheral involvement in serious crimes (or even just the perception of it).

        For example, suppose I'm the crime boss and I need to recruit people who will keep quiet. I hire you for a seemingly legal job that you perform adequately for a year (for example, warehouse manager). What you didn't know is that for a year you've been putting your name on invoices for illegal goods and placing phone calls to hardened criminals. One day, you put it all together.

        At that point, YOU know you didn't realize what was happening, but I'll make you acutely aware of how bad it might look to a prosecutor. That won't be too hard, it does look bad. I may even deliberately commit a crime in your presence (or have a subordinate do it) making sure there is plenty of evidence of your involvement (but little to show it was unwilling).

        You might even go along for a bit, especially after the comment "that's a nice family you have there. I'd be a shame if anything happened to them".

        Granting you immunity in exchange for testimony would be a huge load off your mind. If you know immunity for whistleblowers is customary, it encourages you to come forward rather than just disappear and hope never to hear about any of it again.

        Most cases of whistleblowing involve white collar crime rather than Mafia style operations, but there are similar principles involved. When an Enron style crime happens, there's a lot of accountants involved who didn't have enough of the big picture to know immediately that a crime was taking place, but their name will appear uncomfortably frequently.

  • by CDMA_Demo (841347) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @08:46AM (#24098597) Homepage
    France. The government there is afraid of its people. There was a recent slashdot story that illustrated how real lobbying in france is done by public, not corporations: http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/03/2156204&from=rss [slashdot.org]
    • by Nimey (114278)

      I'm not so sure of that. Isn't France one of those places where you're presumed guilty until proven innocent?

      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        I don't know about that, but I do know that SWAT cops wear masks. They don't want any record of who blew out your back with an MP5.
      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        De facto, not de jure, the same as any system in which accused are held on remand. The significant difference is that French courts are inquisitorial. This is actually more common than the adversarial system used by England and its colonies.

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        Not anymore; they changed a number of years ago. (Apparently many French though it was a weird idea -- but apparently not enough to prevent it.)

    • France not only seeks to implement 3 strikes and you're out ISP law, it also is trying to push it across Europe. So where does it listen to the public?

      http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/03/2156204 [slashdot.org]
      • by CDMA_Demo (841347)
        Note, the legislation failed: However, after lobbying by the public, the legislation failed in the National Assembly
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by syphax (189065)

      As a French friend once told me, "You Americans don't know how to fight the government."

      Get the tractors out, boys!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Telvin_3d (855514)

      The French government is afraid of its people, and thus responsive, because every couple years the French have a great big riot, just to prove they still can. Hell, the current system is called the French Fifth Republic. Why the fifth? Because they replaced the other 4. The last time they kicked their entire government out of office and replaced the system was only 50 years ago.

  • If I'm not mistaken, the government ordered these telecom companies to provide access to phone lines. Why, then, should they not receive immunity from the government's crimes? Of course, if they weren't ordered to wiretap, but were simply requested to do so, then it's a different story.
    • by the_macman (874383) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @08:52AM (#24098661)
      The government isn't above the law. Just because you did something illegal at the request of our government doesn't make it ok.

      They should be prosecuted (along with Bush and crooks) to the fullest extent of the law.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Like I said, if it was a request then I could understand not granting immunity. If it was demanded by the government, then it would be justifiable to grant them immunity. Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.
        • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:34AM (#24099153) Homepage

          Like I said, if it was a request then I could understand not granting immunity. If it was demanded by the government, then it would be justifiable to grant them immunity. Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.

          No, the Government is not above the law. Please do not stop in the Bush droppings.

        • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:35AM (#24099167) Journal

          Yes, yes, we get it. The people who actually commit the crime are the victims here, just like those poor, poor mafia members paid to break legs and toss people in the lake with concrete shoes. They're just trying to make a living, can't we all cut them a break?!

