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Telecom Immunity Showdown in the Senate Today

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the come-and-see-the-hypocricy-in-the-system dept.

United States 221

CPeanutG writes "A make-or-break moment for telecom immunity has arrived — after months of back-room committee-meetings, the FISA bill will finally reach the Senate floor on Monday! Unfortunately, a previously-reported version of the bill that grants telecom immunity will be presented to the Senate on Monday morning. The clock is ticking. Write your Senators now."

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221 comments

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I did, but it won't matter. (4, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724772)

One of my senators is the once-RINO, now 'Independent' Joe Lieberman. That little rat-faced turd is a cancer on my state, but he has perfected pandering to key groups and so continues to be elected.

Phaf!

Whoops, meant DINO. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724844)

Must be the Freedom Derangement Syndrome.

Re:Whoops, meant DINO. (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724862)

It's hard to tell the difference.

Re:I did, but it won't matter. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725058)

He was a Democrat - not a Republican, and he's one of the only politicians that I can stand listening to.

He supports the Genocide of the Palestinians (-1, Troll)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725492)

For that, I cannot abide the man. That, and his cheer leading of the occupation of Iraq.

Moderators: Please mod all 5 parent posts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21725626)

All 5 parent posts are pure flamebait.

Re:Moderators: Please mod all 5 parent posts (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725904)

How the hell is pointing out that a politician is a Democrat and not a Republican "flamebait"? Or were you referring to my expression of an opinion that you disagree with?

Re:He supports the Genocide of the Palestinians (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725954)

What genocide of the Palestinians? I'm not exactly happy with their condition, but to call it a genocide is pretty stupid. Last I checked, their population is increasing faster than the Jewish population. That is hardly a genocide.

As for Iraq, I think that "pulling out" in terms of leaving the place a big mess is a big mistake - regardless of whether or not we should be there in the first place. We need to take responsibility and clean up after ourselves, not create a shitstorm and leave.

Re:I did, but it won't matter. (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725962)

That little rat-faced turd is a cancer on my state, but he has perfected pandering to key groups and so continues to be elected.
I thought it was interesting how he lost the Democratic primary, ran as an independent, and then won while the person who ran as the Republican got only about 5% of the votes. Lets you know who he is really representing.

Re:I did, but it won't matter. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726372)

Yes, it's a real shame when an entire state overwhelmingly embraces it's Senator.

He got only 33% of the Democrat vote, though, which is a shame since Lamont was a wing-nut. He got 70% of the Republican vote, and over 50% of the independents.

Nice exclamation point (2, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724776)

Now tell me why I should care.

Re:Nice exclamation point (5, Insightful)

abburdlen (131870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724910)

simply stated if you care about any of your rights it's important.
Fourth Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


While the executive branch is more at fault for strong arming the telecos I don't think the public is well served by granting amnesty for ignoring the law.

Re:Nice exclamation point (5, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724944)

While the executive branch is more at fault for strong arming the telecos I don't think the public is well served by granting amnesty for ignoring the law.

Also telling people "if we ask you to do something illegal that doesn't mean we won't punish you later" is a good way to make it harder for govt branches to get illegal help from private entities.

Re:Nice exclamation point (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21725024)

This basically like your local police officer, lacking the basis for a warrant, asking a someone else to break into your home to plant cameras. Hey, government, you cannot pay someone else to break the law for you!!

Which is really what these bills are about: It is not giving teleco's amnesty so much as giving the executive branch amnesty for asking someone else to do an illegal thing on their behalf.

Re:Nice exclamation point (5, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725376)

If we can't hold the executives responsible at least we can make sure noone will ever trust them again when they promise "don't worry, you won't be held responsible".

Re:Nice exclamation point (1, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725130)

simply stated if you care about any of your rights it's important.
Fourth Amendment: ...

While the executive branch is more at fault for strong arming the telecos I don't think the public is well served by granting amnesty for ignoring the law.


That would be an excellent point if the Bill of Rights dealt with what companies can and can not do. Unfortunately, it only deals with government. Citizens and corporations are not bound by the BoR.

So, sorry to say it, but if telco's freely give information they own to the feds without a warrant, then no law has been broken.

Re:Nice exclamation point (5, Insightful)

abburdlen (131870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725218)

ArcherB wrote:

That would be an excellent point if the Bill of Rights dealt with what companies can and can not do. Unfortunately, it only deals with government. Citizens and corporations are not bound by the BoR.

So, sorry to say it, but if telco's freely give information they own to the feds without a warrant, then no law has been broken.


oh okay. They didn't do anything illegal, we can drop the amnesty provisions, they don't need them. Right?

Re:Nice exclamation point (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725224)

But (as a AC posted in response to a sibling of your comment), the police can't just ask a private citizen (or even a P.I.) to illegally wiretap a phone just because they couldn't get a warrant. The person who placed said wiretap could(should) still face charges, and by all decent standards the "evidence" should be tossed as well (IANAL, YMMV)

Re:Nice exclamation point (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725290)

But (as a AC posted in response to a sibling of your comment), the police can't just ask a private citizen (or even a P.I.) to illegally wiretap a phone just because they couldn't get a warrant. The person who placed said wiretap could(should) still face charges, and by all decent standards the "evidence" should be tossed as well (IANAL, YMMV)

Sorry, AC's are below my threshold.

Charges? For what? Is there a law that says that telco's can't tap a line. For that matter what is the penalty for illegally obtaining evidence? IANAL either, but from what I gather, the penalty is that the evidence can't be used in a criminal case. Since the government's goal is espionage, not conviction, I don't see what the cost is.

 

Re:Nice exclamation point (4, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725384)

The point is that the telecom companies more than likely violated their stated policies regarding the privacy of their customers. This amnesty provision is stating that the victims of said privacy violations cannot sue the telecom companies.

If theses companies and their employees did nothing wrong, then they have nothing to hide . . . right? Why should the government pass a law granting them amnesty?

Re:Nice exclamation point (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725454)

there is a difference between tapping the line upon warrant and just opening the line for them to monitor absolutely everything. The former being okay, the latter being what is going on and being investigated. You know, kinda a big deal if someone goes through your mailbox every day before you get to it right? As opposed to just the handlers to make sure you get things.

Are you seriously asking this??? (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725926)

Charges? For what? Is there a law that says that telco's can't tap a line.


Are you trolling or what? What do you think?

Re:Nice exclamation point (3, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726244)

Is there a law that says that telco's can't tap a line.

Various eavesdropping laws and wiretap laws?

I don't see what the cost is.

Abuse of the power [guardian.co.uk] . Loss of trust in the government.

Re:Nice exclamation point (4, Interesting)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725230)

IIRC, if the gov't asks them to eavesdrop on a citizen, they become an agent of the state, and as such cannot legally abridge 4th amendment protections. The Government cannot end-run the protections by asking someone else to do it for them. If they could, the Constitution wouldn't be worth the paper its printed upon.

If on the other hand, the telco volunteered without prompting such information, then yes, there would be no violation. That is soooooooo not the case here.

Re:Nice exclamation point (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725400)

Provided it's legal for the telco to eavesdrop on calls, that is. Isn't there a law that states no conversation may be recorded without prior notification or consent?

Re:Nice exclamation point (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725774)

So, sorry to say it, but if telco's freely give information they own to the feds without a warrant, then no law has been broken.
If "no law has been broken" then why are they lobbying so hard to get amnesty from prosecution??

And why are the neocons, the administration and some cowardly Democrats (Harry Reid and Jay Rockefeller, specifically) fighting like their lives depended on it to make sure that language granting blanket retroactive amnesty (aka "ex post facto") gets included in this execrable "FISA" law?

Up until today, telecommunications companies would at least think twice before turning over phone records and allowing wide-ranging and unspecific wiretaps without warrants. After today, unless the very brave Senator Dodd from Connecticut is successful, any two-bit shitheel political operative will be able to get the private phone records of any American citizen without even asking a judge "mother may I".

It's really very simple. Our Constitution says that before the government (or an agency thereof, or some "contractor") can search your home, person, or effects, it has to convince a judge that there is a compelling legal reason to do so. It doesn't get much more reasonable (or simple) than that. There has long been a give-and-take between the government and the courts over this basic Constitutional requirement, where the government (Nixon) would go too far, then the Courts and the Congress would reel him in. The ultimate effect was a fairly robust protection of our rights. But in the last 7 years, there has been an effort to effect a permanent shredding of all limitations to what the government, particularly the executive branch (which means law enforcement, by the way), can do. The lasting effect of the Bush Administration will be a weakening of the rights of citizens.

Say, ArcherB, would you mind very much if someone who dislikes you were able to get recordings of every private phone call you've ever made?

If there's any group of people who understand this danger, it should be the readers of Slashdot. We also happen to be one of the groups that is best capable of putting up a fight to protect the Constitution.

Maybe if we put it this way: "The Bush Administration is trying to put a permanent root-kit on your system, and they will soon have superuser access." some of you might show a pulse on this issue. Or maybe: "The Bush Administration is running a cheat on the MMORPG that is your life. And it's a cheat that you will never be able to use." Now, does that spoil your fun, bubbie?

Re:Nice exclamation point (2, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726254)

The lasting effect of the Bush Administration will be a weakening of the rights of citizens.
Heil Bush! about sums it up...

Re:Nice exclamation point (1)

Xichekolas (908635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726368)

If "no law has been broken" then why are they lobbying so hard to get amnesty from prosecution??

Because with America's awesome legal system, you don't have to actually be guilty of anything to be punished for it. The lawsuits will drag out for years, cost them hundreds of thousands in legal fees, and probably millions more in settlements to make them go away. Amnesty just nips that all in the bud.

I'm not saying it's right, but it seems pretty clear to me what their motivation is.

See Section 222 of the Communications Act (3, Informative)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726072)

So, sorry to say it, but if telco's freely give information they own to the feds without a warrant, then no law has been broken.

Wrong. They might not be bound by the Bill of Rights, but there are other (federal!) laws that apply. Please see Section 222 of the Communications Act.

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode47/usc_sec_47_00000222----000-.html [cornell.edu]

Here, allow me to quote it for you.

Every telecommunications carrier has a duty to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information of, and relating to, other telecommunication carriers, equipment manufacturers, and customers, including telecommunication carriers reselling telecommunications services provided by a telecommunications carrier.

Re:Nice exclamation point (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726212)

Well, what about:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Of course, you're right that the Fourth Amendment doesn't directly apply to private parties. But I think it operates to constrain them indirectly.

When the Bill of Rights was written, there was no common law right of privacy. That didn't come until Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren wrote "The Right to Privacy", often called the most important law review article of all time. In it, they propose that a right to privacy is a natural theoretical outgrowth of other common law rights. But it is also a natural historical outgrowth of the Bill of Rights. Warren's motivation for writing the article was his annoyance at the popular press' intrusion into his private affairs (he was what used to be called "a swell" and apparently an object of fascination to less well-to-do readers). That vibrant and aggressive press was an outgrowth of the First Amendment.

It also turns out that the Bill of Rights has produced a nation of people who believe they have personal liberty. They may by-in-large be technically incorrect about the precise legal basis of that liberty, but that consensus itself is very powerful. It means that an ordinary, reasonable person looks at certain kinds of poking around in private affairs as outrageous. It produces a reasonable expectation of privacy which is relatively high, a fact which has profound implications in both Constitutional and common law.

Of course, the reason the Telcoms need immunity is they broke plain old Federal statutes, like the Wiretap Act and possibly the Pen Register Act. I would not be surprised if a creative lawyer might find a way to use the fact that they were helping agents of Uncle Sam break the law to multiply their pain. If they can find some way of calculating even a modest damage amount, they might go after them with Civil RICO, which allows private parties to extract additional penalties from racketeers. That would be sweet.

But when people cite the Bill of Rights in situations like this, they aren't making a technical, legal argument. They're saying we live in a society whose fundamental organizing principle is individual liberty, which is meaningless without some modicum of individual privacy. When vendors allow others to poke into your transactions, a reasonable person believes his expectation of privacy has been violated. And that matters a great deal.

Re:Nice exclamation point (0, Flamebait)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725206)

The Bush/Cheney paranoia is exactly what this amendment was designed to thwart. I do not believe that the Congress has the authority to make this bill pass, as it prima facie violates the US Constitution. Bush can grant a limited amount of immunity, but the amount of immunity that can be granted to civil liability is unknown and has little precedent to go by.

It's my fervent hope that we can live freely again, and not be subject to the whimsies of madmen.

Re:Nice exclamation point (0, Flamebait)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725258)

What liberal blog did you copy that crap from?

There must be some industry protections (3, Informative)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725936)

Here's the problem, from the FISA as it stands:

An aggrieved person, other than a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a) or (b)(1)(A) of this title, respectively, who has been subjected to an electronic surveillance or about whom information obtained by electronic surveillance of such person has been disclosed or used in violation of section 1809 of this title shall have a cause of action against any person who committed such violation and shall be entitled to recover--
(a) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages of $1,000 or $100 per day for each day of violation, whichever is greater;
(b) punitive damages; and
(c) reasonable attorney's fees and other investigation and litigation costs reasonably incurred.


OK. Let's do some math here. It was the goal of the NSA to make records of every phone call made within the US and who it was to and from. Let's be conservative and say they only succeeded in recording the phone logs of 10% of the population and were in violation for 4 years.

(300000000/10)((4)365)(100) = $4,380,000,000,000.

Over four trillion dollars in civil liability, and that's being conservative. Even AT&T can't absorb that much. Think about what would happen if AT&T, Verizon and South Central Bell all went bankrupt at once. Think about the stock market. Think about the mutual funds which presently hold telecom stock and all the pension funds and non-profit endowments that are currently invested in them. Think about trying to get a job in the tech sector when you're competing with all the unemployed telecom workers. Think about broadband deployment in unserved areas for sure.

Knocking out communications infrastructure is something invading forces do. It's not something that governments are supposed to let happen.

There are some executives who need to have their heads on pikes, but the industry itself needs protection.

Re:There must be some industry protections (4, Interesting)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726228)

Knocking out communications infrastructure is something invading forces do. It's not something that governments are supposed to let happen.

There are some executives who need to have their heads on pikes, but the industry itself needs protection.

Why? Why should the government bail out yet another set of mega-corporations? AT&T, Verizon and South Central Bell all going bankrupt at once will have an effect on the economy, but those are the breaks. Or do you think big corporations should be immune from prosecution just because of the financial effect it might have on some people?


Also, making these bastards answer for their crimes won't knock out the communications infrastructure. It will still be there, but AT&T, Verizon and South Central Bell will have to sell theirs for pennies on the dollar to telcos that didn't violate the law. And, if there is some disruption in communications, maybe people will for once stop watching staring at the tv all the time and actually pay attention to who is running things. It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned.

Re:Nice exclamation point (2, Informative)

e-scetic (1003976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725876)

Now tell me why I should care.

The issue at hand is whether companies should be granted immunity for performing illegal and criminal actions if they are asked to do so by the government.

Another issue is the government should not be allowed to amend laws to make something legal, after the fact, just because the government did something illegal.

During the Nuremberg and other war crimes trials many people claimed they weren't responsible for the atrocities they committed on the grounds that they were just following orders. This is the exact same thing. There are always industries propping up criminal regimes and this is no different. In this case the telcos KNOW they're doing something illegal and unconstitutional, spying on every citizen, and so they're trying for a "get out of jail free" card.

Goodbye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21724794)

Goodbye Liberty and Freedom, we knew ye not long enough. Soon our President will be King, and the sheep will continue to do nothing...

Misread title (3, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724832)

I read that as "Telecom Immunity Shot Down". Too bad...

Well, let's see (2, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724868)

Coleman? Yeah, calling him is going to do a lot of good.
Klobuchar? Voted for FISA last summer. Blue dog Dem who votes against the constitution more often than not.

Democracy, 21st century style, in action.

Re:Well, let's see (2, Informative)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725822)

Maybe, but I have helped to change a few people's votes here. The best thing to do is get enough people to call in to let them know this is a decision that would force many people to consider them unelectable. In other words, they go into the anyone but them box. I am not saying it is easy, but is can be done.

Businesses may have the dollars, but the people have the votes, and grass roots can work - albeit with time.

InnerWeb

Senate contact info (5, Informative)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724894)

Re:Senate contact info (4, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724988)

If the telecoms monitor everything you email and call about... What's to stop them from monitoring/blocking/listing you for contacting your senator in opposition to their immunity?

Not to scare anyone, just thinking... This is one time where pen and paper would have been the only way to go.

Re:Senate contact info (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725310)

If the vote was today, paper mail would arrive late. Paper mail is a little harder to ignore though.

Anthrax (3, Informative)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725568)

After anthrax was sent to Senators Leahy and Daschle the mail procedures were change such that paper mail wont reach the Senate office until months too late. In a fight such as this volume everything. Contacting a Senator through his senate web site is the fastest, most convenient way, or telephone.

Re:Senate contact info (2, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725662)

What's to stop them from monitoring/blocking/listing you for contacting your senator in opposition to their immunity?

Life is not a conspiracy movie.

It works differently when there are no writers trying to make everything interesting for an audience. It's a lot more real, with people going to work and doing normal things rather than everyone either trying to take over the world or stop you from taking over the world.

You should consider joining us here in reality sometime. It's less interesting, but you get to be an adult and make your own decisions instead of following the writers' thoughts from one fictional plot point to another.

Re:Senate contact info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21725914)

I thought the writers where on strike... Which is why my life is so boring right now

Re:Senate contact info (1)

CensorshipDonkey (1108755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726142)

No, that's ridiculous. Who cares if the telecoms know I'm writing my senator? Cut me off? Secretly downgrade my service?

Re:Senate contact info (3, Insightful)

j.sanchez1 (1030764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725142)

Thanks for the contact info. The EFF site link in the summary has a form letter on it. Fill out your information and the EFF will send it to the appropriate senators for you. Took me less than a minute, and it was sent to both my senators.

Re:Senate contact info (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725716)

If anyone is interested, the bill is likely to pass, but Chris Dodd [rawstory.com] may be stage a filibuster.

Also the house passed a version of the bill without immunity, so even if this does pass it isn't quite done yet.

Heard on the radio this morning (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724920)

A glimmer of hope. Some senators are saying that while the telecoms should get some protection for how they helped after 11-sept that it shouldn't be complete immunity and it shouldn't be completely retroactive.

Meaning that there are some people still holding out that total blank slate is wrong but some protections be grated for some limited period in the past. If that's the compromise that has to be made to get it through the senate to reach the inevitable veto, it's still better than saying that they're going to bend over completely.

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (3, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725084)

That's not hope. That's a distraction. The simple fact is that if you work as an agent of the government, no matter what capacity, then the constitution must apply. But we don't even require that the government itself operate under its constitutional restrictions, so what does it matter? There should be NO immunity! Ever! As the authoritarian apologists tell tell us, "If you don't like the law as it stands, then change it."

All we are is farts in the wind

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725192)

But the government also works on compromise. I don't agree with compromising the constitution but if it's the only way to move the bill ahead with the other parts you need/want is to include this partial protection carrot then it has to be done. Then we have to have faith in the judicial system and that it will reach the courts and that section be thrown out over being unconstitutional.

Politics isn't the cut and dry thing we make it out to be. Sometimes we need to agree to deals we know to be dirty to accomplish our goals, means to an ends, and hope the system works correctly all the way through. If we have to carrot this protection amendment to get a FISA bill that "fixes" domestic wiretapping to not be a mess of illegal fishing, then so be it.

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725352)

Making dirty deals to accomplish your goals reduces the "quality" of the goal. "Yes, we'll punish the offenders, but you must eat 10,000 babies first". Sorry, that's exactly why the democrats are no damn good after the promises they made. They're making unnecessary compromises to to get a bill passed, and only for appearances. I'd rather have NO bill than a bad one. No immunity for the telcos, no more money for the war, close down Gitmo, stop violating our rights! Stall it until they get it right. We've compromised enough. No more. If we vote for a change, we damn well better get some. If the bill includes any immunity, then it's a bad bill and should not pass. That we must demand from these people. If we don't, then quit pussyfooting around and just make Bush emperor for life. Stop stringing people along giving false hopes for any real change. 45 years is more than long enough.

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725544)

Yes, we'll punish the offenders, but you must eat 10,000 babies first"

I don't think anyone would agree to anything that drastic, but:
Only interceptions between 11-Sept-2001 and 13-Sept-2001 for known terror suspects as of 1-Jan-2008 shall be granted limited legal protections

That isn't the total immunity that the Administration is pushing for but may be enough to get the needed votes to get it through. Yes, it leaves a large window to make an 11th hour list of terror suspects, but this is just blue sky wording.

then quit pussyfooting around and just make Bush emperor for life
And who the hell is saying make Bush Emperor for life? The politicians are just working the the ebb and flow needed to get things done. It's not pretty, but, that's why not everyone is willing to work in public office. Not everyone is going to agree with everyone else, but if there is going to be any progress there can't be two parties playing hard line politics.

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725984)

Not everyone is going to agree with everyone else, but if there is going to be any progress there can't be two parties playing hard line politics.
Maybe not, but it would be nice if at least one party would uphold the Constitution. Isn't that kind of the bare minimum that elected representatives are supposed to do?

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726070)

First off, the whole issue of terrorism in this context is pure distraction from the guy picking your pocket. If we were serious about going after "terrorists", then there wouldn't be the existing unconditional subsidies to radical Zionists, and South American, Asian, African dictators that just happen to be our "friends" giving their resources at bargain basement prices (of course if they don't, we will just go in and take them). It's ruse.Ignore it, and let's cut to the chase.

The politicians are just working the the ebb and flow needed to get things done.

No they aren't. They are pandering to big money for big "contributions". That is what will determine the fate of the bill. The flow has been entirely in one direction. And the politicians have one interest in mind, their own. People running for public office are doing it for personal gain, not any kind of community service. And we fall for every trick in the book in the hopes of skimming a little ourselves. The result being lying, thieving bastards in high office. Winning at all costs is no way to run a circus. Not to be offensive, but that statement of yours just sounds so much like appeasement, as in being an apologist for them, and makes me just a bit nauseous. The theme there is a little too common. Please, stop. They don't deserve the time of day. Not any more. All progress came to a screeching halt in 1968, and somebody forgot to put a rock behind the wheels to keep the truck from rolling backwards down the hill, and here come the cliff. And if you don't apply the brakes or get out of the vehicle, you'll be carried right over the edge along with it.

...but if there is going to be any progress there can't be two parties playing hard line politics.

Yes, well, the key word there is "playing". Because that's all they are doing.and we don't have two parties. We have a cheap soap opera to keep our minds off of being raped by these people. Let's get a real opposition party in there and see what happens. Ain't gonna happen. Too many people are too willing to give them "one more chance". How many more times? Couldn't tell you. But the time is now to end this. The primaries haven't begun yet. The incumbent party must be removed like the cancer that it is. I guess I just don't know how to tell you that the public's or the country's or the world's interest is just not on the agenda. Neither theirs, nor ours apparently. We are dealing entirely with self interest. That is what providing the world we live in today.

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725394)

But the government also works on compromise.

This government -- particularly the Administration and their enablers -- works on their personal version of compromise. Which essentially means that they just keep demanding what they want in different ways, and if they don't get what they want, they find a way to simply take it. Then, when necessary, they hide their thefts behind "state secrets", "executive privilege", and the all-inclusive "national security".

Re:Heard on the radio this morning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21725264)

That's not hope. That's politics.

Some senators get political cover for "defending the constitution"

The telecoms get a new set of rules, so they can get the courts busy deciding what the new rules mean for the rest of our lifetimes.

Anything new that the telecoms can throw under the wheels of the courts amounts to a blank check for the telecoms.

Without cash good luck... (4, Insightful)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724954)

If anyone thinks this bill is going to be modified to eliminate immunity for the telecom companies I have some beach side land in Arizona that you might be interested in.

The telecom industry pays well for the politicians that they hire. No amount of complaining by us or anyone else like us will modify the votes of those politicians. Unless you can provide more money than the telecom industry there is little chance of influencing this bill and getting it changed.

Writing won't work... Try this (5, Informative)

CambodiaSam (1153015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724982)

I was at a conference a few years ago where a former US Senator told us exactly how to get the attention of your congressman. Sending an email is a black hole and won't get noticed. A hand written letter is much better, but it has to go through all of that Anthrax screening and will probably get delayed 6-8 weeks. The solution? Faxing.

Here's what you you:

1. Hand write the letter of your dreams and include these aspects:
    a. Make sure it's not overly emotional
    b. Mention how you will be "posting the response in our place of business" near the end
    c. Mention how many voters currently work in your office and that you are all anxiously awaiting the response
    d. Include a response fax number, email, and more
2. Fax the letter to the congressman's office (you can usually find their number online)
3. Watch for your reply!

Apparently this method will get your letter to the top of the pile since it's personalized, instantly delivered via an underutilized technology, and it mentions votes.

Enjoy!

You forgot 1e (2, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725672)

1e. Mention how much you and your co-workers could donate as campaign contributions next year. Half ;)

Chris Dodd leads the way (5, Informative)

Liberaltarian (1030752) | more than 6 years ago | (#21724984)

Thankfully, Chris Dodd (D-Jowls) will be leading a filibuster in the Senate. Let's hope other Senators join and support him (call your congresscritters!).

Here's a good outline [dailykos.com] of what will be going down.

Some of the supporters... (2, Informative)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726174)

I don't know if there are more who support this, but look at the letter here [senate.gov] to see a list of Senators who are also a part of Senator Dodd's cause. I don't know who among them will be involved directly in the filibuster, but they all support the Judiciary Committee's version of the FISA revisions.

Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725002)

This is just a gimmick used by those in government to push the issue away from the real issue: government's unnatural immunity against committing crimes against the People.

Seriously, I could care less about the telecoms. That's not my worry. When government tells you to jump, you jump. Gitmo is an ugly hotel for those who refuse. If the State forced me to release my logs, what can I do to fight it? Call the EFF or the IJ [ij.org] ? That'll help, maybe 3 years down the road.

No, the real issue is the one most geeks and freedom-lovers ignore: that our elected candidates continue to violate their oath to uphold the Constitution. The President, the Senators, and almost all of the Congressional Representatives save 2 have violated this oath. The penalty should be the equivalent to the most extreme penalty available for the greatest crime that specific level of government can enforce.

Stop turning the issue to the telecoms, who are merely shills for the State. The true crime has been committed by every branch of government, and it is a crime that must be investigated. Unfortunately, the investigators are themselves, so the crime will be ignored, with the anger pointed at businesses who will likely get what they deserve.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725046)

There's only one presidential candidate who will put an end to this crap. No need to mention his name; he's voted against it for 30 years as a Congressmen and was just given $6 million in a single day by 50,000 Americans who are tired of all this crap.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725186)

Yeah, but what hope has Dennis Kucinich have of ever getting elected?

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21725884)

I'd vote for his wife.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (3, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725950)

Yeah, but what hope has Dennis Kucinich have of ever getting elected?

GP poster meant Ron Paul. You haven't been reading social networking news recently, have you?

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21726086)

You're not accusing Rocketship Underpant of being a Paultard now, are you?

Swoosh (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726046)

Went the joke over the moderator's heads.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726138)

Yeah, but he's also opposed to publicly funded sidewalks.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725170)

How is this flamebait? I totally disagree with the post, but it's certainly not flamebait. If you don't like the post, either respond to it or leave it alone.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725292)

It's just me, I always get flamebait mods on my posts. There are a lot of people here with cushy government tech jobs, and they don't like the idea of having to compete in the market that would exist should my "utopia" come to fruition.

Luckily, there are many more freedom-inspired moderators today than 4 years ago. I think I had the worst Karma for a good year with basically the same opinion.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725790)

That's right, dada, people are threatened by your genius. Except for you, a selfless defender of the Rugged Individual, we are all spineless pawns of The Man. Nobody could possibly have real issues with your proposals, it must be self interest. We know that we are miserable failures who can't compete in the real world, like you.

Not that you deserved a down mod for your post. Some people can be assholes. But your arrogance, and willingness to ascribe the basest of motives and lack of ability to all who oppose you reveals you to be the very kind of authoritarian you purport to hate. You don't want freedom for individuals, you want everyone to do what you say without question.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726276)

But your arrogance, and willingness to ascribe the basest of motives and lack of ability to all who oppose you reveals you to be the very kind of authoritarian you purport to hate. You don't want freedom for individuals, you want everyone to do what you say without question.
May the mods shower you with +1 Insightfuls.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (0, Troll)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726378)

No, it's those people with the cushy government jobs.

They really hate it when people bring up Gitmo as an example of the erosion of the rights of the average American. The less then 400 non-American detainees at Gitmo get treated better then the average American in a state run jail. Our soldiers would be more then happy with the same accomodations when captured as opposed to being deheaded on the intertubes.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

JordanH (75307) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725886)

I think the part where he said:

When government tells you to jump, you jump. Gitmo is an ugly hotel for those who refuse.
could be qualified as flamebait. I've not heard that there is anyone in Gitmo for refusing to "jump". Of course, many are there for reasons that are unclear or classified, so it's hard to disprove. Nevertheless, a comment like that is meant to attract a flame war, not real discussion.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (3, Insightful)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725314)

"Seriously, I could care less about the telecoms. That's not my worry. When government tells you to jump, you jump. Gitmo is an ugly hotel for those who refuse. If the State forced me to release my logs, what can I do to fight it? Call the EFF or the IJ? That'll help, maybe 3 years down the road."

Forced compliance which the Telcos are anxious to productize? And why didn't Qwest wind up in Gitmo when they said "no"?

No, these are sleazy companies who deserve everything we throw at them. Further, the President won't release info on what he did, but we can pull it out of the telecoms. We can then impeach him based on that info. And ultimately, telling companies that they're above the law means that we only get more AT&Ts and fewer Qwests. We need to reward Qwest's behavior, so that we see corporations say "no" more often.

Hey, let's give Qwest Michigan! Merry Christmas, Qwest! You were a good little boy, so you get a present. AT&T, you get a lump of coal.

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

krunk7 (748055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725344)

And whom will testify against them if the telecoms have immunity?

Re:Why are we concerned over the telecoms? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725364)

The only way to fight crimes committed by the government is to use the court system. Yet you are saying we should ignore the fact that they are about to pass a law saying that they are not subject to the ruling of the courts. That would eliminate our only way to hold them liable. The telecoms are just the current battle front: And one that could land a lot of higher-up politicians in jail. If we lose this one, we probably lose the war - that includes Gitmo. This is no gimmick: This is the real thing.

We are concerned over the telecoms because... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726002)

We should be concerned over the telecoms so they can't be bullied by the NSA into doing evil. I agree, it's the Executive who makes them do it. But that's what the balance of powers is for, so one branch of the govt can't abuse that power. This isn't just about punishing the abusers, but also to PREVENT that abuse. If telecoms can be legally punished for following orders (even if they go against the Law), they'll think twice before doing it. And that's a good thing. After all, what's left of a gang leader without the gang?

Free Joe ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21726172)

I believe that Joseph Nacchio, CEO of Qwest communications, was prosecuted and sent to prison for securities fraud because he refused to cooperate and help Bush spy on American citizens. Ed Whitacre and Dave Dorman of AT&T are the real criminals. Free Joe!

Two things might happen (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725022)

First, we get more proof that the Republicans and Democrats aren't really all that different when it comes to pandering to lobbyists and being willing to grab power (don't forget a lot of the worst things passed in the last 7 years were passed almost unanimously). Second, the telecoms might not get immunity. Both work out pretty well for the people.

the only common sense reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21725094)

I hate to be the only one who is thinking critically on slashdot but here goes. If the government is compelling the nation's telecom industries to provide customer information to the government, then it seems only reasonable to protect them from financial ruin as a result of said action. Telecoms are not volunteering customer information. They are being "asked". And when I say "asked", I mean they are being asked the same way a mafia boss would "ask" for your help with 2 goons with guns standing in the background leering at you. That is not really a request. It is a demand (albeit a polite demand) from someone who has the power and inclination to hurt you if you refuse. This legislation does not remove your ability to challenge the validity of the authority on which the info was obtained. It only keeps you from suing the telecom company. This forces litigation to be pursued against the requester (the government) of said info rather than the provider of the information. This seems logical to me since government has infinitely invisible ways to exert leverage on private businesses. It is unreasonable to expect a business to stand up to the fury of an already intrusive entity that has the power to greatly punish an industry or business with a simple stroke of the pen. I would much rather see this law go through and then have the legitimacy of the request challenged in court.

Re:the only common sense reaction (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725154)

Some of the more outrageous requests were refused. The telecoms can say no, but they chose not to.

If they are granted immunity for their illegal acts this time, why wouldn't they expect the same treatment next time?

Re:the only common sense reaction (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725214)

Qwest refused. Supposedly they were subsequently punished for it. Whether they were or not is the subject of a court case. However:

If they were punished, not punishing the complaint telcos for doing whatever the government says sends a message to the compliant telcos that subservience and submission to illegal government orders is in their best interests.

If they weren't punished, supposedly there is no reason why the compliant telcos should have obeyed the illegal government orders. In which case, where is the moral argument for not punishing a group of corporations who illegally helped the government subvert the constitution of the United States?

Re:the only common sense reaction (4, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725608)

When the Nazis came "asking" people for support those people weren't let off by the Allies afterwards. That established the rule: You must not follow illegal orders or you will be punished.

no immunity? (1)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725100)

I think that not granting immunity would be unfair to those telco employees who would be convicted. I do think that any immunity granted should be only to the telco employees, and should only be for past incidents. Big brother should be slapped down, but those he coerced should be let off the hook this time and this time only.

Re:no immunity? (4, Interesting)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725250)

I think that not granting immunity would be unfair to those telco employees who would be convicted. I do think that any immunity granted should be only to the telco employees, and should only be for past incidents. Big brother should be slapped down, but those he coerced should be let off the hook this time and this time only.
Yes, but it was THOSE telco employees who had the authority to act for the Company in these matters and handed over the information WITHOUT A WARRANT. The people approached for the information would have known what the rules were, and decided to (or were coerced into) providing the information without a warrant. If they were unsure on the legalities (while being coerced), then then company Legal should have been bought in.

Only by these individuals being held accountable in some way, will it send a message to business that individuals acting on behalf of the organization have to act within the law. If they were 'coerced' using illegal threats, then the individuals within the Govt agency responsible should ALSO be held accountable. And this may weigh into the severity of the punishment the company reps receive.

Until INDIVIDUALS are held accountable, then Companies and large corporations will continue to break the law, presumably hoping the fine isn't too severe when/if they eventually get caught.

Re:no immunity? (3, Interesting)

tommyatomic (924744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725282)

Corporations are immune from crimal proscecution it is only civil charges that can be filed against them which bears financial penalties. IANAL But I am fairly certain unless you murder someone or steal something on the behest of your corperation your pretty much free and clear; its the corperation that is responsible for your actions that they dictate. The only people who are harmed by making corporations copable for their own actions are the shareholders which hopefully will encourage shareholders to only promote people with better ethics or better common sense in regards to covering for their lack of ethics with pseudo ethical behavior. To the telco employee's concerned about criminal issues repeat these words "They forced me to do it. I didnt want to spice that fiber but the well-being of my career and my family was at stake. The CEO MADE ME DO IT." Unless a tech/installer/engineer starts using stated unconstitionally installed wiretaps illegally on their own they are in no danger of proscecution.

Re:no immunity? (1)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726268)

What's going to be really unfair is all the teleco employees who are out of a job because of executives who set their companies up for trillians of dollars in liability in exchange for political favors.

The sections of FISA law dealing with violations and penalties is some of the most clearly written sections of federal code that I've ever read. Without congressional intervention of some kind, either immunity or huge bailout, this could well bankrupt the whole industry. Google and Qwest would snap up a lot of the rubble but it would still be pretty ugly for the whole tech industry for a while.

"your senator" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21725132)

I don't get it.

Crooks and Liars (3, Informative)

christurkel (520220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725212)

http://www.crooksandliars.com/ [crooksandliars.com] is running a thread where you can post a letter to be read by Senator Dodd during his filibuster.

Goverment interfernece. (1)

KenRH (265139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725244)

I am not from the US of A but to me it seems a paradoks that the republicans who in prinsiple is the least favorable to the goverment interfering in much of anything is the one most favorable to them rolling over the citizens privacy.

do they (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725246)

Have they found the hidden immunity idol?

Took me less time then a slashdot post. (1)

krunk7 (748055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725286)

Don't be a pud fucker, call your senator.

too late (3, Interesting)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21725494)

It's too late to do anything at this point. Pretty much once it hits the floor, everybody known which way they're going to vote... If they even get your letters before the vote.

Not to say it isn't worth trying, but don't get your hopes up

We all know how this is going to turn-out... (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726024)

The Democrats will cave again to the mythical, all-mighty filibuster. It doesn't seem like the Democrats got as much mileage out of that threat as the Republicans are. So are the Democrats spineless or is something else going on? It's especially pathetic because the public could really get behind this one and it's an opportunity for the Democrats to make it seem Republicans are beholden to special interests and corrupt (despite the fact that many Democrats are just as bad). And this I think brings us to the real issue. The Democrats say they want to prosecute the Telcos but they don't really because they are just as owned. So instead they blame the bogey-man, filibuster.

Corruption and cowardice abound. Pathetic.

Re:We all know how this is going to turn-out... (1)

CensorshipDonkey (1108755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21726214)

The Democrats will cave again to the mythical, all-mighty filibuster

Pray that they do, because it's the Democrats filibustering bad legislation this time (instead of Republicans filibustering good legislation). The Democrats are trying to block the bill with telecom amnesty presented by Democratic Senate leadership (Harry Reid).

Letters to your Senator (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21726048)

Having worked as an intern on the hill (the ones who actually sort all of your letters, and faxes), I can tell you that unless you personally know someone up there your letter (by itself) means little, no matter how it is sent, most likely it will be logged into a database program and assigned a basic form letter reply.

A letter writing campaign may change a Congressman's mind if he gets enough correspondence from registered voters in his district, but a Senator isnt going to change his mind on a major issue like this due to correspondence from voters. Still though its good to voice your opinion.

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