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Telecom Amnesty Opponents Back New Amendment

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the putting-on-the-sensible-shoes dept.

Privacy 250

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "With the telecoms all but assured of amnesty for their participation in illegal spying, there's now one last amendment in their way — the Bingaman amendment. Because President Bush is unwilling to sign FISA reform without immunity, and because Blue Dog Democrats fear for their reelection unless FISA reform as a whole passes, most compromise positions are already off the table. So the new amendment seeks to sidestep part of the problem by moving it to a later date. It would put the court cases and amnesty provision on hold until a report is completed detailing exactly what happened, allowing Congress to consider denying amnesty at that time. There's an EFF campaign to support both this and the Dodd-Feingold amendment, which would strip immunity altogether."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098505)

first post

step one (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098519)

step 1: retroactive immunity
step 2: retroactive crimes
step 3: prophet

Re:step one (2, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099545)

step 1: retroactive immunity step 2: retroactive crimes step 3: prophet

Look, can we just leave Mohammed out of this, please? Also, you left out ????.

Hum interesting (2, Insightful)

Erie Ed (1254426) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098543)

I firmly believe that any immunity for the telecos is too much immunity.

Re:Hum interesting (2, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098921)

I firmly believe immunity for ANYONE is too much. The idea that immunity makes whistleblowing more likely is a bunch of bullshit and always has been. You shouldnt need immunity if you did nothing wrong, and you deserve to rot in jail if you did. Its just a question of do you want to be the person rotting or do you want to bring everyone involved down with you.

Re:Hum interesting (2, Informative)

Elldallan (901501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099353)

Well the problem is that wistleblowers are doing something very illegal most of the time. What they are divulging can be considered business secrets most of the time and it is a felony to make business secrets known to anyone not privileged to the information.

They are doing society a service by making the information public but it's still a crime that they could be prosecuted for and most likely go to jail for if they became known.

Re:Hum interesting (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099429)

I firmly believe immunity for ANYONE is too much

Really? So you'd willingly testify in front of a Grand Jury without it? Is giving immunity to Al Capone's bean-counter (who only committed white-collar crimes) in exchange for his testimony to convict Capone of murder a bad idea? Immunity as a concept has been around in our legal system for quite some time and has nothing to do with retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

The idea that immunity makes whistleblowing more likely is a bunch of bullshit and always has been. You shouldnt need immunity if you did nothing wrong

I guess you've never heard of being scapegoated?

Re:Hum interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099107)

only a nigger would say something so stupid. you must be a nigger.

Law,Transparency and Accountability out the window (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098549)

Combating Corruption for Development: The Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability PDF [un.org] || Google Cache [216.239.59.104]

Re:Law,Transparency and Accountability out the win (3, Insightful)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098699)

Frankly, if I were looking for good ways to combat corruption...I wouldn't look to the UN. They haven't exactly been the poster children for transparent, non-corrupt activities lately. And they certainly don't seem to be getting held accountable for their mis-steps. Heck, the security director during a genocide became the next Secretary General.

That's not to say the US couldn't use a lot more transparency and accountability, but I hardly think the UN should be dictating the gold standard to anybody.

What is the UN? (5, Interesting)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098947)

The UN is nothing but the sum of its members.
And the US have been largely responsible for castrating it. Look at the use of veto in the UNSC in the past 30 years. Even USSR did not fuck it up that much.

Re:What is the UN? (1, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099191)

The US is also largely responsible for creating it. We didn't play that part for good will, we wanted power, and we have it (as you say, UNSC.) The US is and long has been the muscle behind the UN, and we love to flex.

I wish we could learn something useful from (5, Informative)

CDMA_Demo (841347) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098597)

France. The government there is afraid of its people. There was a recent slashdot story that illustrated how real lobbying in france is done by public, not corporations: http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/03/2156204&from=rss [slashdot.org]

Re:I wish we could learn something useful from (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099099)

I'm not so sure of that. Isn't France one of those places where you're presumed guilty until proven innocent?

Re:I wish we could learn something useful from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099171)

Completely irrelavent. There's no GOOD reason that we can't maintain innocence before proof of guilt, and put the good of the people before the good of the corporations.

Re:I wish we could learn something useful from (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099229)

I don't know about that, but I do know that SWAT cops wear masks. They don't want any record of who blew out your back with an MP5.

Re:I wish we could learn something useful from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099443)

That would be gitmo you're thinking about ...

