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Senate Passes Telecom Immunity Bill 1088

Posted by timothy
from the always-been-at-war-with-oceania dept.
zehnra writes "The U.S. Senate this afternoon passed the FISA Amendments Act, broadly expanding the president's warrantless surveillance authority and unconstitutionally granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the president's illegal domestic wiretapping program. The House of Representatives passed the same bill last month, and President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law shortly." The New York Times has a story, as does the Associated Press (carried here by Yahoo!). Reader Guppy points out the roll call for the vote.
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Senate Passes Telecom Immunity Bill

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  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:34PM (#24123761)

    I was somewhat surprised to see my normally idiotic senators vote the correct way for once.

    However, I'm disappointed that Obama voted yes. He'll be getting some angry email from me.

  • by Aggrajag (716041) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:35PM (#24123781)
    "Obama (D-IL), Yea"
  • Living under a rock? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MushMouth (5650) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:40PM (#24123897) Homepage

    Christ wake up, Obama has a history of crap like this.

  • Bloody traitors. (Score:3, Informative)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:40PM (#24123915)

    I am appalled to see such an idiotic piece of legislation pass. Does the rule of law mean NOTHING in our country any more? I may as well tell CmdrTaco that it's ok to shoot his neighbor, and then get him immunity just because I said so. Shame on you, senators. Shame on each and every one of you who voted for this godforsaken bill.

    Seriously, fuck it. I don't know what the point is any more. Our government not only has a complete lack of respect for the rights of the American citizen, but also a lack of respect for OUR OWN GODDAMNED LAWS. Why should you and I act any differently than them? What, other than the point of a gun, is supposed to keep us from ignoring laws just because we feel like it?

    Senators who voted against the bill, I applaud you, but your valiant efforts were for naught. There are 69 traitors in our Senate, rendering you impotent.

  • by ozziegt (865751) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:45PM (#24124045)
    His explanation is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barack-obama/my-position-on-fisa_b_110789.html [huffingtonpost.com] b Still BS though.
  • by akzeac (862521) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:50PM (#24124151)

    And here's Greenwald's trashing [blogspot.com] of that explanation.

  • Re:Ex Post Facto (Score:2, Informative)

    by the4thdimension (1151939) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:53PM (#24124209) Homepage
    Ex Post Facto deals mainly in people being tried for things that are made crimes AFTER you commit them. For instance, in this case, if there was no bill on wiretapping and then we made one that said you can't and tried to retroactively find telco's guilty after making the law. I don't know if it works the other way in granting immunity.
  • by Xtravar (725372) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:54PM (#24124221) Homepage Journal

    A true sad day in the US.

    Glad I voted for Ron Paul. I'll be using him as a write in come November.

    May I humbly suggest voting for a third party, any third party, with which your protest vote will count?

    Ron Paul has said not to write in his name. He isn't even registered as a write-in candidate.

    So while it's quite romantic to write in his name, it might be a little more effective to demonstrate our discontent with third party votes which will actually show up on official tallies. I'd recommend Libertarian or Green.

  • Re:Deplorable (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wister285 (185087) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:58PM (#24124325) Homepage

    Why didn't Obama try to stop this?

    It's because Obama isn't the political messiah that he and his rapid horde of supports claim him to be.

    NEWS FLASH: Obama is just another politician! Just because he says he represents change and claims to be changing things, the truth is that he really isn't! He criticizes Clinton and McCain for playing the same old Washington politics for the gas tax holiday even though he did the same thing in his own state. When confronted about it, he spun it such that he knew that it doesn't work through experience. Guess what. He still tried to play those very games that he denounced!

    Politics make me sick. They should make you sick too. Don't view third parties as "throwing your vote away". Almost everyone has been throwing their votes away and the people we have representing us are just the proof of that!

  • Re:Some days... (Score:3, Informative)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:59PM (#24124347)

    ... as well as some somewhat less excellent usage of guillotines on people who were disliked by those in power. There's a reason that the times immediately following the revolution in 1789 were simply called "The Terror".

  • by samkass (174571) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:02PM (#24124403) Homepage Journal

    No, it's a two-party system because of winner-takes-all state counting and the electoral college system. In such a system, any third party takes votes away from whichever of the primary parties most closely matches their goals. Thus, any libertarian or green party candidate running for President is only hurting their cause by making it less likely the representative that best supports their view wins. And since the only way to change it is in Congress and not the Executive branch, and they know this, you know they're doing it intentionally for publicity.