          If it was demanded by the government

          Qwest refused and nobody went to jail. There was no "demand," just the government giving companies money to perform illegal acts.

        • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:40AM (#24099231)
          That demand didn't stop Qwest from telling them to go fuck themselves [nytimes.com]. Being a pansy is hardly an excuse for breaking the law on a massive scale.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Grym (725290) *

            Being a pansy is hardly an excuse for breaking the law on a massive scale.

            The biggest mis-conception is that Telecom companies were victims in all this; that the big mean government threatened them and they caved in out of fear. This just isn't true. It's not like they did the wiretapping for free, they charged and profited from it. Furthermore, by playing ball they received other sweetheart billion-dollar government deals, while companies like Quest were specifically denied. In fact, one of the lesser

        • Like I said, if it was a request then I could understand not granting immunity. If it was demanded by the government, then it would be justifiable to grant them immunity.

          I thought we discussed this the last ten times this came up? Complying with an illegal order is itself an illegal act. It doesn't matter if you are a soldier or operating a telecom. If your CO orders you to commit rape, and you do it, you are committing an illegal act. If your government orders to to execute an illegal wiretap, and you do it, you are committing an illegal act. See how that works?

          The only way this is NOT true is if they actually pass a law that says you can be wiretapped without a warrant; THEN and ONLY THEN is it legal. It might be argued that some laws already passed give the government the right to tap any and all communications during an undeclared state of emergency or something; that is a valid legal defense if it turns out to be true. But NOTHING repeat NOTHING excuses complying with an illegal order. Well, except congressional action of course...

          Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.

          WHAT?

          WHAT?!>?! (emphasis, you know)

          The government is most certainly not above the law. YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT. Or more to the point, it is made up of individuals who can be hauled into court.

          Above the law? What the hell is wrong with you?

          Were you paid to say this, or are you just brainwashed?

          I say this to people occasionally, but people like you really ARE the problem with America today. "The government did it, so it must be okay!" Are you REALLY that deluded?

          • by moxley (895517) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @10:26AM (#24099835)

            I agree and I think a lot of people feel the same way, if you do then mod parent up please.

            I think most Americans have no idea about the level illegality that our government has risen to; not just this current administration, (though they are by far the most egregious) - this telecom immunity thing is bad enough - but if you consider that is going on in the light of day now, just imagine all of the things that the general public isn;t aware of - there are many things you can find out about if you are a good researcher or read books that have been thoroughly researched (Jim Marrs, Greg Palast are two authors I highly recommend as their credibility is excellent) - if you are interested in the Bush dynasty there are many books but anything by Webster Tarpley is great, you can get his unauthorized biography of George Bush senior fo free on the web (as it has been out of print or supressed for a while now) with this link: http://www.tarpley.net/bushb.htm [tarpley.net].

            I am not sure if our republic is past the point of no return, but I fear that. I think people are putting a lot of hope into Obama, and I agree that he seems genuine, but the man is a politican and has taken votes or actions that would seem to be contrary to his stated message of change - like supporting telecom immunity. I fear that if he did get into office and really did try to make some real changes his life would be in danger; but what seems most likely s that he will get into office and be sort of like Clinton - not willing or able to live up to 10% of what he promised.

            I thought that the people who really could have made some changes are people like Ron Paul and Mike Gravel - Richardson wasn't bad either - but until the issue with the media being a corporate/governmental mouthpiece is resolved, I am afraid that there may never be real change here.

            Granting immunity for illegal, unconstitutional acts after the fact is not only wrong and unconsitutional, it sets a HORRIBLY DANGEROUS PRECEDENT - and this is one aspect people are not considering. IF this precedent is set - then government can basically make anything legal after the fact. If this sort of thing continues, eventually they won't even need to that to do what they like.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *

            WHAT?

            WHAT?!>?! (emphasis, you know)

            The government is most certainly not above the law. YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT. Or more to the point, it is made up of individuals who can be hauled into court.