Re:I wish we could learn something useful from (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099479)

De facto, not de jure, the same as any system in which accused are held on remand. The significant difference is that French courts are inquisitorial. This is actually more common than the adversarial system used by England and its colonies.

Re:I wish we could learn something useful from (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099569)

Not anymore; they changed a number of years ago. (Apparently many French though it was a weird idea -- but apparently not enough to prevent it.)

Ever read about 3 strikes and you're out ISP law? (1)

1800maxim (702377) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099453)

France not only seeks to implement 3 strikes and you're out ISP law, it also is trying to push it across Europe. So where does it listen to the public?

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/03/2156204 [slashdot.org]

Re:I wish we could learn something useful from (2, Interesting)

syphax (189065) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099643)

As a French friend once told me, "You Americans don't know how to fight the government."

Get the tractors out, boys!

Blame the telecoms for government-forced demands? (1, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098619)

If I'm not mistaken, the government ordered these telecom companies to provide access to phone lines. Why, then, should they not receive immunity from the government's crimes? Of course, if they weren't ordered to wiretap, but were simply requested to do so, then it's a different story.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (5, Insightful)

the_macman (874383) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098661)

The government isn't above the law. Just because you did something illegal at the request of our government doesn't make it ok.

They should be prosecuted (along with Bush and crooks) to the fullest extent of the law.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098911)

Like I said, if it was a request then I could understand not granting immunity. If it was demanded by the government, then it would be justifiable to grant them immunity. Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (5, Insightful)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099153)

Like I said, if it was a request then I could understand not granting immunity. If it was demanded by the government, then it would be justifiable to grant them immunity. Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.

No, the Government is not above the law. Please do not stop in the Bush droppings.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (-1, Flamebait)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099501)

You don't pay that close attention to politics do you, from the Kennedys' DUIs to Clinton's perjury all these get swept under the rug.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099167)

Yes, yes, we get it. The people who actually commit the crime are the victims here, just like those poor, poor mafia members paid to break legs and toss people in the lake with concrete shoes. They're just trying to make a living, can't we all cut them a break?!

If it was demanded by the government

Qwest refused and nobody went to jail. There was no "demand," just the government giving companies money to perform illegal acts.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (5, Insightful)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099595)

Not true. Google "Nacchio" "Qwest" and "jail." The fact is that Quest's refusal made Nacchio a target for political prosecution at the ham-hands of Bush/Gonzoles' Do"J."

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099231)

That demand didn't stop Qwest from telling them to go fuck themselves [nytimes.com] . Being a pansy is hardly an excuse for breaking the law on a massive scale.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099293)

Like I said, if it was a request then I could understand not granting immunity. If it was demanded by the government, then it would be justifiable to grant them immunity.

I thought we discussed this the last ten times this came up? Complying with an illegal order is itself an illegal act. It doesn't matter if you are a soldier or operating a telecom. If your CO orders you to commit rape, and you do it, you are committing an illegal act. If your government orders to to execute an illegal wiretap, and you do it, you are committing an illegal act. See how that works?

The only way this is NOT true is if they actually pass a law that says you can be wiretapped without a warrant; THEN and ONLY THEN is it legal. It might be argued that some laws already passed give the government the right to tap any and all communications during an undeclared state of emergency or something; that is a valid legal defense if it turns out to be true. But NOTHING repeat NOTHING excuses complying with an illegal order. Well, except congressional action of course...

Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.

WHAT?

WHAT?!>?! (emphasis, you know)

The government is most certainly not above the law. YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT. Or more to the point, it is made up of individuals who can be hauled into court.

Above the law? What the hell is wrong with you?

Were you paid to say this, or are you just brainwashed?

I say this to people occasionally, but people like you really ARE the problem with America today. "The government did it, so it must be okay!" Are you REALLY that deluded?

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (4, Insightful)

moxley (895517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099835)

I agree and I think a lot of people feel the same way, if you do then mod parent up please.

I think most Americans have no idea about the level illegality that our government has risen to; not just this current administration, (though they are by far the most egregious) - this telecom immunity thing is bad enough - but if you consider that is going on in the light of day now, just imagine all of the things that the general public isn;t aware of - there are many things you can find out about if you are a good researcher or read books that have been thoroughly researched (Jim Marrs, Greg Palast are two authors I highly recommend as their credibility is excellent) - if you are interested in the Bush dynasty there are many books but anything by Webster Tarpley is great, you can get his unauthorized biography of George Bush senior fo free on the web (as it has been out of print or supressed for a while now) with this link: http://www.tarpley.net/bushb.htm [tarpley.net] .

I am not sure if our republic is past the point of no return, but I fear that. I think people are putting a lot of hope into Obama, and I agree that he seems genuine, but the man is a politican and has taken votes or actions that would seem to be contrary to his stated message of change - like supporting telecom immunity. I fear that if he did get into office and really did try to make some real changes his life would be in danger; but what seems most likely s that he will get into office and be sort of like Clinton - not willing or able to live up to 10% of what he promised.

I thought that the people who really could have made some changes are people like Ron Paul and Mike Gravel - Richardson wasn't bad either - but until the issue with the media being a corporate/governmental mouthpiece is resolved, I am afraid that there may never be real change here.

Granting immunity for illegal, unconstitutional acts after the fact is not only wrong and unconsitutional, it sets a HORRIBLY DANGEROUS PRECEDENT - and this is one aspect people are not considering. IF this precedent is set - then government can basically make anything legal after the fact. If this sort of thing continues, eventually they won't even need to that to do what they like.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Informative)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100031)

WHAT?

WHAT?!>?! (emphasis, you know)

The government is most certainly not above the law. YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT. Or more to the point, it is made up of individuals who can be hauled into court.

Above the law? What the hell is wrong with you?

Were you paid to say this, or are you just brainwashed?

I say this to people occasionally, but people like you really ARE the problem with America today. "The government did it, so it must be okay!" Are you REALLY that deluded?

Given the way his sentence read: "Of course the government is above the law, but companies should not be punished for government crimes.", I'd say it was an omission, and he meant "Of course the government is not above the law...".

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (0, Troll)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100055)

Complying with an illegal order is itself an illegal act. It doesn't matter if you are a soldier or operating a telecom. If your CO orders you to commit rape, and you do it, you are committing an illegal act. If your government orders to to execute an illegal wiretap, and you do it, you are committing an illegal act. See how that works?

That isn't always the case. Killing a person is illegal, A cop telling you to pull the triger and kill the bad guy because he is killing others can be seen as not illegal. In this case with the telecoms, the current law and the law at the time [cornell.edu] of the incidents gave the telecoms a complete defense against any civil or criminal prosecution resulting under any law if the government presented them with legal looking authorization.

The problem you having is that your taking moral offenses that are never legal and attempting to attribute it to something that under certain situations is perfectly legal. They call that a straw man argument which is based on a fallacy of all things presented being completely illegal. It is perfectly legal for the government to execute someone for a capitol crime, but it isn't legal to execute them for political expression and so on. Do you see a little difference there? Ok, Now when the executioner is presented with the same orders and documents that he would making the capitol offense legal but the offense was actually something that doesn't carry a capitol punishment, is the executioner liable for criminal activity? NO.. Why? Because he was working inside the legal framework that provides him with an exception to the not killing people laws.

So take your comparisons that you think make an illegal act illegal and put it in a real contrast or perspective. Try to tell me how a cop ordering me to pull through an intersection on a red light makes me guilty of a traffic offense of running a red light? Tell me how you can reconcile this with the fact that you want to use the same legal framework that allows these exceptions in order to prove your point and prosecute. You see, right or wrong, it just doesn't fit with reality.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (4, Insightful)

Elldallan (901501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099473)

Actually they should. Even if the government is ordering a company to divulge something that is by law illegal it is that company's responsibility to refuse until they come back with a warrant or until they change the law to allow what they're doing.

If the company complies with the government to do something illegal wether the government is ordering it or just requesting it doesn't matter, they should still be punished to the full extent of the law.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (4, Insightful)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098995)

In fact, if "the government" -- or to put it more accurately, one or more government employees -- asks you to break the law, it's arguably your civic duty to report that government employee.

Granted, that would need to be handled delicately, to say the least. But if someone were to come to me and say, "I need your help to rob a bank", I'd probably give the local police a heads-up. Why should it matter if they flashed a badge while making that request? (Except in that case I might give the FBI the heads-up instead.)

Are we a nation of laws or aren't we?

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099843)

Are we a nation of laws or aren't we?

selectively, my friend; selectively.

I know that's not the answer you were looking for, but its an honest one. ;(

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (4, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099081)

Just because you did something illegal at the request of our government doesn't make it ok.

Actually, in this case it does. The law has always stated that the telecoms and their agents had a complete defense [cornell.edu] in any civil or criminal actions resulting from any law if the government or a law enforcement agency/officer presented the telecoms with documentation claiming their acts were legal. The FISA AG authorizations would have provided that independent of the AG's willingness to follow through on any other aspect of the law to keep it legal or not.

