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US Senate Votes Immunity For Telecoms

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the not-even-a-wrist-slap dept.

Privacy 623

Ktistec Machine writes to let us know that the telecom companies are one step closer to getting off the hook for their illegal collusion with the US government. Today the US Senate passed, by a filibuster-proof majority of 67 to 31, a revised FISA bill that grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that helped the government illegally tap American network traffic. If passed by both houses and signed by the President, this would effectively put an end to the many lawsuits against these companies (about 40 have been filed). The House version of the bill does not presently contain an immunity provision. President Bush has said he will veto any such bill that reaches his desk without the grant of immunity. We've discussed the progress of the immunity provision repeatedly.

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Stunned (5, Insightful)

cmefford (810011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396596)

Well, that about wraps it up for (insert whatever right you thought you had).

Re:Stunned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396726)

Since this is supposedly about the "war on terror"...

Does this now make them legitimate targets in said "war"?

Just wondering.

Re:Stunned (4, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397062)

I keep telling you guys to practice your "Heil Bush!". Yet I keep getting mocked and voted/modded down. One of these days I'll be going "I told you so!".

Re:Stunned (5, Informative)

Shining Celebi (853093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397160)

Well, that about wraps it up for (insert whatever right you thought you had).

It's not over yet. It goes back to the House and into conferencing. The House is adamantly against telecom immunity; last week, the House leadership sent a letter to the Senate condemning it. I believe there's a strong chance that telecom immunity won't be able to make it out of the House, but it might be a good thing to call your Representatives (and Senators, since they're on the conferencing committee too.)

protest? chance of stopping this? (2, Insightful)

notque (636838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396640)

Is there any chance the House will stop this? Anyone want to march to the Capitol?!

Re:protest? chance of stopping this? (1)

Zidane-The-Dom (905967) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396794)

in all honesty, i doubt even a big-ass protest march would work. if the government wants to get off scot free, they can, they make the rules. you can march and vote and do whatever you like, but in the end, i bet damn sure they can have this pushed through into law before it comes time to vote them out.

Re:protest? chance of stopping this? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396810)

Is there any chance the House will stop this?

Pffft, the Senate failed us and you think the House won't? The House has become a rubber stamp for whatever the party leadership wants in the last few years -- under both the Democrats and the Republicans. So no, unless Nancy Pelosi herself is personally opposed to this I would assume that it will pass easily.

Fucking Republicans impeached Clinton even though they knew full well they couldn't convict him -- and yet the Democrats don't even have the backbone to stand up to a veto threat by the White House before they knuckle over. Isn't there some middle ground between being the White House bitch and impeachment?

Re:protest? chance of stopping this? (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396906)

Protest marches don't work when the media is controlled.

Last year, there was one big-ass march [unitedforpeace.org] in D.C. protesting the war.

What media deigned to even report on it put the attendance at 10% of the true number.

March all you like...it doesn't matter. We lost this country when we lost the independence of the media.

Re:protest? chance of stopping this? (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397022)

We lost this country when we lost the independence of the media.

Don't tell me that you are naive enough to think that the media was ever independent to begin with. Ever hear about yellow journalism [wikipedia.org] ? Ever read about the origins of the Spanish-American war?

The media has never been independent. That shouldn't stop people from fighting for change.

Re:protest? chance of stopping this? (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397102)

What media deigned to even report on it put the attendance at 10% of the true number.


How about, instead of crying that everybody is lying about the number of people who believe in your personal pet projects, you just get those millions and millions of people to vote. The way the system works is, that basically, what the majority is least annoyed by happens. If your personal causes aren't important to everybody else, it doesn't matter how much protesting you do as protests are just a way of saying "we lost so we want to change the rules." Which violates one of the core principles of the country. Does the majority come up with stuff that may be considered (by some) bad? You bet it does. But guess what, that's how it's supposed to work. It's not about creating a billion private utopias, it's about creating a country where the majority gets to live the lives the majority wants.

Pardon me? (4, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396914)

Is the only reason why Bush cares so much that Congress grant this immunity instead of just issuing his own Presidential Pardon for the telecoms that he can't pardon them for ongoing and future violations?

Re:Pardon me? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397072)

just issuing his own Presidential Pardon for the telecoms that he can't pardon them for ongoing and future violations

Unless I'm completely mistaken, the President has zero authority to issue a "pardon" for a civil action. The teleco's aren't being charged with criminal violations of the law (that would require the Government to actually enforce the laws...), they are being sued by individuals and groups seeking discovery to find out what actually happened and possible monetary reparations.

Re:protest? chance of stopping this? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396984)

Who voted for Mr. Bush twice?
I doubt it was all done by Diebold machines :)

And the beat goes on. (1, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396644)

Welcome to the Police State.

That comes later (1)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396822)

We're enjoying the fruits of corptocracy today.

Nah. (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397064)

I'd trust Sting long before I'd trust a politician.

Re:And the beat goes on. (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397150)

Welcome to the Police State.
I know! I had to pass through four armed checkpoints on my way to work today. Two of them searched my trunk... and I don't mean the hatch-back of my car, if you catch my drift. Don't even get me started about the "secret police" that searched my house this morning at 3:00am looking for Obama literature. Thank God I got rid of that! Oh, and I expect I'll get to meet you in the reeducation camp later this week. We all know that you are not allowed to post stuff like that in a police state. /sarc off

You really shouldn't make "police state" claims like that. If you think this is a police state, you obviously have no idea what a true police state is. Displaying such an obscene level of ignorance is probably not in your best interest.

I've seen police states. I've had to pass through checkpoints and answer questions about where I was going, why I was going there and when I plan on being back. The US is not a police state.

The Republicans lied; the filibusters had a deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396654)

They said that if they included a few provisions that were favorable to the Bush administration, but reasonable and not very damaging, they would take out that provision! Why didn't they?

Also, how did Hillary "Yes, Tim, national security is more important than human rights" Clinton vote?

(too lazy to register)

Re:The Republicans lied; the filibusters had a dea (3, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396870)

Also, how did Hillary "Yes, Tim, national security is more important than human rights" Clinton vote?

She didn't. Couldn't be bothered apparently. Interestingly enough both McCain and Obama found the time to vote. Here's the vote itself [senate.gov] if you are wondering how your Senators voted on it.

At least my other Senator (Schemer) had the balls to vote against it. For all the good it did.

Re:The Republicans lied; the filibusters had a dea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396972)

Yeah, why did we elect her last time? We knew full well she was going to be spending more time campaigning than doing her job.

Re:The Republicans lied; the filibusters had a dea (0)

clem.dickey (102292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397038)

The parent is the vote on the final bill. Here [senate.gov] is the vote on the Dodd-Feingold amendment. A "Yea" is a vote for immunity. In my state, Diane Feinstein (D-CA) continued her near-perfect voting record against the Bill of Rights. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opposed immunity.

Re:The Republicans lied; the filibusters had a dea (2, Informative)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397166)

I think you mistyped that. In your link, a "yea" is a vote to strike the provisions granting immunity.

Clinton abstained (3, Informative)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396888)

She decided not to jeopardize her campaign and just didn't vote at all. Obama voted against immunity. Most "blue dog" democrats voted for immunity.

Who voted for it? (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396658)

I checked Thomas [loc.gov] , the US Library of Congress's website (and possibly the most badly organized website on the internet), and I couldn't find who voted for it. Anyone have a link?

Re:Who voted for it? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396778)

Re:Who voted for it? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397056)

I love my Senator, Sherrod Brown. He gets it much more than just about anyone on the Hill. When he was in the House he was on the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet and he consistently voted for what I believe most slashdot folks would consider the side of geeks and the consumer. I now understand why some Senators get elected so many times, they really are in sync with their constituents.

Re:Who voted for it? (5, Informative)

bconway (63464) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396780)

Re:Who voted for it? (1)

dominator (61418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396896)

Hillary Clinton couldn't be bothered to show up

Which is kinda aggravating, considering that you'd think she'd be in the area doing last-minute campaigning for today's 3 "Potomac Primaries"...

Re:Who voted for it? (2, Informative)

10e6Steve (545457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396818)

Is this it [senate.gov]

To strike it, Obama voted for it, Clinton did not vote, McCain against it.

Re:Who voted for it? (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396980)

To strike it, Obama voted for it, Clinton did not vote, McCain against it.
That's a little confusing, since the meaning of "it" changes during your sentence. Obama voted to strike the immunity measure, McCain voted to keep the immunity measure, and Clinton was too busy kissing babies to vote.

Obama voted to stop immunity; Clinton absent. (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397110)

On the Democratic side, both are in the middle of an intense campaign, but one of them took time out to turn up and vote against the grain to stop this travesty. The other (read: Clinton) couldn't be bothered.

Semantics (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396664)

You keep using the word "illegal". I do not think you know what it means.

        Brett

Re:Semantics (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396852)

You keep misquoting Vincini. I do not think he said what you think he said.

Re:Semantics (2, Interesting)

peas_n_carrots (1025360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396878)

"illegal" in the vernacular means against the law. The wiretaps *were* illegal. If the bill passes, it may not be illegal in the future. That doesn't diminish the fact that it was and currently still is illegal.

Perhaps the better question would be to ask yourself if you know what illegal means.

Re:Semantics (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396882)

As in against the law, you know, violating the 4th Amendment.

Re:Semantics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396974)

Your right, it wasn't illegal wire taps, they were unconstitutional wiretaps. The difference is important.

Re:Semantics (2, Interesting)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397030)

I may not know what 'illegal' means, but I know that if you have to pass a law to make it legal, then it was illegal.

Don't I feel suckered (4, Insightful)

bconway (63464) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396668)

I helped vote in this Democratic congress under the belief they would change things, and the best they could do was come up with 31 votes? Business as usual, I guess.

Not enough of a change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396922)

I admit that it's disappointing that there hasn't been more of a change.

Still, it may be worth noting that a majority of democrats voted against, while a majority of republicans voted for it [washingtonpost.com] . Interestingly, Obama was against, while Hillary simply avoided voting. I guess she's too busy campaigning or something.

Well, well! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396670)

All you Americans are cock-smoking tea-bagging pedophiles in any case. Spineless weenies whining about their ELECTED officials! Cry a river of tiny violins!

House (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396672)

The House could still stop it by not passing the conference committee bill but I'm not holding my breath.

lets hope the house has a pair (1)

weopenlatest (748393) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396674)

...cause we clearly cannot rely on our Senators to protect our constitutional rights, at least when there's good money pushing against those rights. It's not a law yet though, the house has to sign off too.

Woohoo Democrats! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396680)

Isn't it good to know that the Democrats are looking out for your best interest and are so very different from the evil Republican George Bush/Cheney/Haliburton/Hitler?

Which scum voted for this? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396682)

Where's the list, so I can see if my congresscritters were associated with this debacle?

Presidential Candidates Votes (5, Informative)

vitaflo (20507) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396684)

In case you're curious of how the respective candidates for president voted on the amendment to block retroactive immunity:

McCain: No
Obama: Yes
Clinton: Did not vote

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/110/senate/2/votes/15/ [washingtonpost.com]

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (5, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396736)

Well, I guess I have to support Obama. Clinton doesn't have the stones, and McCain's actively antithetical to a free society.

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (0)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396828)

So let me get this straight, you think warrantless wiretapping is a good thing?

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (2, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396862)

If I read correctly, Obama voted for the amendment that would let people hold the telcos accountable. Clinton did not vote, and McCain voted to let the telcos get away scot-free.

So no, I do not support wiretapping without a warrant.

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (1)

kextyn (961845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396908)

I think you misunderstood. Try reading the GP again. Obama doesn't want them to have retroactive immunity.

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (1)

kithrup (778358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396920)

I think you're confused -- a "yes" vote was to amend the proposed bill to strip out retroactive immunity for the telcos. So Obama voted to uphold the rule of law, while McCain voted to allow the law to be broken without penalty. And Hillary didn't vote at all.

My apologies if I misunderstood your comment.

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396944)

You should probably read up on reading comprehension. Oh wait, this might not work in your case...

Anyway. Obama voted for *blocking* the immunity, not *for* it.

parsing our legal sytem (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396958)

So let me get this straight, you think warrantless wiretapping is a good thing?

FYI: This amendment was to _block_ telecom immunity. Obama voted to block immunity, Clinton didn't vote and McCain (as well as every other republican) voted for immunity. This link [washingtonpost.com] was posted up the thread a bit. It lists who voted how.

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396976)

You're reading the votes backwards. A Yes vote means that the immunity is removed from the bill, a No vote means it stays in.

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (4, Insightful)

evil agent (918566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396864)

Clinton: Did not vote

Hillary has been going on and on about the number of times Obama did not vote when he was in the Illinois Senate. Hopefully he'll use this as ammunition.

Re:Presidential Candidates Votes (2, Interesting)

UdoKeir (239957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397094)

I suspect she did this deliberately. She can now still claim to be "tough" on terrorism and pro-freedom.

Taxation without representation (3, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396696)

Didn't the US just fight a big fucking war with the English a couple hundred years ago along the same lines?

I'm serious. I know all of you are paying taxes, and shit like this sure as hell means the common guys isn't represented. Time for a few tea parties, methinks.

Re:Taxation without representation (1)

StaticEngine (135635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397134)

We should all dump our cellphones in the nearest body of water?

That happens anyway every summer here in Seattle. We call it SeaFair.

Two Sides of the Same Coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396698)

I would just like to point out that anyone that thinks that the Democrats are better than the Republicans or vice versa are just fooling themselves. Both parties are just sides of the same coin. For this measure to pass with such a wide margin, senators from both parties had to vote for it. Indeed, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, a Democrat from West Virginia, was a pivotal supporter of this plan. Hillary? McCain? Obama? It doesn't matter who you vote for. Democrat, Republican, they are all one in the same.

Just to be clear... (1, Interesting)

Paladin144 (676391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396722)

Votes in favor of the Rule of Law: 31

Votes in favor of Oligarchical Corporatism: 67

It's ironic that democracy can be voted away so quickly and easily.

Re:Just to be clear... (1)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396934)

Ina democracy they can't, in a republic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_republic [wikipedia.org] they can.

Re:Just to be clear... (1)

Paladin144 (676391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397048)

Actually, the idea behind representational constitutional republicanism was to make it harder for this sort of thing to happen. The idea was that the mob would be easier to manipulate than a few respected individuals. In practice, both groups are easily manipulated.

Re:Just to be clear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22397168)

It's ironic that democracy can be voted away so quickly and easily.

"So this is how liberty dies. To thunderous applause."

If you don't know who said that then get the hell out of here.

just great (0, Flamebait)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396746)

from the article:

Seventeen Democrats and one independent joined 49 Republicans in voting against the Dodd-Feingold amendment. Among those voting with the majority was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is battling for the Democratic nomination, voted in favor of the amendment. His chief rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), did not vote.
Slashdot, who do we vote for now?

Re:does that really change your vote? (1)

drhamad (868567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396880)

Did you think /. was voting for Clinton in the first place?

Re:just great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396886)

Wasn't the amendment to strip the immunity clause from the revised FISA bill? All those negatives are confusing. :(

Re:just great (4, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396912)

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/110/senate/2/votes/15/ [washingtonpost.com]

As linked in another post. Obama voted to strike the immunity clause from the bill.

NO Republicans voted against. Lindsey Graham, one of my state's (SC) senators, was the only Republican not to vote at all. I'm hoping that this was because he was against it but couldn't go against the party so much as to vote against it, but we'll see.

This is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396946)

Senator Obama voted in favor of an amendment to the bill that would strike the telecom immunity from the law; Senator McCain voted against the amendment that would strike out the telecom immunity. Your interpretation of what occurred is entirely backwards.

Re:just great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396982)

According to http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/110/senate/2/votes/15/ [washingtonpost.com] the vote was to *strike* the immunity:

Vote description: Dodd Amdt. No. 3907; To strike the provisions providing immunity from civil liability to electronic communication service providers for certain assistance provided to the Government.
...so you can still vote for Obama.

Re:just great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22397086)

He voted in favor of the amendment that would have stripped immunity from the Protect America Act.

So he voted against giving retroactive immunity to the telecoms. Maybe reading will help you make up your mind next time.

Again, Barack Obama has proven that he values the rights of citizens over corporations.

OBAMA 08!

Glimmer of hope (4, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396752)

The provision was not in the house passed bill. So, it has to go to committee for compromise. If we're lucky this can be killed there, and the final bill will be vetoed. They're on the radar of everyone and know what they do shines on their candidate now more than ever. So, who knows they may do what their constituents want.

But, my pockets aren't as deep as brother bells... So, I'm not betting on it

According to the article (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396754)

Sen Bond said "permitting lawsuits against the companies would ... discourage the private sector from cooperating with the government in the future."

Yes it would do that. On the flip side, it would encourage them to obey the law. Personally I think that cooperating with the government when the government is breaking the law is something that should, in general, be discouraged*

*Note: For cultures who miss the point, this is called "understatment"

Fascism (1)

zakkie (170306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396772)

"... fascism begins to manifest itself at the point when corporate interests highjack [sic] the operations of the government."

http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:klKPDRdc2jwJ:www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18890.htm+fascism+government+corporate&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4 [google.com]

Clearly here, correct lawmaking is taking a back seat to business interests. It's not the first, nor will it be the last, but it is certainly no less shocking for that.

info request (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396808)

Why are retroactive laws even possible in the US system? I'm really wondering about that. Where I come from, the laws at the time of your action count, both for and against you.

What's next? Retro-actively making something illegal and then putting you in jail for it?

Re:info request (3, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396954)

Not quite. If a law is rule unconstitutional, it is null and void. In the eyes of our Constitution, the law never existed to begin with.

What's next? Retro-actively making something illegal and then putting you in jail for it?

Again, the Constitution expressely forbids this.. for now.

More and more I think I may vote for Ron Paul, even if he's inconsistent.

Re:info request (2, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396956)

Thats the question I have too. If you can make anything retroactive, then you have absolutely zero protection against any kind of government corruption.... they can always screw you over after the fact... that doesn't make any sense.

Can someone explain to me if this is a weird special case, or if its normal??

Re:info request (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396996)

Retroactive laws aren't always a bad thing in cases where they forgive crimes. It's possible that according to a strict interpretation of a law, someone is guilty, but according to any reasonable moral standards, they didn't actually do anything wrong. Jury nullification is a possibility, but there's no good reason to rely on a single mechanism.

Not that I'm saying that the Telcos did nothing wrong. Just that conceptually there's a good reason that such retroactive laws are possible.

Re:info request (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397074)

Why are retroactive laws even possible in the US system? I'm really wondering about that. Where I come from, the laws at the time of your action count, both for and against you.

What's next? Retro-actively making something illegal and then putting you in jail for it?
Good question. Ex post facto laws are illegal. I can't pass a law on Monday that makes what you did on Sunday illegal and prosecute you for it on Tuesday. That goes against everything we stand for, rule of law and all that. So it would seem logical that I cannot pass a law to make something illegal you did legal. If the courts strike down a law, a sentence would be automatically commuted. Is this bill going to make spying legal for all perpetuity? If so, then I guess this is "legal," as in a criminal abuse of the law. How did rum runners doing time fare when Prohibition was repealed? Were they released or still held on related charges? "Good news, you're no longer in jail for bringing in booze. Now you're just in jail for whacking your competition."

Re:info request (2, Informative)

Grandiloquence (1180099) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397080)

No, retroactive prosecution is specifically prohibited in the Constitution. Retroactive immunity, however, is not.

Is there Immunity for Congressmen??? (4, Insightful)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396826)

Is there anything to prevent lawsuits against the government officials who authorized illegal wiretapping in the first place? It doesn't even make sense to hold the telecoms responsible for following orders from Uncle Sam. What does make sense is to hold Uncle Sam accountable for his actions to order the illegal taps (instead of following judicial procedure and getting authority/permission).

Bush even talked about this in the State of the Union last month. He said, "We have to extend the Bill that let's us track terrorists on February 1." As far as I know, that day came and went. But let's get a list of Congressmen who voted for the original illegal wiretapping bill that caused this whole mess. Target those "ENEMIES OF FREEDOM", and make sure people know who they are to prevent them from keeping their seats in Congress during the next election.

(you know, I never understood why Congress doesn't have terms limits. Poor Ted Kennedy has been there so long that he slept through most of the last State of the Union address).

Re:Is there Immunity for Congressmen??? (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397098)

They would just yell Executive Priviledge and that would be the end of that too.

"You do have a conscience?" "No." (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396836)

I'm looking for video to confirm this quote. If it's real, this could be our "let them eat cake" moment here. (yeah, I know she never actually said it but the paresian mobs weren't into nitpicking at that point.)

Caught during the CSPAN coverage:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x2851202

  Microphone accidentally picks up two Senators joking:

"Let your conscience be your guide."

((laughter))

"You do have a conscience?"

((laughter))

"No."

((laughter))

Nixon. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396840)

At least Nixon had the decency to deny he was a crook, these guys just grant themselves immunity. Of course, Bush has already redefined (CNN footage) [youtube.com] the War Crimes act so he can't face a possible death penalty for the use of torture in the "war" (regret calling it that yet?) on terror.

What about the next president? (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396844)

Even if the bill passes and becomes law, couldn't another bill be put through congress next year revoking the immunity?

If it was illegal when you did it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396854)

If it was illegal when you did it, you can't make it un-illegal afterwards.

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law [cornell.edu] shall be passed.

Inaccurate Heading (2, Informative)

micahfk (913465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396936)

Once again, another /. mistake:

Senators voted 67 to 31 to shelve the amendment offered by Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). They did not vote for the bill yet (that's to come soon though).

Re:Inaccurate Heading (1)

micahfk (913465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397140)

Something I forgot to mention:

Sometimes Congressmembers will vote for a bill in order to have it fail miserably later. Now, that may not be the case for this particular bill, but keep that in mind before various amendments fail, and keep the eye on the actual final vote for this awful bill.

Voting Record? (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396938)

Does anyone have the link for the results of the actual Senate vote? Since I wrote both my Senators about this issue, I would like to see whether or not my voice was actually heard for when I write a follow up letter.

Thats what happens... (1)

rezalas (1227518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396940)

When the people you choose to represent your wishes only represent themselves. The rights of the people are easily lost when we ourselves become complacent over who we choose to protect them. I sat in my living room two weekends ago discussing a similar topic with my friends and I asked them "So, did you vote last year?" and the resounding reply was "No." Infact, the wife of my good friend David said she doesn't think it matters. This is the key problem really; everyone has an opinion but doesn't think it is worth voting over. Personally, I think if you don't vote then (sorry to be blunt) shut the hell up about it. Maybe if people who didn't vote were told to shut up or vote more often they would put in the time to earn the right to complain about what is done in the government.

You expected something different (1)

TXISDude (1171607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396950)

From the same US Congress/Administration/Government that brings you MPAA/RIAA friendly legislation - whether college campuses need it or not. From the same US Congress/Administration/Government that has not been in an uproar over domestic spying in general. From the same US Congress/Administration/Government that has chosen not to get involved in electronic confiscation at our borders - warning to all, don't bring laptops, cell phones or PDAs into the US. The concept of getting corporate "cooperation" is more important than civil liberties or freedom. Remember that to those in power, freedom could be used to change things, and those in power do not want change. And speaking of change, is not the theme of the Obama campaign change? And yet, how did he vote . . . if this makes you wonder or surprises anyone, well I guess they have been sleeping for the last few decades.

Re:You expected something different (2, Informative)

dennypayne (908203) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397142)

Obama voted to block the immunity, yet you seem to be implying otherwise...

Denny

U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9 (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396994)

"No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

It doesn't get much clearer than that!

(For those of you who do not know legalese, "ex post facto" means "retroactive".

What I'd like to see (3, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397010)

Punish them once for helping the government spy on us.

Punish them 2x that amount for seeking immunity and generally trying to excuse it. Don't just fine the company (but by all means, do that too). Seize the personal assets of every executive who supported this and put them up for auction; disperse the proceeds to a variety of charities.

Impeach and imprison for life, on the basis of treason, every politician who supported what they knew to be an unconstitutional law. Isn't it funny how someone who assists our enemies is prosecuted for treason, but the far worse threat of elected officials who knowingly erode civil liberties is generally not even recognized to be a crime? Remember that politicians are generally also lawyers; they know very well what the 4th Amendment says.


I'd like to see all of the above happen in a court of law. Yes, I can keep dreaming. None of this will ever happen. I know that. But I'd like my country back, please.

Maybe when we're all marching the goose step we will have some insight and will collectively decide "hmm, maybe a free country IS worth a miniscule risk of dying in a terrorist attack." The politicians of course are happy to increase their power for any reason or no reason at all, but it is DISGUSTING how the public is so cowardly that they always allow this to happen whenever a little more safety is promised to them. This is such a disgrace to anyone familiar with how and why the USA became a nation.

I'm very upset about this (1)

kithrup (778358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397020)

I called Feinstein's office yesterday; I asked what I needed to do to get my Senator to vote to give me retroactive immunity from breaking the law. They wouldn't answer.

I've called all my lawmakers. I've called the current top-three Presidential candidates. I've given money to the ACLU. (I've told Feinstein, Boxer, and Lofgren that I will not be giving any money to the California Democratic Party as long as Feinstein is in office.)

I don't know what else I can do. I don't know what else I have the energy to do -- time after time, any attempt to prevent this country from turning into a police state or an autocracy is beaten aside. And too often simply by elected officials simply giving up.

What else should I do be doing?

Time for a new Govt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22397060)

Maybe we the people should do what they used to do to bad rulers... break in to the castle and haul them off to the noose or axe....

I'm getting sick of the wide spread corruption in the US Govt... the more it happens, the more obvious it is... It's getting to the point that they're almost not even hiding it any more..

How much will we abide? (1)

DreamingReal (216288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397090)

... Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.


Our executive branch acts like a dictator, our legislative branch legitimizes the most egregious and illegal activities of the executive, and our judicial branch is stacked with partisan hacks who use the most specious legal reasoning to uphold the values of their administration rather than the rule of law. This government is broken. How much more will Americans suffer before they demand change? Does anyone still think the 2nd Amendment is not important? I'm ready to stop writing letters and start firing weapons.

Constitutional? (1)

bloodstar (866306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397104)

This is a clear violation of the 4th amendment.

Does that not mean that passing a law to validate such violations, even after the fact, is still a violation of the 4th amendment?

Now, of course since there's no one liable, good luck getting standing. Though I suppose anyone with a lawsuit pending would still have standing.

The Prez Says (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397126)

President Bush has promised to veto any new surveillance bill that does not protect the companies that helped the government in its warrantless wiretapping program, arguing that it is essential if the private sector is to give the government the help it needs.
It is not what your "constituents" can do for the government, its what the government can do for its "constituents".

This does not include anal probing, monitoring etc, thank you. BTW: Texas does not claim him as our own.

This is not the will of the people (5, Informative)

soren100 (63191) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397132)

This is totally unconstitutional. And I can guarantee you that there are extremely few citizens out there thinking that telecommunications companies should not be held accountable for breaking the law and helping our government subvert the Constitution. Senator Chris Dodd has to filibuster his own party to try to prevent this from happening, and he said he did it because there was so much concern from his constituents.

Amendment IV of our Constitution:

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.
I would make a joke here about not welcoming our corpo-government overlords, but I wish I could find more of a sense of humor about this type of thing. The founders of our country knew this was going to happen, and worked extremely hard to avoid it, and the citizens of our country are sleep-walking right into it.

Here's Senator Dodd's thoughts about telecom immunity [senate.gov] :

The President has no right to secretly eavesdrop on the conversations and activities of law abiding American citizens and anyone who has aided and abetted him in these illegal activities should be held accountable, said Dodd. It is unconscionable that such a basic right has been violated, and that the President is the perpetrator. I will do everything in my power to stop Congress from shielding this Presidents agenda of secrecy, deception, and blatant unlawfulness.

The finest government money can buy (1)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22397136)

I hope to be able to afford some for myself someday.
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