            Above the law? What the hell is wrong with you?

            Were you paid to say this, or are you just brainwashed?

            I say this to people occasionally, but people like you really ARE the problem with America today. "The government did it, so it must be okay!" Are you REALLY that deluded?

            Given the way his sentence read: "Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.", I'd say it was an omission, and he meant "Of course the government is not above the law...".

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            "WHAT?"

            You dolt, that was a typo on my part, which should have been obvious given the statement I was replying to and my use of the phrase "of course". Anyone who thinks the government is above the law is only doing so to save their asses because they are members of the government and they've done something wrong.

            As for your spiel about illegal acts from illegal orders - there is a difference between forcing someone to do something at gunpoint or on threat of punishment, for which there is no way out,
        • by Elldallan (901501) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:58AM (#24099473)
          Actually they should. Even if the government is ordering a company to divulge something that is by law illegal it is that company's responsibility to refuse until they come back with a warrant or until they change the law to allow what they're doing.

          If the company complies with the government to do something illegal wether the government is ordering it or just requesting it doesn't matter, they should still be punished to the full extent of the law.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gnick (1211984)

          ...if it was a request then I could understand not granting immunity. If it was demanded by the government, then it would be justifiable to grant them immunity.

          "I was just following orders" is not a valid defense.

          Of course the government is above the law...

          I hope to god that was sarcasm.

      • by Bearpaw (13080) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:21AM (#24098995)
        In fact, if "the government" -- or to put it more accurately, one or more government employees -- asks you to break the law, it's arguably your civic duty to report that government employee.

        Granted, that would need to be handled delicately, to say the least. But if someone were to come to me and say, "I need your help to rob a bank", I'd probably give the local police a heads-up. Why should it matter if they flashed a badge while making that request? (Except in that case I might give the FBI the heads-up instead.)

        Are we a nation of laws or aren't we?

      • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:28AM (#24099081) Journal

        Just because you did something illegal at the request of our government doesn't make it ok.

        Actually, in this case it does. The law has always stated that the telecoms and their agents had a complete defense [cornell.edu] in any civil or criminal actions resulting from any law if the government or a law enforcement agency/officer presented the telecoms with documentation claiming their acts were legal. The FISA AG authorizations would have provided that independent of the AG's willingness to follow through on any other aspect of the law to keep it legal or not.

        Of course, if the government didn't present the authority to do such taps to the telecoms, then they aren't covered. However, the current claim is that they would be but Bush classified the documents they need to prove the effect of the law which means they would be committing a felony if they defended their actions with the defenses provided by law. This has never really been about making the telecoms pay either. It has always been about gathering evidence on the administration which sort of seems like picking on the retarded neighbor kid in order to force his parents out of the house so someone else can rob them. Or at least that's how I see it.

        • by m000 (187652) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @11:56AM (#24101249)

          The law to which you link provides for this defense with a reference to Title 18 Part I Chapter 119 Section 2518 (7) [cornell.edu]. That allows for warrantless eavesdropping only when "an emergency situation exists," and requires that a court order must be presented within 48 hours of the start of interception. If the court order is not presented, the intercepted material is considered to have been obtained illegally and within 90 days the subject(s) of the eavesdropping must be notified that their communications were intercepted. (IANAL)

          AFAIK, court orders were never obtained for these cases and the subjects were not notified of the interceptions.

    • by Cheviot (248921) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @08:55AM (#24098703)

      The government did only request they comply. Some companies refused.

      But even if the government ordered them to, so what?

      If a policeman ordered you to rob a bank, do you think you deserve amnesty? It's against the law no matter who tells you to do it.

      • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:17AM (#24098939)
        "If a policeman ordered you to rob a bank, do you think you deserve amnesty?"

        Of course. Any action forced at gunpoint - or other threat of punishment from a force-wielding body - should be granted amnesty.
        • by Mr_Magick (996141) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:33AM (#24099141)

          Of course. Any action forced at gunpoint - or other threat of punishment from a force-wielding body - should be granted amnesty.

          Then the telcos don't have anything to worry about when they plead their case in front of a court of law.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Of course. Any action forced at gunpoint - or other threat of punishment from a force-wielding body - should be granted amnesty.

          If people do not choose to do the right thing, then we will only have the wrong thing.

          You have a responsibility to do the right thing. It comes with the rights. What are the rights? The rights to spend the big gobs of cash that you get for ordering around the minimum wage peons below you.

          "He told me to do it" is not an excuse. By the way, if a cop tells you to do something illegal, that is entrapment, and it is itself an illegal act. However, it is not necessarily a defense. You need to have some basic sani

          • "If a cop tells you to do something that is obviously illegal you should know that it is wrong. And in this particular example ("rob a bank") there is extra-special no excuse because you're in a bank and it's easy to throw the apparatus of the state at them."

            You've concocted a particular hypothetical situation. So what? Why should we consider it archetypal? It is not. I can merely add my own modifications to your hypothetical which will destroy your conclusions. Let's say the person is forcing you at gun
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Grave (8234)

        I think the only way I'd be willing to accept telecom immunity is if all those involved in issuing the requests were prosecuted for it. Of course, that'll never happen...

      • If a policeman ordered you to rob a bank, do you think you deserve amnesty? It's against the law no matter who tells you to do it.

        If he really "ordered" you to do it, that's called entrapment.

        • by blueg3 (192743)

          I'm guessing for the sake of analogy the OP isn't implying that the cop then arrests you. The cop isn't interested in catching a bank robber he created, but robbing the bank, and he orders you to help him.

          If they were forced to comply, or were convinced by a reliable source that the action was not illegal, they don't need amnesty -- they'd have a hard time being prosecuted.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        Your confusing two separate activities there. First, the wiretaps and then the refusals to provide access. The law, passed in 1994 says that the telecom providers must use certain equipment and make or provide access to the equipment. Bush attempted to use that to build data centers where bundles of lines passed through making tapping an entire region from one location a reality. It was to avoid having to send field agents to 200 different locations in order to effect a 2 minute tap. The law provides an out

    • by will_die (586523)
      That they broke the law is the guess.
      What looks like happened is they followed the law but because it would require that classified information be released to prove thier innocense the government wants to give them immunity.
      That explaination looks to be the case because you have a whole lot of people who have seen the classified information wanting pushing for the immunity. You have people on both sides such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) head of the Senate Intelligence committee who activly
    • Because anyone who wasn't Bogarting joints in civics class knows that the Executive branch (not "the government") has the authority to enforce the laws that are created by various levels of legislature. The Executive is not a king, does not have the authority to tell anyone to break any law for any reason, and it does not become legal when the President does it [landmarkcases.org].

      Ignorance of the law isn't an excuse for We, the People, so why should it be an excuse for telecos who have legions of lawyers on hand to advise

    • The telecoms are private companies. The government has no right to "order" private citizens to do anything against their will without due process of law (read: JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT).

      The government didn't do this legally, the telecoms' legal departments knew damn well, and so did their corporate officers.

      They willingly engaged in criminal conspiracy against the American populace, and the only way to make them think twice before sleeping with sugar-daddy government is to hit them where they'll notice it: their

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @08:50AM (#24098653)

    The trouble is that we have a choice between the Republicans who want amnesty and the Democrats who are afraid not to grant it. What kind of pressure can we bring?

    Obama has an amazing ability to raise money from small donors. If the donors went on strike, Obama would react.

    Enough of us have to tell the Democrats that we won't donate if amnesty passes but we might donate if it doesn't. The pressure from his supporters has forced Obama to react by telling us to suck it up. More pressure might force him to change the way he intends to vote.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      "Obama has an amazing ability to raise money from small donors. If the donors went on strike, Obama would react."

      That has about as much chance of happening as, say, Congress voting against the immunity to begin with.

    • Someone else suggested (here on /.) that a bill like this would come to fruition so that neither Obama, nor McCain, have to vote on this bill.

  • Pre-emptive Godwin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reader X (906979) <readerxNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @08:53AM (#24098679)
    So I was browsing Wikipedia and came across the following definition for "fascism":

    Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

    Hm. Committed nationalist militants working in collaboration with "traditional elites", such as large telcos.

    Discuss.
    • large telcos, Hollywood, Big Oil, Big Pharma...I'm sure I'm missing some. Thanks for raising that point and risking the wrath of the mods. I'd have modded you up but my points just expired.

  • On a side note (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @08:55AM (#24098697) Homepage

    Because President Bush is unwilling to sign FISA reform without immunity, and because Blue Dog Democrats fear for their reelection unless FISA reform as a whole passes, most compromise positions are already off the table.

    This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

    • Devil's side. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because President Bush is unwilling to sign FISA reform without immunity, and because Blue Dog Democrats fear for their reelection unless FISA reform as a whole passes, most compromise positions are already off the table.

      This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

      I agree. However, if someone knows that they'll have only one term, what's to prevent them from having a 'slash and burn mentality'?

      Politician thinking: ''Hey, I'm here for only one term. What not vote for FISA bill because I'm for it and I believe that 'if you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.' And besides, regarding the folks who wrote in against this, fuck'em! What are they going to do? Not vote for me next time?!? Hahahahahah!''

      Politicians: Damn them! Damn them all to hell!

    • by linzeal (197905) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:07AM (#24098817) Homepage Journal
      Can't we just make it so if their popularity goes below a certain amount that an ejection seat in congress launches them somewhere out over the Atlantic?
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @10:37AM (#24099973) Homepage

        Can't we just make it so if their popularity goes below a certain amount that an ejection seat in congress launches them somewhere out over the Atlantic?

        Well as soon as that happened, in the very next poll everyone would express disapproval of their representatives, not because they actually disapproved but simply to see the spectacle of a few hundred politicians launched out of the capitol into the ocean.

        The next batch of politicians that are elected would, too, find themselves immediately disapproved of and launched into the ocean.

        Soon, due to the power vacuum, it would be necessary to hold elections every day, as on the start of the next day they'd all be launched into the ocean. Crowds would form around the Capitol Building and it would be D.C.'s top tourist attraction.

        Pretty quickly the Capitol Building would become known as the Politician Suicide Booth, and the country would soon be rid of all politicians crazy enough to actually seek election, and the seats would remain empty.

        So yeah, this is pretty much the perfect idea. We can call it the Linzeal Solution if you want.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        I remember going into a bar on some lake (shasta maybe?) and on the ceiling they've got a bunch of pieces of paper money stuck to it with thumbtacks. I think they're just dollars, not sure. They get them up there with a silver dollar, I don't really know the etiquette, I was a kid. My dad was always taking me into one bar or another, what a lush. Anyway, perhaps we could install big steel spikes under their seats, and implement something similar in congress. It would certainly provide a certain festivity to
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iminplaya (723125)

      This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office.

      Oh please! What has term limits done for the presidency? You only need to look as far as Mexico to see what a worthless endeavor it would be. It does nothing about removing the party from power. You limit their terms with your vote. If you won't vote them out, then you're not seeing the real problem.

    • Re:On a side note (Score:5, Interesting)

      by intx13 (808988) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:23AM (#24099009) Homepage

      I advocate mid-term votes on each of your congresscritters, with ballots such as that below (for each):

      I think congressperson X:

      1. Should be given a 20% raise.
      2. Is doing fine as is.
      3. Should be given a 20% pay cut.
      4. Should be given a 20% pay cut and disallowed from running for re-election.
      5. Should be taken out back and shot.

      Get the people really involved!

    • by Ngarrang (1023425)

      This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

      Given how the sen's and rep's are acting these days, I whole-heartedly agree. There was a time in this country when having no limits was a good thing, back when advanced education was not wide-spread, or the communication network as the speed of a horse. But now, our society as a whole is more educated -- despite the acts of stupidity we still witness, I still believe this. But, what exactly are the odds of getting the very people who would be victim of the new standard, passing the new standard of 1 ter

    • Right. Because we want to limit the people who can run for Congress to be those that can drop their lifelong job or career, spend a year running for office, then hold office for two years, then do ........ ?

      How many people in what jobs can afford to quit and run for Congress? That's already limited enough, mostly to lawyers, rich people, and the rich-married. Then how many of those people could ever, ever get work again in their original field? Do you think an electrical engineer would find a job again

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

      They have to live under the same shitty laws we do.
      So who says their self interest is entirely rational?

      But then again, since 1/6th of all Blue Dog Democrats (according to Wikipedia) later joined the Republican party, there's always the possibility that they don't really have a problem with no transparency or accountability for the Telco's actions.

    • by mpe (36238)
      This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

      IMHO Something more like "10 years per lifetime in any public office". Possibly also combined with only allowing someone who does not hold any public office to be nominated except if they are seeking reelection to exactly the same position. The latter would mean that a US Senator wanting to be US President would have to resign, as a Senator, first.
    • This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

      Term limits transfer power to those who are not bound by the limits.

      The party leader. The president -for-life. The permanent state bureaucracy. The general. The diplomat. The lobbyist. The judge.

      These are the only people who can maintain continuity in government. Develop expertise. Draft legislation. Contemplate long-term solutions.

      They have staff. They have funding.

      They

  • by pzs (857406) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:05AM (#24098805)

    The standard narrative for Dem caving is that they fear for their electability or whatever. It's also possible that they just believe what they vote for. [openleft.com]

  • by jmcharry (608079) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:10AM (#24098849)

    What they are doing by enacting this amnesty is denying the victims of the illegal wiretapping any recourse. Essentially anyone who used international circuits to transmit confidential or proprietary information had that information compromised and therefore devalued. I seem to recall back in the 70s the Soviets used much less detailed information on telecommunications related to commodity trading to buy an enormous amount of US wheat at an extremely low price.

  • If Immunity Passes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Esion Modnar (632431) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:40AM (#24099225)
    Then the government can tell the telecoms to destroy all documents relating to this. The telecoms can tell any future investigators that those records were destroyed, please refer to the current administration. Who have probably since moved to Dubai.
    • we, as citizens, should also so this. we should BURN all our records and basically play the same game the gov does.

      the gov sets the standard for the country. even though it sounds absurd, they ARE our leaders and they ARE setting an example (like it or not) for our kids and the next generation.

      what kind of US are we creating? how 'ethical' will our kids be since they are watching this TREASONOUS act by our president and taking it all in.

      lessons:

      - the US is an untrustworthy nation. it lies, steals, cheat

  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:42AM (#24099253) Journal

    Bush is unwilling to sign FISA without telecom immunity and has actually pocket-vetoed the same bill before because it lacked that immunity.

    And yet Bush and most Republicans cry out that FISA is absolutely vital to protecting our country.

    This leads us to one of two possibilities:

    1) Bush feels that protecting the telecoms are more important than protecting the country, since he is willing to let us go without a revised FISA bill unless we give the telecoms what thy want.

    2) The FISA bill is not actually that important for national security, but is more or less a trojan horse for covering their collective asses.

    I suppose both are possible, and not mutually exclusive, but faced with this choice I find it far to unsettling that Bush would literally put our whole country at risk (as he himself claims FISA is that important) for the sake of a few dozen CEOs.
    =Smidge=

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      What do they call it when someone limits the choices in order to prove a point? Umm.. I know fallacy is part of it.. But what type of fallacy? What is it when someone presents a fallacious argument in order to bend logic in his favor? I don't remember the type of fallacy your presenting here but make no mistake it is a fallacy.