Of course, if the government didn't present the authority to do such taps to the telecoms, then they aren't covered. However, the current claim is that they would be but Bush classified the documents they need to prove the effect of the law which means they would be committing a felony if they defended their actions with the defenses provided by law. This has never really been about making the telecoms pay either. It has always been about gathering evidence on the administration which sort of seems like picking on the retarded neighbor kid in order to force his parents out of the house so someone else can rob them. Or at least that's how I see it.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099337)

The government isn't above the law.

I don't see how that's possible. Logically, an organization holding the unique right to employ coercion as its means (that is the definition of government) must be "above" the laws which apply to the group it employs that coercion against (who would of course be criminals if they tried to employ coercion as their means). In other words, if the same laws that apply to you and me applied to government, then government couldn't exist.

The entire business of government is founded on its special ability to operate "above" the laws which apply to the people that government rules over. This is plain common sense, although it takes a bit of un-learning to realize (or accept) it.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

sleigher (961421) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099865)

For the government as an entity this may be so. However, the individuals that are our elected officials are not. I will not believe, ever, that if the president does it the it isn't illegal. Didn't work for Nixon so why is it working now?

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (5, Insightful)

Cheviot (248921) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098703)

The government did only request they comply. Some companies refused.

But even if the government ordered them to, so what?

If a policeman ordered you to rob a bank, do you think you deserve amnesty? It's against the law no matter who tells you to do it.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098913)

Wow you guys have no idea how the law works. Actually yes, that would essentially give you amnesty because the cop put you in a position you wouldn't normally be in. An undercover cop can't just walk up to you and offer you marijuana, you have to walk up to him.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099425)

You have to remember that this isn't about rational or legal order of events. It is about getting shorty. You see, when the president classified everything about the NSA program that wasn't already classified, the attention went to the telecoms because existing law gave the telecoms immunity if they were presented with legal documents. They expected that the telecoms would violate a completely unrelated law about disclosing national security secretes and classified information. But as it turns out, they are more scared of the prison time and won't do it.

This is more or less the equivalent of "Give me the information or I kill your girlfriend" in thriller movies. They are attempting to punish a seemingly innocent associate in order to put pressure on the administration so the documents would get opened up and they can get dirt on him. Now that a card has been played giving the telecoms immunity which makes the effort so far pointless, there is an uproar over it caused by half truths and purposefully misleading information. Entrapment doesn't matter to these people, they already passed on their morals in pursuit for political expectations. It is more or less a culture of hate that has taken the wheel of the bus, driving to some unobtainable destination. Reality doesn't matter unless it can fit within their neo-political world view. Reason and rational thought is out the window on this.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (3, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098939)

"If a policeman ordered you to rob a bank, do you think you deserve amnesty?"

Of course. Any action forced at gunpoint - or other threat of punishment from a force-wielding body - should be granted amnesty.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (5, Insightful)

Mr_Magick (996141) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099141)

Of course. Any action forced at gunpoint - or other threat of punishment from a force-wielding body - should be granted amnesty.

Then the telcos don't have anything to worry about when they plead their case in front of a court of law.

Mod parent up! (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099491)

Mod parent up.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100023)

Of course. Any action forced at gunpoint - or other threat of punishment from a force-wielding body - should be granted amnesty.

If people do not choose to do the right thing, then we will only have the wrong thing.

You have a responsibility to do the right thing. It comes with the rights. What are the rights? The rights to spend the big gobs of cash that you get for ordering around the minimum wage peons below you.

"He told me to do it" is not an excuse. By the way, if a cop tells you to do something illegal, that is entrapment, and it is itself an illegal act. However, it is not necessarily a defense. You need to have some basic sanity checks - hence, sanity. If a cop tells you to do something that is obviously illegal you should know that it is wrong. And in this particular example ("rob a bank") there is extra-special no excuse because you're in a bank and it's easy to throw the apparatus of the state at them.

Do you really believe the things you're saying, or are you just stirring up shit?

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Interesting)

Grave (8234) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098993)

I think the only way I'd be willing to accept telecom immunity is if all those involved in issuing the requests were prosecuted for it. Of course, that'll never happen...

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

Shajenko42 (627901) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099111)

If a policeman ordered you to rob a bank, do you think you deserve amnesty? It's against the law no matter who tells you to do it.

If he really "ordered" you to do it, that's called entrapment.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099733)

I'm guessing for the sake of analogy the OP isn't implying that the cop then arrests you. The cop isn't interested in catching a bank robber he created, but robbing the bank, and he orders you to help him.

If they were forced to comply, or were convinced by a reliable source that the action was not illegal, they don't need amnesty -- they'd have a hard time being prosecuted.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099223)

Your confusing two separate activities there. First, the wiretaps and then the refusals to provide access. The law, passed in 1994 says that the telecom providers must use certain equipment and make or provide access to the equipment. Bush attempted to use that to build data centers where bundles of lines passed through making tapping an entire region from one location a reality. It was to avoid having to send field agents to 200 different locations in order to effect a 2 minute tap. The law provides an out based on reasonableness and the claims that a company refused was a defense used by a CEO who was brought up and convicted on insider trading charges who claimed that because they didn't cooperate, the government took contracts from them and gave them to companies who participated.

It really is separate from the actual tapping and shouldn't be considered the same because the law specifically states that the government can pay for the change overs and stuff and make that happen. Access and taping are separate issues.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099319)

Come now, a sense of right and wrong is so September 12. We can't have our corporations bound by such petty concerns when there is money^h^h^h^h^h freedom to protect.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099699)

What if that policeman had a gun pointed at your head, or made an equivalant deadly threat towards you or a loved one? Of course your conclusion would change.

But that is essentially what the business of government does every day -- except that you don't see the gun unless you actively refuse to comply. As long as you don't try to fight in self-defense, you probably won't see that gun, or even the threat of deadly force which is always present.

Neat little trick, isn't it?

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098941)

Of course, if they weren't ordered to wiretap, but were simply requested to do so, then it's a different story.

Which is exactly what happened. They were in no way forced to comply; they did so voluntarily.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098975)

"Which is exactly what happened. They were in no way forced to comply; they did so voluntarily."

Then they should be brought to justice.

were you trolling for a Godwin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099187)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Defense/ [wikipedia.org] should remind you in to why you don't receive immunity for following an illegal order (if you know or should have known that it was illegal)

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099597)

That they broke the law is the guess.
What looks like happened is they followed the law but because it would require that classified information be released to prove thier innocense the government wants to give them immunity.
That explaination looks to be the case because you have a whole lot of people who have seen the classified information wanting pushing for the immunity. You have people on both sides such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) head of the Senate Intelligence committee who activly pushing for the immunity. The biggest opponents of it are getting large kick backs from trial lawyers, who see this as a huge payout since the telecoms will not beable to defend themselves.
What both sides pushing for it thier is probably more to the story then was is being told in hate sites such as dailykos and huffingtonreport.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (2, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099747)

Because anyone who wasn't Bogarting joints in civics class knows that the Executive branch (not "the government") has the authority to enforce the laws that are created by various levels of legislature. The Executive is not a king, does not have the authority to tell anyone to break any law for any reason, and it does not become legal when the President does it [landmarkcases.org] .

Ignorance of the law isn't an excuse for We, the People, so why should it be an excuse for telecos who have legions of lawyers on hand to advise them? All of those telcos could and should have told the NSA to go blow goats. You know, like QWest did.

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

GIS.thrills (1165879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099775)

These telcoms have millions of dollars worth of lawyers on retainer for situations like this. They knew they where breaking the law. The presidential administration can't make them do anything illegal. In fact some of the telcoms told the bush administration NO [wired.com] [wired.com].

Re:Blame the telecoms for government-forced demand (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099971)

If I'm not mistaken, the government ordered these telecom companies to provide access to phone lines. Why, then, should they not receive immunity from the government's crimes? Of course, if they weren't ordered to wiretap, but were simply requested to do so, then it's a different story.

You are a broken clock. Godwin's law was invented for your ilk.

Nuremberg defense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24100009)

The excuse "we were only following orders" has been rejected by civilized societies for over half a century, and it makes my stomach churn that so many /.'ers try to legitimize that position every time the telco immunity subject comes up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Defense [wikipedia.org]

We need more pressure (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098653)

The trouble is that we have a choice between the Republicans who want amnesty and the Democrats who are afraid not to grant it. What kind of pressure can we bring?

Obama has an amazing ability to raise money from small donors. If the donors went on strike, Obama would react.

Enough of us have to tell the Democrats that we won't donate if amnesty passes but we might donate if it doesn't. The pressure from his supporters has forced Obama to react by telling us to suck it up. More pressure might force him to change the way he intends to vote.

Pre-emptive Godwin (5, Interesting)

Reader X (906979) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098679)

So I was browsing Wikipedia and came across the following definition for "fascism":

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Hm. Committed nationalist militants working in collaboration with "traditional elites", such as large telcos.

Discuss.

Re:Pre-emptive Godwin (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098961)

That's not flamebait - that's an invitation to a political discussion. Can large telco's really be considered "traditional elites?"

The telco's were formed by a single company Bell doing a a deal with the government to provide universal telephone access. Then the government decided that the one company was too powerful and should be split up.

"redemptive violence" - non-lethal weapons such as tasering, infra-red beams, pepper spray, street detention?

Re:Pre-emptive Godwin (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099387)

large telcos, Hollywood, Big Oil, Big Pharma...I'm sure I'm missing some. Thanks for raising that point and risking the wrath of the mods. I'd have modded you up but my points just expired.

On a side note (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098697)

Because President Bush is unwilling to sign FISA reform without immunity, and because Blue Dog Democrats fear for their reelection unless FISA reform as a whole passes, most compromise positions are already off the table.

This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

Devil's side. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098797)

Because President Bush is unwilling to sign FISA reform without immunity, and because Blue Dog Democrats fear for their reelection unless FISA reform as a whole passes, most compromise positions are already off the table.

This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

I agree. However, if someone knows that they'll have only one term, what's to prevent them from having a 'slash and burn mentality'?

Politician thinking: ''Hey, I'm here for only one term. What not vote for FISA bill because I'm for it and I believe that 'if you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.' And besides, regarding the folks who wrote in against this, fuck'em! What are they going to do? Not vote for me next time?!? Hahahahahah!''

Politicians: Damn them! Damn them all to hell!

Re:On a side note (5, Funny)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098817)

Can't we just make it so if their popularity goes below a certain amount that an ejection seat in congress launches them somewhere out over the Atlantic?

Re:On a side note (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099973)

Can't we just make it so if their popularity goes below a certain amount that an ejection seat in congress launches them somewhere out over the Atlantic?

Well as soon as that happened, in the very next poll everyone would express disapproval of their representatives, not because they actually disapproved but simply to see the spectacle of a few hundred politicians launched out of the capitol into the ocean.

The next batch of politicians that are elected would, too, find themselves immediately disapproved of and launched into the ocean.

Soon, due to the power vacuum, it would be necessary to hold elections every day, as on the start of the next day they'd all be launched into the ocean. Crowds would form around the Capitol Building and it would be D.C.'s top tourist attraction.

Pretty quickly the Capitol Building would become known as the Politician Suicide Booth, and the country would soon be rid of all politicians crazy enough to actually seek election, and the seats would remain empty.

So yeah, this is pretty much the perfect idea. We can call it the Linzeal Solution if you want.

Re:On a side note (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100111)

Bravo!

Re:On a side note (3, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099001)

This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office.

Oh please! What has term limits done for the presidency? You only need to look as far as Mexico to see what a worthless endeavor it would be. It does nothing about removing the party from power. You limit their terms with your vote. If you won't vote them out, then you're not seeing the real problem.

Re:On a side note (0, Troll)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099587)

What has term limits done for the presidency?

Prevented GWB from running again?

How the hell is this trolling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24100003)

Should he also have said that it prevented Clinton, Reagan and Eisenhower from running too?

Mod parent back up. And punish this troll mod in meta-mod.

Re:On a side note (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100051)

That's crazy talk! If I don't vote for Kodos, then Kang will win.

Re:On a side note (5, Interesting)

intx13 (808988) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099009)

I advocate mid-term votes on each of your congresscritters, with ballots such as that below (for each):

I think congressperson X:

  1. Should be given a 20% raise.
  2. Is doing fine as is.
  3. Should be given a 20% pay cut.
  4. Should be given a 20% pay cut and disallowed from running for re-election.
  5. Should be taken out back and shot.

Get the people really involved!

Re:On a side note (1)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099497)

6. By me.

The ultimate in involvement. ;)

Re:On a side note (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100017)

I initially read #4 as "cut and disemboweled", and thought it was a rather savvy idea.

Re:On a side note (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099327)

This is why we need to limit Congress to one term in each office. Nothing gets in the way of principle like rational self-interest.

Given how the sen's and rep's are acting these days, I whole-heartedly agree. There was a time in this country when having no limits was a good thing, back when advanced education was not wide-spread, or the communication network as the speed of a horse. But now, our society as a whole is more educated -- despite the acts of stupidity we still witness, I still believe this. But, what exactly are the odds of getting the very people who would be victim of the new standard, passing the new standard of 1 term only, or 1 consecutive term (while still allowing future chances to be voted in)?

Re:On a side note (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100049)

Right. Because we want to limit the people who can run for Congress to be those that can drop their lifelong job or career, spend a year running for office, then hold office for two years, then do ........ ?

How many people in what jobs can afford to quit and run for Congress? That's already limited enough, mostly to lawyers, rich people, and the rich-married. Then how many of those people could ever, ever get work again in their original field? Do you think an electrical engineer would find a job again in his profession after being a Congressman?

Your proposal would turn hundreds of people who actually want to live their lives in public service into people forced into roles as PR specialists, lobbyists, and spokespersons. Knowing that a PR job is their future within two years, their interests will shift (even more) to their future employer, away from their constituents.

Blue Dog Democrats fear for their reelection

Their fear of reelection is directly based on their fear of their constituents. That's who they're supposed to be afraid of, right? They're Democrats from conservative districts. They are actively representing the will of their constituents. I strongly disagree with their positions in this case, but what you propose would make things much, much worse, and absolutely not change the current situation.

Just another problem with representatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098713)

Problems like this always boil down to the "representatives" in our "democracy" doing things which are not in the interest of the people.

It it time we got rid of the representatives and govern ourselves [wikipedia.org] with the power of the internet.

Cowards, or do they really believe (4, Interesting)

pzs (857406) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098805)

The standard narrative for Dem caving is that they fear for their electability or whatever. It's also possible that they just believe what they vote for. [openleft.com]

Yeah, just like the slave debate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098827)

"We'll figure it out later!" Hope this doesn't lead to a civil war, too.

What About the Victims? (4, Informative)

jmcharry (608079) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098849)

What they are doing by enacting this amnesty is denying the victims of the illegal wiretapping any recourse. Essentially anyone who used international circuits to transmit confidential or proprietary information had that information compromised and therefore devalued. I seem to recall back in the 70s the Soviets used much less detailed information on telecommunications related to commodity trading to buy an enormous amount of US wheat at an extremely low price.

Recourse from whom? (3, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099119)

Who should these victims be getting recourse from? The government officials who made the illegitimate requests? Or the companies that perhaps ought to have stood up for their customers, but were scared of retaliation by the government?

What a load of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099705)

"but were scared of retaliation by the government?"

You are promoting a myth. None of the companies were scared. They went into it willingly.

Re:What About the Victims? (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099235)

The USA also tapped Soviet phone lines, in fact Reagan used the knowledge in Reykjavík during the talks to Gorbachev. The USA knew the Soviets military didn't want a War with the West, and never did, they were just scared of the West, just like the West was scared of the Soviet military block. You could say Reagan would never have reversed his position on détente. So sometime wiretapping does help but it never help wiretapping your own people, it just make them mistrustful of those in power.

" illegal spying" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24098923)

It was wiretapping conversations involving calls outside the country with foreign terrorists. Period. Anyone telling you anything else is lying.

Re:" illegal spying" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099011)

Anyone telling you anything else is lying.

A line that you'll hear only from the most reputable sources on any given topic, no doubt.

Here's how to deal with this problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099083)

1 - Get a gun and some ammo. (You'll probably need quite a lot of ammo).
2 - Shoot GW Bush in the head.
3 - Shoot him a few more times, just to be sure. And then kick him in the balls from me.
4 - Declare yourself president.
5 - Shoot anyone who disagrees with your presidency (for example, the vice president.)
6 - Repeat steps 4 and 5 until no-one disagrees.
7 - Declare retro-active immunity for yourself against charges of murder.
8 - ???
9 - Profit!!!

If Immunity Passes (4, Interesting)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099225)

Then the government can tell the telecoms to destroy all documents relating to this. The telecoms can tell any future investigators that those records were destroyed, please refer to the current administration. Who have probably since moved to Dubai.

Re:If Immunity Passes (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099771)

we, as citizens, should also so this. we should BURN all our records and basically play the same game the gov does.

the gov sets the standard for the country. even though it sounds absurd, they ARE our leaders and they ARE setting an example (like it or not) for our kids and the next generation.

what kind of US are we creating? how 'ethical' will our kids be since they are watching this TREASONOUS act by our president and taking it all in.

lessons:

- the US is an untrustworthy nation. it lies, steals, cheats and does whatever any wild cornered animal does. we have lost all 'moral high ground' in the last 8 yrs.

- when the laws work against you, CHANGE THE LAWS. cover your ass and do whatever you need to protect yourself. (see the 'scared animal' clause, above)

- you have no allegiance to your country or your people. you only owe allegiance to those that CONTRIBUTE to your payroll. kids see this and they internalize it even though it may not be obvious right now.

- take the lead from the white house - delete any data that can be used against you. if bush can get away with it, it should be good for us citizens, too.

- congress is unfixably corrupt and so any laws they pass are automatically 'against the will of the people'. again, kids won't respect the law if the law isn't just. and its far from just, right now; its bought and paid for by PAC.

- voting in the US has become "one dollar, one vote". the only way to get your way is to 'lubricate' the system, so to speak.

a nice bunch of lessons, huh? all this makes me wish we were back in the days of the wild, wild, west. there was at least -some- balance of power back then.

Dems caving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099245)

Dems caving? Nice choice of words especially when they control both houses. My choice of words would be that they are no different than republicans. And they played you for a chump if you voted for them.

FISA isn't that important (4, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099253)

Bush is unwilling to sign FISA without telecom immunity and has actually pocket-vetoed the same bill before because it lacked that immunity.

And yet Bush and most Republicans cry out that FISA is absolutely vital to protecting our country.

This leads us to one of two possibilities:

1) Bush feels that protecting the telecoms are more important than protecting the country, since he is willing to let us go without a revised FISA bill unless we give the telecoms what thy want.

2) The FISA bill is not actually that important for national security, but is more or less a trojan horse for covering their collective asses.

I suppose both are possible, and not mutually exclusive, but faced with this choice I find it far to unsettling that Bush would literally put our whole country at risk (as he himself claims FISA is that important) for the sake of a few dozen CEOs.
=Smidge=

Re:FISA isn't that important (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099657)

What do they call it when someone limits the choices in order to prove a point? Umm.. I know fallacy is part of it.. But what type of fallacy? What is it when someone presents a fallacious argument in order to bend logic in his favor? I don't remember the type of fallacy your presenting here but make no mistake it is a fallacy.

How about another option,
3: Bush doesn't see effective wiretapping ever being possible if the telecoms have to comb over every and make I to make sure it is crossed or dotted properly before allowing the tap to take place.

4: Bush sees that ignoring current law by which would give immunity to the telecoms but can't be used because all the authorizations were classified as a national security secrete in which all the telecom law suits are attempting to do is get national security information revealed for whatever purpose, is wrong and needs to be cleared up or (3) will happen.

You see, reality doesn't just exist in your mind. There could be dozens of reasons why outside of anything you mentioned. It isn't one of two possibilities, it is possibilities of possibilities. Perhaps you could listen to what he has actually said about it and discern something a little closer to reality.

Do you want to know what really makes me sick, It is that I'm actually defending Bush because of idiot interpretations like yours. I wish you guys would just grow up and take a hard look at reality before spouting dumb shit like that. This isn't the second grade, you don't become invisible when you put your hands over your eyes and the complications of reality are far more powerful then what you can imagine in your little head.

Obamamania not so loud now, huh? (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099275)

I think this amnesty bill has done more to show Barack Obama's TRUE colors than any other vote in his career.
.
"A Vote for Change" my ass.

Perhaps not so loud... (3, Insightful)

parcel (145162) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099803)

I think this amnesty bill has done more to show Barack Obama's TRUE colors than any other vote in his career.

... but looking at the other votes in his career [aclu.org] compared to the alternative [aclu.org] would still be wise.

Yes, its the ACLU and everyone seems to hate them... just #include <spinfilter.h> when reading the links.

Let Bush Veto it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24099347)

Who needs the bill to pass? Bush, so he can continue doing what he was doing without fear of legal reprisals. Signing it isn't some sort of favor to Congress. They're not the ones who need it to pass, so they're the ones who should be dictating what goes in the bill.

Jump (0, Troll)

moseman (190361) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099457)

Try jumping from the 70th floor of a NY building and you may think otherwise.

Delaying tactic (1)

AnalogDiehard (199128) | more than 6 years ago | (#24099847)

By delaying the amendment to a later date, it effectively removes the executive opposition because the Bush dynasty will be out of office in 2009. The telcos want their immunity while a sympathetic government is in place, but that window expires in 2009.

Hah (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 6 years ago | (#24100075)

This just goes to show the increasing gap between what politicians think American's want and what we really want.
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