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House Republicans Renew Push for Telecom Immunity

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the wiretapping-a-dead-horse dept.

Government 123

CNet is running an update to the controversy over giving telecommunications giants such as AT&T immunity from lawsuits involving the assistance they gave the NSA for illegal wiretaps. Republican leaders are circulating a petition which would force a vote on the bill passed by the Senate but not by the House. Democrats are holding out for a version of the FISA bill which opens the telecoms to prosecution. President Bush still intends to veto any such document. "At a wide-ranging House hearing on Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller again urged passage of a bill that includes immunity for phone companies, arguing that 'uncertainty' among the carriers 'affects our ability to get info as fast and as quickly as we would want.' He admitted, however, that he was not aware of any wiretap requests being denied because of Congress' inaction."

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buried! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23180070)

frist!

Sure they can have immunity... (2, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180082)

After they enumerate every last thing Bushco did. Sort of like how the prosecutor normally gets something of value for case A in exchange for not pursuing case B, generally as a stepping stone to indictment for a worse offense in case A?

I don't know what sickens me more, the extent to which Bushco has defiled the rule of law in this country or that they'll most likely succeed in avoiding prosecution by running out the clock.

Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (1, Insightful)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180612)

Are our legislators going to let these felons walk away from the Statutory Penalties for their CHOICE to commit Unlawful Surveillance?

I think *we all* could use that check for $150,000.00.

And this brings up another question...

Why are these Republicans so SOFT ON CRIME???

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180650)

Why are these Republicans so SOFT ON CRIME???
Because illicit gains from those crimes make them hard.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23183008)

I thought it was because they hate our Freedoms.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184270)

Funny yes, but an important point. If you befriend more corporations and corrupt executives than those who truly care for this country, it won't be long before you adopt their "bend the law to just under the point where they litigate" mindset.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181298)

I think *we all* could use that check for $150,000.00.
Just curious. Where do you think all that money would come from? Even if it's not the 150k/person that you want, where do you think the money from any fines would come from?

I'll even give you a hint... where do TelCo's get their money?

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (1)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181684)

This wouldn't be an issue, except that most of us can't seem to choose who our phone company is. I imagine this is also going to complicate the Net Neutrality issue.

Six phone companies (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182548)

This wouldn't be an issue, except that most of us can't seem to choose who our phone company is.
Most? Voice has plenty of competition, certainly more than high-speed Internet. I can think of six different phone companies that serve a town of 200,000 in the eastern Midwest:
  • Verizon (incumbent local exchange company and mobile phone company)
  • Comcast Digital Voice (cable company)
  • Vonage over Comcast High-Speed Internet (cable company)
  • AT&T (mobile phone company)
  • T-Mobile (mobile phone company)
  • Sprint (mobile phone company)

Re:Six phone companies (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185846)

That would be an excellent suggestion, if not for the fact that those are also telecoms, and several of them also operate long distance telephone service. And I'm pretty sure that at least a few of those outfits were involved in the whole business in the first place.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (2, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182128)

Tell you what -- the officers of the company dictated that illegal policy, and considering the phone company's history and how long those guys have been around, they knew damned well what they were doing.

Take ALL their assets. Bankrupt them, distribute the proceeds, THEN jail the sonzabitches.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185932)

Tell you what -- the officers of the company dictated that illegal policy, and considering the phone company's history and how long those guys have been around, they knew damned well what they were doing.

Take ALL their assets. Bankrupt them, distribute the proceeds, THEN jail the sonzabitches.
First, you can't jail someone in civil court. Next, you can't sue the officers of a incorporated company unless they perform some sort of fraud. That's why companies get incorporated. It makes the company it's own entity.

Finally, yeah, they knew what they were doing. First, FISA allows for wire taps to happen without a warrant. Next, it is not the job of the telephone company to uphold the Constitution or protect your rights. Their job is to provide you with a dial tone. If you want to go after someone, go after the executive branch.

All suing the telco's will do is make all of our phone bills go up and make lawyers rich.

Who said a DAMNED thing about civil court? (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#23186516)

First, you can't jail someone in civil court. Next, you can't sue the officers of a incorporated company unless they perform some sort of fraud. That's why companies get incorporated. It makes the company it's own entity.
What made you leap to the conclusion that I was discussing mere civil penalties? They conspired to violate the 4th amendment. That's a criminal matter, just as if I had helped the police search my neighbor's house by breaking and entering.

Re:Who said a DAMNED thing about civil court? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23187630)

First, you can't jail someone in civil court. Next, you can't sue the officers of a incorporated company unless they perform some sort of fraud. That's why companies get incorporated. It makes the company it's own entity.
What made you leap to the conclusion that I was discussing mere civil penalties? They conspired to violate the 4th amendment. That's a criminal matter, just as if I had helped the police search my neighbor's house by breaking and entering.
That's all fine and good, but that is not what is being debated by Congress here. The immunity is from civil cases, not prosecutorial ones. Besides, it would take Bush's Justice Dept to file the case and I don't see that happening.

Your beef is with the executive branch, not the telco's.

Re:Who said a DAMNED thing about civil court? (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 5 years ago | (#23189522)

Actually the beef is with the Crazy Religious Fundamentalists unlawfully hired to RUN the Department of Justice.

They're busy spying on all your bank transactions looking for whore-mongers, while violent-felons committing torture and companies unlawfully spying IN VIOLATION OF FISA seem to get a pass.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (1, Interesting)

Pendersempai (625351) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185036)

I'll even give you a hint... where do TelCo's get their money?

In this case? Shareholders, ultimately. Telecoms' prices are already set at the profit-maximizing point. If they could make more money by raising prices, they would already have done so.

The benefit of liability would be that next time a shareholder chose which telecom company to invest in, he'd pick one that made the most credible promises not to spy on its customers, and crime would be deterred.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (2, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185978)

I'll even give you a hint... where do TelCo's get their money?

In this case? Shareholders, ultimately. Telecoms' prices are already set at the profit-maximizing point. If they could make more money by raising prices, they would already have done so.

The benefit of liability would be that next time a shareholder chose which telecom company to invest in, he'd pick one that made the most credible promises not to spy on its customers, and crime would be deterred.

You can't sue the owners of an incorporated company as they are shielded. That's why companies incorporate. You have to sue the company itself as it is its own entity.

Now, if you can find a telco that allowed wire taps and is a sole proprietorship, then have at it! Good luck in finding one of those.

Re:Not until they cut us our $150,000.00 checks.. (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 5 years ago | (#23189476)

"Just curious. Where do you think all that money would come from? Even if it's not the 150k/person that you want, where do you think the money from any fines would come from?"

Since the total fines exceed AT&T's value -- I expect the money would come from the Bankruptcy Auction of their remaining assets.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (3, Insightful)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181102)

Maybe if all the people that complained about the indications that the Bush administration has been greedy and unethical actually went out and actively tried to get them indicted. Perhaps then a serious investigation could take place to uncover exactly what has been done by whom; and prosecute any wrong doing.

However, just venting a bit now and again on forums or to friends or co-workers; is just as bad as ignoring the problem or pretending it doesn't exists. As long as people continue to stick their head in the sand and pretend nothing is their responsibility; nothing is exactly what will happen.

Were it that simple (0, Flamebait)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184010)

Cheney has taken great pains to make sure that neither he nor Bush can be charged for anything. Why else do you think he never uses any sort of communication that can leave a voice or paper trail?

Hint: He served in the Nixon administration, where the paranoid President essentially wiretapped himself into a sure impeachment had he not resigned.

Add to this the exasperating number of yes-men and lawyers the VP and POTUS surrounded themselves with (John Yoo, anyone?) and you have an administration full of lawyers who will fight tooth and nail to keep justice from being served.

Re:Were it that simple (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184182)

My point is that if the people themselves do not try to become better informed and then start asking though questions, and acting upon their convictions, there will never be a political will to make the real changes required. And greedy people only succeed in manipulating the system because people are too timid, or too caught up in their own situation, to actually make an effort to speak up against what they see as injustice.

Re:Were it that simple (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184318)

Quick! Someone point out the inherent hypocrisy in me complaining about this on a forum ;)

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185114)

Maybe if all the people that complained about the indications that the Bush administration has been greedy and unethical actually went out and actively tried to get them indicted.
You can't indict while he's still in office. The equivalent for a sitting President is impeachment, and Pelosi is the gatekeeper blocking any impeachment attempt [wikipedia.org].

We need to find the keymaster.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (0, Offtopic)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181358)

After they enumerate every last thing Bushco did. Sort of like how the prosecutor normally gets something of value for case A in exchange for not pursuing case B, generally as a stepping stone to indictment for a worse offense in case A?

I don't know what sickens me more, the extent to which Bushco has defiled the rule of law in this country or that they'll most likely succeed in avoiding prosecution by running out the clock.
The fact that you call the President of the United States "Bushco" tells me that you are too blinded by your own hatred and bigotry to form an honest, open minded opinion. That negates anything you have to say and prevents those who still have the ability to hear and consider both sides of an argument honestly and fairly (aka NOT hate filled bigots) from taking your seriously.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (3, Insightful)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181716)

I'd like to tell you you're wrong, but it was the hatred and vitriol I saw on the part of the anti-Bush crowd that kept me from listening to them for a long time.

Nowadays, I agree with them that he is a criminal, that his behavior is unethical, that he is running the country into the ground and that his war is being waged on behalf of corporate interests. But I try not to badmouth and insult him, because I don't think it's right. And I don't want to turn anyone else away.

It's hard enough getting people to listen as it is.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (2, Insightful)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 5 years ago | (#23186054)

Nowadays, I agree with them that he is a criminal, that his behavior is unethical, that he is running the country into the ground and that his war is being waged on behalf of corporate interests. But I try not to badmouth and insult him, because I don't think it's right. And I don't want to turn anyone else away.
He's an unethical criminal who is destroying our country on the behalf of corporate interests... but it's not okay to badmouth him? What kind of twisted world do you live in? If you don't "badmouth" that kind of bullshit, it slides. And when it slides, and you suffer for it, you have only yourself to blame. By all means, badmouth it in a more politic manner than some have, but badmouth it you absolutely should.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 5 years ago | (#23187046)

There are good reasons why there are so much hatred & vitriol on the part of anti-Bush folks. What he & his cronies have been doing to the country is much worse in terms of scale of corruption than anything that has been seen in our country in the past. (I can't say worse in magnitude, since parts of the country have certainly been ridiculously corrupt in the past, but the nationwide scale is new.) People who have good self-images about their country tend to react strongly once they realize what's happening, kind of like the immune system reacts strongly to a vicious disease suddenly attacking the body.

It's unfortunate that people like yourself chose to focus on the expressions of outrage as what was wrong with the pissed-off people, rather than actually trying to determine whether there was any real reasons for those expressions of outrage. If you had allowed yourself to get pissed-off as well, Bush & Co. might have been ousted from office before they had a chance to do much real damage. As it is, you will have to suffer through the consequences of your inaction along with the rest of us.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182148)

"Bushco" refers to the entire bunch of them, and altho "Cheneyco" would probably be more accurate, it doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, and besides, Bush wanted the fancy title, let him have the fancy title.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23183538)

The fact that you're more hung up on someone using a silly little "bushco" catchphrase instead of looking at any real issues he brings up shows me that your not half as open minded as you claim to be in your self righteous condemnation of the OP. You respond to a relatively insightful, accurate descripton of the situation with a "straight out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth" whine about one single word he used, while completely dodging all the substance.

I would say congratulations on your attempt to childishly divert the topic away from real issues into petty whining over word choice, but you're not clever or original in your delivery, so the kudos won't be coming.

It's simple minded idiots that tune things out the second a bad word or a different idea comes up that are the real problem here today. When you put more weight on every individual word and punctuation mark then the thoughts and ideas those words are supposed to convey, YOU'RE the close minded fool in the argument.

If anyone "negated" themselves in this thread, it was you Archer. Plugging your ears and going "nyah nyah" isn't exactly the paragon of discussion you are vainly trying to advocate.

Let's move beyond the playground mentality of being offended by a single word and look at some real issues for once. As a moderately intelligent adult, I'm really fucking sick of swarms of simpletons spending all their time trying to distract and detract from real issues while our country's greatness crumbles into rubble.

But oh noes, he said "Bushco", so march on simpleton, march on!

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (2, Insightful)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 5 years ago | (#23186008)

Thank you for an absolutely classic example of the ad hominem fallacy. Clearly there is something wrong with you, therefore there must be something wrong with your argument. Please, attach the argument or position, or remain quiet--attacking the person accomplishes nothing.

That said, Bush has done much to deserve the vitriol that is so squarely aimed at him, at least in the eyes of many, and on top of that I think you own prejudices have caused you to apparently read WAY too much into something as simple as the word "Bushco." I mean, overreact much?

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (2, Interesting)

jthill (303417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23186162)

too blinded ... to form an honest, open-minded opinion

Prejudice is the mother of all traps, sure. Here's the one I fell into:

In an essay by Ron Suskind [nytimes.com], one of the President's advisors is quoted referring to

the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence
as a political advantage for the President.

I know I'm not alone: when I saw the way he walks and the way he points, every poser alarm in my system started screaming bloody fool.

As you say, right or wrong, snap judgments convince no one; but that's not the trap I fell into.

The trap I fell into was that I didn't take the trouble to really eliminate the effects of confirmation bias [wikipedia.org]. Laziness, really. I let my faith in the American system lull me, without acknowledging that I'm part of that system.

The trap I fell into was to dismiss my gut reaction as implausibly extreme; to leave the job of responding to people with, as I thought, cooler heads and clearer vision. What I did was, I allowed a really important question to remain "open": I recognized my own prejudice and did not work to eliminate its effects.

But it doesn't seem to me that confirmation bias has much chance of distorting these results. Take a gander at the last paragraph of this speech [whitehouse.gov]. Sit quiet and look at the premises, the reasoning, the implications.

I've opened my mind, done my looking, and the conclusion I've reached is this: Bram Stoker's masterpiece is a metaphorical treatise on the desire for vengeance.

Re:Sure they can have immunity... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185422)

Perhaps the telcos would be more trusting of your wiretap requests if you didn't have a history of making illegal ones?

One of many reasons why overreaction to security incidents ultimately reduces our overall security.

House GOP decides McCain isn't gonna win anyway. (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180092)

Actually I kinda like the guy just not his crowd.

What this sort of vote does is say to the nation, WE ARE COMPLETE SLIME AND ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY. This is nothing but a fund raiser vote for the 2012 election.

National Security or Political Security? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23180120)

On Wednesday, a number of Republican leaders, including Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.), began circulating what's known as a "discharge" petition

Lamar Smith -- $679,583 from Communic/Electronics industry [opensecrets.org]
Peter Hoekstra -- $42,685 from Communic/Electronics industry [opensecrets.org]
Peter King -- $140,072 from Communic/Electronics industry [opensecrets.org]

"More than 66 days have passed since House Democrats allowed a key piece of terrorist surveillance legislation to expire--not because they had concerns with the bill, but because they were seemingly more concerned that not enough trial lawyers would be able to file enough expensive and frivolous lawsuits against U.S. telecom firms," Republican whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in a statement.

Roy Blunt -- $846,327 from Communic/Electronics industry [opensecrets.org]

Re:National Security or Political Security? (2, Informative)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180200)

42k is chump change for an election warchest. 650+k on the other hand, is a nice chunk of cash...

Of course if you want to throw out Hoekstra youre going to have to do what he did to get elected: win the primary, which is where most money is spent in MI2.

Michigan's 2nd Congressional District includes a large amount of Conservative Christians (Calvinists), and Hoekstra's conservative base in Ottawa county is quite safe for him. It is the reddest county in the nation.

Re:National Security or Political Security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23181092)

Indeed. I'll add that Peter King is just an all-around douchebag.

Re:National Security or Political Security? (2, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181682)

Roy Blunt -- $846,327 from Communic/Electronics industry
Good to know the price of my "representative", thanks.

Re:National Security or Political Security? (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#23183150)

Dammit, Blunt. 'Round where I live we have a lot of bumper-stickered vehicles: "Blunt Trauma" is a very common motto.

Re:National Security or Political Security? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#23186890)

Roy Blunt -- $846,327 from Communic/Electronics industry
Yeah, but I'm seriously considering writing him a letter! In longhand! Take that, telcos!

Republicans are a wierd set (1, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180174)

Most claim to be highly religious, yet they take these actions which seem to be purely unethically motivated. I often wonder how they imagine themselves squaring accepting money from lobbyists, etc with God. "it was a lot of money" seems like a terrible excuse.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (2, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180192)

I often wonder how they imagine themselves squaring accepting money from lobbyists, etc with God. "it was a lot of money" seems like a terrible excuse.



Not to mention that Jesus himself supposedly said that you can only serve one lord - money, or God. But then again, they probably read the Bible like they read a novel - read the first couple
of chapters with great interest, and then skip to the last to see how the story ends.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23180234)

Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Matthew 22:21

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23180298)

I think it ends with an apocalypse.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180358)

Oh great, thanks Anonymous, first Harry Potter, now this! And I was only a chapter from the ending.

Still, what a twist!

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1, Flamebait)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180522)

Lol.

The bible is a terrible source of morals/ethics. It's misogynist, spiteful and in some places just plain *weird*.

OTOH, you're right, it's pretty clear on the money issue.

But my first point there was really to illustrate that no sane individual derives morals from the bible.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181754)

But my first point there was really to illustrate that no sane individual derives morals from the bible.
You mean, from your interpretation of the Bible.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182194)

You mean, from your interpretation of the Bible.
What, you leave out the revenge and killings and rapes? What's the fun of that?

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23180208)

It makes perfect sense if you assume that they pass bills only for political advantage and that they fawn religiosity only for political advantage.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180662)

Most claim to be highly religious, yet they take these actions which seem to be purely unethically motivated. I often wonder how they imagine themselves squaring accepting money from lobbyists, etc with God. "it was a lot of money" seems like a terrible excuse.
Maybe they're planning on slipping St. Pete a sawbuck.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180966)

What's so unethical about spying on terrorists?

No, I don't agree that this is what they were actually doing, but I think that most of these politicians do.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181770)

I'm not actually sure all of them think that. Maybe it's more of a case of they'll think whatever you want them to, so long as you pay them enough.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#23186016)

I don't think that anybody is going to argue against wiretapping criminals, and those that are likely to be criminals.

The issue here is no oversight, no idea who's being tapped and a bunch of telcos that were raking in the cash for illegal favors trying to avoid being held accountable by the people. Basically as it stands now it is almost completely unknown as to who was being tapped, for what reasons and why. The fact that they weren't even bothering to use FISA which is set up with notoriously lax standards and can issue warrants after the tapping has already been completed is more than a little fishy. Anybody that argues that the telcos didn't know what they were doing was wrong, really needs to think about that, and consider the legally granted wire taps that they disconnected because they weren't paid in a timely fashion for the service.

But then again, what do I know, I still think that flag lapel pins are tacky and disrespect our service personnel when used to invoke patriotism as part of a campaign ruse.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 5 years ago | (#23189516)

I'd love to see someone ask the Republicans who are pushing for immunity one question, on the record (even better if it's on live TV): "If Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama win the upcoming Presidential election, what _exactly_ do you think is going to prevent them from wiretapping your home, office, and cell phones and listening to every word you say, including anything you say to other members of the Republican party? The telecoms will have no reason to refuse, as they're immune to prosecution. Anything you say can and will be used against you during your reelection campaign, leaked by 'secret sources' to the press."

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

pfleming (683342) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182776)

Most claim to be highly religious, yet they take these actions which seem to be purely unethically motivated. I often wonder how they imagine themselves squaring accepting money from lobbyists, etc with God. "it was a lot of money" seems like a terrible excuse.
So... maybe it's that they realize the truth: there is no spoo.. er god. All we have is who we are now, not some threat of retribution or vague reward later. Otherwise, why would they do things that they know "god will see"?
One person hearing a voice in his head is crazy.
One million people hearing voices in their head is a religion.

Re:Republicans are a wierd set (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184196)

If they would study the Bible they claim to follow, they would know that the love of money is the root of many evils.

Little more than a stunt, really (4, Interesting)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180240)

The success and the payback the Democrats experienced in overturning this train-wreck of a bill experienced, they aren't in the mood to roll over any more. Even the telcos prefer the Democratic version which grants the companies the ability to present evidence in their own defence.

And that is what scares the Bush administration most: transparency. They know that they are in a world of trouble, and the GOP is now looking at a sea-change as strong as when Roosevelt succeeded Hoover. It will be a long time before Republicans can overcome the legacy of Lee Atwater/ Karl Rove politics...

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (2, Interesting)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180934)

No one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public.

I forget who made that quote, but it's still valid.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181586)

It was Henry Mencken

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181658)

To add, it's worth knowing who you are quoting...

He also wrote "The Jews could be put down very plausibly as the most unpleasant race ever heard of. As commonly encountered, they lack many of the qualities that mark the civilized man: courage, dignity, incorruptibility, ease, confidence. They have vanity without pride, voluptuousness without taste, and learning without wisdom"

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (1)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181788)

No one ever went broke underestimating the ignorance of people who get their opinions from the mainstream media.
Fixed.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23182652)

No one ever went broke underestimating the sanctimonious libertarian asshats on slashdot

And now it's updated to cover you.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23181122)

They know that they are in a world of trouble, and the GOP is now looking at a sea-change as strong as when Roosevelt succeeded Hoover. It will be a long time before Republicans can overcome the legacy of Lee Atwater/ Karl Rove politics...
No, they're not. The Democratic Party has gone out of their way to self-destruct - again - and is incapable of putting up a unified front. The continued primary season guarantees that we'll be seeing McCain in office next year, since the Democrats have managed to completely split the party into people who'll vote for Obama but not Clinton and Clinton but not Obama. So whoever ultimately wins, the Democrats lose.

To rework a phrase someone has already said, never underestimate the ability of the Democratic Party to self-destruct.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (2, Interesting)

tbannist (230135) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181732)

That's assuming that the winner of the Obama-Clinton race can't swallow his or her pride and offer their opponent shotgun.

An Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket should motivate the Democratic voters for both front runners. Additionally, as long as the coverage focuses on the race between Clinton and Obama, the less it's focusing on that other guy who happens to be running for President and that's not good for him with undecided voters.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181920)

"That's assuming that the winner of the Obama-Clinton race can't swallow his or her pride and offer their opponent shotgun."

Assuming that could occur, why would the offer be accepted by either candidate? Being the VP is pretty much a dead-end job politically - you won't be elected President, because you can't claim the administration's success but you will get saddled with its liabilities (ref Al Gore).

Obama is at the beginning of his political career - why would he bother cutting it short? He gets another shot in 4 years, 8 if Hillary wins.

As for Hillary, she spent 40 years playing second banana to her philandering, ideologically soft husband, and now SHE is in front. Does anyone really expect her to voluntarily be placed in another man's shadow?

And then there's the problem of change. The common political wisdom is that folks want change - hence the political viability of either a black president or a woman president. But a ticket with both? Too much. Just too much change all at once.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23185380)

Both have said in past interviews that they have no intention of running for VP, which suggests that neither would be willing to act as VP.

Current political wisdom (and who knows, it could change) is that one candidate will be nominated for president, and they'll pick someone who never ran as their VP candidate.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (4, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185538)

That's assuming that the winner of the Obama-Clinton race can't swallow his or her pride and offer their opponent shotgun.
Saying this means you know little of the real schism between Obama and Clinton campaigns. This is a battle for the soul of the Democratic party, and it looks like the old guard (Clinton's folks) are fighting tooth and nail for the top seat, but losing. Look in the history books about previous such change... it's painful and doesn't happen overnight.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23181268)

It will be a long time before Republicans can overcome the legacy of Lee Atwater/ Karl Rove politics...

you mean by the next election? for as much as people howl and rave against the republicans there is still a lot of momentum on their side going into this next election. not to say that mccain is a shoe-in. not by any means. he may not even win. but according to your supposedly insightful outlook the man should lose by a landslide and the election should nearly be over today. but instead what do we have? two democrats wasting away their war chest on mudslinging that is leaving a bitter taste in everyones mouth and alienating entire sectors of voters.

i may have been more sympathetic to your post had clinton dropped out a month ago when she should have but instead we have her hoping that the super delegates are going to hand her a win, this is certainly going to cause a crisis in the democratic party. remember, these are the same people who are still crying that 2000 and 2004 were stolen elections. can you imagine the problems that will come up if hillary gets the nod? even if she comes out gangbusters on the rest of the primaries there will be issues that will take deep roots in the democratic party.

ultimately, obama's chances of winning are slightly better than 50-50 at best and if hillary gets the nod you know there's going to be accusations of backroom dickering that's only going to break an already torn party further apart. considering all the filth and trash that bush is leaving for the republicans to clean up it still seems like they have a more solid organization than the democrats. again, mccain may not win but barring him from doing anything seriously stupid he's not going to fail on the level that you seem to be predicting.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182050)

"They know that they are in a world of trouble, and the GOP is now looking at a sea-change as strong as when Roosevelt succeeded Hoover. It will be a long time before Republicans can overcome the legacy of Lee Atwater/ Karl Rove politics..."

Riiiight. What color is the sky in the US that you live in?

Aside from the fact that the Democrats have adopted "Lee Atwater/ Karl Rove politics" with the fervor of alcoholics attending a free kegger, there's the fact that the Democrats don't HAVE another Roosevelt, nor will there probably ever be one again. And, despite the hysterical shrieking in the media, we are not even close to a depression by any objective measure. Finally, the Democrats of today are NOT those of the 30's and 40's - labor union membership is a fraction of what it was, and minorities actually participate in politics, unlike before.

If the majority of Democratic activists hold the same view as in the parent post, I can't see a Democratic re-ascendancy for a long, long time.

Re:Little more than a stunt, really (1)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182942)

You might have noticed that I was referring to the House Democrats growing a spine. After all, they are faring much better than their Republican counterparts in fundraising (Congressional re-election committees, not national party coffers, mind). It used to be that the Dems would cave to any attempt to smear them as unpatriotic due to the stigma of the Sixties.

But a funny thing happened: since they started standing tough on the PAA bill, they've seen their polls actually improve, and all of a sudden "safe" Republican districts are coming into play. It may just be what the Democrats need to carry this momentum to the Senate, where the GOP has been abusing the filibuster to such ridiculous lengths it's not even funny.

It's also interesting to note that turnout for the Democratic primaries has been breaking all sorts of records, and both Clinton and Obama have been building ground teams for not just the primaries, but also for the general election. So despite your attempts to naysay, I still feel that the sea-change is there, despite the attempts of the conservative press to prop up their candidates. Remember, Rove predicted a GOP landslide in 2006...

Hard to Say "No." (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180810)

IMHO, it's probably hard to say "no" to the White House, no matter which form they take and no matter how many lawyers you employ. Given this, I feel the telcos deserve full immunity for past compliance with WH requests under FISA and much clearer terms for all future FISA actions.

Re:Hard to Say "No." (4, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181028)

No, they don't deserve anything. They KNEW that what they were doing was against the law- that's why they're begging for immunity. If WE did something along the same lines, we'd be doing hard prison time.

Sorry, companies need to be held accountable for their actions- period.

It's not "okay" because the President asked them pretty please and gave 'em an offer they couldn't refuse. If a mobster did the same thing and you robbed a bank, stole a car, or killed someone- you'd do the time all the same or some lessened sentence and you'd be found guilty of the crime.

No immunity. Present your evidence- roll the dice and see what comes of it.

Re:Hard to Say "No." (4, Insightful)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181242)

If a mobster did the same thing and you robbed a bank, stole a car, or killed someone- you'd do the time all the same or some lessened sentence and you'd be found guilty of the crime.

And more: the mobster would do time as well. So, why isn't the president?

Mod parent up (1)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181810)

And more: the mobster would do time as well. So, why isn't the president?

That's what I was just thinking.

Re:Hard to Say "No." (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184522)

Because Congress, as a whole (Senate and House, though not all members, obviously...) are as guilty as he- which would be problematic having the House proceed on Impeachment on him at this time. They're trying to cover up the whole mess so they and the President aren't shown to be guilty and the whole lot being placed in a worse situation than they already are.

Re:Hard to Say "No." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23186566)

Because Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table. Of course it was only after the election that gave Democrats control of the House.

Re:Hard to Say "No." (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23181744)

Qwest said "No".

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/12/AR2007101202485.html

Re:Hard to Say "No." (5, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181768)

Absolutely not, if they were coerced that needs to be shown in a court of law. I have no problem with not punishing them for breaking law in that case, but the evidence that they were coerced needs to be entered shown to the courts first.

Immunity just allows the White House to hide the evidence of what they were doing when they knowingly broke the law by asking for information they could not legally ask for.

Re:Hard to Say "No." (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 5 years ago | (#23183626)

Unfortunately they cant do that since its all covered by National Security Letters :P

Re:Hard to Say "No." (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 5 years ago | (#23183566)

Its not hard to say no. All it takes is testicular fortitude on the board of directors. Which the big telecom companies lacked aside from Quest apparently.

Someone tell me something: (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181634)

OK, almost everyone here agrees that if the Prez would follow FISA laws, there would be no problem, right?

OK, FISA rules state that the government can tap a phone line and get a warrant later. In other words, they DO NOT need a warrant at the time of the tapping.

So, if the telco's should allow the government to tap a line without a warrant according to FISA rules, then what did they do wrong? It appears to me that they followed the law, specifically FISA to the letter.

Re:Someone tell me something: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23181794)

Because the law which allows them to tap the phones without a warrant also requires that they then obtain said warrant with.... I believe it was 72 hours time. So even though there is an allowance in the law for them to tap a call in a case of a dire need, they still need to go to FISA to make that tapping legitimate.

Bush couldn't even be bothered to do that much though. So that's why we are where we are.

Re:Someone tell me something: (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185622)

Because the law which allows them to tap the phones without a warrant also requires that they then obtain said warrant with.... I believe it was 72 hours time. So even though there is an allowance in the law for them to tap a call in a case of a dire need, they still need to go to FISA to make that tapping legitimate.

Bush couldn't even be bothered to do that much though. So that's why we are where we are.
No, we are not talking about Bush. The topic is the Telco's. If you want congress to go after Bush, then that is a different discussion.

My point is that it is not the Telco's job to defend the Constitution. Since they can allow wire taps without breaking the law, then they should be granted immunity from frivolous law suits.

Re:Someone tell me something: (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 5 years ago | (#23188120)

No one said it is the Telco's job to defend the constitution.

But, since it is not clear that the Telcos followed FISA to the letter, and it is not clear that the bush administration even applied for warrants, even after the fact (within the 72 hours), the law suits are not frivolous.

Re:Someone tell me something: (4, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181852)

Well, if they didn't break any laws, then there's no need to pass legislation that grants them immunity for breaking the law.

It's obvious the Republicans think that they and the telecommunications companies did break the law, and in such a serious way that they are desperately fearful of the aftermath of their actions.

Re:Someone tell me something: (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23185738)

Well, if they didn't break any laws, then there's no need to pass legislation that grants them immunity for breaking the law.

It's obvious the Republicans think that they and the telecommunications companies did break the law, and in such a serious way that they are desperately fearful of the aftermath of their actions.
Immunity is not from prosecution. The immunity being debated is against someone like the ACLU taking the Telco's to CIVIL Court, seeking some sort of monetary judgment. BTW, who do you think will being paying those court costs, lawyer fees and any pending judgments? Where to businesses, like the Telco's, get money? So, take a look at your phone bills and imagine the hike in fees to pay for this crap.

I'm in favor of immunity because I already spend over $150/month for telephone service (2 Cells and a land line). I can't afford to spend any more. So if you think the telco's should be sued for $10 billion, then eliminate the middle man and just send an extra $20/month/phone directly to the ACLU or whoever you would like to see taking the telco's to civil court.

Re:Someone tell me something: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23181900)

The reason what they did was wrong is that whole "get a warrant later" part. As far as I can tell, no warrants were ever issued for these taps, and especially not within the week or so that FISA rules state the warrant needs to be obtained by.

Re:Someone tell me something: (1)

Apocros (6119) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182020)

but the law isn't that the can tap without a warrant, it's that they can get a warrant without providing the evidence/rationale behind asking for it (e.g. he seems like a bad guy...) until up to 3 days later. they didn't bother getting the warrant.

Re:Someone tell me something: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23185274)

Thew FISA law says that they can start tapping a line, but need to file for a warrant within 72 hours of starting recording-- then if the judge throws out the request, they have to ditch all the accumulated recording.

The FISA court is know for being really easy to get a warrant out of... so the conspiracy nuts claim that the reasons why the Administration would have circumvented it are almost necessarily based on the idea that these taps are so outrageous that even the FISA judges wouldn't let them have them. And if a famously easy warrant wouldn't be issued, it begs the question of just who are they recording and why-- since these recordings also wouldn't hold up in a court without a warrant.

Re:Someone tell me something: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23185658)

Who needs the information to stand up in court when they can declare you an enemy combatant and hold you without trial indefinitely? All they need to do is to know your intention and the 'infrastructure' is there for complete violation of your rights as a citizen.

To be followed by (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23181674)

immunity for all the top republicans esp. the white house admin. Considering that all of the spying started 7 months before 9/11, I say hang all of them. In addition, it should be case of leniency will be granted for telling ALL. If anything is found out after the fact, then the top officers of the company who participated in the work and coverup should be given prison time; lots of it.

Link (4, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181680)

The link for this statement:

[FBI Director Robert Mueller] admitted, however, that he was not aware of any wiretap requests being denied because of Congress' inaction."
is here: www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9886461-7.html [news.com]

This is the relevant passage:

...FBI Director Robert Mueller continued that push on Wednesday, but he wouldn't go so far as to say those "private partners" would stop installing requested wiretaps unless certain legal protection is granted.

To some extent, Mueller is stating the obvious: Federal law requires telephone and Internet companies to comply with lawful wiretap court orders or lawful certifications from the attorney general, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. But Mueller said in various ways that he was concerned that lack of retroactive liability protection would harm the government's "relationships" with telephone companies -- which seems to leave in doubt whether all of the administration's requests were legal.

The seemingly reluctant admission came during pointed questioning by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Specter, the committee's ranking member, has proposed an amendment--which has so far been unsuccessful--to a controversial spy law update that would allow lawsuits alleging illegal spying by telephone companies to continue, except with government lawyers substituted in the companies' place.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said he disagreed with that approach, arguing it would provide a "disincentive" for communications companies to team up with federal terrorism investigations.

Then the following exchange ensued:

Specter: A disincentive, OK, but do you think they would stop?
Mueller: I think it is a disincentive...
Specter: But do you think they would stop?
Mueller: I think it would hamper our relationships, yes.... I do think it would hinder our relationships.
Specter: Disincentive, hamper, hinder, but I don't hear you say it would stop....
Mueller: I'm not going to say it's going to stop, but I do believe delay is detrimental to the safety of the country. Delay and lack of clarity, lack of simplicity guiding our relationships inhibits our ability to get the information we need on a daily basis.
...

The Telcos are really caught in the middle... (3, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | more than 5 years ago | (#23182460)

I do have quite a bit of sympathy for the telcos here. Yes, they were in many cases paid to do the wiretapping, but I do not blame them in the least for assuming that the requests from the govt. agency were legal. It is not the telco's job to evaluate the constitutionality of requests from a government agency.

OTOH, NOT granting them immunity is the only way we are ever going to get to the bottom of the wiretapping scandal, since suits against the govt. have been dismissed for lack of standing. (Lack of standing has been ruled, because the plaintiff's have not been allowed to collect or present evidence that the wiretapping took place at all. A stupid Catch-22.)

SirWired

Re:The Telcos are really caught in the middle... (1, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#23183806)

It is not the telco's job to evaluate the constitutionality of requests from a government agency.
What?
A. We're talking basic legality, not Constitutionality
B. Anyone receiving a "request" has the obligation to say no if it conflicts with existing laws or other obligations.

Remember when Google fought off that subpoena by the Justice Dept because the Feds wanted to get their hands on search results to bolster some child protection law? Google evaluated the legality of that "request" from the government, told them to take a flying leap, and was backed up by a Judge.

There are so many other counter-examples I could give, but it isn't that hard a concept. I don't know what fantasy world you're in where "requests" and subpoenas are magically assumed to be legal, valid, and not overly broad.

Re:The Telcos are really caught in the middle... (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184294)

>It is not the telco's job to evaluate the constitutionality of requests from a government agency.

It's pretty easy, really: "do you have a warrant?"

Plus, it *is* the telco companies' job to not do illegal things, just like it is any individual's job to not do illegal things -- if you do, you get in trouble for it. That's your incentive to figure out whether something is legal or not.

Re:The Telcos are really caught in the middle... (1)

celle (906675) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184518)

Yes, they are to blame, thats why they have a legal department which should have screamed bloody murder when it started. And yes, they were coerced, just ask the one telco that said no.(denied contracts for doing the right thing) Besides FISA by its very nature is illegal, kind of like the war powers acts, perceived necessary at the time, not necessary anymore. This shit has to be rolled back. The government as it stands is badly out of balance, with the constitution itself isn't far behind unfortunately.

Re:The Telcos are really caught in the middle... (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184620)

It absolutely IS the responsibility of the telcos not to betray their customers. When you are a fucking giant like AT&T, you have the resources to see if a request is legal.

It doesn't cost extra money; they've got a budget for lawyers.

Re:The Telcos are really caught in the middle... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#23187032)

If they believed they were complying with a lawful order, then they aren't legally guilty of anything. The only reason they'd need immunity is if they are actually guilty but "somebody" thinks his orders are more important than the law.

Where's the risk for the telcos? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23184740)

Worst case for the telcos, they have to refund some amount to each customer. Maybe rebate the "CALEA fee" for a year or two, plus pay the EFF's legal bills. It's not going to be a big dollar cost.

No, it's embarrassment to the Bush Administration that the Bush Administration is worried about.

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