      How about another option,
      3: Bush doesn't see effective wiretapping ever being possible if the telecoms have to comb over every and make I to make sure it is crossed or dotted properly

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @11:08AM (#24100437) Homepage

      Bush is unwilling to sign FISA without telecom immunity and has actually pocket-vetoed the same bill before because it lacked that immunity.

      And yet Bush and most Republicans cry out that FISA is absolutely vital to protecting our country.

      Yeah, that's Bush's basic stick-and-another-stick method of forcing Congressional capitulation.

      First, make it a huge patriotism/national security/support our troops issue. Congressional Democrats have to pass the bill, or it will mean that they are unpatriotic/pro-terrorist/anti-troops, and oh noes there's an election cycle coming up!

      Second, make the side-issue that Bush wants a requirement in order to avoid his veto. Democrats can't get past the veto, so in order to pass the bill that they must pass in order to not be pro-terrorist, they have to cave on the side-issue.

      The sad part is that all they have to do to get around this farcical "This bill is vital to the country! But I'll veto it without this unnecessary addendum..." bullshit is simply stand up to it. All they have to do is say "Yes, this bill IS vital to the country, but we will not pass it with the addendum, and thus your veto is hurting the country!" All it would take is a little spine, and the shoe would be on the other foot. They could end the Iraq war any time they wanted simply by refusing to pass a funding bill that didn't include timetables for withdrawal. Let Bush veto it. No funding, no war, the troops come home, and the majority of Americans are happier.

      The even sadder part is that the only thing lower that Bush's approval ratings are those of the newly elected Democrats, so you'd think they'd have realized that we want them to do this and are pissed with them for not doing it. They keep caving in before lame "Eat this turd sandwich or you're not a patriot!" trick, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the people who voted them in don't think that way. Stop eating turd sandwiches! It's disgusting, not patriotic!

      Not that I'm in any way convinced that it is a universal lack of spine that's causing this behavior; I'm not sure they really don't like the taste and their reluctance isn't just an act. Cowardice is competing with greed, corruption, lack of scruples, and other common political vices as possible explanations that probably vary from seat to seat.

      Thank God for people like Feingold, though, for demonstrating what a principled politician looks like.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @09:43AM (#24099275)
    I think this amnesty bill has done more to show Barack Obama's TRUE colors than any other vote in his career.
    .
    "A Vote for Change" my ass.
    • by parcel (145162) on Tuesday July 08, 2008 @10:24AM (#24099803)

      I think this amnesty bill has done more to show Barack Obama's TRUE colors than any other vote in his career.

      ... but looking at the other votes in his career [aclu.org] compared to the alternative [aclu.org] would still be wise.

      Yes, its the ACLU and everyone seems to hate them... just #include <spinfilter.h> when reading the links.

    • by dj245 (732906)
      straight into an obamanation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here's the response from Obamas representatives when I sent a message to him last week regarding the amnesty bill:

      Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority

    • But again... (Score:3, Insightful)

      But again, no one bothers questioning his opponent on this issue, because already they know how corrupt and unaccountable he's become.
  • By delaying the amendment to a later date, it effectively removes the executive opposition because the Bush dynasty will be out of office in 2009. The telcos want their immunity while a sympathetic government is in place, but that window expires in 2009.
  • If ever there was a time to put on a pair of rubber gloves, hold your nose, and actually contact the lying scumbag who calls him/herself your Congressman or Senator, now is the time. The misbegotten, money-grubbing, opportunistic corporate blowboys will do what's right ONLY in one situation: they're so afraid their constituents will kick their sorry asses out of office that they don't dare touch the campaign money, free trips and other forms of legalized bribery that the telcoms are offering.

    If ever th

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