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US House Rejects Telecom Amnesty

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the some-no-votes-just-because-it-wasn't-firm-enough dept.

Communications 614

The US House has just approved a new bill that rejects the retroactive immunity to telecommunication businesses and denies most of the new powers for the US President to spy on citizens without a warrant. "As impressive as the House vote itself was, more impressive still was the floor debate which preceded it. I can't recall ever watching a debate on the floor of either House of Congress that I found even remotely impressive -- until today. One Democrat after the next -- of all stripes -- delivered impassioned, defiant speeches in defense of the rule of law, oversight on presidential eavesdropping, and safeguards on government spying. They swatted away the GOP's fear-mongering claims with the dismissive contempt such tactics deserve, rejecting the principle that has predominated political debate in this country since 9/11: that the threat of the Terrorists means we must live under the rule of an omnipotent President and a dismantled constitutional framework."

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Its about damned time... (5, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755508)

That someone with a D after their name grows a package and stands up for something. If only it had happened several years prior as well...

Re:Its about damned time... (5, Insightful)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755536)

Forget the Democratic slur-- it's about time ANYBODY in Washington stood up for something that doesn't involve systematically stripping our rights from us. Well played, House.

Evil men doing good things (4, Informative)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755562)

This is separation of powers at work, just like the founding fathers intended. Even if they don't really believe the ideals of freedom of speech, rule of law, no unreasonable searches, etc, they are supporting them because they don't want the president to be stronger than they are.

Re:Its about damned time... (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755650)

Forget the Democratic slur
The slur is on the R, we don't expect THEM to value freedom, but the Ds are supposed to human.
They've been do-nothings lately though, so everyone sucks.

Re:Its about damned time... (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755834)

It's about goddamned time that Congress started doing it's job. It's supposed to be a balance to the powers of the Executive, it's supposed to be an independent *legislative* branch of government, but for the last seven years have simply let the Executive do whatever it wanted, and acted as a rubber stamp to what amounted to a series of Presidential decrees.

Of course, the sad part is that come November, there will probably be a Democrat president and a Democrat-dominated Congress, and we'll see the same partisan lineups which means the next President gets to rule by decree.

Washington was right. Parties are bad things.

Re:Its about damned time... (-1, Redundant)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755542)

...but Monica Lewinsky doesn't count!

Re:Its about damned time... (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755556)

Being in the miority during those years might ahve ahd something to do with it, as well as trusting what the president had said about WMDs.

At that time, it wasn't unreasonable to believe the president. Of course, now that we know he lied, he should be tossed out, perferable on the last day in office, so he still gets it noted in the history books, but Cheney has no time to do anything else.

hmm, or maybe do it sooner, and then toss Cheney out for lying as well, preferably on the same day.

Re:Its about damned time... (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755576)

Being in the miority during those years might ahve ahd something to do with it, as well as trusting what our intelligence community had said about WMDs.

At that time, it wasn't unreasonable to believe our intelligence data. Of course, now that we know they were wrong, they should given the resources to do a better job next time, preferably a better budget more power to operate without the ACLU breathing down their necks demanding to know every single operation that is ongoing.
There, made it true for ya and removed the political rhetoric.

Re:Its about damned time... (3, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755704)

What is the problem that some Americans have with the ACLU? Its an organization dedicated to protecting the constitution... to me it would seem like hating it makes about as much sense as hating kittens.

Re:Its about damned time... (5, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755804)

That's what it started out as. Now, it's an organization dedicated to defending those parts of the Constitution it approves of and those interpretations that match its agenda. The ACLU has made it quite plain a number of times that it will not, under any circumstances defend the Second Amendment. As long as that's its position, I, among many others, want nothing to do with it.

Re:Its about damned time... (2)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755722)

Being in the miority during those years might ahve ahd something to do with it, as well as trusting what the Bush Administration had said about WMDs.

At that time, it wasn't unreasonable to believe the Bush Administration. Of course, now that we know they were wrong, they should be tried and convicted of treason.

There, made it true for ya and removed the political rhetoric.

Fixed it for both of you. 935 [publicintegrity.org] .

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755788)

At that time, it wasn't unreasonable to believe the Bush Administration. Of course, now that we know they were wrong, they should be tried and convicted of treason.
Sorry, but being wrong is not an impeachable offense, much less treason.

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755826)

Meant to change that to "lied." My bad. You didn't read the link, obviously.

Re:Its about damned time... (-1, Troll)

EQ (28372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755858)

Garbage in, Garbage out. Surely as a /. member, you know that geek truism?

Where do you think the Bush Administration got the bad data on WMD? Same place that Clinton depended on, same results. Same for Bush the Elder when he was surprised by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

From the US intelligence community.

You know, the same bunch of people that missed the collapse of the Soviet Union, overestimated their strengths for decades, missed 9/11, missed the kind of resistance US forces would face in Iraq, missed how relatively quick it would be to use native force and US Airpower in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, missed on calling an aspirin factory an anthrax factory back in the 90's, missed on what camp to hit with cruise missiles to kill Bin Laden back in the 90's ...

Do I need to go further? All the way back to how Pearl Harbor was bungled perhaps?

The US Intelligence community is broken. Does not require Evil Chimpy McHalliBush. Just a President that trust what the governmental career intelligence people tell him.

And Bush, as Clinton before him, depended on what they told him and acted on it. And was just as wrong.

You might do better to fix your thinking than to falsify issues by editing other people's posts.

Re:Its about damned time... (4, Informative)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755884)

Hmm, another person who didn't read the link. Bush discarded the information given to him by the intelligence community and made up his own. Here's that link again: 935 [publicintegrity.org] . I can't help you if you're not willing to read it.

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755866)

Except that treason is explicitly defined int the Constitution -- Article III, Section 3 [usconstitution.net] -- and alas, what Bush did doesn't fit the bill.

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755900)

Except the Bush Administration lied 935 times to the People of the USA and got us to support a war on false pretenses? Lying is not an impeachable offense now? Ha! Tell that to the Republican Congress that impeached Bill Clinton.

Re:Its about damned time... (4, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755738)

How is this informative. If you don't like or disagree with what the person said, respond to their argument. Changing what they said and then saying made it true for ya seems rather childish. If you don't believe the president distorted the evidence provided by the intelligence community, let us know what makes you believe that.

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

Marful (861873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755864)

How is pointing out false truths and half truths that misrepresent and belie the actual facts not informative?


Oh wait... I see your last sentence...

You know, it would save you a lot of typing if you just only said "Bush lied people died"...

Re:Its about damned time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755822)

+4 Informative, my ass.

The majority of the intelligence community told the president that there was no conclusive evidence of WMDs in Iraq. They told him there was no evidence of a link between Iraq and 9/11. The president flatly ignored the majority, and chose to believe the handful who were telling him what he wanted to hear.

Then he sent Colin Powell to lie the the UN and tell them that our entire intelligence community believed that the evidence was conclusive. He lied again to the public, by constantly mentioning Iraq and 9/11 at the same time, giving the misleading impression that there was a connection between the two.

Re:Its about damned time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755854)

> At that time, it wasn't unreasonable to believe our intelligence data. Of course, now that we know they were wrong, they should given the resources to do a better job next time, preferably a better budget more power to operate without the ACLU breathing down their necks demanding to know every single operation that is ongoing.

Really ? Explain then why the rest of the world knew it was false ? It was making headline here, in France, that the Iraq had no WMDs and that US Intelligence reports were not telling the truth...

But, hey, you were busy then eating your "Freedom Fries", and now you are re-writting history ? The truth is that, with a bigger bugdet, your "Intelligence" would have built bigger lies...

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755888)

Being in the miority during those years might ahve ahd something to do with it, as well as trusting what our intelligence community had said about WMDs.

At that time, it wasn't unreasonable to believe our intelligence data. Of course, now that we know they were wrong, they should given the resources to do a better job next time, preferably a better budget more power to operate without the ACLU breathing down their necks demanding to know every single operation that is ongoing.
There, made it true for ya and removed the political rhetoric.
Lets see, they deliberately mislead you, and your solution is to increase their budget and reduce their oversight?

We're doomed :(

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755932)

There, made it true for ya and removed the political rhetoric.
Not quite. So called "intelligence" is never black and white, it is assigned confidence levels by the analysts who compile it. Bush & co were quite happy to cherry pick the reports that supported their desire to invade iraq and ignore the reports that suggested that iraq's possession of WMDs were unlikely. Or at least that's what the head of the CIA says is what happened. [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755938)

Of course, now that we know they were wrong, they should given the resources to do a better job next time, preferably a better budget more power to operate without the ACLU breathing down their necks

You're trying to blame the ACLU for the WMD fiasco? Seriously? That makes about as much sense as blaming lesbians for 9/11 [washingtonpost.com] .

Re:Its about damned time... (5, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755740)

At that time, it wasn't unreasonable to believe the president.
I'm sorry, but it was unreasonable.

It wasn't trust based on rational thought, it was based on emotion. Fear, anger, panic.

I didn't trust him then anymore than I do now, because I do not base the trustworthiness on a person on their position of authority nor their space-time proximity to an awe-inspiring event.

Re:Its about damned time... (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755558)

That someone with a D after their name grows a package and stands up for something. If only it had happened several years prior as well...
Sounds to me like they just gave a bunch of pretty speeches.

I haven't read the bill that was passed, but it seems like it's a bunch of the same, minus the telecom immunity. Maybe I'm reading this wrong.. well, take a look. From HERE [myway.com]

The surveillance law is intended to help the government pursue suspected terrorists by making it easier to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails between foreigners abroad and Americans in the U.S, and remove barriers to collecting purely foreign communications that pass through the United States- for instance, foreign e-mails stored on a server.

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755660)

> That someone with a D after their name ... stands up for something

The problem the Dems have is they rarely act as a team. I am pleased as punch that they chose to come together, on the side of the people, for this issue. The bill of rights has been beaten down time and time again, so this rare display of coherence and competence was very well-placed. Good job, o thee who've adopted the jackass as your symbol. May those who've adopted the jackass as their character be soundly defeated and roundly slapped down.

ps - Anybody interested in some VZ.MU stocks?

Re:Its about damned time... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755836)

May those who've adopted the jackass as their character be soundly defeated and roundly slapped down.


Can I presume, then, that you're planning on voting for McCain in November?

Re:Its about damned time... (0, Flamebait)

maydaygray (1204380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755838)

This is absolutely outrageous. I find it difficult to believe that such people exist as those that post in support of these cowardly, craven Democrats. The reason, as everyone who has the least clue knows, these Democrats voted against the telecom's immunity is to allow trial lawyers to sue with class action status. This will no doubt result in even larger campaign contributions to the DNC. I won't say that the telecoms are as pure as the wind driven snow, but it is obvious that they acted in good faith to aid this country in an time of crisis. Does no one remember what is was like following the 9/11 attacks? When this country is attacked again, and more Americans die, I hope that people of this mind set can sleep well, resting assured that there may many deaths, but at least the trial lawyers and the Democrats made plenty of money.

Re:Its about damned time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755894)

Well paid by the telecoms are you? Or by the neocons?

Either way, be sure to repeat this often and loudly. I'd also suggest digg as a good place to go peddle this shit. Then you can point out all your posts to your bosses and be generously recompensed.

first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755514)

first

FAIL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755534)

You FAIL!!!

Re:FAIL! (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755748)

Mod parent up +1 lol!

Ah, I knew it! (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755516)

Bill Foster [wikipedia.org] hacked their speech generators!

OT (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755518)

One Democrat after the next -- of all stripes -- delivered impassioned, defiant speeches in defense of the rule of law, oversight on presidential eavesdropping, and safeguards on government spying.
All that's well and good, but what does it have to do with telecom immunity? I'm not defending it either way, but when you are debating to decide whether or not to give immunity to telecoms, why bring up congressional oversite of the President? Shouldn't they be debating "oversite of the telecomes"? If your problem is with the Prez, wait until you are debating a bill that limits immunity of the President, not the telecoms. Sorry, but bringing your desire to reign in the Prez during a telecoms debate is just as bad as the GOP bringing up national security during a debate on ethanol. It's a weak link.

Re:OT (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755580)

Becasue the telcom immunity would have protected the office of then president as well. The office of the president has to abide by laws as well, regardless of what the president says.
This whole thing stems from the current president trying to get more power.

In other words: This allows for the president to act without oversight.

Plus, it's politics.

It is very clear that todays republican party is about being in control of your life.

It's been going that way since Reagan. No surprise considering the same people have been driving policy with every republican president since Reagan.

Re:OT (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755626)

Becasue the telcom immunity would have protected the office of then president as well.
How is that?

Plus, it's politics.
DING DING DING... we have a winner!

It is very clear that todays republican party is about being in control of your life.
I disagree. It seems to me that the Republicans want to know what you doing. The Democrats want to tell you what to do. It's not Republicans telling what kind of car I should drive, what kind of food I can eat and if, when, and where I want to have a cigarette. It's not Republicans telling me what kind of health care I should have and it's not Republicans trying to take away my money to give it to someone else. It's not Republicans who are trying to use taxes to affect my behavior (carbon and gas taxes) and it's not Republicans who want to put a remote control on my thermostat so they can turn my AC down if THEY think I'm using too much electricity.

Re:OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755718)

it's not Republicans trying to take away my money to give it to someone else
Yes it is, it's just a different "someone else." Where Democrats want to give some of it to, say, the homeless, Republicans want to give it to defense contractors and big businesses.

Re:OT (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755582)

I disagree. The telecoms' defense amounts to "the president made me do it." If that's a valid defense, then essentially there is no rule of law, just the whim of the king. So which is higher, the president or the law? That's the real question at issue here.

Re:OT (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755600)

The telecoms' defense amounts to "the president made me do it."
Then go after the president.

Re:OT (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755628)

There aren't enough votes to make that happen (especially since he'll be out of office 10 months from now anyway).

Re:OT (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755658)

Then go after the President
There aren't enough votes to make that happen (especially since he'll be out of office 10 months from now anyway).
So you go after the telecoms? It's not their fault that Congress can not muster balls to get the votes to go after the Prez.

Re:OT (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755872)

So you go after the telecoms?

Obviously.

It's not their fault that Congress can not muster balls to get the votes to go after the Prez.

You don't "go after the Prez". That's what Republicans did with Clinton. You investigate crimes. Big difference. And the Republicans, the press, and a few Bush Dogs are big impediments to investigating those crimes.

Re:OT (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755906)

The telecoms knew damned well what they were doing was breaking the law. They were clearly promised immunity by the President, who when this all started, basically controlled the legislative branch. Breaking the law in this manner is a gamble. That is it's based on the idea that the Executive can continue to guarantee you what essentially are Constitutionally questionable (if not outright unlawful) protections. The dice in this crapshoot is the electorate, which effectively terminated the President's ability to keep the telecoms safe by wresting control of Congress from the Republicans and handing it to the Democrats.

Or maybe the telcos didn't know, but that's not the fault of the Democrats. One of the key jobs of Congress is as a balance to the Executive branch, and that means oversight. Perhaps the telcos, being so big and wealthy, should put a couple of constitutional lawyers into their legal teams so that when emissaries from the White House show up promising immunity in return for helping the President break the law, they'll have someone who can say "Well, if we do this, and the President loses control of either or both Houses, we are in real shit."

There's a principle far older than the United States at work here; caveat emptor.

Re:OT (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755700)

The telecoms' defense amounts to "the president made me do it."
Then go after the president.
At the risk of invoking Godwin, didn't the Nuremburg trials show once and for all that "I was ordered to do it" is not a valid defense?

Re:OT (5, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755918)

At the risk of invoking Godwin, didn't the Nuremburg trials show once and for all that "I was ordered to do it" is not a valid defense?


They certainly showed that it wasn't when the orders came from the leadership on the losing side of a war, and the winning side is making the judgements.

Re:OT (1)

scuba0 (950343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755924)

I was ordered to is never a defence. They knew it was illegal and still helped, not just did what they needed but even supplied with more. Both are at fault, why choose one of them?!

Re:OT (5, Informative)

jb68321 (1123905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755604)

Hm I suppose you MAY have missed the article that came out (from the Wall Street Journal no less) that talked about a huge NSA spying program, which includes -everyone- in the city of Detroit, everyone they talked to, among millions of other people whose emails, etc got flagged by some NSA program. I'd link but their site requires subscription. The NSA pulled bank, phone, credit card, etc records for millions of innocent individuals and shared them with many other government agencies.

This type of government-funded, classified-budget project, plus all the other recent revelations about warrant-less wiretapping (demanded by the Bush administration officials on account of their terrorist-finding programs) amounts to a huge case against the Bush administration itself. If the administration had not demanded the info, which is illegal itself thanks to the Constitution, the ISPs would not have had to give up info... not that they had to, and doing so was also illegal IMHO. Anyways you can't possibly say it was only the ISP's fault without acknowledging the government was giving them hell in the meantime.

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/national_security_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org [nytimes.com]

Re:OT (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755714)

This type of government-funded, classified-budget project, plus all the other recent revelations about warrant-less wiretapping (demanded by the Bush administration officials on account of their terrorist-finding programs) amounts to a huge case against the Bush administration itself. If the administration had not demanded the info, which is illegal itself thanks to the Constitution, the ISPs would not have had to give up info... not that they had to, and doing so was also illegal IMHO. Anyways you can't possibly say it was only the ISP's fault without acknowledging the government was giving them hell in the meantime.
Right, then go after the President, not the ISPs or the telecoms. If the telecoms were "given hell" from the administration if they didn't cooperate, then they should gladly testify against the administration.

By not giving immunity to the telecoms, you are going to have a bunch of people suing the shit out of them (which we all end up paying for) because they are mad at the president. If you mad at the Prez, go after the Prez!

Re:OT (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755782)

If someone is suing the shit out of the telecoms, and the telecoms lose, doesn't that mean that the telecoms shouldn't have done what they did?

Rule of law ALWAYS applies to everyone. People need to learn that even the president cannot make them perform illegal acts.

Re:OT (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755898)

If someone is suing the shit out of the telecoms, and the telecoms lose, doesn't that mean that the telecoms shouldn't have done what they did?

Rule of law ALWAYS applies to everyone. People need to learn that even the president cannot make them perform illegal acts.
First, if they are sued, it will more than likely be in a civil court. IANAL, but it seems to me that there is a difference between being prosecuted and being sued. If you break the law, you are prosecuted (not going to happen here). If you cause someone harm, you are sued. The immunity was being sued.

People will sue the telecoms saying that their privacy had been violated and then it will be up to them to prove it. Of course, they can't unless they can prove that the government listened to their conversation. They can't do that without the government releasing all the conversations that were listened to. And here is the crux of the problem. That will be a HUGE breach of national security if the Gov't has to release all the conversations that were listened in on to the public.

The other problem is what if "The People" win against the telecoms and receive a judgment of let's say 100 Billion dollars. This will do one of two things. One would be that the "telecoms" go out of business and their assets are liquidated to pay the judgment. Now who do I call because my phone/Internet/cell is not working... better yet, HOW do I contact them without a Cell/Phone/Internet connection? The other thing that can happen is the telecoms pay the fines by raising rates on their customers, which is EVERYONE.

In other words, I don't see how you can win by going after the telecoms. Even if you do win, WE ALL end up paying for it. If you don't win, WE ALL still end up paying for it. It's a no-win situation. If you have a problem, go after the President.

To Summarize Parent.... (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755744)

To summarize the parent:

This was a violation of the law and the Constitution by the Executive branch and therefore the President is directly responsible for the violation even if he didn't give a direct order to do so.

Re:OT (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755792)

I'm not defending it either way, but when you are debating to decide whether or not to give immunity to telecoms, why bring up congressional oversite of the President?


The kind of immunity for the telecoms sought by the Administration would have presented lawsuits against them which, because of governmental immunities, standing issues, and other problems, are pretty the most probable way, if not the only way, that any of the facts necessary to hold the executive accountable are likely to come out in practice.

It also would encourage large companies to violate the law at the behest of the executive in future cases (and not only in this particular area), by setting the example that such violations would be the subject of retroactive immunity. By encouraging lawbreaking at the behest of the President, it would, therefore, have reduced the degree to which the law served as a practical constraint on executive action.

So this law, that superficially concerning immunity for telecoms, had a serious impact on the practical accountability of the President to the law, something which Members of Congress unsurprisingly did not miss, and perhaps more surprisingly actually pointed out and acted upon.

um, everything? (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755840)

All that's well and good, but what does it have to do with telecom immunity?

Ask your local prosecutor how easy it is to compel testimony from someone they've indited for a crime, vs someone who's been given immunity.

Re:OT (1)

KoshClassic (325934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755928)

The problem with your argument is this... while I certainly agree that "oversight of the telecoms" is probably a good way to label what should be going on here, "oversight of the president" is just as valid. Why? Because the the telecoms engaged in activities that now require oversight at the behest of the President. The President broke the law. So to did the telecoms, but the President asked the telecoms to not only break the law but also to help him break the law.

Yay (2, Interesting)

ShedPlant (1041034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755520)

I'm very pleased to hear this. I'm sure the Democratic congressmen know this will play well in the next election, however: wait and see if they're honest about civil liberties in two to four years time, if they get the White House too and can set the legislative agenda.

Separation of powers is a good thing; the more conflict between the White House and Capitol Hill, the less the rights and incomes of the American citizenry will be eroded.

Bravo! (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755526)

Bravo!

This sucks. (0)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755532)

I hate getting a glimmer of hope that not all is lost in this 'democratic' country, only read TFA for quotes like this:

It's also true that even if it did pass the Senate, the President will veto it, and there won't be enough votes to override the veto. So this bill won't become law, but that doesn't matter...
So yippee; some more of our elected officials stood up and pretended to do something today. Now they can wave their voting record around at the next election, regardless that nothing was ever accomplished.

Re:This sucks. (1)

ShadowMarth (870657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755568)

Dang it... Almost thought this whole Telecom situation was looking up for a moment. Obviously this won't be able to pass over the President's head. Perhaps they'll give it another shot after the election. Will it be too late then?

Re:This sucks. (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755584)

It doesn't matter if Bush vetoes it. Under current law, there is no telecom immunity. EFF vs. AT&T [eff.org] goes forward.

Re:This sucks. (1)

Reader X (906979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755666)

Exactly. And as long as this continues, the clearer the speciousness of the administration's claims becomes. The clock is on the Democrats' side now, and they know it.

Something WAS accomplished (3, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755598)

They congresspeople who put this bill together stood up to the Bush administration's paranoid, fear-mongering bullshit. Their actions mean that they've gone on record stating that telecomm immunity has nothing to with national security.

It's precedent. It's courage.

Would you have preferred they do nothing? Stood around and bitched about The Man?

Re:Something WAS accomplished (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755636)

Would you have preferred they do nothing? Stood around and bitched about The Man?
No, I would prefer if our government wasn't just a big game of smoke and mirrors.

Re:Something WAS accomplished (1)

dagamer34 (1012833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755746)

Aren't we glad that: a) there's no line-item veto b) President can't make laws Even though the Constitution doesn't allow either and specifically prohibits the latter, there are still some things the President can't explicitly do (implicitly he's run amuck by breaking laws, but he still can't make them thankfully).

Re:This sucks. (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755638)

That's not entirely true. Retroactive immunity has not become law yet. If nothing gets done, there will be no retroactive immunity and the next administration is not likely to be quite as friendly to anyone who acted illegally in this matter.

If it gets held up for too long I could see the administration pursuing quick prosecutions of the managers of those companies so that pardons can be issued prior to the next administration taking power. We'll see if the house blinks before the President does. Congress has proven to be very weak-willed when it comes with confrontations with the White House in the past, but now that we've entered in to the lame-duck period and Republicans are scrambling to distance themselves from this administration, things may end up being different.

Speaking of which, does anyone have a list of all the House and Senate members who voted pro-torture a week or two ago?

Re:This sucks. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755846)

Speaking of which, does anyone have a list of all the House and Senate members who voted pro-torture a week or two ago?

You mean the ones that voted against a bill that had no meaning outside US citizens because the military has its own law and its own court system and this was a federal bill affecting stateside affairs?

Re:This sucks. (5, Insightful)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755654)

I disagree. Passing a good bill that is doomed to failure is better than passing a bad bill to maintain the appearance of "getting things done."

Veto? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755690)

If Bush uses his Veto then that would be a very bad move politically, even if it served his interests (and they are his, a veto would not serve the public interest at all on this matter), what with the elections and all, it would say all sorts of things about the republicans that they wouldn't want said at this time.

Ok, the Veto exists for a good reason, but just having a power doesn't mean you should over-use it. It's not meant to turn a president into a dictator.

Re:Veto? (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755764)

Are you seriously trying to imply that Bush has demonstrated previously that he gives a flying fsck about his approval ratings, or what are good political moves? Hell, McCain does not even want Bush to campaign for him.

Re:This sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755698)

nothing was ever accomplished.

Something was accomplished: the version that expands immunity, isn't going to become law this year.

The normal function of government is to keep making things worse. This time, things are going to get worse more slowly. That's a victory.

Re:This sucks. (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755818)

The normal function of government is to keep making things worse. This time, things are going to get worse more slowly. That's a victory.
And that is a quote from someone who sees how shitty things are, are getting worse, and still wants to be optimistic. Not sure if I want to congratulate you or...

Re:This sucks. (1)

smolloy (1250188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755728)

It's not true that "nothing was accomplished". The thing I'm so happy about is that the system appears to be working again. For quite a few years now, we've had a legislative branch that simply agreed with whatever the President wanted, and didn't suggest anything that they knew he would veto. The system is supposed to provide balances against one branch achieving too much power, and that is the situation we lived in for the last few years. Finally, today, we see that the system can still work, and that the power of the executive can be limited -- even when said executive tries playing the terrorism card. This is a *good* thing, and that is what has been accomplished today.

Re:This sucks. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755868)

Note that if the President vetos the bill (as he no doubt will), he still doesn't get the telecom immunity or other expansions of executive power he sought.

Think of the House and Senate, in this case, as Mom and Dad -- and a Mom and Dad who are a bit paranoid, so they've got a bank account where they both have to sign a check for it to be valid. Now, Junior (President Bush) has come to Mom and Dad because he's gotten in a spot of trouble with his friends, and he wants Mom and Dad to write a check to make it all go away -- and he's asked for $100. Mom responds by yelling at him, and writing a check out for $5 and handing it to Dad. Now, maybe Dad won't sign that, and maybe if he does Junior will just tear it up and complain some more, but either way, unless someone changes Mom's mind, Junior doesn't get anything like his $100.

ABOUT TIME (1)

EdelFactor19 (732765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755540)

its about time something intelligent was done in congress that was consistent with the constitution. I'm hopeful that this is the start of a trend in congress as the dem's finally gain more power, in which some of the BS laid down by the GOP gets thrown away... wishful thinking but maybe next they can revisit the patriot act, and the dmca. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. they could very well tomorrow come back and try to repeal the 27th amendment so they can give themselves raises for doing such a good job.

i know, how awful it is for an on topic first post?

Maybe there is hope of a Revolution (2, Insightful)

FromTheAir (938543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755544)

Maybe their is hope that we the people can defeat the few that benefit to the detriment of the many.

It is all about awareness and unity.

Spying and secracy does not really protect National Security.

The actuality is this spying capability is a threat to national security in that it allows a few people in control to shut down any political opposition.

What took them so long? (3, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755560)

That's great news, but it is somewhat diminished by the Democrats waiting two years to start to do what they where elected for in 2006. I'm glad that "but but the TERRORISTS!" doesn't have so much sway any more.

One Marxist after another... (0, Flamebait)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755564)

This country is turning into Nazi Germany.

The extremist group with the most control eventually gains full control of the state; compromises eventually become nonexistent, and the controlling power tramples the opposition on all issues.

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

When you don't have the push-pull tug-of-war going on, whatever side is running off keeps running faster and faster until you get USSR (Left, Socialist) or Nazi Germany (Right, Fascist). Normally everyone gets tired of pulling and meets in the middle to figure out what goes where; remove that and bye bye country, hello Iraq or Russia or Iran or North Korea or whatever else. History has shown this in every sustained single-party rule case (a single, unified party is a dictator; it's one entity with one goal and one mind); common sense and logical analysis will prove it pretty fast too.

Re:One Marxist after another... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755904)

There's another example of that closer to home: from the late 1840s right up until 1860 American politics was like that. It wasn't Democrat vs Wigg anymore, it was North vs South. Southerners of both parties became allies in their fight to preserve slavery and Northerners did the same in self defense. In the end, the sectionalism tore the country apart in the Civil War.

George W's reply to the House of Representatives: (2, Funny)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755592)

"Why do you hate Freedom?"

Re:George W's reply to the House of Representative (3, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755752)

Bush's reply has been something along the lines of, "There are men and women out there dying in Iraq. We need this bill to pass so that we can go back to making the world safe for our soldiers and our families. So please hurry up and make telephone companies immune from prosecution."

The major disconnect here has been that Bush has had plenty of opportunity to just sign the bill and go back to listening in on phone conversations. The fact that he has hung the entire bill on the passage of retroactive immunity has made it clear that he's either just fucking around and seriously doesn't care about what the military agenda is, or he's clearly got something to hide involving those phone companies. Either way, I'ma go make a bag of popcorn and wait to see what happens next.

Tagged "slashkos" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755646)

Tagged with slaskos for the newest slashkos editor, Scuttlemonkey.

Reallity hasn't sunk in yet I see... (0, Troll)

dewright_ca (89241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755652)

It is fascinatning to watch and hear these debates. When all this will accomplish is boiler plate FISA requests being prepared and carried around. All they have to do is request the wiretap and they can begin, they don't need to have the approval which can take minutes or weeks.

So yes the Phone companies won't be able to say 'We were threatened with losing our huge federal subsidies so we consented.' Now they can be sued by the 'Americans Communist Liberties Union' so they can suck up more of our tax dollars with federal lawsuits instead of helping with the core issue. That being people that want to take American Civil Liberties, like the right to Life, and cut your head off with a serated knife on video.

Don't fool yourself into thinking this is just about Bush versus Pelosi/Fienstien; this is about the protecting the American way of life versus those imposed on us by someone wtih a bomb-vest like happened in Israel last week.

It is ok to worry about someone listening to your phone call.. but you have to ask yourself.. What do I have to hide? If they can listen to 10 million phone calls (really??) and stop 1 more Oklahoma City, or 1 more Bali Hotel and it is not hurting me in the least. What do I have to worry about?

No, if you want to call up people in Irag/Iran/Afgahnistan/Pakistan and discuss the 'the bomb' and you are not talking about the latest J-Lo album being 'the bom' then you might have to be worried.

Corrupt politics as usual (1)

m4cph1sto (1110711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755662)

The Democrats can talk all they want on the House floor, but it's all hypocritical political posturing. The fact is, the Democrat-controlled Congress APPROVED the surveillance program. The Telecoms did nothing illegal in complying with the wiretap requests. They will continue to do so, and the program can now continue with the full authority of Congress, whereas before it was "simply" an executive order from the President.

The most ridiculous part is this issue of retroactive immunity. The Telecoms will NOT be prosecuted for any crime, since their actions have now been definitively legalized by Congress. However, they can still be sued in civil court by customers who feel their privacy has been violated (as the wiretaps probably violate the Telecoms' "terms of service" agreements). Trial lawyers are salivating over the prospect of huge class-action lawsuits with multi-million dollar settlements, and the accompanying lawyer fees they will collect. The consumers will only see a few dollars each from the settlements. The immunity was meant to prevent the Telecoms from being sued, not to prevent them from being prosecuted.

What is the real reason the Democrats approved the wiretap program, but denied Telecoms immunity from being sued over past actions that they have now made legal? Because trial lawyers are huge contributors to the Democrat party. The Democrats can talk all they want about the "rule of law", but their true objective is simply to benefit some of their wealthiest and biggest campaign contributors: the trial lawyers.

Re:Corrupt politics as usual (1)

LowellPorter (466257) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755796)

The Democrats can talk all they want on the House floor, but it's all hypocritical political posturing. The fact is, the Democrat-controlled Congress APPROVED the surveillance program...

Exactly. The Democrat's don't care about civil rights anymore than the Republicans do. This was done to support one of the largest groups of people that financially support the Democrats - the trial lawyers. Since there is not going to be immunity, then they will 'sue the pants off' whomever they can think of. They're going to make out big time with this legislation even more than the people they represent. This also means more contributions to the Democrats.

What about the threat of Terrorists ??? (1)

FromTheAir (938543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755668)

The terrorist threat is a created perceptual threat. Based on our current vulnerabilities that exist and have existed for decades, and all the money spent for security has left them wide open, there can't really an intelligent organized terrorist organization because if there were such a thing they would have taken advantage of the vulnerabilities and shut the country long ago.

In fact the most ingenious way to do it would only require the mass distribution of a single email and letters to the media to put a single thought into everyone's mind. They would not even need to have actually done what is said in the email; just knowing that it was possible would be enough to send the country into chaos.

We actually came up with this developing a script for a movie but decided against putting the idea into the public domain.

I really think if we work in unity there can be peace, prosperity and abundance for all and an end to violent conflict. There are only a small percentage of people that cause all the worlds problems.

Impressive editorializing (1)

Jeian (409916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755680)

That is, by far, one of the most impressively biased summaries I've ever read.

Re:Impressive editorializing (-1, Troll)

EQ (28372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755760)

I especially liked this bit:

"They swatted away the GOP's fear-mongering claims with the dismissive contempt such tactics deserve"

I mean there isn't even the slightest pretense there of objective reporting.

Seems neither the left nor the right is interested in speaking plain facts wihtout embellishing them with spin and political distortion.

Since when did obvious slanted coverage become a staple here? I thought it was about "News for Nerds" - and that in general, us "nerds" desire objectivity, not rampant bias and editorializing presented as "news".

And yeah, there goes my karma. Probably get modded down for speaking truth that offends someone.

Re:Impressive editorializing (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755852)

Seems to me that slashdot editors have figured out that "geeks" in the loosest sense of the term (and including the huge young generation of upper-middle-class internet junkies) are a far bigger market than the original hardcore science/computer/linux/whatever nerds that slashdot used to focus on. Makes sense--just look at the politics articles, they're the most commented on.

Can't say I like the slashdot editors objectively unobjective stands, but hey, it's what makes them money, I can't really complain about that.

Re:Impressive editorializing (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755806)

You don't get to bleat about "bias" when one side is 100% full of shit. Buscho started the warrantless wiretapping BEFORE 911. The blathering about "protect telecos that helped us after 911" is also bullshit because if the gvt had followed the law and gotten a warrant, the telecos would have no choice but to comply.

So what does this all mean? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755750)

If the president simply issues a pardon?

Re:So what does this all mean? (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755896)

The President can't pardon civil offenses, only criminal offenses, so it won't have any effect. On the criminal side, the way the applicable statutes are written, its people in the executive branch that would be most likely to be liable anyway, and its hard as if this administration is going to prosecute them in the first place, so pardons aren't likely to be necessary except on the way out the door to protect against anything the next administration might do.

Just because it's new to you.... (1)

Rahga (13479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755754)

"I can't recall ever watching a debate on the floor of either House of Congress that I found even remotely impressive -- until today. One Democrat after the next -- of all stripes -- delivered impassioned, defiant speeches in defense of the rule of law, oversight on presidential eavesdropping, and safeguards on government spying."

Really? Ever? Do you really think this is the first time that an executive branch was impassionately challenged by a House controlled by an opposing party. This is nothing new nor special. If anything, it's pathetic. There's no debate, no Democrat reps out there saying "You know, some wiretapping might be okay, and tapping international calls really shouldn't be classified as 'domestic surveillance'".

If anything, thanks to Obamamania, it's quaint to be naive and in awe of politics again.

this is why we need primary challenges (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755770)

Leonard Boswell was one of twenty-one Bush Dogs that signed a letter a couple weeks back urging immunity for telecoms. He's facing a primary challenge from Ed Fallon, which might have had something to do with Boswell's about face on the issue.

Incidentally, it also goes to show what a pure egotist Ralph Nader is. It's Democrats taking care of the dead wood in the Democratic Party, while Nader just runs as a spoiler.

My Thoughts Earlier Today (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755774)

I reviewed the Declaration of Independence today, and wrote this. I feel it is somewhat relevant. Though there still exists the problem of pushing the bill through the Senate, and then overriding the inevitable veto if this bill were to go through (neither of which is likely), the fact that the House did not just roll over to provide retroactive immunity shows that there is some sense of reason within at least a few of our elected leaders.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes


While most people would consider the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness clause the most important part of the document, I would argue that the above quoted phrasing is even more important. As non-transient as the issues of today seem, they are mostly transient when you think in terms of decades and generations rather than in terms of months and years.

There will always be power grabs, wars, attacks on civil liberties, etc., but the government is structured in such a way that the government will always shift towards both the will of the people and the fundamental principals of freedom.

We must have faith that in times when the strength and fortitude of our founding principals appear to be fading, at least one man will stand up and do what is right for the nation, and in the absence of such, we must individually stand up and be that man.

When you are enraged by policy or the behaviors of those in governing position, think about whether you are enraged by propoganda that led you in that direction or whether you are enraged by an actual afront to your personal values. Be it propoganda, take time to think about how you have fallen under the spell. Be it personal values, hold your tongue and determine a course of action such that you can actually make a difference.

This Might Not Survive Conference Committee (4, Informative)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755784)

This bill has only been passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate has already passed a bill that gives Bush everything he wants. What happens now is that the two bills will be "reconciled" by a conference committee, that will then yield the bill that actually gets passed - or not.

What You Need To Do Now:

If you are a US citizen, visit Congress.org [congress.org] and enter your zip code in the Search box to find out who your Representative and Senators are. Then write them a letter urging them to uphold the House's version of the bill in the conference committee.

Don't bother with email; if you can't write a letter, call them on the phone.

Emphasize the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law.

Urge them not to compromise, if the President does veto the final bill. It would be much better not to pass a bill at all than to allow this travesty of justice to continue.

My letter is going to point out that all the telcos knew they were breaking the law when they committed their crimes. Such criminal acts should be treated as such. IMHO, there shouldn't need to be civil lawsuits filed by those who were spied upon; all of the telco employees involved, as well as all the government officials involved, should be put in prison for a good long time.

You can't prosecute a sitting president, but what you can do is impeach him, and that's what should happen to Bush.

Something I don't get (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755810)

Why are we so concerned about the telcos and their responsibility? How about the people who had them do the eavesdropping in the first place?

I think we're going after the red cape and not the matador here. We're being distracted away from the actual guilty parties.

Huh? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755828)

I read the summary describing "impassioned, defiant speeches" (I didn't read TFA. I don't need another 'free' account).

Wasn't this session sopposed to be closed [slashdot.org] ?

So congressional democrats care about freedom now? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755844)

I'll try to keep that in mind while I listen to them talk about raising my taxes and taking away my guns.

This doesn't address the issue. (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755880)

I think this is B.S, and here is why...

Perhaps I'm mistaken as I didn't RTFA, but from what I'm hearing, the government still isn't being held accountable.

While obviously telecoms KNEW better, its hard to say 'no' to your nation's president. Now, telecoms are going to take the brunt of the repercussions while the REAL reason this stuff happened (abuse of intimidation by the executive branch) goes unpunished. And yes, I'm sure it will go unpunished - at least on an individual level - as the upper crust of government officials (by law) cannot be sued as a result of doing their 'job'...
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