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House Declines To Vote On Telecom Immunity

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the ain't-over-till-it's-over dept.

Privacy 341

freedom_india alerts us to news that the House of Representatives declined to bring the surveillance reform bill to vote, prompting House Republicans to walk out in the middle of a session. The bill, recently passed by the Senate, includes retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies who assisted with illegal domestic wiretaps. The walk-out comes after a proposal was shot down on Wednesday that would have extended the current legislation for another three weeks.

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One can hope (4, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433318)

that the House doesn't end up bending over AGAIN for that sockpuppet masquerading as a President.

The telecoms do not need immunity, and any existing wiretaps can continue for up to a year. But of course, President sockpuppet prefers not to mention that....

Re:One can hope (4, Funny)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433374)

I'm surprised he isn't able to torture those members of the house who dissent until they bend to his will, it is the security of the United States which is at risk here and any reasonable person would understand that all available measures must be employed to maintain that security.

Re:One can hope (5, Funny)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433506)

Well, he could always order them waterboarded. I mean, he's already determined that isn't torture.

Re:One can hope (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433534)

What is sad is that tactic would not shock me if it were actually employed.

Re:One can hope (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433694)

You're suggesting that the President use Netherworld tactics [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:One can hope (5, Interesting)

Shining Celebi (853093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433564)

But of course, President sockpuppet prefers not to mention that....

The President himself doesn't feel the need to mention that. He was admonishing Congress yesterday, claiming that: [whitehouse.gov]

Members of Congress knew all along that this deadline was approaching. They said it themselves. They've had more than six months to discuss and deliberate. And now they must act, and pass legislation that will ensure our intelligence professionals have the tools they need to keep us safe.

Earlier this week the Senate did act, and passed a strong bill, and did so with a bipartisan majority. The Senate bill will ensure that we can effectively monitor those seeking to harm our people. The Senate bill will provide fair and just liability protection for companies that assisted in the efforts to protect America after the attacks of September the 11th. Without this protection, without this liability shield, we may not be able to secure the private sector's cooperation with our intelligence efforts. And that, of course, would put the American people at risk.

Our government has no greater responsibility than getting this work done, and there really is no excuse for letting this critical legislation expire. I urge congressional leaders to let the will of the House and the American people prevail, and vote on the Senate bill before adjourning for their recess. , and could reopen dangerous gaps in our intelligence. Failure to act would also make the private sector less willing to help us protect the country, and this is unacceptable. The House should not leave Washington without passing the Senate bill.

Of course, as you said, all previously authorized wiretaps under the expiring act go on, and as the House Intelligence Chair put it:

First, NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause. Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority.

Second, NSA can use its authority under the Protect America Act, enacted last August, to conduct surveillance here in the U.S of any foreign target. This authority does not "expire" on Saturday, as you have stated. Under the PAA, orders authorizing surveillance may last for one year - until at least August 2008. These orders may cover every terrorist group without limitation. If a new member of the group is identified, or if a new phone number or email address is identified, the NSA may add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately. We will not "go dark."

Third, in the remote possibility that a new terrorist organization emerges that we have never previously identified, the NSA could use existing authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor those communications. Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the FISA Court has approved nearly every application for a warrant from the Department of Justice. In an emergency, NSA or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may begin surveillance immediately, and a FISA Court order does not have to be obtained for three days. The former head of FISA operations for the Department of Justice has testified publicly that emergency authorization may be granted in a matter of minutes.

In summary: There really doesn't seem to be a need for this law at all, let alone the provisions like telecom immunity.

good (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433322)

good

Re:good (0, Troll)

Hellcom (1041714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433806)

Come on mods, don't be so stingy. Mod him insightful.

Wow (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433326)

That's a one-sided report. What I heard on the radio yesterday is that the Republicans were upset that the democrats were wasting time on the vote to hold Bush Officials in contempt of Congress. The Republican senators claimed that they were in support of the investigation, but felt that President and adviser communications should have some degree of privilege. They wanted to move on to the business for the day (which happened to be the surveillance bill) and called for a walk-out when the Democrats were insistent on worrying about the (probably impotent anyway) contempt vote.

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

dreamt (14798) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433442)

Ok, so the article didn't mention the important part that the House wants to hold the president accountable for his actions. Its not one-sided, its taking it easy on idiot-boy's insistence that his people have to follow the law. Stating both of these actions make the House look even better!

Now, its just up to the House to enforce the contempt of Congress charges themselves, as the Justice Department isn't going to do its job in enforcing them (I read _somewhere_ that Congress does have some sort of enforcement capabilities for cases like this when Justice won't do their job).

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433510)

No, it is one sides. It puts a completely different spin on the report, effectively providing the reader with no option but to believe that the Republicans all were pissed off that the Telecom immunity bill didn't pass. In fact, the immunity bill may have had nothing to do with the events at the Capital. Spinning the story like that is simply irresponsible.

As for the charges, it's just political maneuvering. According to the news report, the President invoked executive powers to keep his aides from talking. Congress can hold those aides in contempt all they want, but the Judicial Branch is unlikely to enforce the contempt charge. As a result, it accomplishes nothing more than grandstanding to look like they're doing something about Bush's policies.

IMHO, start the impeachment process or don't. All this pussyfooting around is 100% impotent and accomplishes nothing more than a lot of publicity to make voters feel warm and fuzzy.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433656)

No, it is one sides. It puts a completely different spin on the report, effectively providing the reader with no option but to believe that the Republicans all were pissed off that the Telecom immunity bill didn't pass.

You're right. If it were written properly it would show that the Republicans got all pissy when the House Democrats made it a point to show that the executive branch is not above the law. Although something tells me you wouldn't be pleased with that either. Somehow you need to pin it all on the Democrats because the Angelic Republicans can never do any wrong.

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433818)

This makes me think.. has anyone ever done 'democrats' vs 'republican' skins for CS? With all the inane political banter that goes on about both sides (and I severely doubt that just because someone is a member of some political party means you can stereotype them in the way that seems to go on allllllllll the freaking time), I think that all you pseudo-political nutjobs would get a real kick out of it! :)

Re:Wow (5, Funny)

The Redster! (874352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434276)

Most good skins are ones where you can tell one side from the other.

Re:Wow (1)

Asylumn (598576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434182)

No, that's not it at all. It's about accuracy, not pinning blame. Supporting inaccurate reporting just because it puts a positive light on the people you support is just as unacceptable as spinning things to put a negative light on those you don't support.

Spin is spin is spin. It doesn't matter who it makes look good or bad, it's misleading. That should not be acceptable, ever.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22434266)

So you look to Slashdot for accuracy? Hate to break it to you, but that's something you rarely, if ever, see here.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

Shining Celebi (853093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433790)

As for the charges, it's just political maneuvering. According to the news report, the President invoked executive powers to keep his aides from talking. Congress can hold those aides in contempt all they want, but the Judicial Branch is unlikely to enforce the contempt charge. As a result, it accomplishes nothing more than grandstanding to look like they're doing something about Bush's policies.

I'm curious why you think the judicial branch would uphold his claims of executive privilege. That's not a Constitutional privilege. If Presidential aides break the law, should they be immune from investigation as long as the President invokes executive privilege? The real issue is that the Justice Department has said they won't investigate and bring charges, meaning it wouldn't go to court in the first place -- seems a bit of an odd choice if the court wouldn't do something about it. But Congress still has its own power to enforce the citation. And how can you impeach if you don't have any evidence to go on? That's the entire point of calling the aids to TESTIFY, which they refused to do.

And this is related to the FISA bill. Boehner was mad they weren't going to get straight to the spy bill like the President wanted.

Re:Wow (-1, Troll)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433840)

If it's pissing you submissive whiners off so much, then isn't it, you know, doing something? Why get mad over nothing?

You're going to pull a tendon, straining so hard to spin this like it was the Republicans standing up for something and Democrats storming away in a pissy huff.

Re:Wow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433882)

In fact, the immunity bill may have had nothing to do with the events at the Capital.
Well, let's consider just how much telecom immunity had to do with the walk-out. Before walking out, Boehner and the Republicans claimed they were doing so because the all important revision to the Protect America Act (which includes telecom immunity) was not being considered. The Republicans walked out, and the Democrats proceeded with and passed the contempt resolution. Then they went on with several mostly symbolic and fairly inconsequential matters, such as a Black History Month resolution honoring African American scientists and mathematicians. The Republicans immediately returned from their walk-out, even though the all important PAA and telecom immunity were still not being considered. Hmmmmmm....

Re:Wow (5, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433588)

Yes, the House can enforce the contempt citation without the aid of the Justice Department. Under the rules for inherent contempt, after the citation is passed, the cited party would be arrested by the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House and brought to the floor to answer charges. However, the statutory procedure, which is the one that involves the Justice Department, has been used more often since its inception in 1857, and the inherent procedure hasn't been used since 1934.

Re:Wow (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433600)

FYI, the report has been updated to point out the missing information.

Re:Wow (5, Funny)

JediN8 (941637) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433646)

Contempt of Congress...WTF! I hold nothing but contempt for Congress, guess i better start packing.

Correction.... (1, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433834)

but felt that REPUBLICAN President and adviser communications should have some degree of privilege.

Remember that the amount of executive authority the President should have is based on the political party of who you're asking.

Were it a Democratic President who was stomping all over our civil liberties, the situation in Congress would be reversed.

Re:Correction.... (4, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433938)

Were it a Democratic President who was stomping all over our civil liberties, the situation in Congress would be reversed.

Are you saying that if the President was a Democrat, the republican congressmen would go so far as to impeach him for something as trivial as a blowjob?

Re:Correction.... (0, Offtopic)

Ranger96 (452365) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434132)

Are you saying that if the President was a Democrat, the republican congressmen would go so far as to impeach him for something as trivial as lying under oath?
Fixed that for you

Re:Wow (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434122)

What I heard on the radio yesterday is that the Republicans were upset that the democrats were wasting time on the vote to hold Bush Officials in contempt of Congress.

I agree, the democrats should stop wasting time and hold Bush officials in contempt of congress already.

Re:Wow (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434224)

Patriotism is akin to racism.
Fix yer sig. s/Patriotism/Nationalism/

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433332)

haha

Bush's comments on the issue (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433338)

"The House should not leave Washington without passing the Senate bill," Bush said, adding that not doing so would "put the American people at risk."
*sigh* I'm soooo tired of these scare tactics and I'm sure the rest of America is, too. Look, we're no better off than we were before 9/11 with regards to 'safety' from terrorists, and in many ways, we're worse off.

Read my lips, Bush: We ain't skeered of no terrorists.

Re:Bush's comments on the issue (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433522)

*sigh* I'm soooo tired of these scare tactics and I'm sure the rest of America is, too

Don't be so sure, my sister in law once said that she is actually glad for all the checkpoints and inspections at public events, as it makes her feel safer.
For myself though, I put my faith in my safety-rock. We haven't been attacked ever since I started keeping it in my front yard.

Re:Bush's comments on the issue (1)

radja (58949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433598)

safety-rocks not only work against terrorism, they also keep you safe from tiger attacks and the re-entry from satellites in the athmosphere!

Re:Bush's comments on the issue (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434188)

Don't forget the bear patrol. Sure, it cost us a lot of money, but there hasn't been a single bear attack in New York City since they started it!

Re:Bush's comments on the issue (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434272)

"safety-rocks not only work against terrorism, they also keep you safe from tiger attacks and the re-entry from satellites in the athmosphere!"

Tell me...where can I buy one of these safety rocks? I'll give you $5 for yours!!!

:-D

Re:Bush's comments on the issue (5, Funny)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433802)

and in many ways, we're worse off.
How can you say this? The terrorists hate us because of our freedoms. We have systematically been eliminating their reasons for hating us! In just a few short years, I am sure they will love us again!

Re:Bush's comments on the issue (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434208)

I applaud Bush's simple solution to the problem
  1. They hate us for our freedom
  2. Remove freedom
  3. Problem solved!

Re:Bush's comments on the issue (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434234)

The implication is that a mere law can change the "safety" of the people in a country in any meaningful way, and the frightening thing is that some of the people accept this premise.

Matters Instead (5, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433360)

Turned to contempt of congress charges against Bush aides who did not testify when subpoenas. This outraged some republicans because they thought that the FISA was more important...

A bill that would give the president more power is more important than maintaining checks and balances?

Re:Matters Instead (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433390)

A bill that would give the president more power is more important than maintaining checks and balances?
Yes. It's much easier to build a theocratic state when you only have to control the President and you don't have to worry about any pesky liberals in the Legislature.

Re:Matters Instead (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433430)

It's much easier to build a theocratic state when you only have to control the President
Huh... I guess then we wouldn't want impeachment then. We'd need excommunication?

Re:Matters Instead (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433620)

"Ex" something & I'm not talking about talking...

Re:Matters Instead (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433448)

Trying to charge the White House aides is an interesting tactic, as it was Bush himself who invoked executive powers to keep them from testifying. Yet they know they can't charge the President himself (short of impeachment, they can't touch him) so the House chose to chase down the aides instead.

Re:Matters Instead (1)

SoulShakeDown (1174255) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433798)

IMPEACH!!!

Re:Matters Instead (4, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433908)

as it was Bush himself who invoked executive powers to keep them from testifying.

1) Bush doesn't have those powers. He's just pretending he does.
2) Following orders isn't an excuse. The aides are in contempt of Congress if they refuse to testify, whether someone else told them not to testify or not.

Separation of powers means the executive branch can't legislate and the legislative branch can't ... uh ... execute. It doesn't mean that the Executive branch isn't subject to the lawful acts of Congress.

Re:Matters Instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22434014)

Somebody PLEASE mod this up.

Re:Matters Instead (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433892)

You have to give it to Republicans. When it comes to matters of evil, those guys are remarkably disciplined. I just wish Democrats could learn to be equally disciplined in defense of good; instead of being wishy-washy, weak, and all over the map.

Re:Matters Instead (2, Funny)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434126)

When it comes to matters of evil, those guys are remarkably disciplined.
True republicans exist only two at a time, with a master and an apprentice...

I'm confused... (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433372)

I thought the Republican walk-out was staged in response to the Dems daring to bring contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers [rawstory.com] .

Was this a different walk-out?

Re:I'm confused... (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433544)

Same walkout, different spin on the story. To be honest, TFA is misleading and bordering on sensationalist. Not even once mentioning the contempt issue is just plain irresponsible journalism.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434268)

Not even once mentioning the contempt issue is just plain irresponsible journalism.


Nothing new.

Journalistic malpractice is the rule rather than the exception these days. It's about time we start holding their reputations accountable! You sir, are doing a great service for the Slashdot community by pointing this out. Thank you.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433624)

You heard right - the summary is complete and utter BS.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

Flavio (12072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433684)

Exactly. The Associated Press article [google.com] gives more information.

Here's a part I specially liked:

On Thursday, three Republicans joined 220 Democrats to support the contempt resolution, including Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland, who was defeated this week in a primary.

Woot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433396)

Fi st po st

Walk out was not because of telecom vote (5, Informative)

funnyguy (28876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433434)

The republicans walked out in protest of a vote to cite two former white house officials (Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten) with contempt of Congress. House Minority Leader John Boehner argued that the House should instead be voting on an extension of the FISA bill which expires Saturday.

The /. teaser seemed to indicate that the walk out was due to a refusal to vote on the FISA bill. That is not correct.

Re:Walk out was not because of telecom vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433482)

Correct. It had nothing to do with the telecom vote. Doesn't anybody check these things anymore before they are posted?

Re:Walk out was not because of telecom vote (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433974)

You must be new here.

BSD is dying (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433436)

BSD is dying

Better than passing it! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433472)

For anyone paying attention, the Democrats have just shown Bush to be the Lying Fascist he is.

How? Bush said that people would Die, the Tarrraaarrusts would win if the bill isn't signed.
However, he'd veto the bill without Telecom immunity

So, let's see. It's more important to protect the Telecoms than to "Stop the Tarraa"

Come on. Fascism isn't any clearer than that. We'll let terrorists kill people (if you believe
you need one a bill at all, which you don't) instead of passing one without support for
the Corporate Sponsors.

Got Fascism? Yup. Damn, now you've even got proof.

Re:Better than passing it! (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433536)

You listened to Keith Olbermann last night, didn't you? :)

Re:Better than passing it! (0, Flamebait)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433668)

I'm not denying that Bush has some fascist tendencies (as do most US politicians these days), but your example is plain-old CYA and has nothing to do with fascism.

(CYA = cover your ass)

Re:Better than passing it! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434260)

Perhaps you're familiar with the line attributed to Mussolini: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."

Could there be any more glaring example of how state and corporate power have merged in the US?

In related news (4, Funny)

Sleeping Kirby (919817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433484)

In related news. Bush vows to hold his breath until his face turns blue in protest of the house not being bipartisan by giving him exactly what he wants.

I haven't been in American that long (only almost 20 years). Has there been a worse president than this guy?

Re:In related news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433558)

No

Re:In related news (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433602)

I would have said Nixon, but I think Nixon actually had (slightly) higher approval ratings at the end there. .....

Just checked... Truman actually had a lower approval rating (during the Korean War) then Bush, but Bush's low (24%) is only 2% higher then Truman's low (22%), and Bush has most of a year to go.

But Truman didn't fuck as many things up as Bush has, so I'd have to say that Bush is the worst.

Re:In related news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22434280)

I live in Bay Area ("Moscow West"), and saw a few cars with bumper sticker: "Bush makes me miss Nixon"

Re:In related news (2)

belthize (990217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433662)

Not yet but give us time; we've only been around for 200+ years.

    I'm sure that in another 100-200 years we can find somebody less
competent as President but more adept at demagoguery and hyperbole.

Belthize

Re:In related news (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434130)

Reagan the Enabler.

No Immunity (5, Insightful)

PaK_Phoenix (445224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433566)

There should be no retroactive immunity for the telcos. They broke the law, they knew they were breaking the law when they did it. They should now be open to civil litigation, now that their actions are out in the open.

To pass a bill granting retroactive immunity, would set a precedent I'm not comfortable with. The government(executive branch) violated citizens rights (wether or not they had a 'good' reason), and are now looking to protect their cohorts in crime.

What's next? Retroactive immunity for Microsoft, for installing a back door in windows, to help us catch terrorists?

I'm just afraid that immunity will send the message, that it's okay to violate civil rights, if the government asks you to. The government is the last people you should want violating your rights, it says so right in the constitution.

Re:No Immunity (1)

glindsey (73730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434040)

What's next? Retroactive immunity for Microsoft, for installing a back door in windows, to help us catch terrorists?
YES.

But I'm waiting for the bill that grants retroactive immunity to assassins who take out anybody deemed to be anti-patriotic and/or subversive.

Re:No Immunity (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434240)

There should be no retroactive immunity for the telcos. They broke the law, they knew they were breaking the law when they did it. They should now be open to civil litigation, now that their actions are out in the open.
I agree with you 100%, but I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Bush: "Alright here's the deal telcos. We need wiretaps, lots of em. LOTS. Warrants would take too long, cause we just have so many phones to tap. We need you to go ahead without them."
Telco: "Hold up. You need a warrant for this, otherwise it's illegal bud. We don't want to take any heat for your illegal activity."
Bush: "Trust me, no one will know. And if word ever gets out I promise I'll get you immunity."
Telco: "Really? Would we have to win some sort of challenge before we get immunity?"
Bush: "Nope. I'll just use my executive powers and claim National Security again, it'll work trust me."
Telco: "Alright then, but only if you pay us for it."
Bush: "No problem! What's another few million in a $9 trillion debt?"

Re:No Immunity (2, Informative)

cciechad (602504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434314)

Congress doesn't even have the authority to give telco's retroactive immunity. Did they miss this part of the constitution? Article 1 Section 9 "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

Why do we /.'ers prefer liberty to safety? (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433612)

Most vocal Slashdot'ers, including myself, feel that in the balance between (effective counter-terrorism) and (personal freedom, open government), Bush and Congress err far too much in the (effective counter-terrorism) direction.

Are most private citizens like us in this regard, and it's an authoritarian-vs.-population issue? Or are we /.'ers different from most citizens, and if so, why?

Re:Why do we /.'ers prefer liberty to safety? (1)

PaK_Phoenix (445224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433770)

Because those who would surrender liberty for safety, deserve neither.

I believe the quote is attributed to Ben Franklin

Re:Why do we /.'ers prefer liberty to safety? (5, Insightful)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433808)

Or are we /.'ers different from most citizens, and if so, why?

Voluntary Response is the answer to your question. Those who do care voluntarily voice their opinion in various ways, such as posting /. comments. ^_^ Many if not most citizens don't appear care enough to even follow what's going on with government. They're too preoccupied with their own little worlds, and until those bubbles are burst, they will continue living their lives in deliberate and blissful ignorance. Mod me as flamebait/troll for saying it for all I care, but when Britney Spears requiring medical treatment makes front page news, yet Russia resuming cold war patrol flights and threatening to point missiles at Ukraine (I'll refrain from writing a book of my opinions on that matter) is seemingly nowhere to be found (on the larger, more popular American news web sites), I'd say it's pretty difficult to deny this sad truth.

Re:Why do we /.'ers prefer liberty to safety? (5, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433928)

Or are we /.'ers different from most citizens, and if so, why?

Several reasons, actually:

  • Many of us realize that the choice isn't between liberty and effective counter-terrorism. The choice is between liberty and a security illusion meant to make people feel safer.
  • Knowing that we aren't actually becoming safer, it is much easier for us to realize how scary it is to be placing these kinds of powers in the hands of people who are already blatantly corrupt and whose interests clearly lie contrary to the public's.
  • There is a fair amount of skepticism that anything beyond simply locking cockpit doors on airplanes is a necessary response to 9/11. Even if you could convince us that we are actually more secure, it could still be a hard sell that the additional security is worth the cost in liberty.
  • There are many other causes of death in our country besides terrorism that vastly outweigh the losses suffered on 9/11... on a yearly basis. Why haven't we taken any steps to solve those? Why is a single event where 3,000 people died cause to go batshit insane protective give-up-our-liberties mode, when Heart Disease [cdc.gov] causes over 200 times that many deaths on a yearly basis, and we can't convince ourselves to hit up a gym?

Re:Why do we /.'ers prefer liberty to safety? (1)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434052)

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-Ben Franklin

Re:Why do we /.'ers prefer liberty to safety? (1)

splutty (43475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434064)

Most vocal Slashdot'ers, including myself, feel that in the balance between (ineffective counter-terrorism) and (personal freedom, open government), Bush and Congress err far too much in the (ineffective counter-terrorism) direction.

There. Fixed that for you.

A Conservative Voice on the Issue (2, Insightful)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433618)

A Republican representative, I forget who, was giving a speech, and basically said: "I'm tired of the democrat's grandstanding, I call on my fellow Republicans, and any Democrats who wish to join me, I'm leaving." The idea behind doing this was to make a big fuss so that what was going on in Congress yesterday would be covered by the news. Essentially, they felt that by making sure they got on CNN saying the Democrat's were busy sticking their tongues out at the Bush administration, when there was an important bill to pass. The bill in question, on granting immunity to companies helping the federal government, has enough support to pass the House, but not enough to force a vote on it if Nancy Pelosi doesn't want there to be. I think its fine, don't punish companies for doing what the NSA asks them to do, corporations are not responsible for upholding the rights of individuals. That is the job of the executive and judicial branch. (Executive enforces laws, judicial makes sure the laws are fair, legislative writes them) . A company in this case would not want to be found disobeying proper government authority if they said no. Even though a judge should have been involved.

Re:A Conservative Voice on the Issue (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433650)

The Repub you're referring to was John Boehner.

From the Raw Story article [rawstory.com] :

"We will not stand here and watch this floor be abused for pure political grandstanding at the expense of our national security. ... Let's just get up and leave," Republican Leader John Boehner advised his colleagues as they dramatically left the floor Thursday afternoon.

Re:A Conservative Voice on the Issue (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22434278)

Yes, how dare the Democrats do all the grandstanding. Lets do some grandstanding of our own.

Re:A Conservative Voice on the Issue (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433704)

The idea behind doing this was to make a big fuss so that what was going on in Congress yesterday would be covered by the news.

