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Senate Delays Telecom Immunity Vote Until After July Recess

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the after-all-why-ruin-the-4th dept.

Privacy 148

ivantheshifty writes with news of a delayed vote (failed filibuster attempt aside) on the updated FISA bill which has been discussed here recently, in particular because it would grant telecom companies immunity (under certain conditions) from suits for wiretapping conducted at government request. According to the Associated Press story carried by the Washington Post, "Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and more than a dozen other senators who oppose telecom immunity threw up procedural delays that threatened to force the Senate into a midnight or weekend session. The prospect of further delays was enough to cause Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to postpone the vote until after the weeklong July 4 vacation."

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maybe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965275)

this article must be new here

Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (4, Interesting)

paroneayea (642895) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965281)

So, there's a chance here, in this brief window of opportunity, to drum up proper opposition to this bill. I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt deeply hurt by Obama not really opposing this bill. Perhaps now's a good chance to get him to show us that he's a candidate of change we can actually believe in?

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (2, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965317)

"So, there's a chance here, in this brief window of opportunity, to drum up proper opposition to this bill."

Yes, but it will fail. Tough luck.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (2, Interesting)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966331)

Who cares. Let it fail, and let the politicians voting for it take the political hit to their reputations. It's not going to stand up in the courts anyway. And the Telecom companies can spend extra tens of millions in legal fees defending the law (or let the subpar public defender presidential administration attorneys lose even bigger for them), before it's overturn and thrown away, and they have to defend against civil damages suits later (and perhaps criminal violations).

I foresee Telecom executives being paraded in handcuffs just like we saw mortgage brokerage employees being paraded in handcuffs last week. This is the process by which big city and State Attorney generals get their names in the paper to run for the next terms of governor.

Congress would have been better off passing a legal defense fund act for Telecom companies and executives. So think of this law as more of a corporate welfare subsidy to the legal profession. Just look at the non-stop lawsuits against municipal employees. It wouldn't surprise me if massive corruption kick backs were involved in setting up such law suits to bilk taxpayers money toward law firms.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966697)

You must be joking. The Supreme Court, I guarantee, will allow this law to stand by 5-4... assuming that it would even grant that a plaintiff has "standing" to bring the suit. The 4 conservative justices would almost certainly find for the government, and Kennedy would probably go with them.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23967381)

Considering the Constitution explicitly states that no "ex post facto" laws can be passed, I fail to see how conservative "strict constructionist" judges would let it stand.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969559)

no "Ex post facto" laws means (and is intended to mean) that you can't make something illegal after-the-fact. Not that you can't absolve people of wrongdoing, or make something that was illegal legal.

"Ex post facto" is not the appropriate grounds to object to the telecom bill.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (2, Insightful)

Joeyspecial (740731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968323)

I disagree, I don't think judges like it when the legislature tells the courts what to do. Sometimes 'my branch vs. your branch' trumps political affiliation.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (4, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965387)

Obama is lying to his supporters as much as any politician will, if it gets your vote. I foresee him conveniently missing the vote on this one, to avoid having taken sides, to placate all of this liberal supporters in not supporting it, while not giving the conservative the ammo of "he limits your rights!". Wow, lotsa commas in there, sorry about that. Ultimately, Obama and McCain will be blasted by all three sides as the agendas of each see fit.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (2, Insightful)

Falstius (963333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965515)

Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism. He's between a rock and a hard place, voting against the bill will give serious ammunition to McCain and voting for it hopefully goes against his principles and pisses off the party base. I'm extremely dissapointed in the democratic leadership that they haven't had the guts to stand against the whitehouse on this crap, which would have avoided this position in the first place. I think 3rd parties candidates for congress will have record turn out this fall.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965627)

I'm extremely dissapointed in the democratic leadership that they haven't had the guts to stand against the whitehouse on this crap, which would have avoided this position in the first place.

Do you really think that either major party gives a flying fsck about you or about any principles?

Large clue stick: they don't. They care about their campaign war che$t$. That's it. So they are going to do whatever they feel will garner the most cash from their brib^H^H^H^Hlobbyists.

Really. Why are people in this country so naive?

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965883)

Probably because most of us have gone to public schools:

"America is the best country"
"We enjoy more freedoms then any other country in the world"
"Join the military, support your country!"

Also, things such as this would not surprise these people, schools have been essentially desensitizing people to this kind of control and unfairness for quite some time, along with montras of how great our country is, and implying how our country (government) can do no wrong by passing laws.

That is why people in the USA are 'naive".

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967289)

Maybe you should move out of the Bible belt to somewhere that actually wants to run decent public schools.

I went to public school, and that's not at all what my curriculum sounded like. In fact, I seem to recall that my 10th grade U.S. History teacher was the first person to ever suggest reading Howard Zinn. It came up early in the semester when he was describing how bad the previous textbook had been in terms of pro-Anglo-American bias and hawkishness; he'd apparently tried to instead of merely replacing it with something less bad bring in A People's History and use both and also give us a lesson in finding a reasonable middle ground between extremes. I'm kind of sad he failed.

I also had an economics teacher who, when asked what type of economy he supported, would basically say that if he weren't a highly educated member of the upper middle class who'd been born into reasonable privilege and never really been a part of the underclass, he'd probably be more comfortable describing himself as a Communist, but as it was felt like something of a fraud. I admit my school holds a place on the tail end of a bell curve.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967465)

Probably because most of us have gone to public schools...

Not all public schools are the indoctrination type. Some of the most fun I had in high school was {with friends, and surprisingly administration support} was forming the "Anarchist Party" during student elections... Worked well enough that they had to start bribing students to vote. ;)

...and ended up doing similar to a local mayoral election. We forced a run-off {in a city of around 1,000,000, it only took around 500 votes!} that cost the "evil" candidate around $200,000 of his OWN cash. He made it in, but he was frazzled, and quickly became a laughingstock for insisting his campaign manager was stalking him.

Not all of us buy the "happy, shiny America" line.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969039)

Not all public schools are the indoctrination type.

The officially recommended curriculum and the choice of approved course materials are mandatory in some cases and have a chilling effect even when only "recommended" in practice - and are even then most frequently mandatory in all but name. Everything down to the pledge of allegiance is designed to be manipulative - you are no longer required to pay obeisance to Yahweh, but the entire culture in public school is one of conformity.

We forced a run-off {in a city of around 1,000,000, it only took around 500 votes!} that cost the "evil" candidate around $200,000 of his OWN cash. He made it in, but he was frazzled

He had two hundred large to blow on this election and he was "frazzled" and you're happy about the outcome? Odds are that money should never have been his to begin with, and he didn't know what to spend it on anyway.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969315)

He had two hundred large to blow on this election and he was "frazzled" and you're happy about the outcome?

Yup. He had to spend money to win a political position where he was regularly ridiculed until he left office. A local public access show had a royal mad on with this guy due to his allowing a killer nurse [wikipedia.org] to go loose so his hospital wouldn't look bad. So yeah, making the guy pay 200 grand to get made fun of is just ducky.

Deal with it! (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965701)

Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism. He's between a rock and a hard place, ...

So? Deal with it! He wants to be the President. And he's willing to fold on this issue? Just because he MIGHT not be elected if he doesn't fold?

Courage would be standing up to the Republicans (and the bought and paid-for Democrats) and saying that we do NOT need this law and that it would violate our Constitution.

Folding just so he can be elected ... that's the opposite of courage.

Take the fight to the Republicans. Explain to the people HOW this bill is needed or NOT needed. No more of the platitude of "fight terrorism".

Re:Deal with it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965803)

The only hope remaining is that the law is unconstitutional.

Fat chance of that though.

Re:Deal with it! (1)

Aiyeeeee (1232946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966481)

Keith Olbermann put up a post on this last night on Daily Kos [dailykos.com] explaining that John Dean calmed his fears about Obama's stance. Dean observes that the bill would "only" pre-empt civil suits and that Obama's ammunition is that his AG (if Obama is elected) would prosecute. I don't find Keith's rationale for supporting John Dean convincing, basically because it boils down to "John Dean is brilliant and I'll trust his expertise." Besides, it's a big risk to take. And no mention is made of the fact that Obama had earlier said 1) he would vote against retroactive immunity, and 2) would support a filibuster. Guess not so much. Glenn Greenwald differs with Obama's position and with Olbermann's giving Obama a pass, and has explained why. [salon.com]

Re:Deal with it! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23967467)

I won't argue their relative strengths as lawyers but Greenwald has been and remains the definitive source in the press/blogs on all things FISA and immunity. The guy is simply superb on this issue and impressively prolific. After reading his material and then reading or listening to the MSM you just want to pull your hair out over what a collection of witless posers most of the talking heads really are.

Re:Deal with it! (3, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967751)

Obama's ammunition is that his AG (if Obama is elected) would prosecute

That actually won't happen. I suggest that you read the extent of the texts in the bill and existing laws. It provide a legal remedy to authenticate whether or not the telecoms where acting in accordance with the law at the time. When the AG takes a case out of a civil court the AG has to certify that it was at their direction and that they presented it as a lawful order. There are no real criminal punishment avenues available if it was. At best, they can go after the people who authorized the taps but not the telecoms who aided once it is demonstrated that they were working under the seemingly lawful orders of the government.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (5, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965839)

Bear in mind that this is the same "Vital anti-terrorist" FISA bill that President Bush refused to sign last time when it came through without telecom immunity.

In other words, it's all about covering their ass and has little or nothing to do with actual terrorist monitoring. If it was so important for national security, why would Bush refuse to sign it without telecom immunity?

Unless I'm mistaken, all activities started before the most recent FISA bill expired on Feb 2007 are still valid for a whole year, so survielence will continue up to Feb 2008 even if this bill does not pass.

That makes this bill doubly-moot and perfectly "safe" to vote against. Unfortunately the public will never understand this.
=Smidge=

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966317)

Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

The real mistake here is that they have failed to communicate with the public. This bill does not help counter-terrorism, but they never seemed to have even tried to send that message. They live in a world of neocon spin, and by accepting it they trap themselves.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966415)

I'm extremely dissapointed in the democratic leadership that they haven't had the guts to stand against the whitehouse on this crap, which would have avoided this position in the first place.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/19/AR2008061901545.html [washingtonpost.com]

The war spending bill, for example, includes $162 billion for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional $95 billion worth of domestic spending on programs such as unemployment insurance and higher-education benefits for veterans. Bush, who had threatened for months to veto the legislation, said he will sign it.

Leading Democrats acknowledged that the surveillance legislation is not their preferred approach, but they said their refusal in February to pass a version supported by the Bush administration paved the way for victories on other legislation, such as the war funding bill.

The Democratic leadership feels that increased veterans benefits & increased unemployement is more important than rejecting de facto telecom immunity.

The Democrats are literally allowing their votes to be bought by the Republicans.
/Shame

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966805)

>Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

Honestly, who cares? The Democrats won the house in the last election by running on a 'Get out of Iraq' ticket, which could have certainly painted them as soft on terrorism, but they won by a landslide. Most Americans recognize what a sham the whole thing has been at this point, and a politician who panders to the opposition like this doesn't deserve our votes. I was seriously thinking about voting for Obama this fall, but this has made me reconsider throwing my vote away on him.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (2, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967499)

The party wouldn't be pissed off if they actually paid attention.

Under existing law at the time, the telecoms should have have immunity already. the so called lawsuites aren't really about damage, they are to find dirt on the administration because the telecoms would simply show the orders they received authorizing the taps and all. But there is a hitch, the administration has declared them all classified and remanded them as a state secrete which means that the telecoms can't give any of the information out.

What this particular bill does isn't "provide immunity", that was already there. It provides a vehicle to where the telecoms can use a lawful defense that they already have available to them but can't because of the administration's actions. For some people, they seem to think that getting the administration is so important that we can effectively post facto remove rights under a law and abuse that in order to persecute an action of the government. This bill, in all it's luster, does not say that the telecoms can't be prosecuted. It says that if certain things are true and the telecoms should have had immunity or an affirmative defense already, that certain actions like the AG certifying whether they ordered a tap or not, so the laws in place at the time of the action could be exercised without disclosing "state secretes" and placing them in a violation of another law.

It is a little disingenuous to make a claim that this bill give immunity. It actually gives access to rights under the law that existed when certain actions happened which equate to immunity. So it doesn't give immunity, it gives access to immunity that should have already been in place. Now this doesn't mean that if the telecoms did anything illegal, they will get off. It means that if they did what the government asked under the presumption of a lawful order, whether acting under color of law or not, they can finally realize the defense already available to them under the law which was removed when it was classified and deemed a state secrete.

To all those that say they shouldn't of had the immunity in th first place, That's fine. But removing a law after the fact in order to go on a personal vendetta is one of the most heinous breaches of trust we can do. When a citizen or even a corporation looks to the law for guidance in an action, we shouldn't be changing the rules after that action happened. You wouldn't like life in prison for speeding because 2 months after you were caught speeding, they changed the speed limit on the stretch of road to 30 MPH lower making your penalty a newly found felony reckless op with no tolorance. I'm sure it would be even worse if you weren't allowed to make the claim that the speed limit was 30 or 50 MPH higher when you drove down the road meaning that you were only 5 MPG over the limit when that action occurred.

Section D [cornell.edu] of the law 2520 says

(d) Defense.-- A good faith reliance on--
(1) a court warrant or order, a grand jury subpoena, a legislative authorization, or a statutory authorization;
(2) a request of an investigative or law enforcement officer under section 2518 (7) of this title; or
(3) a good faith determination that section 2511 (3) or 2511 (2)(i) of this title permitted the conduct complained of;
is a complete defense against any civil or criminal action brought under this chapter or any other law.

Number 2 mentions 2518(7) [cornell.edu] which says:

(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, any investigative or law enforcement officer, specially designated by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the Associate Attorney General, or by the principal prosecuting attorney of any State or subdivision thereof acting pursuant to a statute of that State, who reasonably determines that--
(a) an emergency situation exists that involves--
(i) immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to any person,
(ii) conspiratorial activities threatening the national security interest, or
(iii) conspiratorial activities characteristic of organized crime,
that requires a wire, oral, or electronic communication to be intercepted before an order authorizing such interception can, with due diligence, be obtained, and
(b) there are grounds upon which an order could be entered under this chapter to authorize such interception,
may intercept such wire, oral, or electronic communication if an application for an order approving the interception is made in accordance with this section within forty-eight hours after the interception has occurred, or begins to occur. In the absence of an order, such interception shall immediately terminate when the communication sought is obtained or when the application for the order is denied, whichever is earlier. In the event such application for approval is denied, or in any other case where the interception is terminated without an order having been issued, the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepted shall be treated as having been obtained in violation of this chapter, and an inventory shall be served as provided for in subsection (d) of this section on the person named in the application.

This means that if they thought the order was legitimate, they are off the hook. Of course they have to present the order to show that it is legitimate and that is what the people sueing wants so they can gather information against the president. The president says it is a classified state sectrete and the Telecoms can't disclose it because of some imminent threat to the country thereby making any disclosure of the information illegal and carrying jail terms for the people disclosing it.

The bill being being considered says

(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a covered civil action shall not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court, and shall be promptly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the court that--

(A) the assistance alleged to have been provided by the electronic communication service provider was--
  (i) in connection with an intelligence activity involving communications that was--
    (I) authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007; and
    (II) designed to detect or prevent a terrorist attack, or activities in preparation for a terrorist attack, against the United States; and
  (ii) described in a written request or directive from the Attorney General or the head of an element of the intelligence community (or the deputy of such person) to the electronic communication service provider indicating that the activity was--
        (I) authorized by the President; and
        (II) determined to be lawful; or
(B) the electronic communication service provider did not provide the alleged assistance.
    (2) REVIEW- A certification made pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be subject to review by a court for abuse of discretion.

This law does not provide immunity, it provides access to the relief offer in an existing law at the time of the actions. There is a review process where a court hears challenges of abuse in which the government might do to determine if they are accurately representing their actions. You would either have to be ignorant of these facts or dense enough to ignore them in order to not see this. It doesn't matter how pissed you or anyone else is, going after the telecoms to get to the president is not the answer and isn't the right path to take. It is never right to attack someone standing beside the person you hate which seems to be what is happening. You would think that with all that the democrats claim they stand for, allowing a person or entity to enjoy the right rights given to them under a law would be high on their list.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969163)

You wouldn't like life in prison for speeding because 2 months after you were caught speeding, they changed the speed limit on the stretch of road to 30 MPH lower making your penalty a newly found felony reckless op with no tolorance.

Ah, a car analogy! I believe I can come in and clarify things here once again. (dun dun dun DUN!)

The actual situation here is more closely analogous to a turn on a 50 mph road around which the safe speed is, say, 15 mph, but which is not posted. You go around the turn unsafely at 50 mph and somehow make it, but you seriously endanger the lives of others.

Performing an illegal act is not legal, no matter who instructs you to do it. It doesn't matter if you're a soldier or a telecom exec. That's why we have such a thing as "war crimes" and that's why a violation of the privacy of millions of Americans (or anyone, but this is happening in the USA after all) should be punished regardless of who told them to do it.

The law, while it is by definition the law of the land, is not the highest standard. It's simply the codified standard.

I mean, it's arguably legal for Bush to declare himself dictator, but would it be right?

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23969437)

What a long winded, foul smelling, pile of crap. A perfect example of why you shouldn't pretend to be a lawyer.

Under existing law at the time, the telecoms should have have immunity already.

Bullshit. FISA was the operative law at the time. The law was decades old and its provisions and procedures well understood.

the telecoms would simply show the orders they received authorizing the taps and all. But there is a hitch, the administration has declared them all classified and remanded them as a state secrete which means that the telecoms can't give any of the information out.

Wrong. Warrants, warrants, warrants. That's what was required and the telecoms knew it. You are trying to say the corporations have a defense if they can say "the government told us to do it". Not so. The law was clear: warrants from the FISA court required.

For some people, they seem to think that getting the administration is so important that we can effectively post facto remove rights under a law and abuse that in order to persecute an action of the government.

What's up and what's down, Alice? There were no rights in the first place. You have managed to totally flip reality. Are you a clever liar or mentally challenged? It's hard to tell.

The rest of your ridiculous post is premised on this crap and salted with misguided links to law sites in a sad attempt to add legitimacy. It doesn't work.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

visualight (468005) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967589)

Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

Telecom Immunity is the primary reason and purpose to this bill, and everyone in Congress knows this. They think we don't realize that however, and the spin on TV reflects that disconnect. For some reason, they see their spin and talking points on CNN and they think that's all most of us are aware of. That's why I'm so pissed. When Barak Obama goes on television and says something like "fight terrorism is more important than suing phone companies" he's lying. He knows damn well that this Bill brings nothing new to the fight against terrorists, it only shields people who broke the law.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967635)

Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

Yup. And his two possible reactions include the moral and intelligent response:

"I'm willing to fight as hard as it takes to preserve our Bill of Rights against anyone who would try to use terror to take those rights away from you."

Or the immoral and stupid response:

"I'd kinda like to do the things I'm being accused of, but I must not have any good reasons for it since I'm willing to cave as long as I'm pushed hard enough."

The Republicans and Democrats often get stereotyped as the "Daddy party" and the "Mommy party"; perhaps the "Wife-beater party" and the "Co-dependent party" would be more accurate by this point? Would someone call Social Services already?

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968301)

Obama will be heavily attacked this fall for any appearance of being 'soft' on terrorism.

But if he votes for retroactive immunity, he's "soft on crime" and threatening to civil liberties. I'm not saying it isn't worth a few thousand dollars to him to vote in favor of crime, but there's no way he (or anyone else) can do it and not look dirty.

Of course, McCain has the same problem, so it balances out.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965799)

It's been widely reported that Obama does not support telecoms immunity but he has said he will vote for the bill even if it has the immunity provisions... so no lying here (but I'm not particularly happy that he says he will vote for the bill). The Dems have rolled over far too easily on issues like this under the Republican threat of being 'soft on terrorism'.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966703)

"I foresee him conveniently missing the vote on this one"

Good call - Vote Smart [votesmart.org] says his record on FISA, Guantanamo and Real ID is to be "out of the loop".

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

orielbean (936271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967095)

try a dash or a semicolon in place of some of the commas next time - it helps break up the flow of your thoughts.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

Erie Ed (1254426) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965409)

So, there's a chance here, in this brief window of opportunity, to drum up proper opposition to this bill. I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt deeply hurt by Obama not really opposing this bill. Perhaps now's a good chance to get him to show us that he's a candidate of change we can actually believe in?

Don't get your hopes up on that. The big telecos already have the senators in their pockets. Now maybe if all of us /.'ers put our money together we can stop this evil force...

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

mitgib (1156957) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967955)

Now maybe if all of us /.'ers put our money together we can stop this evil force...

I donate to EFF [eff.org] whenever possible, they seem to be the most in-line with my thoughts and feelings on most of the issues they raise. I do believe they offer a monthly subscription as well.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965477)

I'm sure Obama thought things through before deciding to support this bill. He is essentially a politician, and he does things for political reasons. Getting him to change his mind wouldn't be any easier than getting George W. Bush to change his mind.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965713)

He is essentially a politician, and he does things for political reasons.

I am a politician, you insensitive clod!

-Barack

Not really opposing? He supports it. (4, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965673)

Not really opposing it? He supports [washingtonpost.com] it according to every [cbsnews.com] report that I have seen [cnn.com] . This is after saying he'd never support the bill if it had immunity for the telcos in it.

Re:Not really opposing? He supports it. (1)

ya really (1257084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966129)

Not really opposing it? He supports [washingtonpost.com] it according to every [cbsnews.com] report that I have seen [cnn.com]. This is after saying he'd never support the bill if it had immunity for the telcos in it.

Sadly, people on here seem to be ignoring that fact. It was posted in another thread (a wired.com article) in the previous telecomm article on /. as well and it was pretty much ignored. I have and had hopes for Obama turning out to be something decent, but the closer it comes to election day, my hopes are slowly starting to decay into apathy once again. I guess there doesn't exist a candidate willing to stand on issues, at least not one who gets elected. I guess I can always throw my vote away to a 3rd party candidate...the election world's equivilant to picking "Cowboy Neal."

Re:Not really opposing? He supports it. (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966293)

I am thinking that I'll vote for Kodos.

As for Obama, I'm still surprised that anyone at all fell for his trying to come off as some kind of 'new, post partisan' politician who decrys 'Washington politics as usual'. He's no different than any other politician, and frankly having lived in Chicago I can't imagine anyone who isn't a typical dirty lying politician to rise up like he did. Chicago is especially known for it's dirty politics.

I'm not saying he's any more evil than any other politician. I'm just saying that it's the same old same old. Still, many people seem to think he is some kind of messiah.

Re:Not really opposing? He supports it. (4, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966887)

Obama's just doing what every Democrat does after the primary season -- running to the center.

If you look at it from his perspective, he knows he's already got the liberal vote, so why should he try and speak to their issues anymore? He has to go after the "swing vote". You know, the people who pay attention to the elections starting sometime around late October and vote based on network news reports and campaign commercials. It really gets me that ignorant, low information voters are courted more than people who actually try to make a reasoned and informed decision. That's just the nature of one man, one vote.

If we had more than two major parties, Obama (and McCain on the other side) couldn't get away with simply flip-flopping on important issues because the farther left and farther right parties would step in to fill the void.

Re:Not really opposing? He supports it. (1, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966899)

Sadly, people on here seem to be ignoring that fact.

Yup, just like they're ignoring is somber promise not to use private campaign funds if McCain did the same, because the public campaign finance system was so important to support. And of course, he's completely lied about that, and is opting for big bucks from private bundlers, and has the gall to say it's really his way of supporting change ("Change We Can Believe In!" - [tm]) in the public financing system. Puh-lease. It's right up there with his often repeated assurances that he'd sit down with hostile dicatators for photo ops without any preconditions... um, not counting all of the preconditions that he's now saying would, of course, be necessary for such a thing.

It isn't just that he's a typical politician... he's far worse, because the ONLY thing he has (had) going for him, since he utterly lacks executive experience and studiously avoids exposure to the foreign policy players and issues that are so important, was his supposed pristine post-partisan ethics. He's been saying, essentially, the despite his lack of any experience, the ONE thing you should keep in mind as a reason to vote for him are his pure, unflappable convictions and character. And he's very handily been demonstrating for months that those are simply not present, or at the very least no more so than in many other politicians... and since the others DO have some experience and a more rational take on the issues about which Obama is thrashing around, you've gotta wonder what people actually think they're voting for with this guy. Other than some vague and pointless racial guilt soothing (another topic on which he's trying very hard to have it both ways).

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965735)

Clinton campaigned as the candidate of change too.

Tell me how much different he was from any other administration. It is nothing more than a motto that implies more than it delivers.

I am concerned strictly by how they have voted in the past. What is more telling are what votes they skipped out on or merely voted "present". The more important the issue that a candidate misses out on or votes present the more damning things it implies.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965779)

Actually, to me, this actually strengthens Obama's position. It shows he's willing to break from the expected stance, based on party affiliations. If Obama can run with common sense because of issues of National Security, I am comfortable voting for him (his Iraq policy being his only weakness in my book).

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967501)

It shows he's willing to break from the expected stance

"Expected" only because it was his own, previously expressed stance.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965997)

There's also a good chance of alienating a key vote by bothering them over their break.

Newsflash (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23966157)

This isn't about Senators opposing FISA. It's about having the laziest fucking Congress in the history of the republic. Sometimes they just convene for a couple of hours to perform mindless tasks like congratulating the latest NCAA football/basketball/baseball champion. What exactly have these bums been up to? Weren't they trumpeting from every rooftop the (bogus) claim that they had a mandate from the American people just 2 years ago? What the fuck do we have to show for it? A congress with a worse approval rating than President Bush. How is that even possible? And now they basically take the next week and a half off. Gee, don't let the country's business keep you from your fucking vacation. God knows you don't get enough of those. Fucking lazy cocksuckers - every last one of them. They wouldn't last a week at a real job.

"Recess" Is Their "Constituent Conference" Time (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966311)

People like to point at all the Congressional "recesses" as vacation time for lazy congressmembers. Some probably do fly on corporate jets to Scotland to play golf with strippers, but most of them spend the time flying back to their home district (or state, for senators) and meet with local people to work on their constituents' issues. Sure, those people are primarily local corporate types and other rich/powerful people who live, work or happen to pass through their home office neighborhood. But they're working, and that's the time they're listening to people outside Washington DC.

This bill, with its evil FISA telco amnesty in it, is not a sure thing. It was supposed to sail through last year, and this delay marks the third time it's failed to get installed as law. There are many ways it can die in the Senate, which has many rules letting individual senators kill a bill. So this is an excellent time to call, fax, snail mail, and just physically visit a senator, especially if they're yours, to explain how the Fourth of July is a good time for them to decide to defend the Constitution. Almost all of them will be marching in a parade during the holiday as if they're some kind of patriot or something. You can stand along the route with a big sign saying "NO FISA TELCO AMNESTY!", or print out the bill [tinyurl.com] , mingle in the parade and try to hand it to them saying "read it first, then vote against it when you see that FISA telco amnesty ruins the Constitution". Look at their website for their appearance schedule, and make it hard for them to pretend they love our country while they're busy screwing it over.

Do it while you can, as secretly wiretapping you is only the first step in stealing the rest of your rights.

You can use Obama's contact form [barackobama.com] to send a comment asking him to vote against FISA telco amnesty.

Here's a list of some senators worth calling, because they're not totally in bed with Bush in every way, and so might not go along with this travesty. See if you can talk them, or their staffers, into doing the right thing, or at least not helping do the wrong thing. Remeber, the telcos will also get to hear you, and they should know they're not really getting away with it.

Bayh (202) 224-5623
Carper (202) 224-2441
Obama (202) 224-2854
Inouye (202) 224-3934
Johnson (202) 224-5842
Landrieu (202)224-5824
McCaskill (202) 224-6154
Mikulski (202) 224-4654
Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274
Clinton (202) 224-4451
Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551
Pryor (202) 224-2353
Salazar (202) 224-5852
Specter (202) 224-4254
Feinstein (202) 224-3841
Webb (202) 224-4024
Warner (202) 224-2023
Snowe (202) 224-5344
Collins (202) 224-2523
Sununu (202) 224-2841
Stevens (202) 224-3004
Byrd (202) 224-3954
Lincoln (202)224-4843
Reid (202) 224-3542
Coleman (202) 224-5641
Durbin (202) 224-2152
Smith (202) 224-
Stabenow (202) 224-4822
Kohl (202) 224-5653
Leahy (202) 224-4242
Schumer (202) 224-6542

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

darkshadow (102598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967541)

They wanted the extra week of fundraising before caving.

Re:Perhaps a chance to drump up opposition? (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967703)

I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt deeply hurt by Obama not really opposing this bill. Perhaps now's a good chance to get him to show us that he's a candidate of change we can actually believe in?

As long as its a cloture fight, and he stays out on the campaign trail rather than comming back to vote to stop the filibuster, Obama's essentially one more vote on the side of the senators fighting the bill. I'd rather see him on the Senate floor supporting the filibuster and using this as more fodder for his campaign (with free national media coverage to boot), but at this point I'll take what I can get.

I guarantee you that (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965301)

this bill will not be voted on until after November.

Which tells us what a hot potato it is and give us time to turn it into a rotten potato for the politicians. IOW, lobby them to not vote for it.

Re:I guarantee you that (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967665)

No, if anything they want to rush it out before November.

Think about it, if Bush leaves office that gives you a 50/50 chance of someone not supporting it. If McCain is elected, he will sign it in, if Obama is elected, I don't think he would.

While Bush is in office, I would think they would want to get it out as quick as they can.

Smash imperialism with world socialist revolution! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965381)

Forge a revolutionary workers party and a reborn Fourth International! Mobilize workers power to defeat U.S. imperialism's terror-crusade!

Re:Smash imperialism with world socialist revoluti (3, Interesting)

I_Voter (987579) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965759)

AC wrote:
Forge a revolutionary workers party

--------

Political parties have been effectively outlawed in the U.S. - at least as they are traditionally understood.

We now lack enforceable party platforms. This weakened the ability of the citizens to make deals between different interest groups in society. IMO: A classic case of "divide and conquer." (the electorate)

Can You Define What a Political Party is?
http://tinyurl.com/2g9kc8 [tinyurl.com]

Great Quote from 1927
"Here in the last generation, a development has taken place which finds an analogy nowhere else. American parties have ceased to be voluntary associations like trade unions or the good government clubs or the churches. They have lost the right freely to determine how candidates shall be nominated and platforms framed, even who shall belong to the party and who shall lead it. The state legislatures have regulated their structure and functions in great detail."
SOURCE: American Parties and Elections,
by Edward Sait, Published 1927 (Page 174)
As found in The tyranny of the two-party system / Lisa Jane Disch c2002

Shameful (4, Insightful)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965417)

If you want people to talk about your fine work you do it just before a big holiday. Then families will get together and chat about how great things are. If your work is a shameful disgrace that you don't want people talking about you do it after everyone returns from their gatherings.

Re:Shameful (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966287)

"What are you going do to celebrate America, daddy?"

"Well, honey Daddy is going undercut the constitutional checks and balances and basic civil rights that have formed the basis of this Union since its creation."

"But daddy, aren't you a Democrat?"

"Yes honey, but daddy's very scared of standing up to the President, so he's decided to just PRETEND to stand up--like when you pretend you're a princess."

"Daddy, when will the burgers be done?"

"Sorry honey, Daddy can't reach the top of the grill on his knees."

False (2, Insightful)

u8i9o0 (1057154) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967963)

Your position may be true for local operations that very directly affect you, but applied to D.C. it is absolutely false.

If your work is a shameful disgrace that you don't want people talking about, you do it right before the weekend (ideally after 5PM on a Friday). The reason is two-fold: the reporters that would usually notice these things already left for happy hour and the average citizen pays less attention to politics over the weekend. By the time Monday rolls around, a bunch of other events occurred and the attention is shifted away from that shameful disgrace.

This is especially true for holiday weekends. Think of it - your attention is focused on the details of that gathering/vacation/whatever and not on some interesting legalese document recorded in the Federal Register that the reporters haven't looked at yet either (since they too are on holiday).

This technique has worked countless times for the last 7.5 years. And in most cases, almost nobody notices. It's the most practical method of recording a major shift in policy as a minor footnote.

Good news (5, Interesting)

sixintl (956172) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965423)

This is the best outcome anyone hoping to hold politicians accountable for this could hope for. Now they can't just vote and shuffle it off into the past and tell people to get over it; their constituents have plenty of time to slam them with letters and phone calls and make them seriously rethink their support. Is it likely to still pass? Yes, that's the US for you. But now at least the bill's opponents have got a fighting chance.

Re:Good news (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965545)

Yes, and my letter is going to be rather simple so that the message remains clear. I won't have to spend time explaining why they should vote against it, or why it's a bad thing. Simply put, if they do NOT vote against telecom immunity I will work to scupper their next bid for office. That might be voting for an opposing candidate, or maybe just writing in bugs bunny. In any case the best they can hope for if they do not vote against it is a lost vote from this constituent. It will probably be worse than that.

Maybe I'm just too cynical... (5, Insightful)

Henry Pate (523798) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965433)

The attorney general and national intelligence director on Thursday said President Bush would veto the bill if the immunity provisions were stripped from it.

So it's vital to national security but not so vital if they can't have immunity along with it.
They say they haven't broken any laws but are fighting like hell to make sure they can't be prosecuted.

Is there any reasonable way to appear more guilty?

Re:Maybe I'm just too cynical... (1)

raind (174356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966235)

Maybe were are not cynical enough.

Re:Maybe I'm just too cynical... (3, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966531)

Is there any reasonable way to appear more guilty?

Accidentally give the defense counsel call logs of wiretapped conversations they had with their client?
http://www.google.com/search?q=Al+Haramain+log+wiretap [google.com]

Re:Maybe I'm just too cynical... (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967315)

Actually, it's immunity for the telecom companies, not for anyone in the administration who broke laws to get the wiretaps turned on.

I wrote my senator a few months back about the telecom immunity provision. His response (Dem-MD) was that he supports holding the administration, and any specific government individuals, legally responsible if they took illegal steps in getting the warrantless wiretaps. But, he didn't agree with holding the telecom companies liable, as they were acting at the behest of the administration, and he wouldn't want to create future resistance to legal telecom cooperation with the administration by smacking them down on this one.

While I can see his point (put the legal pinch where it belongs on the administration for the illegal authorization), I'd hate to see the telecoms get away scott free when they acted as they did without requiring proof of legal authority for the actions.

Re:Maybe I'm just too cynical... (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968527)

While I can see his point (put the legal pinch where it belongs on the administration for the illegal authorization), I'd hate to see the telecoms get away scott free when they acted as they did without requiring proof of legal authority for the actions.

what sort of expectation do you have of the telecoms. Under the law, someone presents them with a certification that they have authority for the tap they are requesting. This could be a court order or a certification from the AG or one of the offices designated. The telecoms don't institute a court proceeding to see if the order is legal or anything. They take from the order that they certification is there. they check for a signature and check to see if that signiture is from a judge or the AGs office. If this is done, they did all their part according to the existing law.

So what do you expect them to do that would have satisfied your "requiring proof of legal authority for the actions" statement? I mean the law gives them exemption from recourse if the order was from a judge or the AG and his authorized AG agents. It does this because if any of them request action, it is presumed to have been legal already. It shows that if they have that, the person who broke any law was someone besides the telecoms. I guess what makes this confusing is that the Bush administration Classified all the orders as state secretes and it is a felony for the telecoms or anyone to disclose the orders to anyone. This is why the so called immunity is needed. And this current bill doesn't give immunity, it gives a vehicle to which existing immunity can be reached. It requires the AG to certify if they gave orders claiming they had the authority and provides for a court to review abuse. It is also limited to the areas that is classified.

YUO FAIjLF IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965449)

GNAA (GAY NIGGEr use the sling.

Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23965461)

Obama is the Antichrist. He is the charismatic leader.

Certain Conditions (4, Insightful)

Kintar1900 (901219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965513)

...because it would grant telecom companies immunity (under certain conditions) from suits for wiretapping conducted at government request.

It's important to note that these "certain conditions" boil down to basically any time the administration says, "We really want to".

On the one hand, I'm utterly sickened by the fact that this is still up for debate. No one should have protection from doing something unconstitutional. It was the telecoms' duty as American citizens to tell the government to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, and then call the newspapers and blow a huge freaking whistle. On the other hand, I'm glad it hasn't just flown through Congress without any resistance.

Re:Certain Conditions (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966859)

Actually, from what I read, it's a directive from the executive & legislative branch directing judges to dismiss cases if the Telco has a written request from the Govt requesting a tap. From what I know of judges, there are a lot of them that would look at that directive & decide the paper was too course to wipe their ass with. You do not tell a judge to toss out the law & dismiss a case because you want it done. You either change the law, or argue why the action is within the law - those are your options.

One thing I have never understood in these cases is why the plaintiffs are letting them quote the 60's case of 'State Secrets' unopposed**. If anything that case is the absolute perfect case for why 'State Secrets' shouldn't be an instantly accepted argument to block evidence.

** The current standard for 'State Secrets' involves the govt declaring the results of a crash investigation a 'State Secret' supposedly because releasing the information would provide foreign powers with top secret information about the contents of the plane. This was used to block wrongful death suits by the families of the crash victims. When the report was declassified, the only secret was that the govt wasn't performing maintenance on engines properly.

Re:Certain Conditions (1)

Kintar1900 (901219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966975)

Actually, from what I read, it's a directive from the executive & legislative branch directing judges to dismiss cases if the Telco has a written request from the Govt requesting a tap.

My point was that the written request doesn't have to be a legal warrant, it simply has to be a "note from Daddy" that says it's important that this get done. I think the past eight years should show us that the mechanisms for acquiring warrants exist for a very good reason, and nobody should be allowed to bypass them. We certainly shouldn't tell large corporate entities that they don't have to perform the basic reality check that any individual would do should they be presented with an obviously illegal request from the government.

Re:Certain Conditions (2, Interesting)

EgoWumpus (638704) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967505)

I think you're correct; most good judges wouldn't deign to listen to an illegal directive. However, the federal courts are being stacked with cronies - people who are going to listen to the directive and know that there is no one that can second-guess that decision.

My biggest fear is that despite seeing the obvious corruption in the system, few people realize the extent to which the neo-conservative (fascist) movement has infiltrated the mechanics of our system. They're breaking down the matrix of checks and balances in a systematic way, and it's going to cost us in the long term.

(Hell, the short term, too, if you consider what this war has done to our economy.)

Maybe a full-scale filibuster failed... (4, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965581)

...but threaten to get between these a-holes and a week off and they'd even put legislation that would save starving children and kittens on the back burner.

It sounds to me like a lot of Senators and Congressmen (from both parties) need to be given a permanent holiday. And the added joy of a fine-tooth-comb tax audit as a going away present.

Re:Maybe a full-scale filibuster failed... (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967363)

My government agency just switched from the old pay system to a 'pay for performance' scale. (A lot of us are quite pleased with the change.) I propose Congressional pay be put on a similar scale. I guess the voters would have to regularly determine their performance rating, however. Maybe a few negative pay periods would wake them up a little.

What a Relief! (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965605)

Now I won't have to worry about the scoundrels for a week. The issue is, am I referring to congress, the telcoms or both? Hmmm.

This is heartening! (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965615)

I thought the bill had already passed, but apparently the last vote was just to stop a filibuster. Now I have more than a week to get my hopes up only to have them dashed again!

Merely a delay... (1)

coreconcern (891742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965711)

I'm sorry, but telecoms gaining immunity fits far too perfectly in America's paradigm. Thomas Paine has been rolling over in his grave since the mid 70's. I'm surprised the right to bear arms was upheld in Washington, but that is less of an issue where industry is concerned IMO.

Re:Merely a delay... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968629)

I'm sorry, but telecoms gaining immunity fits far too perfectly in America's paradigm. Thomas Paine has been rolling over in his grave since the mid 70's. I'm surprised the right to bear arms was upheld in Washington, but that is less of an issue where industry is concerned IMO.

I'm shocked that you think you are surprised. The telecoms already had immunity. Title 18 section 2520 already gave them immunity if the government presented the authority to them (it doesn't require it to have authority, just if the government said it did).

I really don't see the problem. The only reason people are going after the telecoms is to get dirt on the administration. It isn't like anyone was harmed by the program that wasn't already participating in criminal activity connected to the program (suspected terrorists).

Re:Merely a delay... (1)

coreconcern (891742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968947)

The only reason people are going after the telecoms is to get dirt on the administration.

This isn't the case with myself, and I'm almost certain not the case with a lot of people. This is about every American's right to privacy, and the right to fight back when that privacy has been violated.

It isn't like anyone was harmed by the program that wasn't already participating in criminal activity connected to the program (suspected terrorists).

This reads like the standard "if you haven't got anything to hide then why worry about your right to privacy?" argument. If I'm not suspect in any crimes, then my communications should be kept confidential to the utmost degree. Otherwise, expect to hear from me.

Re:Merely a delay... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969723)

This isn't the case with myself, and I'm almost certain not the case with a lot of people. This is about every American's right to privacy, and the right to fight back when that privacy has been violated.

So you have a lawsuit against the telecoms because you think your privacy was violated in the NSA wiretaps program? If not, then you aren't going after the telecoms. You are championing the people who are.

I watched an interview with an ACLU spokesperson talking about the lawsuits that they were backing. He said (not in so many words) that "they were more interested in finding out about the administration's illegal activities then they were about punishing the telecoms". It was just that the secrecy of the administration left the telecoms as the only avenue to gain information.

Now, I'm sure he doesn't represent everyone suing the telecoms. But when I look for information about them and their actions, I see inflammatory remarks admonishing the administration which leads me to believe that aren't that far off.

This reads like the standard "if you haven't got anything to hide then why worry about your right to privacy?" argument. If I'm not suspect in any crimes, then my communications should be kept confidential to the utmost degree. Otherwise, expect to hear fro

Lol.. No. It is that none of the current lawsuits allege harm as been done. Just that they have statutory damages coming. It is in support of my conclusion that they are only suing the telecoms to get dirt on the administration.

It is in no way a if you don't have anything to hide, scenario. It is an observation that supports what I claim is happening. You have every right to be concerned about your privacy (especially if your talking to some suspected terrorist) but you have to understand that I was talking about the legal sense of harm; as in did anyone effected, claim damages to anything resulting from the wire taps in their lawsuits. as far as I have been able to discern, no. Just statutory damages.

This delays the inevitable (5, Interesting)

shma (863063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965723)

The only reason we have this delay is because the cloture vote occurred on the eve of a week long holiday. When cloture is invoked, there is a limited amount of time you can delay in the senate before a full vote must be held. When the senate returns it will be forced to vote on this wiretap bill, and unless 51 senators vote against the bill, it will pass. I'd like to believe this is possible, but it really isn't. Telecom immunity is all but guaranteed.

One additional piece of information: the results of the cloture vote [senate.gov] . Look very carefully at the names under "not voting".

Re:This delays the inevitable (1)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966821)

Well, Kennedy gets off with a doctor's note. He's got brain tumors. The others have all tacitly supported immunity by not voting.

It shows a distinct lack of character, but more importantly a total lack of patriotism and also oathbreaking.

They swore an oath to enter the senate to the constitution. This bill tears apart a critical piece of the bill of rights because someone somewhere is afraid of crazy men with beards halfway around the world.

The republicans keep their fascism out front, which embarrasses the hell out the the anti-fascist Paul camp. Hence all the money and whatnot raised by that group. The Democrats court the civil libertarian wing of the party, but always dodge the hard fights. When will the two anti-fascist wings come together for their own party? The EFF already shows that "left" and "right" wing libertarians can work together on some issues.

Re:This delays the inevitable (2, Informative)

shma (863063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967981)

Actually, I was trying to draw attention only to Clinton, McCain and Obama. Byrd has also been hospitalized recently (June 2nd), and may have missed the vote for medical reasons. Although I will note that Byrd was in the senate for a vote on June 12th. The others, though, have no excuse. They are out raising cash for their campaigns (or to pay off debts in Clinton's case) instead of doing their jobs.

Re:This delays the inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23969103)

I figured Clinton, McCain, and Obama wouldn't participate. But Byrd & Kennedy? What's their excuse!?

Cowardly, stupid Democrats. (3, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | more than 6 years ago | (#23965949)

Almost every Republican supports this crap, and enough Dems do that their majority is useless. For example, in the House, the R's voted for this bill 188-1. The Dems 100-128. Yet you will notice almost all the comments from people against this bill blame the Dems (because, hey, they have the majority!). And the people who support the bill hate the Dems anyway. So they lose across the board politically... it helps their enemies and it's the wrong thing to do... so why are they doing it? Bribes from telcos? Blackmail from warrantless wiretaps (hey, why do you think so many GOP Congressmen are closeted homosexuals?).

Anyway, there is a non-partisan way to hit back at these bedwetters. A contribution here http://www.actblue.com/page/fisa [actblue.com] will support campaigns against anybody who voted to approve this bill.

Re:Cowardly, stupid Democrats. (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966387)

I'm old enough to remember when the republican party was the conservative party. Maybe about 8 years ago or so.

Re:Cowardly, stupid Democrats. (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966903)

It's been longer ago than that, trust me. Reagan was the beginning of this neo-con crap.

Re:Cowardly, stupid Democrats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968307)

Really? Not Nixon?

You'd have to go back to a President from an era before most Slashdotters were born to get anything close to one that supposedly represents the Republican party that "only recently" went astray. The fact is Bush is modern conservatism, he's the conservatism almost every self-identified conservative grew up with. They're just having problems realizing that everything they've ever believed in is bullshit.

Re:Cowardly, stupid Democrats. (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968405)

Well, I can't argue the point. If I had mod points you'd get +1 insightful from me.

While it's hard to overestimate cowardice... (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966473)

I'm betting on "Bribes from telcos".

Re:While it's hard to overestimate cowardice... (1)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967157)

According to a couple sources, that's exactly what's happening. See http://www.maplight.org/FISA_June08 [maplight.org]

Re:Cowardly, stupid Democrats. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966869)

Yet you will notice almost all the comments from people against this bill blame the Dems (because, hey, they have the majority!). And the people who support the bill hate the Dems anyway. So they lose across the board politically... it helps their enemies and it's the wrong thing to do... so why are they doing it?Bribes from telcos?

I explain why in this post:
http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=597039&cid=23966415 [slashdot.org]

To make a long story short - bribes from the Republicans is the correct answer.

Why the Dems Don't Object to Republican Abuses (2, Interesting)

WmLGann (1143005) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966087)

The Dems don't actively oppose some of these abuses (e.g. politicizing the intelligence apparatus, politicizing the Justice Dept., rendition, warrantless wiretapping, etc., etc.) because they're looking forward to this coming January, when (odds are) they will have both houses of Congress and the White House in their control. They don't want to legislate away any powers that they might make use of in the coming four (or eight) years. I think our only hope of a restoration of some of our recently abrogated civil rights is if lots of test cases make it to the Supreme Court. SCotUS is now sufficiently conservative, and will be for some time, that maybe they'll start striking down some bad laws just to spite the other two (soon to be Democratic-controlled) branches of government.


We need more serious political parties, less winner-take-all elections, and more niche representation.

I called my Senators! (2, Informative)

Rakeris (1114111) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966555)

Not sure about all of you, but I called both my senators. Obama being one of them. To voice my opposition to the bill. Will it do any good? Don't know, but I can honestly say I tried. I hope you all will do the same.

Virginia's Senators' Response (2, Informative)

Suicide Drink (1125803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966745)

Webb:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2007 (S. 2248). I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with me. As you know, the FISA Amendments Act would amend current law by expanding the intelligence community's authority to collect foreign intelligence through electronic means. Having served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy and as Assistant Secretary of Defense, I relied on decades of experience in dealing with national security matters and classified intelligence when I voted in favor of final passage of this bill on February 12, 2008. I also met with a wide variety of people who were both supportive of, and opposed to, these changes. During the Senate debate, I supported a number of amendments that were designed to improve the constitutional protections of our citizens. Further, Senators Russell Feingold, Jon Tester, and I introduced an amendment that would have added additional checks and balances with respect to assessing the appropriate use of surveillance. Unfortunately, this amendment was not passed by the full Senate. After passage of the Senate bill, I sent a letter urging Members who sit on the Senate-House Conference Committee to strike a more appropriate balance between protecting constitutional rights and providing the intelligence community with the tools needed to monitor terrorists. Regarding retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies that participated in the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless wiretapping program, I do not support full immunity for companies who aided Government surveillance. I prefer a middle-ground solution that would allow court cases to proceed under appropriate circumstances. For example, I supported an amendment offered by Senators Arlen Specter and Sheldon Whitehouse, which would have allowed the U.S. government to be substituted for telecommunication companies in certain civil actions. I also supported an amendment offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein, which would have allowed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to determine whether telecommunication companies acted in good faith when complying with government surveillance request. If the FISC determined a telecommunication company did not act in good faith, the company would not be immune from consumers' legal actions. As the U.S. Senate continues to debate matters pertaining to electronic surveillance, please be assured I will keep your views in mind.

Warner:

Thank you for writing to share your views on surveillance activities conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) and oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance CourtAct (FISA) court. I appreciate your thoughtful inquiry. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provides a statutory framework for the federal government to engage in electronic surveillance to obtain foreign intelligence. Under current law, the FISA court, an eleven-member court created by Congress in 1978, reviews government requests to conduct certain domestic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. If the court finds probable cause to believe that the target of the proposed surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power, the court may issue an order authorizing surveillance. As you know, citing his authority under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the President authorized the NSA to collect signals intelligence from communications involving foreign persons who were reasonably believed to be al-Qaida members and who called into the United States or someone in the United States. The President's program was intended to fill a gap in intelligence collection for those calls that were not purely domestic and not purely foreign. On August 17, 2006, a federal district judge ruled court ruling in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union determined that the NSA surveillance program was unconstitutional and ordered that the program be halted. On October 4, 2006, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA program may continue while the Department of Justice continues to appealed the ruling of the District Court. And, on July 6, 2007, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision of the District Court on the grounds that none of the plaintiffs had standing to bring their claims. On August 3, 2007, the Senate passed the Protect America Act (S.1927) by a vote of 60 to 28, with my support. Subsequently, the House of Representatives also passed this legislation, and President Bush signed it into law on August 5, 2007 (P. L. 110-55). S.1927 allows the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Attorney General to authorize jointly, with a detailed certification, the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside of the United States for periods of up to one year. As I stated on the Senate floor at that time, I strongly believe that any solution to reforming FISA must have the certification of the DNI that the legislation will provide the intelligence capabilities needed to protect our nation and our allies. I am pleased to note that S.1927 meets this criteria. Because the Protect America Act had a six-month sunsetA number of the provisions of S.1927 sunset on February 15, 2008. While the Senate has acted and passed legislation on thismatter, the House of Representatives has not concurred with the Senate-passed measure. Specifically, on October 18, 2007, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, of which I am pleased to be a member, continued to review the law subsequent to its enactment and voted to report favorably the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 (S.2248). The Committee approved this legislation by a vote of 13 to 2, with my support. The Committee's report on this legislation noted that, among its provisions, S.2248 would mandate FISA Court review and approval of procedures used by the intelligence community to minimize the collection, retention, and dissemination of non-public information regarding United States persons and their identities. Also, S.2248 would provide narrowly circumscribed civil liability protectionimmunity to companies that may have participated in the Terrorist Surveillance Program based on written requests or directives from the government that asserted the program was determined to be lawful. After extensive debate on this legislation before the full Senate, on February 12, 2008, the Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 68 to 29, again with my support. Unfortunately, the Protect America Act expired on February 16, 2008 and S.2248 TheSenate-passed measure has not been acted upon by the House of Representativesat this time. In my view, it is critically important for the Congress to pass this bill. I believe that S.2248, as originally passed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and as amended and passed by the full Senate, strikes an important balance between protecting civil liberties and ensuring that our dedicated intelligence professionals have the tools they need to protect the nation. While concerns have been raised about carrier liability protection, the companies who participated in the Terrorist Surveillance Program did so voluntarily to help America preserve its freedom and security. The protections extended to these companies only includes protection from civil liability; further, this legislation does not prevent those individuals who believe that the federal government violated their civil liberties from pursuing legal action against the government. I value the benefit of your views on this legislation. There is little question that we must leverage all available assets against terrorist organizations to prevent further attacks on America, but in the process, it is vitally important that all such actions be lawful within the law and the rights of Americans be protected.

Contact your Senator! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23966787)

Email, call and write your senators! This is a method that does actually work, and will take only a few minutes of your time. Senators like to get re-elected, and hence listen to masses of upset voters. Sadly, I might be fighting a losing battle on one front, VA's John Warner is retiring.

Tell your friends.

July 4th (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966791)

So let me get this straight, after celebrating July 4th - the day we declared independence from a tyrannical leader, we're going to have the senate vote that the president has the power to command the courts to avoid the issue of illegal wiretapping?


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.â" That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, â" That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.â" Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

And a select few of the reasons for independence

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences



In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Petition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23966893)

I would like to create a petition like this:

If FISA bill passes I agree that nationally both the Democrats and Republicans are not in the nations best interest and true change is needed for the Presidential Race. I will vote for a third party candidate for President if this petition reaches 5 million.

Use this extra time to... (2, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967079)

Write your damn representatives and senators. Let them know their job is on the line. People are pretty pissed about this one, we need to stand up and be heard. Write them, protest, march! Lets do this!

Huge Opportunity (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967345)

I guess I don't have to say this, but I will anyway.

The point that I find most alarming is that with this thing Bush did, he has made all of our consumer goods and services into something we need to be suspicious or untrusting of. And a point I attempted to make before, this also makes moves in the direction of enlisting all US (and other) providers of goods and services into government espionage programs which makes spies of these people. It is a dangerous and slippery slope short-sighted-Bush has taken us down and it's time to stop the slide before it starts. And YES let the telecoms be sued! They NEED to be sued. The can afford to be sued. And they deserve to be sued! Qwest didn't take the blue pill and the others shouldn't have either. So the issue of right or wrong, or legal or illegal was probably pretty well known by the decision makers when they decided to comply.

I would go so far as to say not only should they be sued as a company, but the actual decision makers should also be sued personally for the abuse of their company resources for illegal purposes and actually removed from their jobs.

All of this, of course, hinges on whether or not this immunity bill passes. It should not be allowed to pass. It's among the most dangerous bits of legislation yet.

Call the Obama campaign. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968449)

I just called the obama campaign and told them that in all good conscience, I cannot support any candidate who supports FISA. I told them that his support of FISA looses my vote. I told them to follow the money, look at how much money the flip floppers got from AT&T for changing their votes, and I told them if bush will veto the bill without the immunity provision, It cannot possibly be vital to pass the bill, unless it is to provide unconstitutional retroactive immunity.

Why the hell are you people commenting here? Contact Obama. Contact your congress-traitors.

Tell them you will not only not give the money, Tell them you wont give them your vote either.

Tell them you're mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore.

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