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Senate Passes Telecom Immunity Bill 1088

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 base3 ( 539820 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:31PM (#24123707)
    While they might not miss the relatively few votes of those of us who cared about the Republic, at least we'll be able to say we made the attempt.
  • Some days... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:32PM (#24123715)
    "He who trades essential liberty for temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety."

    I'm thinking its time we start looking at the French Revolution for advice.

  • by Selfbain ( 624722 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:32PM (#24123725)
    But you better not say it too loudly because they'll be listening.
  • by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:32PM (#24123727)
    I wrote my senators. Fat lot of good that shit does. They don't care. This nation needs a serious shakeup NOW.
  • Damnit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martinw89 ( 1229324 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:32PM (#24123729)
    I have no words for how cheated I feel right now.
  • by McFly69 ( 603543 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:33PM (#24123741) Homepage
    I see that not only there will be an increased usage of encrypted emails but there will be a new market for encrypted phones (hand set to hand set). Where do I get one?
  • habeas corpus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:33PM (#24123749) Journal
    Well, at least if we're nabbed for sedition because we Godwined George Dubya on the phone with our grandma, we'll have a right to address the charges in front of a Judge.




  • by base3 ( 539820 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:35PM (#24123791)
    You'll never see a mass market consumer level plug and go solution for this that isn't backdoored to hell and back.
  • More On Immunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:35PM (#24123799)

    From CNN [cnn.com]

    Question: Will telecommunications firms be prosecuted for helping the intelligence community conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans?

    Benson: Although the Bush administration had wanted the telephone providers who cooperated with the surveillance program to receive outright retroactive immunity, this bill sets up a process for judicial review.

    A U.S. District Court judge hearing a pending case will determine whether the telecommunications provider received from the government letters which indicated the president had authorized the warrantless surveillance and that the program was considered lawful. If so, the lawsuit will be thrown out.

    Opponents argue this is a sham and say that the telecommunications are essentially being granted retroactive immunity because Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence (DNI), testified at a congressional hearing that all of the telephone carriers did receive government certifications.

    Some Republican supporters have called this process a "formality" and even Democratic proponents indicate it is likely that most, if not all, of the cases against the telephone companies will be dismissed.

    In short: They aren't outright granted immunity, but instead a hearing will be held where they will undoubtedly be granted immunity. Bloody Democrats, they never have a spine when they need one.

    PS: Hello to whatever TLA is currently monitoring this

  • by Lost+Found ( 844289 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:36PM (#24123813)
    "Change we can believe in" No change at all...
  • by martinw89 ( 1229324 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:37PM (#24123827)
    I feel so naive for thinking there was a candidate from one of the two major parties who actually stood for what's right.
  • by moseman ( 190361 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:38PM (#24123843)

    Looks like dumb ol' George got ya again.

    Note: Please mod me down as appropriate for not conforming to /. standards.

  • Such a pity. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:38PM (#24123849)

    Here I'd had hopes for Obama. Real hopes, too. But if he'd betray his country on a vote like this, then I just lost a great deal of respect for the man.

  • We had one. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:38PM (#24123851) Homepage

    Don't you remember 2006? When the largest upheaval in Congressional history happened, giving a clear mandate to our lawmakers to end the war? Somehow that didn't happen. Somehow the legislative groundwork got laid for another war in the meantime.

    My congresscritters happened to be on the right side of this. If yours were not, I strongly suggest calling their offices and informing them that (if they're Democrats) your donations next election cycle will be going to their challenger in the primary. And then, of course, following through on that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:38PM (#24123865)

    For a moment there it looked like expensive lobbying might not be a good investment. What kind of country would this be if the corporations couldn't hire expensive lobbyists to bribe Members of Congress to give those corporations immunity to the crimes they committed in the past?

    It would be a very alien place indeed.

  • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:39PM (#24123883) Homepage Journal

    Or, "Change, for the worse"

    That is still change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:39PM (#24123885)

    For a while I thought Obama may have been worth voting for, but now its clear that he is just a Pol and not enough better than McCain to be worth voting for. I'm going to be limiting my choice to the Libertarian or Green candidates for President this fall.

  • by martinw89 ( 1229324 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:41PM (#24123923)

    You probably forgot to put a few $100 bills in the envelopes.

    ..., 'cause the lobbyists certainly didn't.

  • good bye (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:43PM (#24123985)

    Blame EVERYONE. With a 60%+ voter apathy for the last 24+ years the USA deserves everything it gets. When GW and his boys got in again I packed up and moved.

    The US Constitution is the greatest achievement of civilized man. The raping of that document is the greatest crime. -me

  • by plazman30 ( 531348 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:44PM (#24124017) Homepage

    The Supreme Court needs to step in and strike this down. Someone needs to bring a lawsuit and get it sent up to the Supreme Court.

    When FISA courts can grant RETROACTIVE warrants, why does the Bush administration insist on not getting a warrant?

    Because they were doing far more than just looking for terrorists.

    A true sad day in the US.

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

  • by oahazmatt ( 868057 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:45PM (#24124029) Journal

    HAHAHAHA Obama votes against a large portion of his supporter's will, both expanding surveillance and providing immunity to large corporations from criminal lawsuits! HAHAHAHA There's your change! How do you like your precious Obama now???

    Well, if a candidate making one decission the voter does not agree with is grounds for no longer support that candidate, then the voter will be out of any options, very soon.

    Might explain low voter turn outs, actually.

    I was going to vote for Obama. I probably still will. At least he made a decision and didn't abstain so he could plead that he never voted for it. Was it the decision I was hoping for? No. Does it change my view of how responsible he may be in Office? A little. Has it changed my vote? No.

  • by Seakip18 ( 1106315 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:46PM (#24124049) Journal

    To fulfill it's balance power. Oh...what? um..They support it? Who would appoint judges that would?.....Oh....Dang. Guess it'll be up to the next wave of judges to do the right thing.....if that even it exists by the time they get there.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:46PM (#24124051) Journal

    Yet again, Ralph Nader is the *only* candidate you can trust to be tough on corporate crime. Obama couldn't even wait until he was elected to sell out his values.

  • by snl2587 ( 1177409 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:46PM (#24124069)

    I'm going to be limiting my choice to the Libertarian or Green candidates for President this fall.

    And that won't do a bit of good in a two-party system, unfortunately, and in fact it may just get McCain elected. I don't like the way it is, but it is what it is.

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:47PM (#24124073)

    So what you're saying is that you tried to buy a senator's vote on legislation (for a meager $100, no less), and you're now surprised that it didn't work?

    Maybe you should have considered posting that anonymously.

  • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:47PM (#24124085) Journal
    I happen to believe that companies acting in good faith to help after 9/11, and who were given assurances that they would be immune from legal sanction, should in fact be immune from legal sanction.

    I feel reasonable minds can disagree on matters of public policy. But to you I am a traitor?

    What is the standard for flamebait here anyway? I am confused.
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:49PM (#24124123) Homepage
    I don't see why people expect another ivy league lawyer+politician to bring change. Are people really so race sensitive that they think that because he is dark skinned his actions will be significantly different from other politicians?
  • by dfm3 ( 830843 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:49PM (#24124137) Journal

    Now the government has the tools it needs to protect itself. Don't you feel more protected? I feel more protected!

    Fixed. ;-)

  • by wwwgregcom ( 313240 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:50PM (#24124143) Journal

    I have supported Obama since last August. I have the bumper sticker and T-shirt to prove it. Mr. Obama just lost my support. His telecom position was one of the key reasons I supported him. The bumper sticker has already been removed.

  • by DreamingReal ( 216288 ) <dreamingrealNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:50PM (#24124153) Homepage

    "Change we can believe in" No change at all...

    Obama: Change we can believe in!

    Me*: Guess who just changed his vote in November bitch!

    *I am one of his Illinois constituents and helped him attain his Senate seat and Illinois Democratic Primary victory. The only two votes I will ever cast for this fraud.

  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:51PM (#24124167) Journal

    Looks like its time to form a new political party.

    Guess I'll start my campaigning this year; as its going to take more than 8 years for this stuff to start to fix itself up.

    Republicans, democrats, both are horrible and pitiful excuses for the most part as politicians. Both have sold out.

  • by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:51PM (#24124175)
    Clinton (the original, not frickin' Hillary) signed the DMCA into law. Democrats aren't everything the people are led to believe they are. They're just as bad as their republican equivalents when it comes to corporate lobbyists.

    The entire system has gotten completely out of hand. We need to change it so that there is no way for a company to financially reward a politician for listening to them. We also need to make it so that companies aren't even allowed to lobby politicians in the first place.
  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:53PM (#24124201) Homepage Journal

    It's only a two-party system because so few vote for other parties. Let him vote for whoever he actually wants to be president. If everyone did that we might no longer have a two-party system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:53PM (#24124203)
    To armorments made of electrons, let us strike at those who betray us. And if unwilling to listen to reason, react with arms of steel.
  • On the other hand (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:54PM (#24124227) Homepage Journal

    Every single damn republican voted yea. Well, those who bothered to show up.

    So a WTF to Obama, but at least half of the democrats stood by their people.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:54PM (#24124231) Homepage Journal

    You just voted for them? You're going about it all wrong. You need to give them large campaign contributions. (bribes)

    Get with the times, and always keep in mind, you're in America.

  • by oahazmatt ( 868057 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:54PM (#24124245) Journal

    It's time for encryption of electronic communications to be the standard rather than the exception.

    Make it too expensive to eavesdrop.

    That would be a short term solution to the problem. If you want a long term solution, we might want to take a look at some other countries and actually stand up and be heard, loud, in person, in a large clump, outside a government building.

  • by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:59PM (#24124337) Homepage Journal

    After reading Obama's explanation it looks like he wants to show he can compromise with the rightwing, and probably appear more moderate to the on-the-fence voters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:59PM (#24124345)
    At least he voted. Apparently McCain was too busy to remember he still has a job.
  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:01PM (#24124379) Homepage

    Not that I doubt you (though I don't believe you, either), but the least you could do is provide citations. An admonishment to "wake up!" isn't terribly compelling if you don't provide proof that people are deluded in the first place.

  • by CFTM ( 513264 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:02PM (#24124391)

    I disagree, though I see the point you're getting at. Rule of law must be preserved in all instances, it's much too fine a line to walk and at that time this was rule of law. Retroactive immunity should not be tolerated, and it sends a message that corporations should not blindly bend to the will of our government, as no one should.

  • by 1 a bee ( 817783 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:04PM (#24124433)

    Yeh, he's been disappointing me recently, also.

    According to the AP article, Obama did vote for an ammendment that would have stripped the telecom immunity provision. But I guess it's the end result that really matters. And Obama too has failed us.

  • by daeg ( 828071 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:05PM (#24124457)

    I was donating fairly regularly to Mr. Obama for his quest for Presidency. I urge those that were doing the same to move their future donations from Mr. Obama and the DNC to the ACLU, which is vowing to fight FISA and the immunity in court [rawstory.com].

  • by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:07PM (#24124515)
    We have both a natural and legal right to not be searched without a warrant. So yes, by sullying one of the most important legal rights in the US, I would call them treasonous. You're entitled to your opinion (however wrong), but as you are not (personally) giving a free pass to actions that attack the very core of the few good things left about the US legal system, you are not being treasonous. Very close, but, y'know, the First Amendment? Might not matter to you. If the tables were turned you might think I should be thrown into a prison somewhere and left to starve. Maybe not you personally, but there are certainly some (many?) that would.
  • One word (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:12PM (#24124619)


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:12PM (#24124625)

    If you follow an illegal order, you're liable for it . Just because you're illegally told you won't be just compounds the illegality.

    Advocating that we not follow our laws means advocating the dissolution of the code of our country. More extreme people could call that traitorous. It would fit the definition.

  • by SideshowBob ( 82333 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:14PM (#24124653)

    "Just Following Orders" is not an excuse to break the law.

  • by Alyred ( 667815 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:15PM (#24124671)

    I'm more concerned with the illegal, warrantless wiretapping they were asked to do (and complied with) BEFORE 9/11. Without immunity, most of these companies could be compelled to testify at hearings designed to bring to light what DID happen, and WHO was wiretapped, and be granted immunity when they were cooperative.

    Now, there's no reason for them to comply with anything. Bush wins again.

    The thing is, if they did nothing wrong, what have they got to hide? Right? Isn't that what they always tell us about the wiretapping? We don't even KNOW what they did that we are granting them immunity of -- but wow, are they spending billions to "convince" our legislators that there's "Nothing to see here, move along..."

    They seem pretty desperate to make sure that nothing they did will even come to light.

  • Get Angry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:16PM (#24124705) Homepage

    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. -- Obama

    Hang on - typo in there...

    Given the choice between sacrificing the 4th amendment and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. -- Obama

    There, fixed that for ya.

    Thanks for the run Obama, it was nice to have six months to believe there could be a principled President.

    Now, let's all drop the depression, disappointment, and bargaining. And for damned sure let's not slip into acceptance. Let's focus on the right phase of grief for this ongoing usurpation of our nation; anger.

  • by akzeac ( 862521 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:17PM (#24124721)

    Considering the democrat definition of compromise is "caving in", I'd say it was a huge success.

  • Re:Some days... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bulled ( 956533 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:17PM (#24124741)
    Revolutions are only successful when the people fighting for them have little to nothing to lose. We know this in America, it is why the majority of people can survive even if in uncomfortable situations. As long as a majority are fed, housed, and clothed reasonably well you will not see revolution.
  • by emagery ( 914122 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:18PM (#24124743)
    Well that was odd... I typed more than this, but all that came out was 'well...' Anyhow, G. Washington himself warned us in the very beginning that political parties were a terrible idea and may ultimately undo the country... so far, he seems to be right.
  • by lawn.ninja ( 1125909 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:20PM (#24124803)
    Fuck a new political party. Nothing personal and I don't mean it as a shot at you. But this system is done. It is broken beyond repair. At least the type of repair that doesn't require an overthrow.
  • by cicatrix1 ( 123440 ) <cicatrix1@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:22PM (#24124849) Homepage
    Sure, Bush is a madman. I'm used to that by now, I no longer feel the rage so strongly.

    What really gets to me is that the damn Congress keeps rolling over and letting him get away with this shit. Sure, they huff and puff but they have no effing backbone to stand up to him when it comes time to vote. It's unacceptable, but still amazes me every. freaking. time.
  • by ya really ( 1257084 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:22PM (#24124857)

    Though it's popular to say, "You're only throwing your vote away by voting for a 3rd party." I tend to believe you're only throwing your vote away if you don't vote for a 3rd party. If more people thought like this, we'd finally be able to ditch the critters currently running the government.

  • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:22PM (#24124861)

    Still wouldn't have voted for her. But now I'm not going to vote for Obama either.

  • by pluther ( 647209 ) <pluther.usa@net> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:29PM (#24125035) Homepage

    I happen to believe that companies acting in good faith to help after 9/11, and who were given assurances that they would be immune from legal sanction, should in fact be immune from legal sanction.

    If they were "given assurances that they would be immune from legal sanction", that only proves that they knew up front that what they were doing was illegal.

    If my brother assured that he would make sure I faced no legal sanction if I broke into my neighbor's house, do you think I should therefore be immune to prosecution? What if my brother claims to have a good reason? Would the answer be the same if my brother is a policeman? What if he's the President?

    If you can answer those questions, you might understand what the problem is here.

    I feel reasonable minds can disagree on matters of public policy. But to you I am a traitor?

    Were you paid large sums of money to deliberately violate the Constitution of the United States, and then try to block Senate investigations into the matter? If so, then, yes, you're a traitor.

    If not, then I'd just say you really don't understand the entire point of America's existence, and the difference between a top-down government where the rulers are the law and a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" where laws are applicable to all people, regardless of their station.

  • by maynard ( 3337 ) <j@maynard@gelinas.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:32PM (#24125091) Journal

    I have sent off my registration form and am now officially "unenrolled". I'll not donate to the Democrats any longer. And I certainly won't vote for Obama, who may have voted for Dodd's amendment but clearly supported this constitutional obscenity.

    No more political parties. Its time to boot both Democrats and Republicans from governance. Both party leaderships have proven themselves utterly corrupt.

  • by Xanius ( 955737 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:36PM (#24125167)
    You'll be in the same boat soon. Remember You've always been at war with eurasia and due to unexpected attacks the chocolate ration has been lowered.
  • by shipbrick ( 929823 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:39PM (#24125235)
    Yep. Obama just gave Bob Barr [wikipedia.org] my vote.
  • by dlmarti ( 7677 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:39PM (#24125241) Homepage
    This just pisses me off. I think we should repeal every law that was passed since 9/11.
  • by pluther ( 647209 ) <pluther.usa@net> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:44PM (#24125323) Homepage

    Which is worse, McCain skipping, or Obama present and voting yea?

    Definitely Obama voting yea.

    Anybody paying attention for the last four years knows that McCain has become a puppet to the exact same people that Bush works for, but some of us actually had some hope that Obama had some political backbone.

    Yes, everybody who was telling me Obama was no different from any other politician may now gloat.

  • July 9th, 2008 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tikkun ( 992269 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:46PM (#24125379) Homepage
    This day will live in infamy.
  • by NReitzel ( 77941 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:46PM (#24125383) Homepage

    Illegal wiretapping program? Unconstitutionally granting immunity?

    Have you ever taken a civics class? Something that a president does may or may not be "illegal" -- the fact that Congress has decided it to be unlawful notwithstanding. In this country, there is this thing called "separation of powers" and in point of fact, the illegality or constitutionality of a presidential action or congressional mandate is decided by the judicial branch, and not by preferred political spin.

    Do you really believe that what an elected president may choose to do in defiance of congress is as simple as quotng a city charter for a parking ticket?

    It's not simple. It's not straightforward. If it were either, then presidents wouldn't do things that Congress doesn't like (wiretaps), and Congress wouldn't do things that otherwise sound very unconstitutional, like granting immunity to some (but not all) telecom companies.

    This, my friend, is why the ACLU exists, and why the Supreme Court of the United States listens to arguments about constitutional issues.

    As bothersome as these issues are, it beats tanks in the streets hands down.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:50PM (#24125449) Journal

    Indeed. The Republicans argue that FISA is critical to national security -- but the President says he'll veto it without telecom immunity attached. So what do the Democrats do? Pass it without immunity and dare him to veto it? No! They cave and give him most of what he wanted.

    This party is fucking worthless. Here's a novel idea: Pass it without immunity and when GWB vetoes it start running ads pointing out how the Republicans are placing us all in danger by refusing to compromise on a critical national security issue. If FISA is truly that important (I have my doubts but let's assume it is for the sake of the argument) then let's have an honest debate about it.

    No, instead they caved. On some level I can understand why Obama did it -- he doesn't want the Republicans beating him over the head with a national-security issue -- but WTF was Pelosi's reasoning? If you believe in party politics it's her job to take the heat off the nominee. Why the hell did she even let this come up?

    They are fucking worthless spineless jackasses. What is the goddamn point? Really, what's the fucking point anymore?

  • by Sonnekki ( 978779 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:50PM (#24125455)

    You must remember that it is also the way that you count the votes that matters too. You would be surprised how a slightly different method of counting the votes [mathaware.org] can give you DIFFERENT RESULTS!

    Unfortunately, a method which is "the best" does not seem to lend itself immediately.

  • by bockelboy ( 824282 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:53PM (#24125505)

    Maybe this is why Congress has a below 10% approval rating? The lowest of any US government institution, EVER?

    Hell, that must mean that FEMA had a higher approval rating during Katrina than Congress has now.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:58PM (#24125605)

    It's an illusion.

    It's not that they don't have the backbone to stand up to Bush. They have no wish to. Rare moments like these let you know who the real master is. Money. Money and the people/corporations who have large piles of it. Like gigantic telcos in this particular instance.

    The whole two party noise machine is just there to dull the wits of the masses and make them think they can change things.

    They can't.

    Remember how happy the Democrats were when the Congress became 51% Democratic? How's that working out so far? Fat lot of good it did, wouldn't you say?

    Face it - we're bought and paid for. You might as well vote for Mickey Mouse for all fucking the good it does.

  • And people wonder where the stereotype of Democrats being spineless cunts comes from.
  • by atraintocry ( 1183485 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:06PM (#24125769)
    They're getting what they want though (some $90b in domestic spending). They didn't roll over, they very enthusiastically sold us out.
  • by laktech ( 998064 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:08PM (#24125811)
    Yeah, pretty weak that Obama voted Yes for this. This got me thinking about Ron Paul's stance on this bill and I found this article [reasontofreedom.com]. Very uplifting.
  • by superbus1929 ( 1069292 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:14PM (#24125919) Homepage
    McCain skipping. At least Obama stood up and was counted, even if his view is completely fucking retarded.

    Either way, it doesn't matter because we know exactly where McCain stands on this, and how he would have voted. He'd have voted yea.
  • by grandpa-geek ( 981017 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:21PM (#24126071)

    A few years ago, when the whole warrantless wiretapping issue broke, Slashdot posted an article speculating on what was going on. The author looked at the public statements, developed a technical conjecture of what was probably happening, showed that the public statements correlated with the technical conjecture, and talked about the implications.

    IIRC, the article suggested that a system called Echelon, that had been deployed outside the US, had been deployed inside the US. Echelon was rumored to contain technology that sampled all voice conversations in a telephone system for certain words/phrases and decided to listen more closely to ones that triggered certain criteria.

    IIRC, the article then pointed out that if done within the US and thus requiring a warrant for each instance of listening, there were not enough personnel in the entire US judicial system to process all the warrants that would be needed.

    That is likely to be the context for what this is all about. It may well be a very difficult call. Also, the entire debate has taken place without this information publicly on the table, even on a basis of taking the speculation as an assumption by those debating the issue.

    If you think about the issue in these terms, the telecom immunity becomes somewhat of a sideshow and the imposition of judicial oversight on the criteria for further listening becomes the most critical aspect. An important purpose of the telecom immunity lawsuits was to find out what was happening. I think the article provides us an educated guess, and that the debate can become an informed one and not just an argument in the dark about principles without an understanding of the underlying technology.

  • by kat_skan ( 5219 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:39PM (#24126329)

    Wanna know who didn't?

    Clinton (D-NY), Nay

  • by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredshom[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:48PM (#24126467) Homepage

    Which is worse, McCain skipping, or Obama present and voting yea?

    You have to remember that thanks to the wonderful world of politics, both candidates are now going to work to gather people who hold views who are sometimes quite far from their own, while at the same time trying not to alienate their own base.

    So you'll get candidate X hugging Ecocide Inc. while vouching for cleaner water and candidate Y making strong declarations on the Iraqi mess while brown nosing generals (do you brown nose generals ? I'm not familiar with US military etiquette).

    Anyway now that they're both (we all know that the US, unlike other democracies only gets to candidates) decided upon, they can start to act up. Which is what they all do because they need *some* votes from the (so called) other side.

    And then your "journalists" (although worldwide journalism is busy aligning on your quality requirements, which seem to be that a goat wouldn't die of boredom in front of a TV news shore) finally get to the candidates and to the *real* issues : religion, sex (as in what sex the partner should be, and whether it would be a good idea to stone him - in a masculine neutral way) and whether it's ok to kill people who speak funny, have a tan and lots of oil. Provided that they're poor but look cruel (those white eyes in a tanned face with a towel on top, looks great on TV, frown a bit, now turn your head to catch the light) and there's an excuse that flies ("um, Mr President, it's been done before, but 'Think of the children' always works"... except we need a new twist, what about "Don't let them eat our children ?" "What ? They want to eat children ?" "Well, not as such, but we have those rendered images from the NSA based from old ILM software, it'll be an instant hit").

    When you have that large a juggernaut as the US, how do you stop it or even steer it ? Do you think that standing in front of it waving in front of it waving your arms will amount to anything ? Beyond a smear that is ?

    Most of the world sees the US as a machine that has run astray. However the machine is so large, and there are so many cogs, and so many... gremlins...

    It is said that there are few places in the US armed forces where you can be promoted if you aren't the right kind of christian. If this is true, then no part of the US armed forces are trustworthy. And this is so serious it's mind boggling. If you have to be part of a specific religious group to be part of the management of a very major chunk of the planet's military hardware... Be afraid.

    As a European who has travelled a bit in the US, who has *numerous* US friends, including a lot of "euro-refugees", I ran into a *lot* of people that were on the *far* side of weird every time I went there.

    I mean I like the US, I like the people, they're great, they're nice they're friendly. But what's wrong with you ? Someone says "fuck" on TV and it's a revolution ? I've seen boards where teens looked for *hours* at the rendered tits in Beowulf because your country is completely obsessed with sex ?

    Any beach in Europe will have 1/4th of the women going topless. And *nobody* *cares*

    Please US, Grow up. The planet asks it of you. Not just a drunken me.

  • by MSZ ( 26307 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:49PM (#24126475)

    Well, some time ago a second rate actor was elected... and it turns out he wasn't that bad, compared to career politicians. Far from ideal, but not bad at all.

  • by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:53PM (#24126541) Homepage Journal
    Isn't there rampant closed-circuit video surveillance of pretty much everywhere? Total and complete monitoring of it's citizens? I guess across the pond they don't pussyfoot around and admit it for what it is; whereas here no one at all admits there's a problem.
  • As a moderate, I'm not fooled for one second by Obama's waffling.

  • by kawdyr ( 1209648 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:02PM (#24126643)
    Why is everyone acting so shocked? This was only partially about corporate America... the main dynamite in the bill was the expiring wiretapping clause, not the immunity. It would be political suicide to let all the post 9-11 wiretapping powers go away, because even if slashdot doesn't like them, I'm sure a majority of Americans wants at least some of them.

    The primary attack Obama faces from the right is that he won't be "tough on terrorism." He needed to vote "tough" to beef up his security credentials.

    I'm not apologizing for Obama here, but yes, if he wants to get elected this is political reality. Hilary knew it was going to pass anyway, no doubt, and can afford to vote against it because she isn't campaigning.
  • by corychristison ( 951993 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:04PM (#24126665)

    ... to make a difference.

    It's frustrating to see people get this worked up about shit like this but are just as lazy as the next guy.... like me!

  • by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:21PM (#24126851) Journal
    51% isn't enough. 100% isn't enough either (heh--Lieberman?). It has to be at least 51% freedom-loving Constitution-supporting senators, regardless of political party. Unfortunately you seldom get a senator who supports all of the Bill of Rights. Democrats have a bizarre hatred of the second amendment, Republicans aren't particularly fond of the 1st and 4th amendments. This FISA bill shits all over the 4th amendment, so every single Republican senator reliably goose-stepped up to vote for it (McCain and Sessions didn't vote, but were expected to vote for it. 22 Dems likewise betrayed their country including Obama). Every patriotic Nay vote came from Democrats plus Bernie Sanders who caucuses with them. So a point to Dems for being slightly less treasonous. Huzzah.
  • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @07:34PM (#24127035)
    Neither did Mr. Kerry. So if both Clinton and Kerry who supposedly represent the big money establishment had the guts to vote against this and Barack Obama voted for this and is suppose to represent change we can believe in, what does that tell you?
  • by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:04PM (#24127377)

    He wanted to end the war on science.

    Yeah, by defunding NASA. Pull the other finger, it's got bells on it.

  • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:04PM (#24127379)

    The bigger slap in the face is the fact that the person [hillaryclinton.com] who opposed Obama actually had the balls to vote against this.

    I've seen this sentiment several times in this thread and so I had to comment. It doesn't take guts to cast a vote against this *if you aren't the nominee*. We all know that Hillary would have voted 'Yea' if she was her party's nominee, since the strategy is to appeal to the center for the general election. And there is plenty of evidence in this thread that that is the correct strategy. How many people have said they would still vote for Obama? The fact is, Obama will not lose votes from the left of center no matter what he does. Oh sure, maybe a stray vote will go to Nader, but no significant number of lefties will jump over to McCain based on anything Obama says or does between now and the election. No, it's all about the 33% in the middle, and who they vote for. The committed lefties and righties are already decided.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:18PM (#24127523) Journal

    I didn't check the register, but we seem to be assuming that McCain was present for the vote and actually abstained. Kennedy was also listed as "Not Voting," though I presume it was because he is recovering. Voting yea is a definite ding. Missing the vote entirely isn't exactly winning top honors in my book either, though.

  • by ChaoticLimbs ( 597275 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:06PM (#24127929) Journal
    If voting ever changed things, you would be forcibly prevented from doing it.
  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:12PM (#24127975)

    I have never voted in my life [...] Then you came along. Your message of change and hope, your rejection of lobbyists, and your sincerity caused me to believe in a candidate for the first time in my life.

    Same here. I was going to register and vote for Obama in the election coming up, but now I'm thinking it'll just be a waste of time.

  • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:22PM (#24128071)

    Can someone please remind me why we have elected a Democrat-led congress? My goal for this November election will be to vote out every single incumbent congressman regardless of party affiliation.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:57PM (#24128341)

    The Democrats in Congress just lost my approval, that's for sure! Remember, they voted for this travesty too!

  • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:42PM (#24128667) Journal

    Maybe this is why Congress has a below 10% approval rating?

    That number is so completely meaningless. I don't know why people keep bringing it up. What a bunch of tripe. In the ONLY poll that really matters, congress has over a 90% approval rating. Every single time. Congress didn't give out immunity to these people. The voters did. And they will do so again in November. So let's quit trying to pass the buck, ok?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:54PM (#24128771)

    This makes sense in a single issue world. i.e. do I go left, or do I go right? But, Once another variable is thrown in, it falls apart.

    Lets say one side is pro-abortion up to third trimester, and the other side is anti-abortion. They will both edge towards some median to get the most voters. But then introduce a second issue: gay marriage. In your world, they would edge towards some middle ground between 'totally pro' and 'totally against' gay marriage. But this assumes that there is either a perfect correlation, or no correlation, between anti-abortion supporters and anti-gay supporters. If there is a non-perfect correlation, then they wont edge towards the middle on the second issue as it may cause them to lose more supporters than they gain. So instead they will edge as long as they are gaining more supporters than they are losing. But this doesn't give an ideal solution. What it does is give preference towards large groups that all feel the same way about a large number of topics. So if 100% of anti-gay are also anti-abortion, it pays to be closer to that side, because if you slip a little on either issue, you definitely lose a person from that side. But if you align closer to the this group on a single issue, there's only a 50% chance you'll lose a person from the other group due to this change.

  • by Un pobre guey ( 593801 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:42PM (#24129151) Homepage
    Welcome, Comrade!

    Welcome to the glorious Union of Soviet Capitalist Republics!

  • by Valar ( 167606 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @12:06AM (#24129331)

    That /.'s consensus analysis of this bill is completely incorrect. The immunity portion of the bill doesn't change anything other than preventing a bunch of lawyers from getting rich, since the telecoms would have won any lawsuits anyway. I know that this is going to be wildly unpopular, but the truth is, if the government tells a business to do something, and tells the business that they have legal authorization to do it, and in fact threaten the company if they don't comply, the business is going to be off the hook in court. Who should be held responsible? The government agencies that did the bullying and misleading in the first place.

    So what does change? Going forward, there will be stiffer penalties for groups that violate FISA requirements, either knowingly or through a lack of due diligence.

  • by Un pobre guey ( 593801 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @12:13AM (#24129385) Homepage
    You were in the NSA? Fair enough. Perhaps you could give us more details rather than just veiled implications. I lived in the Third World for almost 20 years. I know the world is a rough place, and there are all sorts of criminals and sociopaths out there (and, lamentably, in our own nation) at every level of society. Nevertheless, you have not made any kind of case in favor of the FISA bill that was passed.
  • by p-cubed ( 559715 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:39AM (#24130055)
    Obama's yes vote on FISA is completely unnecessary from an electoral calculus. My sense is that the story line that the Democrats "cave in" because of fearing voters will see them as soft on terror is a smoke screen. Democrats are winning seats in Mississippi! None of these jerks needed to vote for this to be more than competitive in their next election. They all know this,but they feel somehow compelled to "compromise". Curious, isn't it? Compromise, when you don't need to and don't have to. I don't buy it. I think the Democratic leadership, and Bush Democrats ("Blue Dogs") were party to, or had prior knowledge of, the illegal surveillance programs. So this vote is to cover their own asses. Nothing else makes sense.
  • by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:54AM (#24130157)

    It wouldn't be about the money. It would be to condemn it. Saying it is ok is the wrong thing to do even if it might not go anywhere in court. That as they say is for the courts to decide.

  • by Grym ( 725290 ) * on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:07AM (#24130257)

    the truth is, if the government tells a business to do something, and tells the business that they have legal authorization to do it, and in fact threaten the company if they don't comply, the business is going to be off the hook in court.

    No... the truth is that we now we will NEVER know now whether they were guilty or not, because this bill has prevented the courts from making an actual legal decision.

    But let's just examine this for a second:

    • If the Telecommunications companies were really so threatened, why was Quest able to say no? And why did they charge a fee? Bullies don't usually pay their victims for services rendered...
    • If the Telecommunications companies were being patriotic and truly serving the American people, why did they keep their surveillance so secret? Didn't they at least owe their subscribers an update to the contract/terms of service that reflected the actual change in service?
    • If the Telecommunications companies were innocent, why do they need Congress to give them retro-active immunity?

    What transpired today was indefensible and no amount of trolling is going to change that, Valar.


  • by Grym ( 725290 ) * on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:24AM (#24130371)

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

    What's the point of an opposition party if they don't--you know--OPPOSE utter bullshit like this?

    The Democratic party has a majority in both the house and the senate. Now, the Republicans might be able to stop them from passing something of their own, but it's numerically impossible for them to force legislation over the Democratic party without their consent.

    It's FAR past time for liberals to stop making excuses for the Democratic party and recognize that, rather than being the lesser of two evils, the Democratic party is completely dysfunctional and is, in actuality, opposing progress.


  • by Bob Gelumph ( 715872 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:40AM (#24130467)
    Shouldn't they click "Launch"? Just pointing the thing isn't going to help them.
  • by Palshife ( 60519 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @11:25AM (#24135411) Homepage

    Yeah. Zero progress in over 200 years. Political parties are going to destroy America. Any day now.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard