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ACLU Warns of Next Pass At Telecom Immunity 201

The ACLU has reportedly uncovered another pass at telecom immunity and is urging concerned citizens to speak out against what they call a "dangerous backroom deal." "But now, word comes that House leadership may be working hand-in-hand with Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has spearheaded efforts to give immunity to law-breaking phone companies that provided mountains of customer data to the government without warrants. As discussions continue, it's critical that House leadership avoid buckling to pressure from the White House or Senator Rockefeller at all costs. House leadership — and every representative — need to draw a line in the sand, by rejecting any compromise that would undo the achievement we fought so hard for in February."
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ACLU Warns of Next Pass At Telecom Immunity

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  • by inTheLoo ( 1255256 ) * on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:25PM (#23306144) Journal

    Please follow the link and sign the ACLU petition [] and call your local representative. Domestic spying should be exposed and eradicated. The principle is more important than party politics.

  • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:29PM (#23306178) Homepage
    Congress has the (sole) power to determine what is and is not illegal. Inherent in this is the ability to grant immunity. And as I have already noted here [], the prohibition on ex-post facto laws does not preclude retroactive grants of immunity.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:45PM (#23306300) Homepage Journal
    Congress has the power to make laws that might be valid or might not..

    The supreme court has the final power to decide what is illegal and not illegal. Personally id say the power to determine is really in the hands of the court.
  • Re:For how long? (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@nerds[ ] ['hac' in gap]> on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:48PM (#23306312)
    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:55PM (#23306366)
    As an European, I might not see the subtle differences between Democrats and Republicans, but to my eyes, they look so similar I can't really see the choice.
  • Re:For how long? (Score:3, Informative)

    by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:57PM (#23306382)
    The problem has been that the President must sign them, and if vetoed, then a 2/3rds majority must overrule his veto. That doesn't happen much.

    A Democratic president that has a Demo congress has a better chance of breaking logjams, for constitutional and party-whip control reasons.
  • Re:For how long? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:59PM (#23306398) Homepage Journal
    Most of the outrages perpetrated by the current Democratic Congress have been the work of just enough of its "majority" members, of which Rockefeller is a prime example, knuckling under to the White House and going along with pretty much all the Republicans to pass every evil bill the Bush administration demands. Most Democratic representatives and senators are voting against these bills, but given how fine the balance of power is, all it takes is a few Democrats to go along with the Republican party line. Presumably, under an Obama or Clinton administration, the Rockefellers and Feinsteins and Liebermans will continue to be gutless for the White House, only this time they'll be gutless stooges for the (relatively speaking) good guys.
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @08:00PM (#23306408)
    Money fuels litigation. No class to litigate means no legal expenses paid. Quid pro quo.

    If there is immunity, no one can start a suit. But we still have many dragging answers from the administration about the nature of what happened, and to the extent it happened, and so the class of people injured (who then have nexus to sue) really isn't known yet. When it is, provided you really can sue, someone will. And I'll be happy to become a party to the plaintiffs that do it. Such behavior cannot be rewarded, and the damage to privacy and freedom in the name of security is done.
  • They're suing NOW (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2008 @08:03PM (#23306432)
    > Have the telecos been successfully sued in court for their indiscretions?

    They are being sued, but the case is still pending. This decision is intended to end the existing lawsuit. If they get immunity, it will be an even more uphill battle. It's already difficult.
  • Re:For how long? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @09:05PM (#23306944)
    For reference, Obama, Clinton, and McCain are all deep in the pockets of the RIAA and a million other lobbying groups. Every major candidate is owned by various industries. On this specific issue, Obama is known to oppose telecom spying immunity while McCain is a fan of it.
  • by vague_ascetic ( 755456 ) <va@ i m p i e> on Monday May 05, 2008 @09:53PM (#23307352) Homepage Journal

    49 D - 49 R - 2 I

    Reid is the majority leader by virtue of Lieberman's two-timing hide. Care to guess which side of the isle he votes on FISA and telecom immunity?

    You also need to consider that cloture votes (an agreement to end debate and go to a vote on a bill or specific debated issue in a bill, requires a super-majority of 60%. Back when the Democrats used this to block a handful of Bush's most activist of right-wing judge appointees, they were criticised as being undemocratic. Now that Republicans have have used the tactic to effectively shut down any attempts by Democrats to right wrongs from the last 7 years, the Democrats are called inept or in collusion.

    A fine example of this tactic is : Roll Call Vote #340 [] on September 19, 2007. It was a cloture to vote on Senator Specter's Amendment #2022 [] to The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 - the purpose of which was to restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States. The voted count was 56-Yea -- 43 Nay -- 12 NoVote. The Party affiliation of the vote was:
    Yea - 49 D - 6R - 1 I (Sanders)
    Nay - 42 R - 0D - 1 I (Lieberman)

    Habeas corpus is a Natural Right, which the Constitution states can only be suspended in times of domestic invasion or public insurrection. To assert that a sneak attack by 20 detemine F**ks, which to this Nation's great misfortune, coincided with an administration so arrogant, ignorant and derelict, it failed at its primary duty to defend America constitutes an "invasion", is to chase after a well dressed bunny down into a dark hole in the ground. This should not be a partisan issue, and REAL conservatives understand this clearly. Read Kenneth Starr's written opinion to The Senate [].

    My question to you is: did you actually look last time or did you just accept what you were told?

  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @11:06PM (#23307906) Homepage Journal

    the Supreme Court has the nexus to declare what might be ex post facto, or un-equal protection under the law
    That would be the same court staffed by people who think that torture is not punishment []?

            STAHL: If someone's in custody, as in Abu Ghraib, and they are brutalized, by a law enforcement person -- if you listen to the expression "cruel and unusual punishment," doesn't that apply?

            SCALIA: No. To the contrary. You think -- Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don't think so.

            STAHL: Well I think if you're in custody, and you have a policeman who's taken you into custody-

            SCALIA: And you say he's punishing you? What's he punishing you for? ... When he's hurting you in order to get information from you, you wouldn't say he's punishing you. What is he punishing you for?

    Oh, that's great, you have dishonest monsters deciding what is equal protection and what isn't! Fantastic!
  • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @01:15AM (#23308702)
    Actually, the way it works in practice is, it's legal until SCOTUS rules on it. Problem is, SCOTUS can't/won't rule on the legality/Constitutionality of a law until it's brought before them after the trial, the appeal, etc. And even then, they can refuse to hear it.
  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:47AM (#23311350)

    Andrew McCarthy [], the former Assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombers (including the "Blind Sheik"), has written The Case for Telecom Immunity []. Worth reading.

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @10:19AM (#23311670)
    1.7 million people signed the petition against road taxation by GPS satellite tracking []. The nearest other petitions only gained 5000 votes.

    Then again, 331 MP's of the party proposing this idea were de-elected in the May Day massacre [].

  • by Copid ( 137416 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @12:29PM (#23313386)

    And what about the many times they interfere with the rights of many?
    The "rights" of the many to do what, exactly? So you have a group that protects people from unreasonable searches and restrictions on their speech, but they occasionally make people stop buying religious trinkets with public money. I'd say that on the balance, they're doing a pretty good job of making the US a better place.

    They're great when they're doing something you agree with.
    That's true of just about every organization. My point is if you don't agree with the majority of what they do, you're probably either not paying attention or you're missing the point of what's important about being American. Or you get all of your news about the ACLU from crackpot sites on the Internet.
  • Excellent proof that you simply refuse to pay attention, and again just struck out without proper knowledge to justify the attack.. I have not been a member of either the Dem or Rep parties in over 20 years now, and have either been an LP member or simply non-aligned. You accuse me of only seeing two parties, because I listed the count by party of the Senate Roll Call Vote for The FISA Amendments act of 2008, and faithfully listed the two Senators who are independents? Would you have been happier if I had just made up party affiliation, or would you have been satisfied if my response to you had been just a ditto-head's assent?

    The fact is that over the last 7+ years, the Republican congressional members have with just a few exceptions, been solidly anti-liberty in their votes, and in some instances, overtly obscene with their votes. My favorite example was the vote in the Senate for McCain's anti-torture amendment to the 2006 FY DOD budget on Oct. 5, 2005. It passed 90-9. How do you feel about a U.S. Senator who would vote against an anti-torture proposal?

    All nine of these shameful Senators were Republican, and all nine are still Senate members, some with very important committee positions. They are:

    1. Sen. Wayne Allard (Colo.)
    2. Sen. Christopher S. Bond (Mo.)
    3. Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.)
    4. Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.)
    5. Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.)
    6. Sen. James M. Inhofe (Okla.)
    7. Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.)
    8. Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
    9. Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska)

    I have no love of the Democratic Party, and feel that they squandered a great opportunity by not forcibly attacking the Republican Congressional members about their continued support for the theft of Natural Liberties. It is the same old game. Democrats are limp-wristed hand-wringers, filled with self-doubt. Republicans believe that it's A-OK to use as an interrogatory methodology, forceful sodomy with a blunt instrument. Democrats like to tax and spend, but Republicans cut taxes as they drastically increase spending. These things are not equivalent.

    The Democrats Are The Lamer of Two Evils.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein