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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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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) * on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:28PM (#23874643) Homepage Journal

    My Quote Chain:

    "Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word "safe" that I wasn't previously aware of."
    --Arthur Dent

    "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
    --Thomas Paine

    "In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy."
    --David Korten

    You feel a whole lot more like you do now than you did when you used to.

  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:31PM (#23874675)
    What right does the government have to say that an individual or company who violated your rights cannot be held accountable. Has the government gone so completely backwards that now they're endorsing rather than preventing rights violations?

    It's like a rapist asking God for forgiveness. Only the victim has the right to forgive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:31PM (#23874677)

    I've been writing and calling my Congressman, Elliot Engel, on this issue for months. Yesterday I received an email from his staff stating he was happy to tell me there was no telecom immunity as of the March FISA vote. Upset that this completely neglected to mention how he planned to vote on this bill today, I called his office. The staffer said she'd never heard of FISA or telecom immunity. I called a different office, and they said they didn't know where he stood on the issue but they'd be happy to call me back once he voted. Talk about a joke. This has really been eye-opening to me.

  • Good Luck with that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phrogman ( 80473 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:33PM (#23874707) Homepage

    As a Canadian, I have come to expect the worst from the US Government in most cases, and in most cases it has failed to disappoint. I sincerely hope your representatives listen and this bill is defeated, but I expect it will pass with flying colours. After all the US has "the best government money can buy" :P

    Whatever happens down there south of the border, we can expect the Tories to enact similar legislation up here sooner or later. Finlandization is well underway, sadly...

  • Um, yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:50PM (#23874993) Homepage

    The US (and other) gov. has been endorsing and even encouraging this for years. Look at Echelon, Carnivore, etc., etc.

  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @12:51PM (#23875011) Journal

    Heck, we should tar and feather them anyway...every presidential candidate should learn what it feels like before they reach that office.
    Hazing, as such, is generally seen as bad, not legal, and one of those things you are not supposed to do but in this case, I agree.

    I think starting their term with 30 days in county jail, and a required 30 days service year in any of the lower ranked civil service jobs available in any district. Yes, that was 6 work weeks. It might help them stay just a little more humble and in tune with the people that they are representing. If you have to eat your PB&J with joey who has three kids and a mortgage, and the secretary that can't afford a car, I'm willing to bet you remember it.

    Sure they can do it, we have plenty of police and secret service to guard those who need it. No, they are NOT too busy to do this as it is directly related to the job they were voted in to do. when they are too busy to meet with the public they represent, they are too busy to be in office... recall vote etc. is then required.

  • Upshot of immunity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:03PM (#23875199) Journal

    Now they can be subpoenaed as a material witness against the Executive, and they'll enjoy far less protections against their having to produce evidence. No fifth amendment protections for one, since it couldn't incriminate them.

    Not that this will actually happen, but it's a nice fantasy.

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

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) * on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:22PM (#23875529) Homepage Journal

    WaPo is more Psyop garbage. Like reading PRAVDA in 1976.

    How do you "compromise" to allow violations of 4th amendment protection?

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:28PM (#23875621) Homepage

    Corrupt government officials passing legislation favoring corrupt companies is the antithesis of capitalism.
    And that is the inevitable result of free market capitalism, or fascist states where the government is "the shadow of business cast over society."

    Well regulated markets work the best. Without regulation, you cannot assign cost to environmental damage, or prevent greed from wrecking society. Hierarchies will always get top heavy with power and corruption. If that hierarchy is in a corporation, there's nothing the public can do about it. If they are in a functioning democracy, at least the public can vote corruption out during the next election cycle.

    So, a healthy but limited government keeping corporate power in check will yield many of the benefits of capitalism. I think in order to do this we need to introduce the separation of business and state.

    Public officials should not be allowed to seek employment after their service with any firm that does business with the government. If you don't like it, don't run for office. You're running because you want to participate as a proud citizen of our democracy, not so you can enjoy power and kickbacks. Right?

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:37PM (#23875753) Homepage

    authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007 and

    Good Christ, are you serious? If that isn't clear evidence that something shady was going on during that period, I don't know what is...

  • by NiceGeek ( 126629 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @01:38PM (#23875765)

    Interesting that Ron Paul didn't bother to vote.

  • by Amisinthe ( 1308593 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:03PM (#23876189)
    The thing is, you're preaching to the choir here. You want a rep out of office? You have to go out and convince 75 year old Nanny McSleepytime that this is a big deal and worth changing who she votes over. But she won't agree. To her this is NOT a big deal and you are a belligerent pest for bothering her with it.

    The part of America who puts these people in office does not care about the constitution any more than the representatives they're voting on. They want to be lied to and placated. Shoving the truth in their face will get you a swift "GTFO" and won't change their minds one bit.

    Sad, but true.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:49PM (#23876889)

    If Obama opposes telecom immunity, why didn't he vote Nay on S. 2248?

  • Re:Treason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BoberFett ( 127537 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:50PM (#23876895)

    The reason us "Yanks" still have that right is because we're intelligent enough to use it only as our last option. Apparently you are in a hurry to use violence at every opportunity. Maybe it's why your rulers didn't see fit to give you that right.

  • Re:Good question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @02:58PM (#23877029) Journal
    Good question! Sadly, that's what it'll come down to - deciding which candidate is less dangerous for the country. And that is difficult to determine. You've got professed widespread altruism and its corresponding rights violations on one side, and on the other side you have claimed "free market" proposals that will fail and dissuade the public away from the phrase "free market" in the future, combined with a zealous religious party.

    Given that they're both endorsed by the CFR you can be sure that no matter who gets elected they will continue to pursue policies designed to bring about a single world government.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @03:01PM (#23877059) Journal

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

    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).

    The problem is that even if the state cannot manipulate the market, there will still be business interests attempting to manipulate the government to effectively enforce said business's
    monopoly. You do correctly identify the end problem though being the state. The state must not be corruptible, or corporations will work tirelessly to corrupt it. It is as simple as that.

    And please do note that the state does not have a monopoly on force. Physical force, sure, but sufficiently large corporations have a surprising amount of market force, which can sometimes be just as effective as physical force.
    (Consider a cabal of the worlds largest 30 or so corporations, and how they would be able to manipulate completely unregulated markets if no general regulation (such as anti-trust laws) were also present.).

    Properly working regulation may keep corporations in check, but it still requires a state that the businesses really cannot corrupt. So the state is to blame for being corruptible, but the corporations are to blame for exploiting that fact. End result though is that the state needs to change.

  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @03:35PM (#23877443)
    We still might get the lawsuits. If you read that, the section 4(B)(ii) requires it to be "determined to be lawful", only the Courts can determine that the acts are lawful, not the President. As such, if the Court decides that the act was not lawful, the Telecom is still not immune to the activity.
  • by Bimo_Dude ( 178966 ) <bimoslash&theness,org> on Friday June 20, 2008 @03:48PM (#23877653) Homepage Journal
    muffdiver (73683) said:

    My god, we've got to get that spineless woman out of there
    As funny as that is, I'm still inclined to agree quite strongly. I thought that exact thing as soon as she said that impeachment is off the table.
  • Re:Treason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:26PM (#23878385)

    I have a question. What if the law is deemed constitutional, based on the interpretation that ex post facto refers specifically to laws designed to retroactively increase punishment?

    The big, big, big issue here is that this law is fucking with the foundation of our legal system. It would be similar to people passing a constitutional amendment that makes the President King, or something similar. At that point, the SCOTUS has nothing to argue about anymore, except state a personal opinion that the amendment is hogwash.

    Sometimes, some laws are so bad that they cannot be rectified by working within the system.

  • by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @05:01PM (#23878977) Homepage Journal

    It's pretty simple. They have to pass this bill. Otherwise the telcos will roll the administration in court to prevent losing the cases.

    It will reveal that a lot of things were done to put a lot of money into the hands of a few people. And the bottom line is that we need to take that money back, since it was obtained dishonestly.

    However, it's been part of the game as long as governments/businesses have been around to declare war and game the system. The problem is that they infringed upon rights, they broke the law, and now they are trying to retroactively change the law. It doesn't work that way.

  • by Praxx ( 918463 ) on Friday June 20, 2008 @05:35PM (#23879467)
    I fear when it comes to vote in the Senate, it will validate your statement, but I remain hopeful that Obama will follow through. I certainly will be disappointed if he votes for this legislation in anything close to its current form.

    There are times to speak in a conciliatory manner, this is not one of them. There are a large number of slimy cowards in his party who don't give one god damn about the fundamental rights of US citizens.
    You couldn't be more right. The lack of fundamental understanding of what America is supposed to stand for is a bi-partisan problem; the disastrous effects of which are poisoning the efforts of those who really serve America.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.