    So sure, fall for the publicity stunts if you want, but don't think they have your interests at heart.

    The way it's SUPPOSED to work is that the candidates are supposed to campaign hard, build supporters, negotiate concessions from the primary parties, then pledge their supporters to the candidate that agrees to support their interests. Thus even minorities are represented and the will of the people isn't subverted by a split vote.

  • Re:Note: (Score:3, Informative)

    by wetdogjp (245208) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:04PM (#24124427) Homepage

    McCain abstained.

    I don't thing he abstained. I think he was absent. Same result, but I believe the difference is important, especially considering how many votes he's been absent for.

  • Bloody Democrats? (Score:5, Informative)

    by stomv (80392) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:05PM (#24124475) Homepage

    Of the 49 Democrats in the Senate, the vote was 20-27-1 for FISA -- the Dems as a group voted against the bill, with Kennedy not present.

    Of the 2 Independents in the Senate, the vote was 1-1-0 for FISA -- Sanders voted against, Lieberman for.

    Of the 49 Republicans in the Senate, the vote was 47-0-2 for FISA -- the Republicans as a group voted unanimously for the bill, with McCain and Sessions not present.

    So it seems to me the beef ought not to be with the "Bloody Democrats" -- but rather with 100% of the Republican Senators, 50% of the Independent Senators, and roughly 40% of the Democratic Senators.

  • Re:Mother (Score:3, Informative)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:07PM (#24124499) Homepage Journal

    Someone will have to sue a phone company for a warrantless wiretap, of which they probably would not be aware, and appeal all the way to the supreme court, who might then overturn the unconstitutional immunity law.

    As for the change to FISA you'll have to vote in representatives and senators who would pass a law to reverse it.

    Both extremely unlikely.

  • by EndingPop (827718) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:08PM (#24124535) Homepage
    That's all well and good, except this started in Feb 2001. For those without a calendar handy, that's BEFORE 9/11, and very shortly after Bush took office.

    That, and Quest didn't do it because they had competent lawyers who told them it was obviously illegal. AT&T and Verizon must have a decent legal department too, they just chose not to listen.
  • by mrmaster (535266) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:08PM (#24124543) Homepage

    "Obama (D-IL), Yea"

    I sent a comment to Obama's website and also asked to be taken off his email listing. Change we can believe in. Yeah, change in his views that is.

  • by Fireye (415617) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:09PM (#24124561)
    I'm quite annoyed that one of my two senators voted in favor of this amendment, and I've already written her an email, not that she'll ever read it.
    Anywho, Feingold had a really nice position-point short written up on this subject, and I found myself to be largely in agreement with his views.

    http://feingold.senate.gov/~feingold/statements/08/07/20080708.htm [senate.gov]
    When Congress passed FISA three decades ago, in the wake of the extensive, well-documented wiretapping abuses of the 1960s and 1970s, it decided that, in the future, telephone companies should not simply assume that any government request for assistance to conduct electronic surveillance was appropriate. It was clear that some checks needed to be in place to prevent future abuses of this incredibly intrusive power â" the power to listen in on peopleâ(TM)s personal conversations...
    ...So Congress devised a system that would take the guesswork out of it completely. Under that system, which is still in place today, the companiesâ(TM) legal obligations and liability depend entirely on whether the government has presented the company with a court order or a certification stating that certain basic requirements have been met. If the proper documentation is submitted, the company must cooperate with the request and is immune from liability. If the proper documentation has not been submitted, the company must refuse the governmentâ(TM)s request, or be subject to possible liability in the courts.
  • Re:We had one. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:11PM (#24124609) Journal

    Actually, 1994 was the biggest upheaval in Congress. The Democrats held majority power for 30+ years to that point, and looked to continue that hold... then suddenly this guy named Gingrich and a whole horde of opposition party candidates won a cascade of elections, blasting out a huge majority for themselves. The Senate fell to GOP rule just as quickly as the House did.

    2006 really was no upheaval because the GOP majority in Congress had slowly begun to wane ever since 1998 or so... it was a slow shift if nothing else.

    Incidentally, Barack Obama voted "Yea" on this bill. Not "Present", not "Npot voting", not "No"... he voted for it.

    I wonder what the DNC and its fan base is going to do when they find out en masse? I wonder how they'll spin it if McCain's campaign ever gets its head out of its collective ass and spreads word about it?

    Interesting, to say the least...

    /P

  • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:12PM (#24124623) Homepage Journal

    Dodd Amdt. http://senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00164 [senate.gov]
    To strike title II.
            YEAs 32
            NAYs 66
            Not Voting 2

    Specter Amdt. http://senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00165 [senate.gov]
    To limit retroactive immunity for providing assistance to the United States to instances in which a Federal court determines the assistance was provided in connection with an intelligence activity that was constitutional.
            YEAs 37
            NAYs 61
            Not Voting 2

    Bingaman Amdt. http://senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00166 [senate.gov]
    To stay pending cases against certain telecommunications companies and provide that such companies may not seek retroactive immunity until 90 days after the date the final report of the Inspectors General on the President's Surveillance Program is submitted to Congress.
            YEAs 42
            NAYs 56
            Not Voting 2

    It's that last one that really hurts. We were just eight votes from getting it passed. These are the Democrats who voted against it: Bayh (D-IN) Carper (D-DE) Conrad (D-ND) Inouye (D-HI) Landrieu (D-LA) Lieberman (ID-CT) Nelson (D-NE) Pryor (D-AR) Rockefeller (D-WV)

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:13PM (#24124641)

    She cosigned the induce act, remember that lovely piece of legislation? The one that would have made the general purpose pc, the smart phone, the blackberry, and the ipod illegal?

    yeah, she's such a great, "stand-up for the little guy" kind of politican.

  • Re:Unconstitutional? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sabz5150 (1230938) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:15PM (#24124659)
    Article 1, section 9: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."
  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:15PM (#24124673)

    Notice how Mccain actually voted against this thing, even though his party voted for it. Does it represent his views regardless of his vote? No, as he said he supports telecom immunity.

    According to the roll call, McCain didn't vote at all.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:18PM (#24124765) Journal

    I happen to believe that companies acting in good faith

    You happen to believe wrong. The companies involved acted for money, nothing more. See also: Qwest's refusal to go along and the contracts that were pulled due to that choice. Or if you don't buy that, see also the story that got linked here about how the telcos have no qualms turning off the taps when the government doesn't pay [slashdot.org].

    Furthermore, as another user pointed out, this began before 9/11.

  • Re:Some days... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Deadstick (535032) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:34PM (#24125121)

    ...and our hands aren't exactly clean in that department. We won our Revolution largely thanks to French support, which bankrupted the court of Louis XVI and triggered the French Revolution within a few years. The moderate factions there, led by Lafayette, asked George Washington to return the favor, but he sucked up to Britain instead. The revolution was hijacked by the radical Jacobins, France disintegrated into bloody chaos, and in rode the little guy on the white horse.

    rj

  • by shma (863063) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:38PM (#24125205)
    There were only a few states where both senators voted against the bill: MI, NJ, NY, VT, WA and MA if you count the fact that Ted Kennedy opposed the last incarnation of this bill but could not vote this time for health reasons. If you come from any of the other 44 states, then get busy: at least one of your sitting senators needs to be taught a lesson.

    And a note about McCain's abstention: he's a strong supporter [youtube.com] of Bush on this matter. The only reason his vote is registered as 'abstain' is because he's in Ohio raising money and support for his bid for President instead of actually performing his job as a senator.
  • Money! (Score:5, Informative)

    by sleigher (961421) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:56PM (#24125571)
    Here's a part of the money trail

    Telecom Contributions - 2006

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House
    Time Warner $13,200
    AT&T Inc $13,000
    Comcast Corp $10,000
    Communications Workers of America $10,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
    Total Pelosi $56,200

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chmn. Sen. Intell. Cmte.
    AT&T Inc $16,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $16,000
    BellSouth Corp $14,900
    Total Rockefeller $46,900

    Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-CA), House Majority Leader
    AT&T Inc $12,000
    Comcast Corp $10,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
    Time Warner $10,000
    Total Hoyer $42,000

    Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader
    BellSouth Corp $31,050

    Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader
    AT&T Inc $22,000
    Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader
    NelNet Inc $19,600
  • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:58PM (#24125613)

    WTF have you been smoking? McCain was not present.

  • Re:Note: (Score:4, Informative)

    by internic (453511) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:59PM (#24125627)

    Further notes:

    • McCain didn't vote because he wasn't there [chicagotribune.com]. He has publicly supported telecom immunity is recent days, however, so it's safe to say he would have voted for it.
    • While Clinton voted against it this time, she didn't bother to show up to vote when this came up earlier this year [senate.gov] (to vote on the bill or to help with the filibuster). It still potentially speaks well of her that she was against this, but apparently she wouldn't stand up for it when it was really politically dangerous.
    • As for Obama, last time around [loc.gov] he spoke out against it and voted to against cloture (i.e., to filibuster). He didn't show up to vote on the bill itself, but it's fair to say that that vote was probably seen to be a foregone conclusion (I'd still have rather he did vote, but it was a primary election day). This time [govtrack.us] he voted for cloture (i.e., against a filibuster). He did vote for various amendments to limit or strip the immunity provisions, but they all failed, and he voted for the final bill with immunity. It was well known he was going to do this but I, for one, am still quite disappointed.
  • by Wapiti-eater (759089) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:01PM (#24125679)
    "Bush is a madman"....

    but did you notice who voted FOR this thing?

    FTFA - "Obama (D-IL), Yea"
  • by MyNymWasTaken (879908) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:12PM (#24125891)

    Read more than the press articles & the roll call.

    Barack Obama and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments [findlaw.com]

    The ACLU agrees that there is no criminal immunity, and while this fact had been largely overlooked, Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson said this point had been mentioned in passing in both the House and Senate during the debate. With a little more digging, I found that the sponsors, as well as the Bush Administration, also understand that there is no immunity in the House-passed bill from criminal prosecutions for violations by anyone.

  • Re:Ex Post Facto (Score:3, Informative)

    by hacksoncode (239847) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:15PM (#24125933)
    The only question is whether the legal interpretation of the phrase "ex post facto law" matches the common sense one.

    The reason that this is in the Constitution is that the founders saw great injustice being perpetrated by laws passed to make prior behavior *illegal*, not the other way around. Original intent is a pretty strong precedent in Constitutional law. There's a significant change the SCOTUS would interpret it that way as well. And I'm not entirely sure this would be wrong.

    In this case, retroactive immunity allows an injustice to stand. But in other cases, it might easily be in the interests of justice to retroactively make something legal that (technically, mistakenly, or by court ruling) was previously deemed illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:19PM (#24126025)

    Perhaps its time to change 'the way it is'. We did it once before.

    "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government [...]"

    Thomas Jefferson

  • Obama (D-IL), Yea (Score:4, Informative)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:30PM (#24126213)
    'nuff said.
  • by credford (1322931) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:31PM (#24126247)
    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the phone. This is very unfair to Obama. This was a tough call for him. You talk about him like he's a spineless ninny. The reality is that he actually THINKS and is willing to change his mind when he thinks it is best for the country. Take a look at his statement on the issue: http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/rospars/gGxsZF/commentary [barackobama.com] He was unhappy with the way it was drafted ("I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power."). Senate bills are not this cut-and-dry, guys. The quote from the OP article above is very biased. There were good things about the amendment and bad things about the amendment. The quote makes it sounds like the bill only supported further violations of privacy and, frankly, that is a complete load of sh*t. Just look at the Wikipedia article that summarizes the amendment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FISA_Amendments_Act_of_2008 [wikipedia.org] Obama didn't want to lose the good things in this amendment by voting against it for the bad things. If this amendment had not passed and the Democratic core had actually won their protest against it, we all would have been open to even greater violations of our privacy because, without the amendment being passed today, we would have lost important surveillance orders this summer.
  • by Askjeffro (787652) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:38PM (#24126317)
    The fact that Obama went back on his word to those of us who supported him for this reason is inexcusable. I am firmly voting for Barr instead of Obama now. Sure McCain would have voted yes, but that thats the point, he isn't a lier and backstabber to his supporters, at least on this issue.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:23PM (#24126867) Homepage Journal

    And people wonder where the stereotype of Democrats being spineless cunts comes from.

    Some points to consider:

    * Every Senator who voted against the bill was either a Democrat or an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats (Sanders.)

    * A majority of Democratic Senators voted against the bill.

    * All the Republicans present voted for the bill.

    The Democratic House and Senate leadership is spineless, no doubt about it, but please don't confuse that with the entire party.

  • by hemna (205532) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:45PM (#24127155) Homepage

    oh really? lol. Ever hear of the Inquisition? Absolutely no civil liberties abused there eh?

    Bet you feel good voting for Obama...being that he's the same as Bush. Surprise! Democrats aren't actually different.

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:55PM (#24127283) Journal

    Sure glad i'm european

    I'm guessing you don't live in Sweden [slashdot.org]? They just passed a law which is an even worse incursion on privacy than the the activity the US telecom immunity bill deals with.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:59PM (#24127327) Journal

    I doubt it will be ruled unconstitutional.

    There was already an existing law that said the telecoms had a complete defense if they were presented with legal requests according to statutes. The administration could have been violating the law and still presenting the telecoms with a legal document authorizing the taps. The telecoms claimed they couldn't use the documents because they were classified and state secretes which would open them up to jail time. The immunity bill plays on this and simply provides for the AG to send the classified requests to a court that reviews them in secrete. If they appear to be legal requests (from the telecoms perspective) then the case gets dismissed like with the existing law.

    It really isn't an immunity but rather a vehicle to enforce existing provisions of the law. I doubt it would be held unconstitutional at the supreme court levels.

  • by Copid (137416) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:09PM (#24127945)

    God, Did I just says that the republicans were the more honest party?

    I think that the word you're looking for is "consistent" in this case. Democrats are all over the ball field when it comes to how they'll behave. The Republicans are pretty solidly predictable and on-message. The fact that McCain is seen as a total anomaly for being a "maverick" illustrates that pretty well. I'm willing to bet that there are a lot of Democrats who vote against their party majority more frequently than McCain has historically voted against his.

    I don't know that I can make any value judgments on that one way or another. I do think that the phenomenon exists, though.

  • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:11PM (#24127965) Homepage

    Why the hell did she even let this come up?

    Pelosi is the Speaker of the House; she has absolutely no control over anything in the Senate. I think you mean Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:23PM (#24128085)

    It's only been 19 years since Ceausescu died. And Berlusconi is apparently still not dead. Neither is Joerg Haider, though it's been 6 years since his party was in power.

  • by scooter.higher (874622) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:50PM (#24128289) Homepage Journal

    Ron Paul did not vote "Yea" or "Nay," he just didn't vote:

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll437.xml [house.gov]

  • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:28PM (#24128557) Homepage
    I think only half of them did. As opposed to 100% of Republicans.
  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:56PM (#24129249) Homepage
    You're on the right track. Read Shock Doctrine [naomiklein.org]. You'll be disappointed to learn that it is a tried and true formula.
  • by CycoChuck (102607) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:11AM (#24129857) Journal
    I wonder how John McDork and Barack O'DumbDumb voted. Oh, this [senate.gov] shows that O'DumbDumb voted for this and McDork was too scared to actually vote. And one of these loosers are going to be the next president? I feel sooooo good about the next 4 years.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @07:11AM (#24131671) Homepage

    Well, Obama did offer an explanation [barackobama.com]:

    This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That's why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.

    But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility

    The Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues. The (PDF)recent investigation uncovering the illegal politicization of Justice Department hiring sets a strong example of the accountability that can come from a tough and thorough IG report.

    The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention -- once I'm sworn in as President -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.

    ...

    When citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I'm not exempt from that. I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue.... Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have.

    Maybe it's not what you want to hear, but it sounds like he felt the compromise was acceptable.

  • by tbannist (230135) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @11:43AM (#24135877)

    It's slightly more complicated than that. There's a group of Democrats called the Blue Dog Coalition [house.gov] who keep selling out the rest of the Democratic party on security issues. There's 47 of them currently in office.

    Presumably they represent the will of the people who elected them, which on this issue is fear of the terrorists.

    But otherwise, yes this congress is crippled by a slim majority, an adversarial president and a faction in the party that consistently sides with the administration on security issues.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

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