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Senate Votes for Retroactive immunity
February 12, 2008 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Senate votes for retroactive telecom immunity 67 senators voted against the Dodd/Feingold amendment to strip telecom immunity from the Protect America Act. It still needs to be pass the house.

The Democrats voting against the amendment to strip immunity (and therefore maintain the current liability) were: Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Evan Bayh (D-IA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jim Webb (D-VA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Hillary Clinton was the only Democrat not voting today.
posted by delmoi (186 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
67 cowards and traitors.

Too bad the people don't give a shit.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 10:10 AM on February 12, 2008


Your sentence if very poorly phrased. Let me take a whack at it:

The Democrats voting to turn the US into Nazi Germany were:

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Evan Bayh (D-IA)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Jim Webb (D-VA)
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

The Democrat casting a de facto vote to turn the US into Nazi Germany by her failure to show up (not to mention lead) to fight against it:

Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
posted by DU at 10:10 AM on February 12, 2008 [14 favorites]


Yeah, wonder if Clinton will keep bringing up those "present" votes of Obama's (which, incidentally, is what he was asked to do by Planned Parenthood).
posted by krinklyfig at 10:13 AM on February 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Here in Washington, there are bastards and morons. These guys are bastards.
posted by The White Hat at 10:13 AM on February 12, 2008


And this really is a damn shame. Looks like Dodd's filibuster might have been just part of his campaign. None of these votes surprise me too much, but it's really just another sell out.

Bayh is on Hillary's short list for a running mate. Keep that in mind.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:15 AM on February 12, 2008


I don't understand how someone could vote against this amendment. What are the arguments put forth supporting giving immunity to companies for illegally helping the government with illegal wiretapping?
posted by demiurge at 10:16 AM on February 12, 2008


What are the arguments put forth supporting giving immunity to companies for illegally helping the government with illegal wiretapping?

9/11!!!!!!!!!!!1

posted by DU at 10:17 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think it's worth pointing out that of that list above, three are up for re-election.

Jay Rockefeller (WV)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Mary Landrieu (LA)

The problems we have in our government are the direct result of the people allowing their elected representatives to do whatever the hell they want without being taken to task for it.

The only issues where Congress -- on either side, either in the House or Senate -- gives a rat's ass about the opinion of the people is when it's going to result in votes. If you're not willing to vote somebody out of office because of an issue, it's irrelevant.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:17 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is really shameful.
posted by OmieWise at 10:18 AM on February 12, 2008


And where the fuck have all the libertarian republicans gone? Did Ron Paul eat them?
posted by OmieWise at 10:19 AM on February 12, 2008


"That's why Bush has won and -- even with "Democrats in control of Congress" -- continues to win most key votes. The fault lines in the Beltway aren't primarily between Republican and Democrat but between those who support the core values of our political establishment (as reflected by the Bush administration) and those who don't."
From the first link:

posted by acro at 10:20 AM on February 12, 2008


Pick one of the following:

1) These Dems are in the telecommunications companies' pockets.
2) Telecommunications companies that have been given immunity will not hesitate to hand over documents that thoroughly outline the agenda of the Bush administration. Immunity from prosecution might mean they are more ready and willing to testify against said powers. The Dems might be thinking that this will give them more leverage and evidence when/if they prosecute government officials.
3) Both of the above.
4) We are witnesses yet another scene in this horrific play we call American Politics II: Electric Boogaloo.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:21 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Evan Bayh (D-IA)

Evan Bayh is from Indiana, the beneficiary of his father Birch Bayh. He's pretty much the archetype of the Democrat that has no claim on the name.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:22 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, how 'bout all those Repubs voting against the amendment? They are cowards and traitors, too, even if we didn't expect anything different...
posted by tommyD at 10:23 AM on February 12, 2008


AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Not that I expected anything different from DiFi.
posted by rtha at 10:24 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I called my Dem Senator (Nelson) a couple weeks ago to tell him I appreciated him supporting Dodd's filibuster on the matter.

Guess its time to call him and tell him why I won't be voting for him next election. Fucking cowards and traitors, the lot of them.

A perfect example of why I have to hold my nose when voting Democrat.
posted by kableh at 10:24 AM on February 12, 2008


Anyone who opposes the Protect America Act obviously doesn't want to protect America.
posted by brain_drain at 10:25 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


67 cowards and traitors

No. Just well trained seals. Lobbyists own the government.

What the telecoms firms did was illegal. Asking them to do so was illegal. The whole shebang was and is a violation of the U.S. constitution and the rtule of law.

So what's new?
posted by three blind mice at 10:27 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Democrats who voted in favor of telecom immunity that are among the top 20 recipients of Telecom money (according to Open Secrets Telecom Contribution Trends):

Hillary Clinton (D-NY) - $329,230
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) - $44,100
Mary Landrieu (D-LA) - $24,793
Mark Pryor (D-AR) - $46,800
Ken Salazar (D-CO) - $19,000
posted by Staggering Jack at 10:28 AM on February 12, 2008 [20 favorites]


I just got off the phone with McCaskill's office in St. Louis. I'm surprised how unprepared they were to respond with a justification of her vote this morning. You'd think they would have seen the calls coming.

The final statement I was able to extract, by offering a lot of help, was that Senator McCaskill supports an ongoing investigation but does not believe companies should be penalized for working in good faith with the government. The more I think about this I'm starting to be more in favor of the replacement amendment, which I believe places the government as the responsible and vulnerable target in place of the "good faith" telcos.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:29 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


WTF McCaskill? I kind of expected it from Feinstein but I expected more from you!
posted by ooga_booga at 10:29 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]



Just to make it clear to everyone:

Hillary Clinton was a "no vote" on this one. With this in mind, I don't think we can condemn her for anything other than being a p-word on this issue.

So stop saying she opposed the measure.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:32 AM on February 12, 2008


Lotsa MoMeFis here today, apparently.

McCaskill is so frustrating for two reasons: the Senator she replaced was odious and it seemed like there really was going to be a change, and she voted the "right" way on this a few weeks ago when it looked like she might not.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:33 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wrote McCaskill a note expressing my extreme disappointment. The whole lot of them ought to be shamed out of office.
posted by jedicus at 10:33 AM on February 12, 2008


..but does not believe companies should be penalized for working in good faith with the government.

That's pure BS. You think AT&T doesn't have some of the best lawyers money can buy? "Gosh, was that illegal? The 'con-sti-tu-tion' you say? I'll have to look into that."

Yeah right.
posted by DU at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm glad to see posts on MeFi identifying lists of politicians casting these votes. Not the ones who are already in bed with the special interest groups and usurpers of power, but the ones who have put on the lingerie and cock rings and are moving and shaking their little booties into that bed of corruption.

I haven't peeked under the covers, but being a Texan I know I can find all my Congressmen right there snug and sound, dreaming of the next day's wheelings and dealings.
posted by crapmatic at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2008


For what it's worth, this isn't Dodd's fault. 67 votes is filibuster-proof.
posted by Malor at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2008


The more I think about this I'm starting to be more in favor of the replacement amendment, which I believe places the government as the responsible and vulnerable target in place of the "good faith" telcos.

I think they should go after both. If Qwest knew it was wrong, the others did as well.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bathtub Bobsled: "Hillary Clinton was a "no vote" on this one. With this in mind, I don't think we can condemn her for anything other than being a p-word on this issue."

Silence is acceptance, and she didn't show up to be counted. If I was one of her constituents, that would strike me as unacceptable.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:35 AM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


Calls to Brownback & Roberts are being made, but I need help.

What's a more polite word for "dumb motherfucker"?
posted by Hugh2d2 at 10:36 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


re: Clinton, the fact that she got around $320K from the telecoms, but trying to get the Dem nomination, meant she had to stay silent. Voting against them would have meant she could loose more money (which she needs right now) and voting for them would alienate her shrinking base of supporters.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:38 AM on February 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Your sentence if very poorly phrased. Let me take a whack at it:

Ah your right. I was trying to reduce the triple negative nature of "voting against stripping immunity." Those senators

1) Voted against stripping immunity. (3 negatives)
2) Voted for immunity. (1 negative)
3) Voted against holding telecoms liable for their law-breaking. (positive form)

And this really is a damn shame. Looks like Dodd's filibuster might have been just part of his campaign.

I think Dodd was sincere, but there were not even enough senators here to filibuster.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 AM on February 12, 2008


Depressed as usual by our representation. But big props to Feingold and Dodd for continuing to stand up for our rights. Seriously though, come on 'government for the people.'
posted by kylefreund at 10:40 AM on February 12, 2008


If this gets through the House, the American Experiment is over, and the transition to a police state will be inevitable.

Why do I say that? Once the government gets to secret, legal wiretaps of citizens... once that line is crossed, there's no recovery, because no peaceful protest will be allowed to succeed.
posted by Malor at 10:42 AM on February 12, 2008 [7 favorites]



Just to make it clear to everyone:

Hillary Clinton was a "no vote" on this one. With this in mind, I don't think we can condemn her for anything other than being a p-word on this issue.

So stop saying she opposed the measure.


A no vote means she didn't want to remove the telecom immunity from the bill.

So she supported telecom immunity. It's easy to get tangled up in the double negatives.

Apologies if I misread you.
posted by butterstick at 10:42 AM on February 12, 2008


And, again... 67 votes can override any filibuster. It can override a veto, too.
posted by Malor at 10:43 AM on February 12, 2008


Lieberman from CT, an independent (sorta) voted agaisnt the ammendment (for the immunity)
posted by garlic at 10:44 AM on February 12, 2008


Incidentally, Clinton was a cosponsor.
posted by rush at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why do I say that? Once the government gets to secret, legal wiretaps of citizens... once that line is crossed, there's no recovery,

Haven't we already crossed that line, and trying to recover now?
posted by smackfu at 10:47 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm really disappointed in Hillary. I actually called her office to ask specifically that she not support telecom immunity. I reminded the staffer who I spoke to that on previous occasions, Hillary had stood in support of Chris Dodd and his fight against telecom immunity. I was reassured by the staffer that this is a Really Important Issue to Hillary, and that she has every intention of opposing it. Fast forward a few weeks, and it looks like she's too busy campaigning to do her damn job.

This kinda reminds me of when I called her office AND wrote her a letter to request that she support the Internet Radio Equality Act. To her credit, she was the only representative who wrote back to me (Mr. Schumer and Ms. Velazquez apparently don't care very much about music or culture). However, her response was worse than no response at all. She gave a multi-paragraph explanation of why the issue is important, and why we should care about it, etc etc. And I'm thinking, "yes, and?....." Finally, she ends the letter with something dismissive like, "We'll be keeping a close eye on this to see how it develops." In other words, she understood the issue, admitted it was important, and then.... completely refused to tell me whether or not she was going to do the one thing that I asked her to do. At the time, I was still undecided as to who I was supporting in the primary but it did edge me, ever-so-slightly, into the Obama camp.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:48 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


re: Clinton, the fact that she got around $320K from the telecoms, but trying to get the Dem nomination, meant she had to stay silent. Voting against them would have meant she could loose more money (which she needs right now) and voting for them would alienate her shrinking base of supporters.

And she's ready to go to work on day 1 to change America.

*chokes on own vomit*
posted by three blind mice at 10:49 AM on February 12, 2008 [7 favorites]


Incidentally, Clinton was a cosponsor.

So, she fails to show for the vote on an amendment she co-sponsors. I know she gets money from the telecoms, and showing up to vote the way they wanted wouldn't have been good. And I know voting against what they wanted wouldn't have been good (for her) either. So I'm guessing she co-sponsored the amendment as a way to provide some political cover.

"I co-sponsored the amendment! Ignore the fact I didn't vote! I know it's important, that's why I co-sponsored it!"

Weaseling of the highest order. Too many god-damned weasels in the hen-house, I say.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:50 AM on February 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


The more I think about this I'm starting to be more in favor of the replacement amendment, which I believe places the government as the responsible and vulnerable target in place of the "good faith" telcos.

That was voted on today as well.
The Specter-Whitehouse substitution amendment #3927 just failed 30-68. Voting against it were liberal senators like Dodd, Biden, and Murray. They opposed it because it would have taken the cases pending against the big telecoms and substituted the federal government as the defendant in all of them. It was a special treatment amendment and had it passed, it would have undermined the rule of law in America. That said, 31 votes for it were almost all Democrats.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 AM on February 12, 2008


Someday Americans will have to wake up and realize that the choice between Democrat and Republican is not a choice at all, they are both beholden to a system which they refuse to change.
posted by Vindaloo at 10:51 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Everyone here is probably aware of this, but I thought I would post these links for anyone who wanted greater context to this.

Frontline - Spying on The Home Front

Frontline - Cheney's Law

I've never been so outraged at our government before. I was never one of those people who said this presidential administration was criminal or the worst in the history of the United States. Because of this, I am now.

Well guys, it was a good 231 years....
posted by hellslinger at 10:51 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


garlic: "Lieberman from CT, an independent (sorta) voted agaisnt the ammendment (for the immunity)"

True. Also notable was Bernie Sanders, also an independent (sorta) from Vermont, who was the sole non-Democrat to vote for the measure. I'm not normally a fan of the guy, but I have to give credit where it's due.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on February 12, 2008


Someday Americans will have to wake up and realize that the choice between Democrat and Republican is not a choice at all, they are both beholden to a system which they refuse to change.

Before you get too cynical on us, could you provide counts for each party on this vote?
posted by DU at 10:54 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hate the comparisons to Nazi Germany.

A democracy has failed the instant it treats it's citizens like subjects, something the United States has done increasingly for quite some time. You don't need to kill Jews, Gypsies and queers to be a terrible government.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:55 AM on February 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Damn it.


I want to say a lot more, but I'm not one to cuss. Just one more demoralizing kick in this American's gut.

The frustrating thing is the mockery that it makes of everything else. I'll just end this with a quote from Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again:

"...America went off the track somewhere - back around the time of the Civil War, or pretty soon afterwards. Instead of going ahead and developing along the line in which the country started out, it got shunted off in another direction - and now we look around and see we’ve gone places we didn’t mean to go. Suddenly we realize that America has turned into something ugly—and vicious—and corroded at the heart of its power with easy wealth and graft and special privilege…. And the worst of it is the intellectual dishonesty which all this corruption has bred. People are afraid to think straight—afraid to face themselves—afraid to look at things and see them as they are.

We’ve become a nation of advertising men, all hiding behind catch phrases like ‘prosperity,’ and ‘the American way.’ And the real things like freedom, and equal opportunity, and the integrity and worth of the individual—things that have belonged to the American dream since the beginning—they have become just words too. The substance has gone out of them—they’re not real anymore...
"
posted by Atreides at 10:58 AM on February 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


Also, to add some dissent, I thought the amendment was pretty lazy. To wit, they were recommending that all of title II be stricken, which would leave the telco liability wide open. Specter's amendment was no less dramatic, and still tragically flawed.

That said, the relative lack of reasoned bipartisan discussion on the title (I'm looking at Sununu in particular, here) was disappointing.
posted by rush at 10:59 AM on February 12, 2008


These guys are already bought and paid for by the companies that would be effected by this legislation anyway. I'm just surprised it wasn't unanimous.
posted by psmealey at 10:59 AM on February 12, 2008


Yeah, wonder if Clinton will keep bringing up those "present" votes of Obama's (which, incidentally, is what he was asked to do by Planned Parenthood).

It's funny, the only people I've seen bring that up are Obama supporters. Wasn't the original thing just some local mailer?
posted by smackfu at 10:59 AM on February 12, 2008


I hate the comparisons to Nazi Germany.

A democracy has failed the instant it treats it's citizens like subjects, something the United States has done increasingly for quite some time. You don't need to kill Jews, Gypsies and queers to be a terrible government.


I used to feel this way too, but now I think the comparisons are useful. The killing of Jews, Gypsies, and queers was preceded by a decade or so of the erosion of law, civil liberties, and dissenting voices that is very much similar to what is happening in our government now. We're not sending people off to camps yet, but if somebody decided to start, a lot of the groundwork has already occurred.
posted by SBMike at 11:02 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Let's give 'em the benefit of the doubt. Maybe all these senators wanted to do the right thing, but were confused by the compound negatives.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:03 AM on February 12, 2008


Fuck I hate Kohl. I should be glad I get Feingold.

That said, fuck me for not writing to Kohl about this. I doubt my one letter would have changed his vote, but still. Shame on me for not even trying in something that's so close and so important.

Are there any other Dems on the list who would have been moderate, that we could have had a chance at changing their votes?
posted by symbioid at 11:11 AM on February 12, 2008


at this point it's really one huge single party there, a one party system. Certainly this is the case in Congress. For the executive branch, the only difference is that a Democratic President would nominate a prochoice Justice to the Supreme Court and a Republican President will stack it with antiabortion judges (give or take some closet liberal such as Souter sneaking in once in 25 years).

I'm not saying abortion is a minor issue. But other than that, it's essentially a one party system.
posted by matteo at 11:13 AM on February 12, 2008


Well. I've written my Arkansas senators. I can't wait for the form mail.
posted by Atreides at 11:14 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're not sending people off to camps yet...

We aren't?
posted by DU at 11:15 AM on February 12, 2008 [9 favorites]


It's funny, the only people I've seen bring that up are Obama supporters. Wasn't the original thing just some local mailer?

It was brought up in the SC debate as well.
posted by delmoi at 11:15 AM on February 12, 2008


I just want to remind everyone that this is just the Senate voting on this Bill; it now has to go to the House. By all means, express your displeasure with your Senator, but also contact your House rep.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:18 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


And where the fuck have all the libertarian republicans gone? Did Ron Paul eat them?

Please list "all the libertarian republicans" in the Senate.

Thanks.
posted by BigSky at 11:18 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's funny, the only people I've seen bring that up are Obama supporters. Wasn't the original thing just some local mailer?

I've seen this brought up in the debates.

penalized for working in good faith with the government

"If the president orders it, that makes it legal." High crimes indeed.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:20 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Huh. I thought Mark Prior signed with the Padres.
posted by mattbucher at 11:21 AM on February 12, 2008


Welcome to the club hellslinger.

That bitter taste in your mouth? It never goes away. But you get used to it.

I never thouoght I'd feel ashamed that I have defended this country for so long. But I do.
posted by tkchrist at 11:25 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


"We're not sending people off to camps yet..."

We aren't?


Yeah. Guantanamo is more of a Day Care, really.
posted by tkchrist at 11:26 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hillary Clinton was a "no vote" on this one... So stop saying she opposed the measure.

I'm sure she won't mind my "no vote" in November after she finagles her nomination as presidential candidate. It's not as if I'm "opposing" her presidency.

In a weird way one of the things that pisses me off most is that I'm surprised and disappointed by this. Why the fuck have I been surprised or disappointed by anything since Iran Contra? Oh, wow, I can't believe this handbasket continues to accelerate on these greased rails pointed at that fiery pit down there! How disappointing!

Fuck this country. This is me, giving up.
posted by nanojath at 11:27 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


At least Casey from PA voted the right way, I didn't expect anything out of Spector; I don't know why anyone thinks that he's a moderate.

I do think that this has finally tipped me into the Obama camp after sitting on the fence throughout this primary season, there's no way that I can defend Clinton's lack of a vote on this.
posted by octothorpe at 11:28 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please write your Senators and Reps. The most involved effort you can make as Joe Citizen is to write and or call them. And yes, write your REPS too, since they're next gosh darn it.
Can you please explain your position on Senator Dodd's amendment 3907 -- which would
"To strike the provisions providing immunity from civil liability to electronic communication service providers for certain assistance provided to the Government."
Why would you vote against this?
If there were warrantless wiretaps placed on your home phone, without due cause, would you not want those responsible held accountable for their actions?
Very disappointed in your vote today and would appreciate an explanation of your position.

posted by cavalier at 11:28 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


re: Clinton, the fact that she got around $320K from the telecoms, but trying to get the Dem nomination, meant she had to stay silent. Voting against them would have meant she could loose more money (which she needs right now) and voting for them would alienate her shrinking base of supporters.

"The vote also provided an opportunity to showcase the key differences on national security between presidential candidates, as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), voted against immunity for telecoms, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), voted to keep immunity in the bill. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) did not show up for the vote. All three candidates were in the Washington area for the region's three primaries today." (link)

Well hell, Obama was able to take a moment out of his busy schedule to make it to the vote... but then, he's not sucking ducats out of the lobbyist money-teat like Hil is.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:30 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


As if I didn't have enough reasons to not vote for Hillary Clinton- this pretty much shows what I never liked about her, or any "centrist" Democrat.
posted by hincandenza at 11:32 AM on February 12, 2008


Does this mean the next time the telecoms break the law they can laugh up their sleeves even harder?
posted by ahimsakid at 11:32 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


"2) Telecommunications companies that have been given immunity will not hesitate to hand over documents that thoroughly outline the agenda of the Bush administration. Immunity from prosecution might mean they are more ready and willing to testify against said powers. The Dems might be thinking that this will give them more leverage and evidence when/if they prosecute government officials."

Wrong. This act makes the administration's conduct retroactively legal. There's no leverage, because there's nothing to lift.
posted by klangklangston at 11:34 AM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


If Qwest knew it was wrong, the others did as well.
If only. As a long time Qwest customer, I'd be willing to bet they tried to comply, but screwed it up despite repeated requests.
posted by Killick at 11:41 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


the Protect America Act

It would be a less insulting when mainstream wonks and media people to laugh off charges of creeping fascism in this country if the lawmakers would stop presenting legislation with such ridiculously fascistic sounding names.
posted by psmealey at 11:41 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, at least I can say that my senator had nothing to do with this crap! Oh right...DC doesn't have a senator.

As a sidenote, I'd like to point out that while nearly every comment in this thread has blamed the democrats, every single republican senator voted for telecom immunity. They're as much to blame; doing bad things in the past doesn't absolve them from doing bad things now.
posted by inigo2 at 11:43 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


The difference, inigo2, is that the dems were sent to DC to fix the things the 'pubs and this functionally retarded president have done in the last 7 years and they've FAILED MISERABLY!
posted by Hugh2d2 at 11:46 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I just spoke to someone at Barbara Mikulski's office who was very polite, but I gotta say, the press release he pointed me is pretty horrendous in that entirely sidesteps the issue of warrants, and, uhh, civil liberties. Some parts of it read like a treatment for CLOVERFIELD;

There had been an attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Other attacks were being planned. The nation was gripped by fear and apprehension that another attack was imminent. Anxiety filled the air – whether you were getting on a plane or a train or going to a football game. The U.S. Capitol was hit by an anthrax attack. People were snapping up gas masks and survival kits.

This, from a "Democrat". It's hard for me to judge whether she seriously espouses this rationale or she's assuming nobody will really care. I usually like Senator Mikulski - she's a tough old broad and she's been mugged in Fell's Point (as so many of us have). But I made clear to her flunky that this is an issue I will vote on. This is the parting of our ways.

I don't want to hear any whinging on this webpage from people who haven't called their respective Senators about this. Be a real man - make the call.
posted by newdaddy at 11:48 AM on February 12, 2008


I would have voted Dood for Pres. He is a reasonably decent pol.
posted by sfts2 at 11:57 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


er, Dodd, dudes.
posted by sfts2 at 11:59 AM on February 12, 2008


Oh fuck them. Seriously, if you want to hand over our privacy and our rights to some corporations, I demand the same from you. I fully expect that anyone you voted for immunity must be willing to provide complete access to all their personal records, their telephone calls, and their private meetings.

I mean, it's for the sake of national security, right?
posted by quin at 12:04 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's kinda gone beyond "weasels in the hen house".

The hen house is made of weasels.
posted by batmonkey at 12:04 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


The U.S. Capitol was hit by an anthrax attack.

Bloody hell. Talk about confusing causes and effects. The only targets on Capitol Hill of the anthrax attacks were Daschle and Leahy, both of whom were offering significant opposition to the Patriot Act at the time. No Republican was targeted.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:05 PM on February 12, 2008


Contact your shithead.
posted by gum at 12:07 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would have voted Dood for Pres.

Lebowski '08
posted by matteo at 12:14 PM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, Senator Kohl just got a nastygram from me.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:15 PM on February 12, 2008


Speaking to a conference call of reporters this afternoon, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said that, reflecting on the string of defeats in the Senate today, he thought the House was the best hope for stripping retroactive immunity from the final surveillance bill.

"We've lost every single battle we had on this bill [in the Senate].... We're not getting anywhere at all" he said. "The question now is can the House do better." After the bill passes in the Senate, as is expected late today or tomorrow, the bill would head to a conference. There, conferees from both houses will try to hash out the significant differences between the House and Senate versions, the issue of retroactive immunity chief among them.

However, Dodd said, if the final bill emerging from that powwow does contain retroactive immunity, he said he'd "absolutely" filibuster that bill; he'd use "whatever vehicles we can" to stop it.

posted by delmoi at 12:16 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


(wow, delmoi. we must be on the same wavelength. i almost just posted exactly the same quote and link.)
posted by saulgoodman at 12:18 PM on February 12, 2008


I called Kohl's Washington office (202-224-5653) to ask why he voted against the Dodd-Feingold amendment. The response I got was not fulfilling.

The reponse I got was that Kohl voted in favor of the Spector amendment and the Feinstein amendment. That's all well and good, but it doesn't tell me why Kohl voted against this amendment. I wanted to know specifically what it was about this amendment that Kohl was against.

My co-worker called and got a better more thorough response. Kohl thinks the government was responsible, not the corporations.

Given the less than stellar record of the Justice Department in this administration, I won't hold my breath for the government to be held liable. Not to mention the fact that by giving the telecom companies immunity, you have no leverage to get them to testify in your case against the government.
posted by hambone at 12:20 PM on February 12, 2008


"but then, he's not sucking ducats out of the lobbyist money-teat like Hil is."

He still sucks, but not quite as much.


Telecom Services & Equipment: Top 20 Recipients
#1 Clinton, Hillary (D) Pres $329,230
#2 Obama, Barack (D) Pres $172,065

posted by Tenuki at 12:20 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, so Obama is on the Telecom list - but he votes against immunity. Doesn't sound like he's in their pocket, does it?
posted by NationalKato at 12:23 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


He still sucks, but not quite as much.

That figure includes Lobbyist money as well as small donors. So if a supporter happens to work for the phone company, it shows up in those numbers. Obama has taken no Lobbyist money in his Presidential run.
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


The amendment fell 20 votes short. Clinton's vote wouldn't have mattered one bit. She knew this. You all know this.

This trend of blaming Hillary Clinton for everything she never did is truly stupid. So far today, I've read some form of all of the following arguments: She caused Republicans to win both houses in '94. She's the reason for all the mud slung at her husband. She's the reason he got a BJ from an intern and got impeached. Thus, she's the reason Al Gore lost and Bush won and is responsible for everything Bush has done, too--including illegally spying on Americans in the first place. Now, she's responsible for the 67 senators who voted against the bill she co-sponsored because she was out campaigning. And the only reason she's out campaigning today (in Texas!) is because her campaign has struggled under all the attacks over stuff she never did. Oh, she's also responsible for the attacks.

Well hell, Obama was able to take a moment out of his busy schedule to make it to the vote... but then, he's not sucking ducats out of the lobbyist money-teat like Hil is.

Sigh. Obama is not Jesus. Obama was already around D.C. campaigning for the upcoming primaries, which Clinton has basically forfeited, deciding to move on to Texas. He's not going out of his way--this was a campaign stop. Furthermore, his decision to show up for a vote on cloture back on the 29th only came after Clinton's announcement that she would be there. (Incidentally, he was also campaigning around D.C. at that time). He, like Clinton, hardly did anything at all to gain support for the amendment they "co-sponsored."

If anything, Clinton and Obama are both guilty of lip service. The pile-on Clinton rather than both is self-deluding.

As for me, I'm glad to see Amy Klobuchar's name isn't on that list. I don't have to write her (another) strongly worded letter.

Now, everybody who doesn't like this: go write your representative in the House (and your Senator, too).

On preview: Stay classy, Lord_Pall.
posted by dsword at 12:26 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Telecom Services & Equipment: Top 20 Recipients
#1 Clinton, Hillary (D) Pres $329,230
#2 Obama, Barack (D) Pres $172,065


That's non-informative. If you go down the next four on the list are other presidential candidates. Not surprisingly, presidential candidates (who by definition raise more money for national elections), particularly ones who raise the most money, will have larger contributions than other senators. That said, the 2-1 favoring of HRC is something, isn't it?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:28 PM on February 12, 2008


Specter

damn it... I do that everytime...
posted by hambone at 12:32 PM on February 12, 2008


The pile-on Clinton rather than both is self-deluding.

If they keep attacking her, maybe they'll sway a vote!
posted by smackfu at 12:33 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe we should nationalize the telecoms like in other countries. Wouldn't that help?

/naive
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:37 PM on February 12, 2008


(I'm gonna mostly ignore the partisan bickering over whether or not Clinton's non-vote really mattered and get back to the real issue. I will note, however, that in light of all the wolves we find dressing up as lambs these days, it doesn't seem at all unreasonable to me to put Clinton's non-vote under the microscope.)

I thought these comments from Dodd were illuminating:

When asked why he thought so many Dem senators had crossed over, he replied: "Unfortunately, those who are advocating this notion that you have to give up liberties in order to be more secure are apparently prevailing. They seem to be convincing people that you're at risk politically or we're at risk as a nation if we don't give up rights."

It seems more and more as if a substantial number of the Dems we sent to congress during the last congressional election cycle didn't understand the underlying popular sentiment that propelled them into office or they just didn't really care.

Bottom line: Neither party can be assumed to represent the interests of the American people anymore. Judgments about individual Pols have to be made on a case-by-case basis--even more so now than in the past.

Now, if we had a system that actually encouraged political parties to form around specific sets of political interests and ideologies instead of one that discourages the development of coherent small-scale political movements and funnels popular political energy through the all-too-corruptible lobbying system, maybe we'd be able to get a better handle on what to expect from our Pols. But WTF.

The problem is, you can be right-wing or left-wing regardless of party identification, and the right is where the money is (how little things have changed).

Ach. Bill Nelson is such an f-tard. If he'd ever had my support, I'd say he just lost it. Unfortunately, in Florida, the majority of our Democrats are right-wingers.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:40 PM on February 12, 2008


Sen Nelson of FL took $113,000 from the telcoms during the last election cycle. I'm not surprised he voted no because he's as republican as Sen Martinez but to be that blatantly in the pocket of the lobbyists is infuriating.

And, I wrote two letters so I'll get two form letters in return! Yippee!

When the fuck is this shit going to stop?!
posted by photoslob at 12:43 PM on February 12, 2008


Oh, I see....since Clinton's vote wouldn't have mattered, it's not important she show up to vote on record. I get it now. Nice.
posted by NationalKato at 12:46 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


“The vote also provided an opportunity to showcase the key differences on national security between presidential candidates, as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), voted against immunity for telecoms,”

Clinches my vote.

...laugh off charges of creeping fascism in this country if the lawmakers would stop presenting legislation with such ridiculously fascistic sounding names.”

psmealey you’re not one of those antipatriotic that opposes the B.R.U.T.A.L I.R.O.N. F.I.S.T.E.D. O.P.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N. act are you?


“I wish I didn't care. It would angry up the blood less..”

True. No matter how bad it gets, you know that it can be fixed. Nazi Germany as an example, it took a lot of blood and work and sweat and pain to remedy that situation, but through the sacrifice and labor of many people, it was overcome.

What is frustrating is that, although you know this, you also know that people are actively working against it being prevented.
And how galling it is to have to clean up messes like this again and again.
And how horrible it is to be forced to do perhaps terrible things and suffer to regain liberty again and again. While the fools who instigate such things just skate along on their merry way.

I suppose the only bright spot is we can congratulate ourselves that we’re not one of them.
I’m reminded of the Matheson novel “I Am Legend” except in a “1984” context.
The last genuine human sitting in a cell asking that society doesn’t become too bloodthirsty while political drones and fanatical oligarchs howl for his or her spectacular death and legions of apathetic proles summarize and dismiss the matter, same as they did with torture and everything else.
I’d rather die like Neville than end up like Winston Smith. Even if it means having to keep cleaning up the mess. The Sun burns on me, fuckers.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 12:51 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Glen Greenwald has a link to
a petition "demanding that (the House) reject this lawless, authoritarian Senate bill and defend their own, previously passed bill (the RESTORE Act)."
posted by jabo at 12:52 PM on February 12, 2008


It seems to me that the democrat support , altought partial, was just friends helping friends of friends. And no, you are not in the friends list, sorry. Hundred of millions of people aren't and it sucks even more because of that.

Of course, retroactive lawmaking is a very special kind of abomination as it allows people to break the law and after the facts make the facts legal ; there are others ways, such such as reducing or not appling punishment, but the retroactivity is done to do completely wipe out any possibility of any action. To me , it suggest they know exactly the outcome would have been : GUILTY , with a 0.99 probability.

Now why should ordinary joes be concerned about that ? They shouldn't , not about that as I doubt any spying done on them would be of consequence. But still, this seems to be a step toward accepting police state practices, unless they are acted upon friends of friends. No left, right, up , down support should like that, ever. Because,
The bill allowed the monitoring of electronic communications on people "reasonably believed to be outside the United States," without a court's order or oversight. It continues to require a court order to conduct electronic surveillance or physical search when targeting persons located in the United States.
a. Uhhh, where does that IP phone with Skype come from ?
b. Uhhhh, fo' shizzle I have no idea ?
a. True, it may come from Iraq !
b. Shouldn't we be checking an IP database or sumthing, you know, that geek shit ?
a. No way, sherlock ! Dem piratez know all the tricks and proxy and shit, we shall record just to be sure ! We are not sure it comes from the US !
b. We are protecting Merika !
a. Yeah, we are so good !
b. Hand some freedom fries !
a. Ehehe , you are so full of shit !
b. Not as much as these people we "protect" eheheehe
a. Eheheh , I feel I am so manly !
b. FAG !
a. LOL !
posted by elpapacito at 12:53 PM on February 12, 2008


I just wrote my two (Republican) senators. Here's my prediction that the form letters will mainly talk about how strong each of them is on national defense, and what ardent supporters they are of the GWOT.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:55 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I heard that Clinton is in DC today anyway. Is that true? If so, her absence is as inexcusable as voting for immunity.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:55 PM on February 12, 2008


Atreides: America went off the track somewhere - back around the time of the Civil War, or pretty soon afterwards....

In the final chapter of You Can't Go Home Again, Wolfe writes the following:

I believe the true discovery of America is before us. I think the true fulfillment of our spirit, of our people, of our mighty and immortal land, is yet to come. I think the true discovery of our own democracy is still before us. And I think that all these things are certain as the morning, as inevitable as the noon.


There's a flux in this country that goes back and forth. At a time when the country was new enough and full of raw talent and energy enough to withstand anything: The Gilded Age, the depression, WW II, The Cold War, It didn't matter so much. American seemed capable of continual renewal and adaptation. But I fear there's a hardening of the arteries, a collection of scar tissue that has lost some of it's flexibility and ability to feel (and does not know it). The entrenched powers keep coming back bolder and bolder with greater self-righteousness. Hiding behind the flag as always and mistaking self preservation at any cost as the greatest principle of American freedom. And it's killing us.

Have to find that sense of optimism that conviction that this is only a minor bump in the road to something yet greater. Somehow...

That Clinton didn't vote on this is extremely troubling.

And I'm very disappointed in Webb and McCaskill.

I've given up on Schumer, since he supported Mukasey for AG, but at least he got this right.


/derail
posted by Skygazer at 1:04 PM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]



DU: Before you get too cynical on us, could you provide counts for each party on this vote?

Democrats -- 31-18
Republicans -- 0-49

What did you expect?

See Glenn Greenwald today.
posted by psyche7 at 1:05 PM on February 12, 2008


This trend of blaming Hillary Clinton for everything she never did is truly stupid.

You know, it is actually her job to vote on these things. She was apparently in town, too. This is extremely important legislation, impacting the lives of almost all Americans, and she just didn't bother? It's really not OK. It might somehow be less bad if she weren't running for President, but not by much.
posted by odinsdream at 1:08 PM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sometimes, it's not whether your particular vote will change the outcome, it's that you take a stand and vote in line with your beliefs. I'm sure it was obvious that immunity was going to be granted but some senators voted against it anyway. Hillary Clinton was not one of them. Hillary Clinton was not willing to take a stand.
posted by tommasz at 1:08 PM on February 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Malor writes "Once the government gets to secret, legal wiretaps of citizens... once that line is crossed, there's no recovery, because no peaceful protest will be allowed to succeed."

I disagree. I think that we'll still have plenty of (approved) protests, like the big march before the war organized by ANSWER. But, like that protest, it will be mostly a display, and when it's all said and done, we'll just get back to work and say that we did what was necessary, and nothing will change. Clamping down on (approved, permitted) protests gives people more of an impetus to do something meaningful, so we'll be allowed to have our say, just that it will continue to be mostly for our own sense of conscience.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:09 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


"A U.S. Senate vote that took place two hours ago reveals how much three of our leading presidential candidates are committed to electronic privacy and the rule of law. Barack Obama passes the test. John McCain failed. Hillary Clinton gets an incomplete."

Heck of a job, Hillary.
posted by homunculus at 1:18 PM on February 12, 2008


So far this year, of the 19 roll call votes:
Clinton has voted 3 times.
McCain has voted 9 times.
Obama has voted 11 times.

So none of them are showing up all time, and the best of them showed up only slightly more than half the time.
posted by garlic at 1:21 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


"The amendment fell 20 votes short. Clinton's vote wouldn't have mattered one bit. She knew this. You all know this."

If you put aside the intangibles like leadership or being seen to do what you say, this is a question for "Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?". If you're short 20 votes, then one morevote is exactly 1/20 of the way to success.

Then you just have to help 19 other people to grow a spine. But that's a biology question...
posted by Artful Codger at 1:29 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


So none of them are showing up all time, and the best of them showed up only slightly more than half the time.

The argument goes that if one of them wins the Presidency, he/she can serve his/her constituency even better than they can now in the Senate; it's a gamble. That figure has more to do with how ridiculous and drawn out (and money-drenched) our selection process is than it does Clinton, McCain and Obama's commitment to his or her constituency. That said, looks like Obama and McCain made a bit more than an effort.
posted by psmealey at 1:30 PM on February 12, 2008


Regarding the erosion of liberties, Talking Points Memo has this this afternoon.

Scalia Tips His Hand on Torture
In an extraordinary interview with the BBC, Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the smugness and self-satisfaction of torture opponents:

In the interview with the Law in Action programme on BBC Radio 4, he said it was "extraordinary" to assume that the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" - the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment - also applied to "so-called" torture.
"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime."

Justice Scalia argued that courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions.

"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?" he asked.

"It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game.

"How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"


We are indeed into a different game.
posted by etaoin at 1:31 PM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?" he asked.

Fat Tony doesn't look like someone who watches a lot of television, but clearly the man watches too much television.
posted by psmealey at 1:32 PM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have been in mourning all day about this. I don't have enough bad names for those who allowed this to happen (I am looking at you, Reid).

In Dodd's defense, I believe that he agreed not to fillibuster on the condition that his amendment would only have to get 51 votes, instead of 60, in the unanimous consent agreement worked out between the quislings Democrats and the Republicans. While I am sure that he recognized that it would be nearly impossible to accomplish that goal (Dodd would have had to keep the Democrats in line and get one splitter from the Republican bloc), getting 60 votes was out of the question.
posted by Tullius at 1:34 PM on February 12, 2008


SBMike: A decade or so? Jewish second-class citizenship started in '33. The Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their citizenship in 1935, and by '39 there were six major operational concentration camps. That's 6 years between the beginning of persecution enshrined in law and death camps. In terms of politics, that's not a slope, that's a cliff.
posted by absalom at 1:35 PM on February 12, 2008


Sometimes, it's not whether your particular vote will change the outcome, it's that you take a stand and vote in line with your beliefs.

That would require leaders with principles, which is not something you find in Washington these days.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:38 PM on February 12, 2008


Ralph Nadar was right. As usual.
posted by srboisvert at 1:39 PM on February 12, 2008


Ralph Nader is a dick. Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Bill Hicks, Lewis Lapham and many, many others have been saying that same thing much better for decades and not to their personal enrichment.
posted by psmealey at 1:43 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


In short: Those clowns in Congress have done it again!
posted by rottytooth at 1:48 PM on February 12, 2008


"The amendment fell 20 votes short. Clinton's vote wouldn't have mattered one bit.

So much of government has to do with meaning, with symbolism. This is at the root of why Hillary is so deeply unqualified to be President. She seems to believe that because she's smart, "experienced" (there's that word again), well-connected and pragmatic, that she's entitled to the office. While I have seen too many narrow ideologues in the Oval Office in my day, you still have to stand for something. After watching seemingly endless hours of debates and stump speeches, I still don't know what Hillary stands for. I just know that she won't take a stand against something when she feels like she'll end up on the wrong side of it. I don't want that in my President. Do you?
posted by psmealey at 1:54 PM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


from Glenn...

(1) to render retroactively legal the President's illegal spying program by legalizing its crux: warrantless eavesdropping on Americans

Has anyone parsed the bill itself? Is this still restricted to international communications?
posted by butterstick at 2:00 PM on February 12, 2008


Let’s waterboard Scalia until he’s against it.
Funly enough, I think there are a good deal of rulings and law that states government officials can’t smack people around although: IANASCJ
But that’s always the mental break for people who think with these limited toolkits. It’s not “the government” doing it. Someone is vested with that power. Someone will be smacking someone else around. Someone will be torturing someone else. The problem is not the ticking time bomb, the problem is how to you pair responsibility with the power to torture someone? To whom is a torturer responsible? How can we make them accountable? “Gee Bob, you put his testicles in the jewler’s vice, but inserting a burning reed into his anus, well that’s just too far.”
Any populace can be convinced of any damn foolishness, but apply it to them and suddenly they’ve got beef. “Yeah, sure torture those scumbags. Oh, wait, you can’t torture my kid, he’s a good boy.”
But who determines that now, fucko? You’re suddenly going to rein in a guy who has got the power to sandpaper your eyelids off whenever he wants? I don’t think so.

“But, like that protest, it will be mostly a display, and when it's all said and done, we'll just get back to work and say that we did what was necessary, and nothing will change.”

Yah. Quote from the Greenwald link from psyche7 is worth adding:

“What was the outcome of all of that sturm und drang? What were the consequences for the President for having broken the law so deliberately and transparently? Absolutely nothing. To the contrary, the Senate is about to enact a bill which has two simple purposes: (1) to render retroactively legal the President's illegal spying program by legalizing its crux: warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, and (2) to stifle forever the sole remaining avenue for finding out what the Government did and obtaining a judicial ruling as to its legality: namely, the lawsuits brought against the co-conspiring telecoms. In other words, the only steps taken by our political class upon exposure by the NYT of this profound lawbreaking is to endorse it all and then suppress any and all efforts to investigate it and subject it to the rule of law.”

Currently you have the justice department saying they won’t prosecute pretty much anything. Ain’t gonna do nuthin’ about nuthin.’ That’s kind of a pickle.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 2:03 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


newdaddy: "I just spoke to someone at Barbara Mikulski's office who was very polite, but I gotta say, the press release he pointed me is pretty horrendous in that entirely sidesteps the issue of warrants, and, uhh, civil liberties. Some parts of it read like a treatment for CLOVERFIELD:
'There had been an attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Other attacks were being planned. The nation was gripped by fear and apprehension that another attack was imminent. Anxiety filled the air – whether you were getting on a plane or a train or going to a football game. The U.S. Capitol was hit by an anthrax attack. People were snapping up gas masks and survival kits.'
"That is absolute bullshit. The government approached the telecoms re:surveillance months before 9/11.

From the Wired article:
The project was described in the ATT sales division documents as calling for the construction of a facility to store and retain data gathered by the NSA from its domestic and foreign intelligence operations but was to be in actuality a duplicate ATT Network Operations Center for the use and possession of the NSA that would give the NSA direct, unlimited, unrestricted and unfettered access to all call information and internet and digital traffic on ATT's long distance network.

The NSA program was initially conceived at least one year prior to 2001 but had been called off; it was reinstated within 11 days of the entry into office of defendant George W. Bush.

An ATT Solutions logbook reviewed by counsel confirms the Pioneer-Groundbreaker project start date of February 1, 2001.
This was a premeditated violation of the Constitution by the government, and the telecoms had no reason to blindly follow along at the time. Inexcusable.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:04 PM on February 12, 2008 [15 favorites]


Obama is not Jesus. Obama was already around D.C. campaigning for the upcoming primaries, which Clinton has basically forfeited, deciding to move on to Texas.

Let's be clear - you can refuse to give Obama credit because he happened to be in the area anyway, but I wouldn't call that a good reason to give Clinton a waiver.

Realistically, you're probably right that Obama doesn't deserve credit for going out of his way to be there. Clinton actually has a way better record of showing up to vote than any of the other candidates in the race, now or the last 6 months. Look at the top vote-missers. McCain is a complete fucking embarrassment (the only think keeping him off the top of the list is because of a guy who's got brain damage.), but Obama is pretty much next. He's really neck-in-neck with Biden for misses - almost a full 50 more missed than Clinton.

It's really troubling for me, someone who's pretty on the fence between him and Clinton. You look at his detail of missed votes and you see it's a trend that starts all the way back in March of 07, with 23 missed votes just in the first 6 months of that year. In that same period Clinton missed 6. Even if you try to correct it for busy vs slow days it looks bad - in days missed its 15 for Obama and 5 for Clinton in that period.
posted by phearlez at 2:06 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other words, the only steps taken by our political class upon exposure by the NYT of this profound lawbreaking is to endorse it all and then suppress any and all efforts to investigate it and subject it to the rule of law.

Nice quote, HVAC Guerilla... Its almost comical (or tragic to the point of comedy) how often our politicians are willing to work together in a true spirit of bi-partisanship only when they're engaged in helping their fellows avoid legal penalties for crimes or abuses of office (Reagan officials and agents during Iran-Contra, Nixon and co during watergate, etc.). It's almost SOP these days.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:19 PM on February 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Why, in this day and age, do representatives need to be present in order for their vote to count. Why can't they phone it in, so to speak? Why can't they send it via a secure connection and then confirm it via a short telephone call? I understand that it is good for them to be there most of the time to discuss and negotiate, but if they have to be in their district or state to take care of pressing local matters, or campaign, why can't they vote from afar?
posted by chillmost at 2:19 PM on February 12, 2008


am i in the wrong thread or something? i thought we were talking about the senate's inability to stop retroactive telecom immunity legislation here?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:24 PM on February 12, 2008


phearlez, to be fair, Obama did bring in a note from home so those are excused absences.
posted by milarepa at 2:24 PM on February 12, 2008


The most ironic personal aspect of this is the volunteer work I do assisting in a classroom of adult immigrants learning English with an eye toward applying for US citizenship. I've already had one challenge me on the First Amendment by complaining that a cousin who wrote a letter to the President complaining about an unnecessary occupation of Iraq was deported. If any of them further challenge me after this, what am I supposed to say -- "Welcome to Germany in the early 1930s"?
posted by pax digita at 2:29 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


what am I supposed to say -- "Welcome to Germany in the early 1930s"?

That's preposterous! Germany in the 30s had great music! We have, uh, Sarah Bareilles.
posted by psmealey at 2:32 PM on February 12, 2008


I've already had one challenge me on the First Amendment by complaining that a cousin who wrote a letter to the President complaining about an unnecessary occupation of Iraq was deported.

Is that for real??

I just read the Greenwald story and if ever I was in a state of outrage fatigue this is it. Also anyone who hasn't seen it yet should hear Dodd speak about this. Pretty Incredible stuff. These happenings. So, so deeply messed up.
posted by Skygazer at 2:46 PM on February 12, 2008



Is that for real??

That was my immediate reaction, although I kept my lips pursed -- I wanted to ask for more details, but I don't run the classroom and the instructor was in the middle of something. I wonder if this was an instance of somebody who'd overstayed a visa or something tipping his/her hand, or what. It's a sad commentary on the Administration that I didn't immediately feel confident about scoffing at the accusation, though. There's a powerful negative force at work when those who criticize how the Administration is doing some things (and not doing others) are "soft on terrorism" -- McCarthyism revisited.
posted by pax digita at 3:23 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that generations to come will spend many happy hours in civics class discussing with great animation Y2K-era politics and how the people of our generation supported, endorsed and elected a room full of "SURE THING DUDE" rubber stamps.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:46 PM on February 12, 2008


For all the apologists out there - You really think it'll be this obvious?

Vote for Hillary or McCain at your own everyone's peril. Torch and pitchfork time inches closer and closer.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:00 PM on February 12, 2008


The U.S. Capitol was hit by an anthrax attack.

Which President Bush called " a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country" (emphasis added):
Four Americans have died as a result of these acts of terrorism...The Postal Service and the FBI have offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest and the conviction of the anthrax terrorists...We do not yet know who sent the anthrax -- whether it was the same terrorists who committed the attacks on September the 11th, or whether it was the -- other international or domestic terrorists. We do know that anyone who would try to infect other people with anthrax is guilty of an act of terror...I'm proud of our citizens' calm and reasoned response to this ongoing terrorist attack.
Which I would like to see brought up when Senator McCain or anyone else claims we haven't been attacked since 9/11. Republicans are 0-2 at preventing terrorist attacks inside the US and 0-2 at punishing the people behind them (at least until the new circus trials are over).
posted by kirkaracha at 4:23 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


“For all the apologists out there - You really think it'll be this obvious?”

It might not be that hard to spot though.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Which is a shame really when you’re going to die along with the horse if he doesn’t make the connection.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 4:39 PM on February 12, 2008


Why would this not be making an ex post facto law - something Congress is expressly prohibited from doing?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:47 PM on February 12, 2008


Benny Andajetz: The ex post facto restriction only applies to punishments, not pardons.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:58 PM on February 12, 2008


Someday Americans will have to wake up and realize that the choice between Democrat and Republican is not a choice at all

Someday Canadians will have to wake up and realize that the choice between Liberal and Conservative is not a choice at all.

These statements are equally true. A tiny little choice is still a choice. Yes, at all.
posted by oaf at 9:06 PM on February 12, 2008


Justice Scalia argued that courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions.

Damn activist justices.
posted by oaf at 9:07 PM on February 12, 2008


Hanh. The difference between Liberals and Conservatives is simple: Two Twins or a California King. For sleeping with the U.S., I mean.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:34 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Predictably, W was on TV this morning congratulating the Senate for their bipartisan efforts and scolding the House for dragging their feet.
posted by pax digita at 6:07 AM on February 13, 2008


...something Congress is expressly prohibited from doing?

It doesn't seem to bother them in other areas. They're also supposed to be the only method through which war is declared, but they ceded that responsibility without many complaints.
posted by odinsdream at 6:20 AM on February 13, 2008


Bush: Dem Effort to Extend Surveillance Law That Must Not Lapse Is Unacceptable
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on February 13, 2008


The fear card being played even at this late stage by an executive branch with zero ludicrous. I hope the House stands up to this.
posted by Skygazer at 11:59 AM on February 13, 2008


zero credibility.
posted by Skygazer at 12:00 PM on February 13, 2008


Senate Passes Bill with Ban on Waterboarding

WTF McCain?
posted by homunculus at 2:58 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


List of Democratic House members wishing to extend Immunity. (I'm not sure if it's a complete list)
posted by delmoi at 3:56 PM on February 13, 2008


House Rejects Spy Bill Extension, Setting Stage for Adoption of Telco Amnesty and Wider Spy Powers

The ACLU Calls on Congress to Let Spying Law Expire
posted by homunculus at 4:58 PM on February 13, 2008


[the 2001 anthrax attack] Which I would like to see brought up when Senator McCain or anyone else claims we haven't been attacked since 9/11.

Also the October 2002 beltway sniper shootings. From motives to tactics to the public's reaction, that was pretty much textbook terrorism.
posted by ryanrs at 6:24 PM on February 13, 2008


WTF McCain?

I was holding out, but now I am officially embarrassed to be represented by McCain. I guess I better sign up for a local goosestepping class.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2008


Oh, McCain voted against the amendment? Because the Washington Post's photo editor apparently didn't think so. Nice pull-quote, considering.
posted by phearlez at 8:26 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's some incredible bs there, phearlez. Thanks for posting that.

Btw, do any of you all know if when people join the press corps that they are contractually obligated to say "Straight Talk Express" or "maverick" whenever they mention McCain's name?

Brought to you by Carl's Jr.
posted by psmealey at 9:20 AM on February 14, 2008


Here's McCain's statement on why he opposed it.
posted by homunculus at 9:20 AM on February 14, 2008


Eavesdropping Law Is Likely to Lapse
posted by homunculus at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2008


Surveillance vote in house imminent, EFF's call for action
posted by homunculus at 9:44 AM on February 14, 2008


My house rep is against it already. Woohoo, go Jane Harman!
posted by klangklangston at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2008


House Republicans Stage Walkout, Refuse To Vote On Contempt Charges
posted by homunculus at 11:37 AM on February 14, 2008


Does anyone have a headcount on whether this is likely to pass the House as well?
posted by ook at 11:56 AM on February 14, 2008


The House contempt vote against Miers and Bolten passed, 223-32.


(Scroll down the Think Progress page.)

I'm watching all this somewhat warily wondering when the House Dems lose there nerve. But it's good show so far, especially masterful the way they pulled the Meiers and Bolton contempt vote out of the arsenal, I was worried that was never going to come to a vote.

Is this the long awaited spine we've been waiting for from the Dems?
posted by Skygazer at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2008


More on the contempt vote here and here.
posted by Skygazer at 12:11 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pelosi: “This is beyond arrogance. This is hubris taken to the ultimate degree..."

posted by Skygazer at 12:17 PM on February 14, 2008


Pelosi: "If White House officials instruct Department of Justice attorneys not to prosecute the contempt citations, “we will have power to go to federal court and seek civil enforcement of our subpoenas.”

These are heady and amazing words, is this the line in the sand for the House Dems and Pelosi. I hate to say it but I'm waiting for the capitulation to begin.
posted by Skygazer at 12:21 PM on February 14, 2008


New York Times: Ms. Pelosi framed the dispute in constitutional terms, saying that if Congress could not compel testimony from White House officials, it would lose it power of oversight on the administration’s actions.
posted by Skygazer at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2008


One would hope that it leads to something productive. I got irritated with my local news, as they phrased the present situation, "The Democrats are refusing to vote for the Surveillance Act which would allow the government to spy on suspected terrorists."

Thanks for the updates, Skygazer.
posted by Atreides at 3:18 PM on February 14, 2008


Conyers points out FBI lost its wiretaps over unpaid bills
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:09 AM on February 15, 2008


House Democrats Stand Up To Bush, Refuse to Rubber Stamp Domestic Spying

Finally.
posted by homunculus at 12:30 PM on February 15, 2008


Jihadis throw a wild bash over the Protect America Act
posted by homunculus at 12:34 PM on February 15, 2008


Countdown Special Comment on FISA: President Bush Is A Liar And A Fascist
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on February 15, 2008


The Spies Who Love You!
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on February 16, 2008


PAA will expire just a few more hours. Looks like we actually won this one, at least so far. I'm kind of amazed. I suppose we'll see if the house Dems cave over the course of the rest of year. But given the fact they actually let the law expire I kind of doubt it will rise from the dead...

Countdown Special Comment on FISA: President Bush Is A Liar And A Fascist

It's kind of annoying that Olberman went after Bush and not the craven Senate Dems who actually let him get away with this crap.
posted by delmoi at 7:31 PM on February 16, 2008


Analysts say FISA will suffice
posted by homunculus at 1:18 AM on February 17, 2008


New Terror Threat: A FISA Related Coincidence?
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2008


Are we dead yet?
posted by homunculus at 9:24 AM on February 19, 2008


SCOTUS Rejects Warrantless Wiretapping Challenge Case
posted by homunculus at 9:46 AM on February 19, 2008


The courts and Congress affirmatively conceal and protect lawbreaking
posted by homunculus at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2008


Keith Olbermann talks to Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley about the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the ACLU vs. NSA case on warrantless wiretapping.
posted by homunculus at 11:18 AM on February 20, 2008


Republicans Refuse to Participate in Surveillance Bill Talks
posted by homunculus at 4:14 PM on February 21, 2008


GOP’s FISA Thriller: 3, .. 2, .. 1 .. We’re All Going to Die
posted by homunculus at 9:58 AM on February 22, 2008


The Nexus of Politics and Terror
posted by homunculus at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2008


Dems’ FISA Thriller: 3, .. 2, .. 1 .. The Constitution Is Saved!
posted by homunculus at 10:17 PM on February 22, 2008


Clarke, Other Experts Contradict Administration Line on Wiretapping
posted by homunculus at 3:42 PM on February 26, 2008


Secret Spy Ruling Contaminates Debate
posted by homunculus at 9:28 PM on February 26, 2008


Billboard Liberation Front vs. ATT + NSA
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on February 28, 2008


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