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FISA Bill Vote Today, With Telco Immunity 465

Bimo_Dude writes "Today (June 20), Steny Hoyer is bringing to the House floor the latest FISA bill (PDF), which includes retroactive immunity for the telcos. The bill also is very weak on judicial review, allowing the telcos to use a letter from the president as a 'get out of liability free' card. Here are comments from the EFF. Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, describes the effect of the immunity clause this way: 'So all the Attorney General has to do is recite those magic words — the President requested this eavesdropping and did it in order to save us from the Terrorists — and the minute he utters those words, the courts are required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal their behavior was.'"
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FISA Bill Vote Today, With Telco Immunity

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  • Section 802(a) provides:

    [A] civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be properly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the district court of the United States in which such action is pending that . . .

    (4) the assistance alleged to have been provided . . . was --

    • (A) in connection with intelligence activity involving communications that was
      • (i) authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007 and
        (ii) designed to prevent or detect a terrorist attack, or activities in preparation of a terrorist attack, against the United States" and

      (B) the subject of a written request or directive . . . indicating that the activity was

      • (i) authorized by the President; and
        (ii) determined to be lawful.
    The rest of this Orwellian missive is available as a PDF file. []
  • by the_macman ( 874383 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:32PM (#23874695)
    Done and done. The house just voted to pass the bill. Kiss telco prosecution goodbye, kiss accountability goodbye, kiss your civil liberties goodybye.

    I was watching it live on CSPAN, pretty disgusting. Just remember who voted for this when elections come up.
  • I Expect (Score:1, Informative)

    by VacaN ( 1249104 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:36PM (#23874751)
    The Democrats to sit on their hands.
  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves ( 236787 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:41PM (#23874847)

    They don't have the right. The constitution actually forbids it.

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:45PM (#23874905)

    H.R. 6304

  • by danzona ( 779560 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:46PM (#23874915)
    We're talking about Congress here. They have a better chance of dying of old age and/or indicted than of being voted out of office.

    Don't forget that two of the members of the Senate are running for president this November. Maybe one of them will impress / surprise us. Let's watch.
  • by Goobergunch ( 876745 ) <martin.goobergunch@net> on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:49PM (#23874959) Homepage Journal
    YEA 293
    NAY 129

    The full breakdown, showing which way each representative voted, will be available at Roll No. 437 [] in roughly an hour, when the Clerk of the House posts it.
  • by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:03PM (#23875201)

    I don't understand why people are so eager to go after the telecomm companies instead of the administration that made the requests that the companies were hesitant to resist?

    I definitely think the telecomm companies should have immunity for cooperating with the government. If laws were broken, go after the government that made the requests.

  • Re:Treason (Score:4, Informative)

    by jeiler ( 1106393 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:04PM (#23875209) Journal

    What, you--a "technolibertarian," whatever that is--wants the government to do something for you? That's called hypocrisy where I come from, but maybe "technolibertarians" use language differently from normal people.

    Treason is defined as it is in the Constitution precisely to prevent the "conviction by whim" that you seem to propose.

  • Re:Which telecoms (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:05PM (#23875221)
    All of them except Qwest complied with the government's requests.
  • by KevinKnSC ( 744603 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:11PM (#23875305)
    This is a vote in the House of Representatives. Obama and McCain are members of the Senate, which voted on this issue months ago. For the short-memoried among us, Obama opposes telecom immunity, and McCain supports it.
  • Re:Treason (Score:3, Informative)

    by jeiler ( 1106393 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:12PM (#23875331) Journal

    The last time I saw an "argument" like yours, I was cleaning a catbox.

    Rhetoric to the side, it might interest the more reasonable members of this discussion to note that the crafting of an unconstitutional law is not treason. It's not even a crime. It is, however, the reason for judicial review--and those of us who are able to eschew the excesses of rhetoric your post demonstrates are quite aware of this.

    The solution to this issue is simple, though not inexpensive. If this law passes, then a person who has been the victim of a warrantless wiretap must bring suit against the telco and the government simultaneously. When the lawsuit is quashed/judged against, if the "immunity law" was used to rule against the original suit, appeal based on constitutionality of the provision.

    That's what judicial review is all about, Morgan. Correcting unconstitutional laws is not accomplished by spouting useless rhetoric about "Enemies" and "declaring War"--it's accomplished by actually working within the legal system.

  • by Hyppy ( 74366 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:14PM (#23875357)
    "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."
    -Benito Mussolini
  • by jellie ( 949898 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:15PM (#23875375)

    He made a statement against retroactive legal immunity [] for telecommunications companies in an earlier FISA bill.