Yes, that much becomes glaringly obvious when the ostensibly "spontaneous" walk-out ends in front of a bunch of microphones and cameras conveniently set up on the House steps.

Re:A Conservative Voice on the Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433868)

There was an important bill to *vote on*. Not to pass. I wish they had simply voted it down and gone on with the censure vote, giving the Neocons nothing to grandstand over.

Re:A Conservative Voice on the Issue (5, Insightful)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433912)

>I think its fine, don't punish companies for doing what the NSA asks them to do, corporations are not responsible for upholding the rights of individuals.

But they are responsible for following the law, as Quest did by refusing their request. Fact is, the telecos broke the law by following those orders and should be held responsible just like anyone else.

Re:A Conservative Voice on the Issue (1)

Asylumn (598576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433922)

A company in this case would not want to be found disobeying proper government authority if they said no
That's the problem, really. There was not 'proper government authority'. Proper authority would have included things like warrants, court orders, judicial oversight, pesky little things like that. Had any of that been in place then yes, they would have been cooperating with 'proper government authority'. As it is, they just cooperated because someone asked them nicely, and they should be held accountable for it.

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes (4, Informative)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433632)

How did YOUR representative vote?

"To strike the provisions providing immunity from civil liability to electronic communication service providers for certain assistance provided to the Government."

FIND OUT! [senate.gov]

McCain (R-AZ), Nay
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Not

I'm confused.... (0)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433956)

So basically, the Dem's (for the most part) are voting to give telecoms immunity, while the GOP is saying nay?

The corruption is confusing me here:
I want to know why the Republicans are voting against this, as in why the Republicans want to be able to hold the telecoms responsible (seeing as how it was their administration that is associated,) whereas the Dems are willing to grant immunity and basically sweep the incidents under the rug (instead of using them as an effigy and burning them in front of the White House?)

Re:I'm confused.... (5, Informative)

Winders (784885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434096)

The vote was to remove the immunity clause. Democrats voted for the removal, Republicans for its retention.

Re:I'm confused.... (1)

glindsey (73730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434148)

You have it backwards. The vote was to strike the part of the bill granting telecom immunity. Thus, Obama's vote was against granting immunity, McCain's was for granting immunity, and Clinton's was to cower in a corner and make sure she doesn't say anything that might upset anybody who potentially might be a voter.

Re:I'm confused.... (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434172)

You've sort of got that backwards. Many of the House Republicans want to pass the same bill that was passed in the Senate, which would grant the telecoms immunity. Whereas some of the Democrats are saying that they shouldn't just be lapdogs of the President (and others are saying that they want the telecom immunity to be stripped out).

For the record, Barack Obama voted to strip the immunity of the telecoms, Hillary Clinton abstained, and John McCain voted for telecom immunity.

Re:I'm confused.... (1)

Dues (786223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434302)

If you read the above post in its entirety, you would know that it was a vote to strike the immunity provision.... not a vote in favor of the bill.

Re:U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433984)

A perfect illustration of why I am supporting Obama and despise Clinton. The though of another Republican in office makes me want to puke, but I also sure as Hell don't want another 8 years of an opportunistic Clinton selling out their party and blowing wherever the political winds of the moment take them. If that bitch sleazes her way into the nomination using superdelegates, Florida, and Michigan it will be the LAST victory she has this year.

WIsh I could walk out... (2, Insightful)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433706)

I wish I could walk out of my job and still keep it AND get paid when I don't agree with something...Man, I could be at home asleep right now and getting paid for it if that were the case!

Partially Correct (4, Insightful)

Ranger (1783) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433750)

Yeah, as some other commenters have noted, the Republicans walked out because of the contempt vote. They were upset the House chose not to vote over telecom immunity. I'm pleased to see the Democrats finally showing they have a spine. It's only a baby step compared to what they should be doing, but after having let their spine atrophy for so long I guess it'll take a while before they actually do anything meaningful. I won't be holding my breath though.

If the Dems don't capitulate again, and that's a BIG IF, and Protect America Act expires tomorrow, we are still protected under the old FISA law. Not only that, had the Bush Administration used the old FISA law, the telecoms could have gotten immunity easily. So why didn't they? Oversight, which seems to be anathema to this administration.

Yay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22433812)

Could the Democrats finally be getting some balls? I hope they locked the chamber doors after the Repubs walked out.

Republicans Are Lying About FISA (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433822)

I know, it's certainly not news that "Republicans Are Lying About FISA". But it's still important, because they're getting away with it. And as geeks (and probably as nerds), we're the most likely to have something we care about spied on.

The lie I'm talking about is "FISA will expire right away". That's a moronic lie:

Section 2 of the Protect America Act:

`ADDITIONAL PROCEDURE FOR AUTHORIZING CERTAIN ACQUISITIONS CONCERNING PERSONS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

`Sec. 105B. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General, may for periods of up to one year authorize the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States


Even the "sunset" provisions that Republicans are lying about making the PAA expire don't actually apply:
Section 6(c) of the Protect America Act:

(c) Sunset- Except as provided in subsection (d), sections 2, 3, 4, and 5 of this Act, and the amendments made by this Act, shall cease to have effect 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.


The PAA that Republicans are clamoring to replace "because it sunsets" was passed late last Summer. It's got another six months left for spying, even if that spying is un-Constitutional.

Every single thing about this spying not only violates the Constitution, but it's being forced on us with the worst kinds of lies. (Hi, Dick!)

That's why you sould sign the petition to pressure the House to stand up for keeping amnesty out of the final bill [firedoglake.com] . It's your last chance to say something publicly to the government on a voluntary basis.

I have faith (2, Insightful)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22433832)

That our ever brave Democratic congresspeople will cave at some point today and give the Bush administration everything they want. Wouldn't want people to think you're "soft on terror", even if that means allowing anyone that has Bush's approval to break whatever laws he says are necessary.

Impeachment (2, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434060)

If Republicans are angry with Democrats for pursuing the matter of contempt citations against Bolton and Miers instead of voting to condone the telecom's crimes, then I'm angry with the Congress for holding hearing after hearing on steroids in baseball instead of holding hearings on impeaching Bush and Cheney for repeatedly breaking the law and violating the Constitution.

For those out there who oppose Constitutional checks and balances, and oppose impeachment of the Pres. and VP for running roughshod over our rights, consider what will happen if Hillary Clinton gets into office with that impunity and immunity and absolute power established by Bush's precedent. That should make you shudder. I know it does me.

our hero (5, Informative)

jt418-93 (450715) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434118)

Silvestre Reyes is the hero of this. here is a link to the letter he sent the bushenfurer, and the last paragraph (the best imho). we need more ppl like him that understand the constitution is not just a 'goddamn piece of paper'. personally, i think anyone dismissing the constitution like that is guilty of treason, and we know how to deal with that. (grandpa simpson voice)That's a hangin'
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Intel_chair_to_Bush_on_FISA_0214.html [rawstory.com]

I, for one, do not intend to back down - not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear. We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won. Sincerely,
Silvestre Reyes
Member of Congress
Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Spontaneous media coverage (5, Informative)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434192)

If you were watching MSNBC last night Olbermann ripped Bush and the Republicans over telecomm immunity and this staged walk out. They were showing clips of the "spontaneous" walk out to a place where there just happened to be cameras and a podium rigged with microphones. As if there are podiums and broadcast crews stationed all over in case any of our Congress critters suddenly decide to storm out of chambers in protest.

He called Bush and incompetent liar and fascist...in so many words.

Telcos have been dealing with wiretap law for decades, they knew what they were doing was wrong. If they're so certain their behavior was so lofty and patriotic, then let them take their chances with a jury.

We want companies to think twice before cooperating with an illegal enterprise, regardless of the perceived threats. The FISA court is a joke, they've never turned down a request. So, how is that virtual rubber stamp impeding terrorist investigations? Or is it that they're really afraid the FISA court won't authorize wholesale spying on the American public?

Good source for FISA background info (3, Informative)

jrifkin (100192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22434226)

If you want to learn more about this issue, Glen Greenwald [salon.com] has been covering it well for a long time.

Today he posted an item called FISA 101 [salon.com] which is a good place to start.

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