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House Votes For Telco Immunity; Obama Will Support?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the now-we-will-never-know dept.

Privacy 436

We discussed telecom immunity yesterday ahead of the House vote. It passed by 293 votes to 129. Only one Republican voted against the bill; Democrats were evenly split. It now goes to the Senate. Reader Verteiron points out that Glenn Greenwald has up a post titled "Statement of Barack Obama supporting Hoyer FISA bill." It says that Obama will try to get the immunity provision removed, but failing that will vote for the overhauled wiretapping bill anyway. I couldn't find this on Obama's official site. Anyone seen a position from the McCain camp?

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436 comments

Hope and Change (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887103)

Perhaps that slogan only really means that we can hope all we want for some change, 'cause we're never going to get it.

Don't be so quick to judge! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887705)

Obama is fighting to remove immunity [cbsnews.com] .

Basically, he's the only Democrat who ISN'T caving right now. And that is a change...

McCain is owned by the telecoms (4, Informative)

analog_line (465182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887113)

He's on the Senate committee that is responsible for them. He's going to vote for it, you can be assured.

Re:McCain is owned by the telecoms (4, Informative)

Psion (2244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887383)

Any readers who live in his district should give him a call and voice their opposition to the bill, reminding him we need hope and change from his office.

The rest of us ... call your senators and tell them to vote no. [eff.org]

Don't just grumble and complain here, make your voice heard where it really counts.

Re:McCain is owned by the telecoms (3, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887421)

I would, but like the other residents of the District of Columbia, we don't get a say in the matter.

Re:McCain is owned by the telecoms (4, Informative)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887485)

You can always have your shadow senators crash the party and demand the floor.

Re:McCain is owned by the telecoms (2, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887667)

...make your voice heard where it really counts.

Sorry, my wallet is just not that fat. These people are not looking to protect our rights. We're on our own now. I beg those with the resources to find a technological solution. It's our only way. If they want a war, let's "give them a war they won't believe". And let's show that part of the population that is for all this that they can't have their way with the rest.

That old rat bastard, Barry Goldwater said it best:
"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"
How so very true.

Re:McCain is owned by the telecoms (4, Informative)

Shining Celebi (853093) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887635)

He's on the Senate committee that is responsible for them. He's going to vote for it, you can be assured.

McCain voted for telecom immunity the first time around, so it would indeed be pretty hard to imagine him not voting for it now, especially with him ramping up his pro-administration rhetoric more and more, lately. His campaign has issued multiple statements that McCain wholeheartedly endorses telecom immunity. Here's to hoping Obama actually votes against this, and the Senate does something to block it -- although I doubt it, since the Senate is split evenly (49-49) between Democrats and Republicans, and most of the Democrats don't have the spine to be seen voting against something that's PROTECTING US AGAINST TERRORISTS OMG.

Change we can believe in (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887143)

no change

It is not blanket immunity (5, Informative)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887149)

This does not stop law suits. It gives telcos who have written requests from the government, dated after 9/11/2001, that state the president authorized the specific wire tap to not be liable.

1)The telcos still have to go to court and file papers
2)so many people were violated that there will be many many suits
3)they have to have written proof that the president authorized it (not likely given the fact that Bush wanted to not be caught)
4)there is evidence that Bush had been doing this domestic wire tapping before 9/11
5)A judge still decides if the proof provided by the telcos meets the standard

Re:It is not blanket immunity (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887179)

6) Lawsuits lost because of this law may be appealed and this law will hopefully be found unconstitutional (because it is).

Re:It is not blanket immunity (3, Insightful)

Compholio (770966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887219)

6) Lawsuits lost because of this law may be appealed and this law will hopefully be found unconstitutional (because it is).
Even after they take out the retroactive immunity? That's the only unconstitutional part I've heard people talking about.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887251)

It is not immunity! and removing the retroactive portion kind of makes this not a cave. Oh... and it has to go to conference committee now where anything can happen.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887633)

It only has to go to conference committee if the Senate amends the bill.

The retroactive immunity (yes it is) will not be voted down. Dodd et al. may try to filibuster it, but I doubt they can find 40 senators to keep a filibuster.

I'm pretty sure it'll get 70 votes or so.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887721)

Not sure, there is a secrecy clause where they wont know that they lost if Bush's peeps. asks that the suit be dropped.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (5, Insightful)

Leftist Troll (825839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887191)

Spin in however you like, no matter how you look at this, the Democrats caved. Pathetic.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (1, Informative)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887225)

It is not spin. The title says immunity... it is not immunity. Stop being so damned puritanical and focus on being pragmatic... more people will like you.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887689)

Who gives two shits about what people think? I could give a FUCK less if people like me or not, and it makes life much easier to live. Everyone could die and all it would do is make me even happier. Besides, what do you get out of people liking you? Life revolves around three things- sex, money, and what people think of you. Only two of the three matter. The last one gains you absolutely NOTHING.

Of course! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887403)

Spin in however you like, no matter how you look at this, the Democrats caved. Pathetic.
Caved? You say that almost as if the primary job task of a politician is to represent their constituency instead of doing political favors for wealthy special interest groups that contribute to their campaign coffers. I don't know how things work where you live but, in America, that's just not how things are done!

True BUT (5, Insightful)

snarfer (168723) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887749)

BUT it only gives immunity to wiretapping that started after 9/11. The program started before 9/11 - a few weeks after Bush took office, in fact. This was when the Bush people were ignoring terror threats so it was not about terrorists.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (3, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887753)

Spin in however you like, no matter how you look at this, the Democrats caved to a bill overwhelmingly supported and started by Republicans. Pathetic.
There we go - fixed.

I don't know if that's a swipe against Democrats in general... but at least about half of them stood up and said no.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887235)

It was pointed out that this bill makes investigating what happened illegal. In order to bring a lawsuit, you need evidence don't you? If it's illegal to obtain evidence with an investigation wouldn't they attempt to throw out any lawsuit brought to them due to illegally obtained evidence?

Re:It is not blanket immunity (0)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887259)

You do realize, don't you, that your point number four is irrelevant? If President Bush was, in fact, doing domestic wire tapping before 9/11, those acts aren't covered by this bill. Leaving out the gratuitous Bush-bashing would have made your post more effective.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (2, Interesting)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887281)

Umm... This bill makes the acts post 9/11 possibly non-liable. pre-9/11 acts are still liable. That is not Bush bashing that is fact stating.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (0)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887535)

Throwing the possibility of improper wire-taps from before 9/11, however, was Bush bashing, at least to me. It had nothing to do with the subject at hand, and I could see no reason to include it other than taking a swipe at the President of the United States of America.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (1)

snarfer (168723) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887759)

The program started before 9/11 and had nothing to do with terrorism.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (2)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887539)

And if anyone has any evidence of pre-9/11 acts, Congress will just pass another law making the actions retroactively legal.

Nixon was right. When the President does it, that means it's not illegal. Of course, he forgot to mention that it's not illegal because Congress will give the President a get-out-of-jail free card.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (5, Funny)

Mix+Master+Nixon (1018716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887589)

There's no such thing as gratuitous Bush-bashing. Every little bit helps.

So if the AG stipulates it's legal, it's legal (4, Interesting)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887263)

What kind of checks and balances in a Republic is that? What federal branch of government does the Justice Department belong to? Who is the head of the Justice Department?

This kills all of the lawsuits by quaffing each suit prior to the discovery process. All the AG must do is certify that the request for a wiretap came directly from him and the requirement for warrants - while still legally valid - can be ignored due to the fact that the outcome will never become public.

The consequences of this legislation is exactly the opposite of what you say.

Re:So if the AG stipulates it's legal, it's legal (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887305)

uhh...No.

The justice Department is not the same thing as the Judicial Branch. how did you pass Civics?

Re:So if the AG stipulates it's legal, it's legal (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887389)

The Justice Department is part of the Executive Branch. That's the point. By Justice deciding what is and what is not legal, the head of the Executive - the President of the United States - gets a say in what is rightly the parlance of both the legislative and judicial branches.

Also: nowhere did I write that the Justice Department was a part of the Judicial Branch in my prior comment. You read that in to my comment entirely on your own.

Republican Election Immunity, Corruption for All. (1, Flamebait)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887565)

Trials that can't happen won't be an election issue. After the election there won't be as much motivation to persue the crime. What a nice compromise the democrats made with criminals: They don't think they need the issue to win and will like having wiretaps when they do.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887387)

Doesn't matter it shouldn't be up at all "Because the government asked me to" is no more a defence for illegal actions than "god told me"

I hate to godwin, but we already know "just following orders" is NOT a legal defence, it doesn't matter whos asking, if its illegal you refuse.

Re:It is not blanket immunity (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887527)

Dude. They have the paperwork (#3). They admit they have the paperwork and so does the government. Where have you been?

A judge gets to decide if the paperwork is authentic, but as I just said, we know it's authentic and every has already agreed that these letters exist.

It's not immunity, but it might as well be.

Yes it is (1)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887641)

The "statement" will be pro-forma. The GOP leadership has already said so. Here's part of the ACLU's analysis: [aclu.org]

H.R. 6304 ensures the dismissal of all cases pending against the telecommunication companies that facilitated the warrantless wiretapping programs over the last 7 years. The test in the bill is not whether the government certifications were actually legal - only whether they were issued. Because it is public knowledge that they were, all the cases seeking to find out what these companies and the government did with our communications will be killed.
This is just a runaround to try and sell this shameful cave-in as a "compromise". It ain't. It's everything Bush and Cheney wanted. What happens now will depend on Obama. If he comes out strong in opposition to the immunity part of this bad bill as promised, and even helps lead a filibuster, he can probably kill it. It would be hard for his own party leaders to work for Bush instead of the head of their party. If he succeeds in getting the immunity provision out, Bush has promised to veto the bill. So the current bill will have to be extended and a new version taken up in the next, hopefully not-total-coward Congress and not-criminal administration. Obama can still come out of this like a hero fighting for American freedom. From the servile tone of his statement, I'm not betting on it, but still hoping.

Why Obama? Why not nobody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887167)

Why do we keep relying on "leaders" (read "rulers") to do what is right for us, even when it is almost never in their interest to do so?

Is it not time for open source governance [metagovernment.org] ?

Re:Why Obama? Why not nobody? (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887209)

No, it's not: look at the Wikipedia history page on any contentious issue of your choice for the reason why.

Probably (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887173)

I'm not supporting McCain, but I did support Ron Paul.

I would say it's likely Obama will vote for the bill whatever comes of it. Even though Obama talked about Civil Liberties, with the renewal of the Patriot Act all he really did was push for being kinder, gentler.... and most of those provisions were stripped out later on and he still voted for it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act#Reauthorizations [wikipedia.org]

Obama also supports banning the burning of flags (which is also the proper way to get rid of a delapitated flag, btw) with just a law, not even amending the Constitution:
"I support legislation introduced by Senator Durbin that makes it illegal to burn the flag without changing the Constitution."
http://obama.senate.gov/press/060627-obama_statement_29/ [senate.gov]

I'm sorry, but I'm not excited about this election at all (I voted and campaigned in the primary so I could be).

One republican... (1)

drsmall17 (1240792) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887181)

"Only one Republican voted against the bill;"

Hrm. I wonder who that may be :P

Re:One republican... (2, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887319)

FTA:
"The contrary Republican was Representative Tim Johnson of Illinois, described by the Almanac of American Politics as a lawmaker "with maverick tendencies," as demonstrated by his opposition to much of the Bush administration's record on the environment."

I suppose Ron Paul was not there, perhaps because this is not the final bill. I'd have to look, but I don't have the HR#, which the article should have included to make looking it up easier.

Again. (5, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887199)

I can't think of anything profound to say. I hate to be the bearer of hopelessness, but I think that the US is too far down the road to being a police state. There is no way this will get reversed. I don't see this thing being defeated in the Senate. There are too many powerful lobbies behind it. Sorry.

Re:Again. (BUT IT IS NOT IMMUNITY) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887427)

It is only immunity for those who have "proof" that they were asked by the executive branch for their cooperation in spying.
Which would have been illegal, wouldn't it? Too bad the white house email system went on the fritz... :/

The Dems probably want the telcos to release any white house emails that may have been 'misplaced', in their own defense.
The telcos are not the target, they are pawns. Sing about the bad man who asked you to do the spying, and you're free to go.

Re:Again. (BUT IT IS NOT IMMUNITY) (2, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887575)

You (and others) are of the belief that this proof doesn't exist. I assure you it does and it is widely believed it does. Fmr. AG Gonzales testified to this fact and the telcos have used such arguments in their legal cases.

Congress said "yeah, we'll get your back if you can prove Bush asked you to do it" knowing full well that the telcos have such proof. It was a compromise in name only.

Re:Again. (BUT IT IS NOT IMMUNITY) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887687)

The proof is what they are after. Not the telcos.

If they get the correspondence that proves the white house meddled before 911, that's a revelation.

That doesn't mean anything good will come of it, necessarily.

Read the bill (5, Informative)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887707)

Text of the House bill, see section 802.f:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-6304 [govtrack.us]

EFF analysis of the immunity portion of the bill:

http://www.eff.org/files/AnalysisHR6304-v5.pdf [eff.org]

Title II of H.R. 6304 is in substance the same as the original telecom immunity provisions of S. 2248, with only a few inconsequential changes. Most critically, it still prevents the court from ruling on the legality of the telecomsâ(TM) assistance in warrantless surveillance.

This may not be immediately evident on first read since the structure has changed considerably: the provisions for so-called "retroactive" immunity in the original billâ(TM)s Section 202 have been combined with the so-called "prospective" immunity from the original Section 203.

But the substance of this unconstitutional bill is still the same:

Cases Will Still Be Dismissed Based On A Permission Slip From The President.

As before, cases against telecoms that provided assistance "in connection with" (p. 89:20) the Presidentâ(TM)s warrantless surveillance program âoeshall be promptly dismissedâ (p. 89:2) so long as the AG certifies to the court that they got a piece of paper "indicating" (p.90:10) that the surveillance was "authorized by the President ... and ... determined to be lawful" (p. 90:12-13), i.e., the piece of paper that we already know they got, based on the Senate Intelligence Committee's Report.

No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (5, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887223)

I'm done with giving Obama money. I want a return to constitutional governance, and supported him because I thought that's what he stood for. Apparently not. This has nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with the betrayal of rule of law by both political parties. They have eviscerated the fourth amendment without so much as a peep from the Supreme Court.

This is getting very ugly. At this point the only hope for citizens to return to constitutional governance nonviolently will be for mass general strikes throughout the United States. Otherwise, everything our founders stood for in the creation of the Bill of Rights will be diluted to nothing before our eyes. I do not wish to live in a totalitarian United States of America.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887279)

Ron Paul and his supporters and trying to change the Republican Party. This will be a slow process, probably taking 5-15 years before we have significant leadership positions in that party (such is libery, eternal vigilance). We need people running on all levels:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlqXq8YxQFQ [youtube.com]

Time for Paul & Libertarians to join a coaliti (3, Informative)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887363)

Paul and his minions can't do this on their own. You'll need to create a Libertarian / Liberal coalition to win this. IMO: Libertarians and Civil Rights activists have more in common than they have in opposition right now.

http://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/11689 [actblue.com]

ActBlue appears to be attempting this type of Libertine/Liberal coalition. I've donated.

Re:Time for Paul & Libertarians to join a coal (0)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887451)

You would be surprised... Many of Paul's supporters are motivated to go to the local levels and get things done. Most republicans (rank and file) just show up to the presidential election every 4 years, send some money in, and that's it. Paul's supporters can take over the party within a decade if they play their cards right and stay engaged in politics. That's basically all it takes -- people start taking Mayor positions, State Senate and Representative positions, etcetera, and then onward and upward. Nothing hard -- I expect a mass exodus of republicans this year as they get their behind handed to them in the general election (this is what happened to Democrats in '94?) so it makes it even easier for us.

I have respect for Libertarians, but 3rd party is a tougher fight because Repubs/Demos already legislated the playing field to suit themselves so it's easier to take over a major party than to get Libertarians in prominent political positions in order to have the average voter consider them a valid force.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887515)

Ron Paul and his supporters and trying to change the Republican Party. This will be a slow process, probably taking 5-15 years before we have significant leadership positions in that party (such is libery, eternal vigilance). We need people running on all levels:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlqXq8YxQFQ [youtube.com]

If Dr. Paul truly wishes to change the Republican party, he needs to lead an exodus from the Republican Party. The only way that party is going to stop being held sway by the people abusing it's unity is to temporarily fracture said unity to shake them out of their positions of power.

This country could use a 3rd or 4th party, the 2 party system has some very big failings.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887591)

Speaking of Paul, is it safe to assume that he was the one Republican that voted against the bill?

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887673)

Then if Ron Paul cares so much about liberty and the Constitution, how come he did not vote on FISA? [tumblr.com]

Maybe because he's more of an anarcho-corporatist politician then he is an actual advocate for freedom? Or maybe he's busy lobbying for more shrimp earmarks and channeling "moneybomb" income to additional racist publications?

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887325)

While I applaud you for taking a principled stand, I do think that maybe you should wait until the bill's actually been voted on in Senate before you declare Obama to be traitor before the people.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (2, Insightful)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887339)

Intelligent people make decisions once a fact is confirmed. A blog post is not a fact nor is it confirmed. Try waiting for the vote.

Here is Obama's statement on the FISA bill (3, Informative)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887441)

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/201032.php [talkingpointsmemo.com]

He supports it. He supposedly opposes retroactive immunity, and once last October even declared that he would filibuster a FISA bill with immunity, but he appears to have changed his mind at the last minute.

If he filibusters, perhaps I'll change my mind on donating to his campaign. But right now, he has signaled that he won't oppose this FISA bill - and further, he may even vote for it.

If you're OK with that, I suggest you campaign for him. I'm not OK with that.

Re:Here is Obama's statement on the FISA bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887651)

No McCain seem to be so much better. He and Obama are equals when it comes to remove rights of people, if Obama is not worse than mccain!

Are you dumb?

"Are you dumb?" No. (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887725)

I simply refuse to be trapped by false dichotomies.

Are you dumb?

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887405)

I'm done with giving Obama money. I want a return to constitutional governance, and supported him because I thought that's what he stood for. Apparently not
same here, I used to be a strong supporter of Obama but as of late, that is no longer the case.

This is getting very ugly. At this point the only hope for citizens to return to constitutional governance nonviolently will be for mass general strikes throughout the United States.
indeed, however I do not believe that the general population cares enough to make any real change than voting that one time of the year... maybe... liberties that are supposed to be defended to the death now die with a wimper and little protest.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887461)

Why anyone thought Senator Obama was different is beyond me. Maybe it's just his incredible charisma and oratorical skill. He's a product of Chicago politics yet people act like he's the second coming. I'm sure I'll get modded down for this. Please note for the record that I have consistently said that both sides were dirty as hell. I'm a registered Independant who wanted to believe that someone different would come along. Obama isn't that someone. Neither is McCain. They are both politicians plain and simple. The rest is smoke and mirrors.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887469)

They have eviscerated the fourth amendment without so much as a peep from the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court cannot so much as peep until and unless a case is brought before them.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887499)

Fair point. Thank you.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (1)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887483)

At this point the only hope for citizens to return to constitutional governance nonviolently will be for mass general strikes throughout the United States.

I was going to mod you "+1 Funny" -- then I realized you were serious.

"Mass general strikes?" Sure, that's gonna happen. A majority of our people can't even be bothered to drag themselves to the polls once in a while, and you expect enough of them to make any small ripple of difference are going to participate in a general strike? Good luck with that. You DO understand, don't you, that the average U.S. citizen doesn't really think that any of these draconian laws and end runs around Constitutional guarantees affect THEM, right? They're just to catch the terrorists, see. Most people are so tied up in the day-to-day struggles and minutiae of life (you know...trying to earn a living, keep food on the table, watch "American Idol"...that sort of thing) that the abstract notion that these various actions by the President, Congress, or SCOTUS might someday actually affect some of THEIR rights directly (instead of theoretically) is hardly a brief glitch in their minds?

I do not wish to live in a totalitarian United States of America.

Neither do I, but I can't afford a plane ticket outta here. Know of any freighters I can stow away on??

No single candidate can save you... (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887525)

Here's the thing. I look at a lot of Obama supporters today and I see in them a lot of the same things I saw in myself when I was big into the Republican Party.

The moral of the story is that you can't buy into any single party's message, and that you need to make either political party work hard for your vote. Nobody gets screwed over by a political party more than its most loyal supporters...

We need to get past the game that we are being worked towards, where we see Democrats and Republican as enemies, and re-learn to appreciate each other as citizens. We need to tell ourselve that it is as ok to be a redneck with his cars up on blocks (that's me), as it is to be a gay couple getting married, that a man has as much right to own rifle as he does to burn the flag, that, we together have natural rights that encompass not just the bill of rights, but beyond them. And, we need to understand that when someone else is trying to get us caught up in a civil war of even a political sort, they are only doing so that in the cause of protecting us from these imagined fellow citizens as enemies, that they are taking the rights of everyone.

Wonderful comment (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887571)

I agree wholeheartedly.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (4, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887691)

I'm done with giving Obama money. I want a return to constitutional governance, and supported him because I thought that's what he stood for.

He's only running for president, he ain't president yet, and it's out of his hands. If you're in his position, you've got the two options:

  1. Oppose the bill, giving McCain talking points and opening a rift in the Democrats, on account of the fact that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and a majority of Democrats support the 'compromise.' Even with his opposition, the bill will still pass the Senate, and he will have handed the Republicans red meat for no gain whatsoever.
  2. Support the bill and live to fight another day. Politics is the art of the possible and occasionally you can't win. You just have to listen to his argument on why he doesn't like it and if you think he's a liar, and he DOES secretly want to listen in on your phone calls, than you probably shouldn't vote for him either. I don't think this is the case; if you read "Dreams from My Father" on living in Suharto's Indonesia you get a visceral sense for how he really doesn't dig police states.

The simple fact of the matter is that Presidents, be they Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon or FDR, can and do routinely break the law and violate the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution, and the only thing that really brings that to a halt is getting them out of office. So worst case, you only have 4 years of tyranny.

Of course a lot of people don't seem to mind tyranny as long as gay people five states over are forbidden to marry, but that's a separate issue.

Of course, as others have pointed out, this law just formalizes Bush's arrangement for his successor, so who would you rather have running such an empowered Justice department? Neither is best, but no strong majority of Americans choose "neither," and no amount of righteous Jefferson-quoting seems to change that. The Democrats did the math and they don't lose as many votes over this as they'd lose if they handed Bush another veto, again accomplishing nothing. I don't question their commitment for a second, it's just impossible to get anything past a President without 2/3 majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate.

Re:No more $ for Obama; time for a General Strike (2, Interesting)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887731)

At least wait and see if he keeps his promise to fight the immunity provision. If he does, and succeeds, Bush has promised to veto the whole bill. In that case Obama would come out a hero for standing up for American democracy.

a flaw in our legislative system (5, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887229)

Obama will try to get the immunity provision removed, but failing that will vote for the overhauled wiretapping bill anyway.

This is just another case where multiple issues are stacked into one bill, forcing legislators to either support something they don't want or vote against something they do want. Yes there is supposed to be a solid connection between all the parts of a bill, but legislators can't vote yea on one line item and nay on another and often time the connections between items on a single bill are tenuous. Tagging unpopular items to otherwise popular bills is one of the more common forms of corruption in our legislative process.

Re:a flaw in our legislative system (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887523)

Exactly. They turn into "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situations. If you vote for bill XYZ then you "vote to raise taxes" and if you vote against then you "fail to support the troops" or something like that.

Personally, I would like to see a central database that requires Representatives, Senators and even the President to explain their vote/veto on each vote within 24 hours of their vote.

Let them tell their side of the story in their own words at the time of the vote so later they can't come up with weasel words on the issue.

Bull (0)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887645)

Obama will try to get the immunity provision removed, but failing that will vote for the overhauled wiretapping bill anyway.
This is just another case where multiple issues are stacked into one bill, forcing legislators to either support something they don't want or vote against something they do want.

Bull. We're deep in a game of "I know that you know that I think you think that I know..." but not so deep that we can't follow the clues and, ignoring what people say and watching what they do, see pretty clearly what's going on.

The House Democratic leadership has control of this process, and, through Steny Hoyer [firedoglake.com] pushed this through. They could have played it many ways, and this is the way they chose. They put together this "compromise" and were under no obligation to bring it to the floor unless and until they liked it. Turning around and saying they were foxed into it doesn't wash.

Why would they do this, you ask? The most likely answer is that they wanted to get it out of play before November, and thus were doing it on behalf of Obama.

Or, if you're paranoid, you might note that we already know that some of the illegal wiretaps were done on journalists and politicians. Just as the "anti-racketeering" RICO act was quickly expanded to cover things that weren't previously considered racketeering, even the legally sanctioned the anti-terrorism powers are being used in all sorts of inappropriate ways. Perhaps blocking the immunity provisions would not be healthy for our brave representatives's careers. So in that sense you might argue that they were forced into it.

But, no matter what, our representatives weren't sold a pig in a poke unless they weren't paying any attention at all, and in that case it was their own leadership that did it to them.

--MarkusQ

Immunity (3, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887231)

You know, as much as I don't like seeing the telco companies getting of completely, I must admit I blame the government more than the companies themselves.

It was the government that started this whole ball rolling and the telcos were (more or less) just following orders.

Re:Immunity (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887321)

It was the government that started this whole ball rolling and the telcos were (more or less) just following orders.
Great, i'll be hearing "Cancer merchant! Cancer merchant!" for the rest of the day.

Re:Immunity (1)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887399)

Great, i'll be hearing "Cancer merchant! Cancer merchant!" for the rest of the day.
I'm not even supposed to be here today.

Re:Immunity (5, Insightful)

tshetter (854143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887341)

The government may have been the ones that asked, but the phone companies did their bidding, they though it was a good idea and went through with it. Only Qwest denies the requests, IIRC.

I always hate the comparison...but 'i was just following orders' is not and never will be an excuse to do wrong.

You say no, tell people what was wanted of you and keep saying it is wrong.

This isnt some 3rd world shithole where this deal took place.

There were phone calls and meetings between business men and US government officials. No one was going to be beaten, families raped, or killed for not following orders of the government.

The worst threat anyone in the administration or government had was to TRY to threaten a loss of government contracts. I could also see planting of stories in the media possibly but not really likely...

There was no down side to saying no to questionable requests. NONE.

What the hell ever happened to Question Authority?


Re:Immunity (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887675)

The government may have been the ones that asked, but the phone companies did their bidding, they though it was a good idea and went through with it. Only Qwest denies the requests, IIRC.

I always hate the comparison...but 'i was just following orders' is not and never will be an excuse to do wrong.
I agree completely which is why I said... and I'll quote myself directly: "I don't like seeing the telco companies getting of completely"

It was wrong, and blatently so... I completely agree with you on that account.

You say no, tell people what was wanted of you and keep saying it is wrong.

This isnt some 3rd world shithole where this deal took place.

There were phone calls and meetings between business men and US government officials. No one was going to be beaten, families raped, or killed for not following orders of the government.
But the government DID say it was a matter of national security and if they were not afforded that power then the lives of Americans would be at risk. This bill passed from a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 that we now know was a bit unfounded. Additionally it was the Bush administration that was feeding us some bad information at the time.

The worst threat anyone in the administration or government had was to TRY to threaten a loss of government contracts. I could also see planting of stories in the media possibly but not really likely...

There was no down side to saying no to questionable requests. NONE.

What the hell ever happened to Question Authority?
I'll end saying that you also read something into my post that wasn't there. I still think it's bad that the telcos are potentially being let off free, but like I said... if the government itself wouldn't have started such a horrible policy in motion, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

Re:Immunity (1)

zx-15 (926808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887435)

For some reason this argument was valid to sentence people to death on Nuremberg Trials, but now to make telcos fiscally responsible for their complicit actions in illegal wiretapping - oh no poor telcos. I guess it is more than naive to expect little fish to be convicted before the main guys fall.

Re:Immunity (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887549)

I never said the telcos were right... in fact I think they are wrong for carrying out wiretapping and as I said before I don't agree with them getting off completely free.

What I did say though is the government is much more at fault for making the demands. This is kind of the same as the Nuremberg trials too as you brought up. Yes, the people carrying out the orders in holding such trials were definitely wrong and should not get off completely free, but the government that gave orders to sentence those thousands of people to death is absolutely reprehensible.

That is the only point I was making and I feel you read something into it that wasn't there.

Re:Immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887467)

You know, as much as I don't like seeing the telco companies getting of completely, I must admit I blame the government more than the companies themselves.

It was the government that started this whole ball rolling and the telcos were (more or less) just following orders.

Name at least one other famous group of people who tried to use the 'just following orders' defence, and list what happened to them.

Re:Immunity (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887579)

Well before this gets all snitty...

This is nothing new [wikipedia.org] .

in which

Thus, under the Nuremberg Principles, "defense of superior orders" is not a defense for war crimes, although it might influence a sentencing authority to lessen the penalty.

"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."

The United States military adjusted the Uniform Code of Military Justice after World War II. They included a rule nullifying this defense, essentially stating that American military personnel are allowed to refuse unlawful orders. This defense is still used often, however, reasoning that an unlawful order presents a dilemma from which there is no legal escape. One who refuses an unlawful order will still probably be jailed for refusing orders (and in some countries probably killed and then his superior officer will simply carry out the order for him or order another soldier to do it), and one who accepts one will probably be jailed for committing unlawful acts, in a Catch-22 dilemma.

Which is strangely followed in the list you wanted with:

Ehren Watada refused to go to Iraq on account of the Iraq war being a war of aggression, making him liable for prosecution for war crimes under the command responsibility doctrine. The judge ruled that a US soldier is not allowed to determine whether orders given are unlawful and as such this would mean he/she is forced to follow those orders he/she considers illegal, and inevitably if charged with war crimes has to resort to the I was only following orders defense.
What a wacky worrisome world we work with

Not that bad actually (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887255)

As much as I am against the wiretapping, it isn't actually wrong to make the telcos immune to something the government required them to do. The problem is that you can't realistically punish those in government who were responsible, but that isn't a reason to go after the telcos. Does anybody actually think they had much choice in the matter? You are talking about a government which has empowered itself with the ability to request sensitive information from people and then order them to stfu about it under the threat of persecution. The telcos may be bastards, but holding them responsible for something the Government most likely strong armed them into doing makes no more sense than denying somebody his right to a fair trial "because he deserves it".

In this particular case the blame rests with the government, the problem is that they are already untouchable, which is why people are going after the telcos. Somebody ought to pay, and because it isn't possible to make the ones ultimately responsible pay, people have picked the telcos as the scapegoat. Problem is "they are bastards and deserve it" isn't a good reason to sue the wrong institution.

Re:Not that bad actually (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887445)

I call bull, they are not required to be supporting towards the execs, but they are required to uphold the constitution, just like anybody else.
If the execs choose to become traitors it does not mean all should become.

Re:Not that bad actually (1)

somedarnguy (1311875) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887487)

"it isn't actually wrong to make the telcos immune to something the government required them to do. The problem is that you can't realistically punish those in government who were responsible, but that isn't a reason to go after the telcos."

Bullcrap. It is wrong. It was knowingly against the law. They should have the same accountability anyone does when breaking a law, if they want to dispute the actual law in court, then they need to do that.

"The problem is that you can't realistically punish those in government"

Bullcrap again. It's this very attitude that worries me so much. _Why_ can't the government be accountable? Why can't the people in power be punished? The attitude that, "shrug", we can't do anything to our lord and masters is well, about as outdated as the idea of "lord and masters". Don't know about you, but I don't want to live under a King.

Seriously, these guys made Nixon look like a pantywaist and the representatives of the people and indeed the people themselves did nothing to stop them.

I want the list of names and search terms... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887573)

You know what, I used to agree with you and I have argued very passionately that suing the telcos is just another way for the lawyers to get rich without accomplishing anything...

but...

I'm thinking that I want some accountability. I want names. I want search terms. I want to know who the government was searching for and why and we cannot trust that the government will tell the truth.

Re:Not that bad actually (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887599)

They didn't require them to do anything. They asked. Qwest was the only telco that refused to help.

Last I checked, Qwest wasn't brought up on "not doing the executive branch's bidding" charges.

Re:Not that bad actually (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887743)

Last I checked, Qwest wasn't brought up on "not doing the executive branch's bidding"

That's because you didn't really check [fiercetelecom.com] at all, did you?

C'mon, admit it.

John McCain doesn't believe in free speech. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887269)

It is illegal call up someone within 60 days prior to an election and criticize John McCain.

Not if he can help it (3, Informative)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887297)

Re:Not if he can help it (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887683)

Sure, but the question is can he help it? If he can't, then it's over. He should have voted the whole bill down, if only to try and stop this practice of tacking controversial issues on otherwise positive bills. And he should have made sure everyone knows why he did it.

"Probably we can't take that out of the bill, but I'm going to try," Reid told "Political Capital with Al Hunt." That makes me real optimistic...

Guess what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887365)

less than 0.01% of the country cares.

People don't care about this, they care about their perceived lack of money.

whether it is true or not.

They hear that the economy is in a recession (it isn't), that they are losing money on their investments (they aren't if they know anything), their homes aren't worth anything (they are, and will continue to go up over time), and want to feel better and will vote according to their belief of who makes this warm and fuzzy feeling possible.

This issue isn't on the top 100 list of voters.

This will cause a brain drain... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887397)

The political climate currently will cause the brightest to leave the US and earn their money else were, leaving the US with only incompetent people in leader positions. I have given up already, the US is doomed at least for the current generation and need a lot of work and attention of future ones.

Anyone seen a position from the McCain camp? (0, Troll)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887455)

"Anyone seen a position from the McCain camp?"
Yes. Almost every evening, in my nightmares.

I kind of understand his argument... (1)

Valar (167606) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887475)

From reading the "statement", it seems like he is saying that it is more important to have the stricter penalties and a clearer law going forward than to worry about the cases that have already occurred. Personally, if I were in the senate right now and the two choices were "stop this from happening going forward, but let the first batch go through" and "nail the guys who did this, but continue to have this fight every time the issue comes up", I might just pick the future over the present. It seems like the political climate is such that the guys have de facto immunity anyway, so what do we really gain by allowing prosecution? The deck is stacked against anyone who wants to bring the telecoms to court. Next time it won't be.

Re:I kind of understand his argument... (1)

7 digits (986730) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887665)

> Personally, if I were in the senate right now and the two choices were "stop this from happening going forward, but let the first batch go through" and "nail the guys who did this, but continue to have this fight every time the issue comes up", I might just pick the future over the present.

That is because you are weak. You have to get down HARD on the first that did it as to serve as a deterrent to the others.

What message does this law send to everyone? Well, if you'll get caught, legislative process will get you out one way or another.

> The deck is stacked against anyone who wants to bring the telecoms to court. Next time it won't be.

That is wishful thinking. Next time, next time, next time, forever.

Civil vs Criminal (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23887557)

Something to keep in mind. On Olberman last night a constitutional law expert basically said that this law procludes the telcos from civil liability for their actions. This is obviously bad and stupid. However it doesnt proclude them from criminal liability. The problem is no criminal case will be allowed through the justice department under this administration. The only chance of that happening would be for a new administration to make it a priority. Now, simple question, what are the chances of a McCain administration doing so?

Meet the new boss (2, Insightful)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887657)

same as the old boss.

Face it... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887739)

No matter how much change Obama says he belives in, no matter what change he does believe in, there won't be change for one reason. Money. If Obama wants to get the money and support of the democrat party he needs to vote with the democrats, he needs to be like Hillery if he hopes to be elected. The Democrat party is divided, Obama needs to bridge that gap if he hopes to be president. Meaning, he can't create change. Just yet another failed government promise...

Scapegoats? (4, Insightful)

Xelios (822510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23887745)

The Bush Administration are the real criminals in this case, why aren't they being held accountable? Everyone is gung ho about crucifying the Telco's, what about the people who ordered them to do the spying?

While I don't agree with what they did, I can understand why the Teclo's agreed to the situation. The Bush Administration probably assured them that were the program ever exposed, they would be granted immunity, and in the mean time they made a fair bit of money off the illegal activities of the government. Both groups should be tried for their actions, but people should be much more upset with the government over this.
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