    On the other hand, McCain seems to grow closer to Bush every day.

  • Re:IT'S NOT ILLEGAL (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bimo_Dude ( 178966 ) <> on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:18PM (#23875445) Homepage Journal
    That's one of the main points of the bill. The weird thing is that this morning, there was an editorial in the Washington Post [] indicating that the newspaper supports the bill.

    It was my hope that the article would be posted in time for people to contact their representatives, but also, the scumbags passed the bill [] at just about the same time that this article made the front page of /.. The roll call is not available on Thomas yet though.

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:22PM (#23875523)

    "Obama and McCain are members of the Senate, which voted on this issue months ago."

    On a completely different bill, S. 2248, which passed the Senate but was defeated in the House. This is H.R. 6304, being hailed and endorsed by House and Senate leaders in both parties as a great compromise.

    "For the short-memoried among us, Obama opposes telecom immunity, and McCain supports it."

    If the House can change its mind so drastically in four months, why not these men?

  • Re:IT'S NOT ILLEGAL (Score:5, Informative)

    by KevinKnSC ( 744603 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:25PM (#23875571)

    The roll call is not available on Thomas yet though.
    It's up now: Roll Call 437 []
  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:33PM (#23875693)

    Mussolini never said nor wrote that, nor did Giovani Gentile, so I'm not sure where this quote comes from.

    Likewise, in Italian Fascism, "corporation" means a vertical trade union, like a syndicate, and is akin to guild socialism. The people at the top of the corporation are the "masters" and the people at the bottom are the "apprentices" with varying levels of competancy in between.

    Votes for the Chamber of Deputies are then done by occupation -- so the transportation syndicate is comprised of airline and rail workers, for instance. They then vote for members to represent them in the parliament.

    Only people who are experts in their field craft laws and regulations, which are then given to approval. The "dictator" then has ultimate responsibility to carry it out.

    Frankly, it sounds a hell of a lot better than our current popularity contest that leads to lawyers from dairy country trying to pass laws regarded IT policy, for instance.

    Not that I'm a fascist, I just read everything about them I could get out of my university library 'cause i didn't have tv.

  • Re:Treason (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:35PM (#23875723)

    Here is the list of the betrayers. Good sons and daughters of liberty should note their names:

    Ackerman; Aderholt; Akin; Alexander; Altmire; Arcuri; Baca; Bachmann;
    Bachus; Baird; Barrett (SC); Barrow; Bartlett (MD); Barton (TX); Bean;
    Berkley; Berman; Berry; Biggert; Bilbray; Bilirakis; Bishop (GA);
    Bishop (NY); Bishop (UT); Blackburn; Blunt; Boehner; Bonner; Bono
    Mack; Boozman; Boren; Boswell; Boucher; Boustany; Boyd (FL); Boyda
    (KS); Brady (TX); Broun (GA); Brown (SC); Brown, Corrine; Buchanan;
    Burgess; Burton (IN); Butterfield; Buyer; Calvert; Camp (MI); Campbell
    (CA); Cantor; Capito; Cardoza; Carney; Carter; Castle; Castor;
    Cazayoux; Chabot; Chandler; Childers; Cleaver; Clyburn; Coble; Cole
    (OK); Conaway; Cooper; Costa; Cramer; Crenshaw; Crowley; Cubin;
    Cuellar; Culberson; Davis (AL); Davis (KY); Davis, David; Davis,
    Lincoln; Davis, Tom; Deal (GA); Diaz-Balart, L.; Diaz-Balart, M.;
    Dicks; Donnelly; Doolittle; Drake; Dreier; Duncan; Edwards (TX);
    Ehlers; Ellsworth; Emanuel; Emerson; Engel; English (PA); Etheridge;
    Everett; Fallin; Feeney; Ferguson; Flake; Forbes; Fortenberry;
    Fossella; Foxx; Franks (AZ); Frelinghuysen; Gallegly; Garrett (NJ);
    Gerlach; Giffords; Gillibrand; Gingrey; Goode; Goodlatte; Gordon;
    Granger; Graves; Green, Al; Green, Gene; Gutierrez; Hall (TX); Harman;
    Hastings (FL); Hastings (WA); Hayes; Heller; Hensarling; Herger;
    Herseth Sandlin; Higgins; Hinojosa; Hobson; Hoekstra; Holden; Hoyer;
    Hulshof; Hunter; Inglis (SC); Issa; Johnson, Sam; Jordan; Kanjorski;
    Keller; Kildee; Kind; King (IA); King (NY); Kingston; Kirk; Klein
    (FL); Kline (MN); Knollenberg; Kuhl (NY); LaHood; Lamborn; Lampson;
    Langevin; Latham; LaTourette; Latta; Lewis (CA); Lewis (KY); Linder;
    Lipinski; LoBiondo; Lowey; Lucas; Lungren, Daniel E.; Mack; Mahoney
    (FL); Manzullo; Marchant; Marshall; Matheson; McCarthy (CA); McCarthy
    (NY); McCaul (TX); McCotter; McCrery; McHenry; McHugh; McIntyre;
    McKeon; McMorris Rodgers; McNerney; Meeks (NY); Melancon; Mica; Miller
    (FL); Miller (MI); Miller, Gary; Mitchell; Moore (KS); Moran (KS);
    Murphy, Patrick; Murphy, Tim; Murtha; Musgrave; Myrick; Neugebauer;
    Nunes; Ortiz; Pearce; Pelosi; Pence; Perlmutter; Peterson (MN); Petri;
    Pickering; Pitts; Platts; Poe; Pomeroy; Porter; Price (GA); Pryce
    (OH); Putnam; Radanovich; Rahall; Ramstad; Regula; Rehberg; Reichert;
    Renzi; Reyes; Richardson; Rodriguez; Rogers (AL); Rogers (KY); Rogers
    (MI); Rohrabacher; Ros-Lehtinen; Roskam; Ross; Royce; Ruppersberger;
    Ryan (WI); Salazar; Sali; Saxton; Scalise; Schiff; Schmidt; Scott
    (GA); Sensenbrenner; Sessions; Sestak; Shadegg; Shays; Sherman;
    Shimkus; Shuler; Shuster; Simpson; Sires; Skelton; Smith (NE); Smith
    (NJ); Smith (TX); Smith (WA); Snyder; Souder; Space; Spratt; Stearns;
    Stupak; Sullivan; Tancredo; Tanner; Tauscher; Taylor; Terry; Thompson
    (MS); Thornberry; Tiberi; Turner; Udall (CO); Upton; Walberg; Walden
    (OR); Walsh (NY); Wamp; Weldon (FL); Westmoreland; Whitfield (KY);
    Wilson (NM); Wilson (OH); Wilson (SC); Wittman (VA); Wolf; Yarmuth;
    Young (AK); Young (FL);

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:59PM (#23876125)
    "And that is the inevitable result of free market capitalism, or fascist states where the government is "the shadow of business cast over society.""

    That is not capitalism, but corporatism [].

    "Without regulation, you cannot assign cost to environmental damage or prevent greed from wrecking society."

    What is this based on? Do you have any supporting evidence that "greed wrecks society", or should we just accept what you say?

    "Hierarchies will always get top heavy with power and corruption."

    Corruption only becomes a concern to the public when it is backed by force, something which only the government can apply.

    "If they are in a functioning democracy, at least the public can vote corruption out during the next election cycle."

    And that official will be replaced by another corrupt official. As long as the government is able to manipulate the economy, individuals and businesses will flock to them to get manipulation in their favor (otherwise they risk seeing unfavorable legislation forced against them).

    "So, a healthy but limited government keeping corporate power in check will yield many of the benefits of capitalism."

    The ends do not justify the means, ever. A few temporary positives are not worth giving up all your rights.

    "I think in order to do this we need to introduce the separation of business and state."

    I can agree with that, although you seem to think the fault lies with the businesses, whereas for me, because the state is the entity actually applying the force on the public, I see the state as to blame.
  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:05PM (#23876223) Homepage Journal

    God save us from their president.
    Excellent choice of words.
    My government repealed its anti-terror law, because, surprise, the communists think it violates citizen rights.
    The press is not controlled by corporates and we do have periodical 'outbreaks' of various scams like money-for-parliment-vote, etc., which resulted in expulsion of MPs. In fact various news channels vie with each other for such break-through corruption, , scandals, etc. Each day i open my newspaper i read only bad news first: criticism of policies, the central bank, inflation and stuff. In fact a telecom spying scandal broke out and a minister was forced to resign. The good news is rarely reported.
    I guess if the papers in a country are full of good news, then the jails of the country must be full of good people -:)

    And the Supreme Court kicks the government's ass on various matters not to mention direct censuring and castration of the government-:)
    BUT, now the bad things: Rule of law is very thin, and someone who pokes his nose too often disappears.

    Even Swedes are up in arms against the government for spying on them shamelessly.

  • Who voted how: (Score:3, Informative)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:06PM (#23876235) []

    Yes, I'm kharma whoring.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:14PM (#23876361)

    Comfortably provided. It's at []

    Check the names under "Yeahs" and you know who is the worst enemy of democracy and freedom in the United States of America.

  • by The Warlock ( 701535 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:33PM (#23876625)

    To all those who bashed the 'evil' republicans the past 10 years... will you now bash the 'evil' democrats with equal fervor?

    Well, I'm looking at the roll call here, and I'm seeing 105 Yea to 128 Nay for the Dems and 188 Yea to 1 (one) Nay for the Repubs.

    So, um. No, I don't think "equal fervor" is called for here. For one party, less than half of them supported this bullshit, and for another party, 99.5% of them did.

    (no, the one Nay vote is not Ron Paul.)

    Anyway, here's the list so you know who to vote against. []

  • Re:IT'S NOT ILLEGAL (Score:4, Informative)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:56PM (#23877005) Journal
    If you're so inclined to go [] and use the applet in the upper left hand corner to find your representative. Let them know how you feel about their vote. I told guy who picked up the phone at the office of the bastard who represents the 46th Congressional district that I'm exceptionally disappointed in his support of a blatant violation of my 4th amendment rights. I told him that everyone in that office should be ashamed for supporting such an unconstitutional piece of legislation.
  • Re:Treason (Score:4, Informative)

    by LordPhantom ( 763327 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @03:15PM (#23877211)
    Wrong: ex post facto adj. Formulated, enacted, or operating retroactively. [Med Lat., from what is done afterwards] Source: AHD In U.S. Constitutional Law, the definition of what is ex post facto is more limited. The first definition of what exactly constitutes an ex post facto law is found in Calder v Bull (3 US 386 [1798]), in the opinion of Justice Chase: 1st. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2d. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3d. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense, in order to convict the offender.
  • Re:IT'S NOT ILLEGAL (Score:5, Informative)

    by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @03:47PM (#23877641)

    In the military, we are given a class during basic training on how to respond to superiors who give illegal orders.

    Examples are given of what constitutes and illegal order, and what the proper phrasing of the response should be. Granted, you will probably end up at some kind of punitive action review, if not full court-martial for disobeying or refusing to obey a superior officer, yet, you have your out. However, if enough evidence or witnesses are available to show that the order that was given was in fact illegal, then the superior who gave said order is brought up on charges. At least that's the way it's supposed to work.

    Now, if all the telcos that did this activity, were to show that they were authorized or requested by the president to do this illegal activity then wouldn't that potentially be fuel for the fire to have criminal charges brought against the President? ie - add to the charges of impeachment?

    Regardless of his reasoning, committing an illegal act is still committing an illegal act, and 9/11 did not change the constitution.

  • by gv250 ( 897841 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @03:58PM (#23877795)

    "Any government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take everything you've got." - attributed to Thomas Jefferson
    Doesn't sound anything like him. Mark Twain perhaps.
    Would you believe Gerald [] Ford []?
  • Re:Treason (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:10PM (#23878045)

    Outside the USA, particularly in Britain and Ireland, "Yank" (NOT the same as "yankee", though same root) is used as pejorative slang for all USA citizens regardless of intra-USA north vs. south alignment.

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:23PM (#23878327)

    Obama Officially Supports This []

    He seems to view giving retroactive immunity to corporations for horrendous violations of US law and the constitution as something "disagreeable but potentially acceptable".

    I think i'm going to vote for Mccain. I'm left by canadian standards, but my position means jack if the candidate lies to you. Mccain is honest.

    I know he doesn't give a flying crap about me and is in bed with corporations. I know what to expect from him.

  • by Praxx ( 918463 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @05:18PM (#23879239)
    Did you read the whole statement?

    "...It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses..."
  • Re:IT'S NOT ILLEGAL (Score:3, Informative)

    by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:59PM (#23881933)

    From reading almost everything out there on this subject - the best item to date is the legal deposition [] filed by the expert witness on behalf of the EFF (F. Scott Marcus) which is indicative of a substantially large Narus box network at AT&T and other telecoms. (Most probably extant in at least 20 cities throughout America.

    This provides the Bush Crime Family with an awesome capacity to spy on everyone for both financial intelligence and political intelligence and election-rigging (along with the existing TIA: over 70 government contractors performing domestic surveillance together with the NSA and NGA elements).

    Of course, MAIN CORE (that database composed of over 8 million American "domestic terrorists" -i.e., citizens who have written or worked against the BushCo criminal activities...) is a subelement of this network.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling