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Telecom Amnesty Bill Tomorrow
June 19, 2008 1:26 PM   Subscribe

The warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty will be voted on tomorrow in Congress. The bill pushed through by Democratic Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is looking likely to pass.

The 'compromise' worked on by Hoyer and his associates will grant the telecoms full amnesty and set a dangerous precedent, allowing companies to be excluded from the rule of law by declaring 'I was only following orders'.

The full text of the bill is here.

Glen Greenwalds previous posts on the matter are extremely enlightening. No word from Obama as of yet.

There is a campaign which currently has raised $213,000 to punish those democrats who have capitulated in allowing this bill to come to the floor.
posted by Static Vagabond (115 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The great thing about the two-party system is that when one party is tired of fucking you, the other party is rested up and ready to take over.
posted by mullingitover at 1:29 PM on June 19, 2008 [39 favorites]


Hey, Congress? Fuck you, too.
posted by loquacious at 1:32 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


In a two-party state, you have exactly one extra political choice than someone who lives in a one-party state.

Although sometimes you have none.
posted by Avenger at 1:34 PM on June 19, 2008


The revolution will not be wiretapped.
posted by ...possums at 1:35 PM on June 19, 2008


The great thing about the two-party system is that when one party is tired of fucking you, the other party is rested up and ready to take over.

So basically your political system is a threesome?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:36 PM on June 19, 2008


In a two-party state, you have exactly one extra political choice than someone who lives in a one-party state.

Or the appearance of same.
posted by brennen at 1:36 PM on June 19, 2008


There is a campaign which currently has raised $213,000 to punish those democrats who have capitulated in allowing this bill to come to the floor.

Says $220,000 at the time of THIS posting, so it's growing quickly. What it DOESN'T say is what that money pays for. Hundreds of thousands of cream pies to throw? A rival candidate's campaign? Pocket Liners for the webmaster? What the fuck is this site doing?
posted by shmegegge at 1:36 PM on June 19, 2008


"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. cut down so the terrorists don't use it to make sharp sticks and poke us" - Thomas Jefferson Congress
posted by mullingitover at 1:38 PM on June 19, 2008 [21 favorites]


nevermind, had to click through and read some salon article, but the info's there. apparently it's for an ad campaign against the bill which is to be voted on tomorrow.
posted by shmegegge at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2008


I don't think threatening lawmakers with a large sum of money to punish them is a good tactic.
posted by smackfu at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


9/11 changed everything! It is now 2002 forever!
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Says $220,000 at the time of THIS posting, so it's growing quickly. What it DOESN'T say is what that money pays for. Hundreds of thousands of cream pies to throw? A rival candidate's campaign? Pocket Liners for the webmaster? What the fuck is this site doing?

It pays for campaigns in the congress-persons district to educate the voting population about the issues they have voted for, tv, phone and paper. With the aim of getting them voted out of power and replaced by a politician more representative of the voters ideals.
posted by Static Vagabond at 1:45 PM on June 19, 2008


So ... in the next election we're all voting AGAINST anyone who votes for this bill, no matter how much we like them, right?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:46 PM on June 19, 2008


Obama does radio ad for pro-amnesty congressman, who is currently running in a primary campaign against an opponent supported by the netroots, anti-amnesty people.

Also, this is absurd, I mean, the democrats fought this off before, nothing bad happened, and now they're working their asses off to capitulate.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


So, the whole bill is tl;dr. What exactly is the alternative here? That the courts find everyone who agreed to illegal wiretaps and prosecute them? I'm not being rhetorical, I really want to know what would happen if the bill was never put forward/doesn't pass.
posted by GuyZero at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2008


Hmm, I wikipediaed the Nuremberg Defense, but it only seems to apply to international law and the UCMJ - neither of which apply here - so I guess God bless you and full speed ahead, congressional fucktards.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Surely this ....

Oh, wait. This actually does the opposite.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's not immunity from government prosecution, it's immunity from aggrieved third parties.

Now I get it. Because I lack the imagination to come up with something this fucked up by myself.
posted by GuyZero at 1:51 PM on June 19, 2008


GuyZero: So, the whole bill is tl;dr. What exactly is the alternative here? That the courts find everyone who agreed to illegal wiretaps and prosecute them? I'm not being rhetorical, I really want to know what would happen if the bill was never put forward/doesn't pass.

The alternative is to subject these illegal actions to the rule of law. Allow the American population to learn how their government has been illegally spying on them and ensure that no company can break the law simply because they're asked by a government official.

No-one should be above the law. I'm not even American and this pisses me off because it's just so incredibly blatently corrupt.
posted by Static Vagabond at 1:53 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, the whole bill is tl;dr. What exactly is the alternative here? That the courts find everyone who agreed to illegal wiretaps and prosecute them? I'm not being rhetorical, I really want to know what would happen if the bill was never put forward/doesn't pass.

Right now, if you know you were wiretapped, you can sue the telecom companies for breaking the law that says you can't wiretapp. If Telecom amnesty passes, then you won't be able to sue. It's not exactly clear that anyone who wanted to could sue because the government can claim that doing discovery could be bad for national security.

however if a new government came in next year, then that government could give out whatever information it wanted to plantifs, if they were interested in seeing lawbreaking punished. Obama has been opposed to telecom amnesty in the past, so it's a possibility.

If Amnesty goes through, though, that won't be possible at all.

I don't know what this particular "compromise" is all about but if Greenwald is against it, it's probably not much of one.
posted by delmoi at 1:54 PM on June 19, 2008


In 2006, the State Department's report on Russia contained one of the most amazing passages I've read in all the time I've been writing about political issues. This is really -- honestly -- what the State Department said in condemning Russia. I highly recommend reading this a few times, especially in light of what the Congress is preparing to do this week:
The law states that officials may enter a private residence only in cases prescribed by federal law or on the basis of a judicial decision; however, authorities did not always observe these provisions.

The law permits the government to monitor correspondence, telephone conversations, and other means of communication only with judicial permission and prohibits the collection, storage, utilization, and dissemination of information about a person's private life without his consent. While these provisions were generally followed, problems remained. There were accounts of electronic surveillance by government officials and others without judicial permission, and of entry into residences and other premises by Moscow law enforcement without warrants. There were no reports of government action against officials who violated these safeguards.

Via Salon
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:56 PM on June 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


You know, if I squint really hard, I might almost see how this makes sense. Is the reasoning behind this amnesty that a party shouldn't be put in a position where the government can threaten them with legal action if they don't comply with demands, as well as making them liable for legal response if they DO comply?

If that is the reasoning, then could this bill be more to prevent a different precedent from being set, rather than being specifically to suck off the telcos? IANAL, just trying to imagine the possibility that this isn't just another rape-over. But I doubt it.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:57 PM on June 19, 2008


Mr. Bush v. the Bill of Rights
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on June 19, 2008


So the treason charges for everyone who votes for this are forthcoming, right?

Right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:00 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The "reasoning" behind this, FatherDragon, is that a bunch of Blue Dog democrats afraid of losing their seats don't want to be seen as being soft on brown people terrorists. Telco money is a big part of it too, but the House almost looked like it could stand up to that, until naked electoral self-interest got involved.
posted by The Bellman at 2:06 PM on June 19, 2008


FatherDagon: Is the reasoning behind this amnesty that a party shouldn't be put in a position where the government can threaten them with legal action if they don't comply with demands

If the governement asked you to clearly break the law, how could they legally threaten you if you refused? In this case, one telecom did refuse, with obviously no legal penalty.

These telecoms broke the law, with the only clear motive being profit. In what crazy country wouldn't you want them punished, and to know what they did?
posted by Static Vagabond at 2:16 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Goddamn sons-of-bitches. And, while it may seem vaguely petty, one of the things that I don't like about living in liberal enclaves is that, y'know, I called my house rep (Jane Harman) to bitch about this last time it came up, and she was already against it. Of course, when I used to live in Michigan, I'd call my rep up to bitch about it and get a form letter back thanking me for my support.

"So basically your political system is a threesome?"

Yeah, but we never get to top.
posted by klangklangston at 2:19 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think that I have a solution to this. Let them pass the bill, with these two additional conditions:

-All Members of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court will have their phones tapped and emails monitored.
-Recordings and transcripts of all of the above monitored communication will be released to the general public at least three times per year.

After all, I'm sure they have nothing to hide from the electorate. They shouldn't mind this one bit.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:19 PM on June 19, 2008


Right now, if you know you were wiretapped, you can sue the telecom companies for breaking the law that says you can't wiretapp

the EFF has filed a class action against at&t and others. the legislation essentially negates the suit and any other forms of recourse.

well, not just that. there's also the rule of law that is now more or less negated.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:22 PM on June 19, 2008


Though Harman is listed as a Blue Dog, and I just called her office and they said she was still looking over the text.
posted by klangklangston at 2:26 PM on June 19, 2008


The current crop of congressional Democrats are so disappointing. What a collection of mediocrities and venal machine politicians.
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:29 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Called Steny Hoyers' office, they seem pretty blase about granting immunity and pretty committed to the "it's what's best for america" tag line.

Wow, this is horrendous.
posted by peppito at 2:30 PM on June 19, 2008


Is the reasoning behind this amnesty that a party shouldn't be put in a position where the government can threaten them with legal action if they don't comply with demands, as well as making them liable for legal response if they DO comply?

I could almost see them making this argument, but it seems to me that in this scenario the telcos shouldn't be able to claim that they were threatened with legal action by the government, because that would have implied that a subpoena or a warrant was issued. Some kind of legal document that they were acting against or ignoring.

And if the warrants had been issued, none of this would have been an issue in the first place.

The telcos shouldn't have capitulated without the warrant in the first place, when they did they opened themselves up to rightful litigation. They most certainly shouldn't get a free pass now, and I'm be extremely disappointed if this amnesty goes through.
posted by quin at 2:32 PM on June 19, 2008


ACLU:
"Congress is poised to once again pass disastrous surveillance legislation, now upping the ante with a thinly-veiled giveaway to some major campaign donors.

This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications. The court review is mere window-dressing – all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all.

The Hoyer/Bush surveillance deal was clearly written with the telephone companies and internet providers at the table and for their benefit. They wanted immunity, and this bill gives it to them."
posted by ericb at 3:02 PM on June 19, 2008


"Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI): 'The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. … Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity.'

Marcy Wheeler: 'All it takes to get off scott free, in this bill, is for the President to have said the program was legal, regardless of whether it was or…whether the telecoms should have questioned whether the directives were legal.'

Glenn Greenwald: '[W]e’ll have a new law based on the premise that the President has the power to order private actors to break the law, and when he issues such an order, the private actors will be protected from liability of any kind on the ground that the Leader told them to do it — the very theory that the Nuremberg Trial rejected.'

...Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office released this statement: 'Senator Reid believes this version is better than the bill the Senate passed in February and much better than the Protect America Act signed by the President last summer, but he remains opposed to retroactive immunity and is reviewing the bill in its entirety.'"*
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I called Nancy Pelosi, who is my representative, and asked the staffer how she intends to vote. He couldn't/wouldn't say. Is this typical?
posted by danny the boy at 3:30 PM on June 19, 2008


I called Pelosi's office and was shunted to a voice mailbox to "leave your comments." I emailed, too, with my street address clearly included, but got an automated bounce saying "call Speaker Pelosi's office to be added to the database of constituents." So I called back and did that and the assistant/intern/volunteer gamely took my street address but NOT my email, and then said I couldn't resend successfully until a day or two later, once the info was added to their database. So basically we have to REGISTER to express our viewpoint, and on any topic where action is coming in less than several days we can't even contribute our comments. Great fucking system, Madame Speaker. Anyone want to write a short script mashup that takes someone's street address from an email and flags it as either in-district or out-, for those knuckleheads?
posted by twsf at 3:38 PM on June 19, 2008


Anyone want to write a short script mashup that takes someone's street address from an email and flags it as either in-district or out-, for those knuckleheads?

I wrote an email as well, and after filling out the form, it displayed my address and said they'd only pass on mail from people within the district, so I think they already have that. Are you sure she's your representative? I've written Pelosi a few times already, but I never had to register...
posted by danny the boy at 3:57 PM on June 19, 2008


Precedent exists for the Amnesty Bill.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:02 PM on June 19, 2008


danny the boy, Yes, that was mine's response too, they would tell you if she was a sponsoring the bill, but she'll reserve the right to change her mind for more money until the end otherwise.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:02 PM on June 19, 2008


No word from Obama as of yet.

Or McCain? Why call out just one of the two candidates?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:05 PM on June 19, 2008


Arstechnica has a really nice summary of this whole situation, including a reference to the StrangeBedFellows site which plays up the coalition of ACLU liberals and Ron Paul supporters, but as far as I can see is just another face of the actblue site?
posted by danny the boy at 4:05 PM on June 19, 2008


Dammit. Every time I'm foolish enough to think that a politician might mean what he or she says, something like this comes along.

This is why I conduct all of my terrorist activities using code words embedded inside forum comments; honestly, as difficult as it is to make it convincing sometimes, it's still the best way to go.

Anyway, the shuffleboard is on the caper.
posted by davejay at 4:51 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


come on, the Democratic Congress hasn't denied Bush one single thing he wanted in the last year and a half, why should they start now? it's simply a one party system where one wing is pro-Roe and the other is against it (and about to overturn it) -- and both wings are pro-Iraq war. it's Bush/Cheney country, face it, and McCain is ready to pick up the torch -- the torch that's burning down America, of course -- when Bush and Cheney leave for a deserved pension swimming in an infinitesimal part the trillion dollars they've "invested" in the war on terrorism. the Democratic party is at best incompetent, at worst an accomplice, nothing more. and actually, if McCain goes in and, finally, Roe -- ie, a sad, abused fig leaf for a shockingly conservative party such as the Democrats -- is erased forever, the One Party government will be there for all to see, without smokescreens.

and anyway I humbly suggest all the Democrats here (ie, like, all of you) bookmark this thread, and in case of emergency -- ie, if Obama loses -- they can always come back to it and say to themselves, "whatever, we didn't miss much anyway".
posted by matteo at 5:16 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


kirkaracha: Or McCain? Why call out just one of the two candidates?

It's a Democratic controlled congress, and this bill has been pushed by Democrats, for no reason but to do exactly as the Administration wants. Obama is unarguably in the strongest position in the party, and has previously let it be known that he is vehemantly against immunization of the telecoms and domestic wiretapping.

If he stood up behind his views and followed with action, then there's no reason this bill should pass. They are the majority.

Republicans are very much for this bill, and McCains extreme change in views early June (compared to December) with regard to the power the president has to do as he wants (law be damned) seems to indicate he see's nothing wrong in domestic spying or asking a company to break the law.

The real sad part about this Democratic controlled congress is that there is not a single achievement they've during their time that would be any different under Republican rule. The one stand-out was the initial rejection of this bill, but now? It's all so sad.
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:23 PM on June 19, 2008


Liberty?

.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:38 PM on June 19, 2008


Is it too early to start lobbying Congress to allow them to sunset?
posted by 8 Bit at 5:51 PM on June 19, 2008


I called Nancy Pelosi, who is my representative, and asked the staffer how she intends to vote. He couldn't/wouldn't say. Is this typical?

By tradition, Speakers rarely vote except to break ties.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:00 PM on June 19, 2008


Where is Charlie Rangel on this? He's the only Congressthing whose district I can plausibly claim to be in who hasn't already declared their opposition. I called his office and the staff wouldn't say.
posted by grobstein at 6:27 PM on June 19, 2008


In other news: Bush And McCain Try To Steal Credit For Webb’s GI Bill That They Consistently Worked To Defeat
posted by homunculus at 6:28 PM on June 19, 2008


Dear Government:

Thank you!

Thank you for being liars and cheats out for only yourselves. Thank you for selling us out. Thank you for making me feel really great about my military service to this nation you once seemed to believe in. Thank you for making it all about who has more money to give. Thank you for pusillanimously rolling over. Thank you for shitting on every sacrifice anyone has ever made to get this nation to the time when you'd be in power so you could steal and be a fucking coward with no respect for the people you're supposed to serve. Thanks for destroying the last vestige of pride I had in what we'd been able to accomplish. Thank you, too, for wiping your ass with the quaint historical documents we've always been told were the basis of our "great nation".

Thanks for looking right into our faces and telling us to suck it. At least now the illusions are gone.
posted by SaintCynr at 6:35 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


davejay:

The chair is against the wall. John has a long mustache.
posted by SaintCynr at 6:41 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Serious question: As a DC resident, is there anyone I should bother complaining to?
posted by inigo2 at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2008


So only Democrats deserve to be punished for voting for this? Republicans are off the hook?

Ron Paul deserves credit for — I assume — voting against this, as do any other Republicans or House members generally that vote likewise. The rest need to be lined up for impeachment right next to the Democrats that vote for it.
posted by vsync at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The rest need to be lined up for impeachment right next to the Democrats that vote for it.

If it passes, it'll be mighty hard for Congress to impeach a majority of itself. The math just really doesn't add up.
posted by Leon-arto at 7:43 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Honestly, if the Republicans aren't already due for punishment, I don't think this will push them over the edge.
posted by ryanrs at 8:59 PM on June 19, 2008


By tradition, Speakers rarely vote except to break ties.

What?
posted by aaronetc at 8:59 PM on June 19, 2008


I'd be willing to compromise on this. I will agree to giving amnesty to any number of telecoms in exchange for prosecuting one prez and one veep.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:29 PM on June 19, 2008


The House has a tradition that says that the Speaker does not normally vote. He or she is expected to exercise influence over legislation in other ways, and to have more pressing matters to attend to nearly all of the time.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:42 PM on June 19, 2008


and actually, if McCain goes in and, finally, Roe -- ie, a sad, abused fig leaf for a shockingly conservative party such as the Democrats -- is erased forever, the One Party government will be there for all to see, without smokescreens.

Some Americans tried this strategy by voting for Nader in 2000, helping elect Bush.

I just don't buy that Gore would have bankrupted this country the way Bush and Cheney have. I don't buy that Gore would start an illegal war the way that Bush and Cheney have. I don't buy that Gore would have torn up the Constitution and tread on civil rights the way that Bush and Cheney have.

If we're at the point of granting amnesty, Democrats may be granting it for whatever reasons of political expediency they have, but we wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for Republican criminals breaking the law.

Instead of playing along with the GOP's "blame Clinton"-like games, perhaps we should put most of the blame where it really lies and get serious about impeaching the President and Vice President. They are traitors who broke the law. They violated the Constitution. It's not rocket science.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


-.-.-.-maybe this is in our best interest who are we to judge our superiors they only know what is right let us all kneel to their wisdom as what wrong will they do let us let them do their job without our comments and we may all do our jobs without interruption or distraction-.-.-.-
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:31 AM on June 20, 2008


Telco immunity isn't the half of it. This "compromise" bill effectively legalizes and expands Bush's warrantless spying efforts.

The USAPATRIOT Act was the first shoe to drop. This is the second. The former was rushed through the Congress in the emotionally charged aftermath of 9-11. There is no such excuse for what Congress is about to do now.

It's too late to call or write to your rep or otherwise try to get your voice heard. The vote is tomorrow; the bill will pass. We will be less free, but no more secure. No one outside of what the MSM pejoratively calls "civil liberties groups" will care.
posted by oncogenesis at 12:33 AM on June 20, 2008


They are traitors who broke the law.

But the point here is that law can be changed retroactively, so whenever they like, they can have not broken the law later.

(We've always been at war with Eastasia.)
posted by rokusan at 12:39 AM on June 20, 2008


Speaking of retroactive immunity, this is probably the scariest part, from CNN of all places.
posted by rokusan at 12:51 AM on June 20, 2008


(holds head in hands)

Didn't call, but I have been engaged in a comprehensive letter writing campaign. More often than not, the convenience of email seems to work against it. I figure people you are corresponding with often like to see you put a little effort in it.

Earthly, cointers libidos pigs endarchy convoke. Dupe jargonel dandiest
intrude skinful siliquae. Gendarme, roughly raffled kudzu. Keister,
implodes mukluk scincoid huns. Mowing donates, sos. Highbush percales
malgre exhumer populace frizzler. Ignatias paludal.
posted by Samizdata at 2:38 AM on June 20, 2008


Maybe a hint would be good. Think 4milab and weekend TF2.
posted by Samizdata at 2:39 AM on June 20, 2008


FYI: the American political system is BORKED! Now, Money = Power, which, from my limited understanding of American history, is exactly what the founding fathers wished to avoid.

Good luck to you all.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:08 AM on June 20, 2008


For those who didn't click on rokusan's CNN link: "George W. Bush is trying to pardon himself from war crimes!" Click on it and watch the segment.
posted by ericb at 7:23 AM on June 20, 2008


FYI -- that CNN segment aired in January 2008.
posted by ericb at 7:38 AM on June 20, 2008


It's too late to call or write to your rep or otherwise try to get your voice heard. The vote is tomorrow; the bill will pass. We will be less free, but no more secure. No one outside of what the MSM pejoratively calls "civil liberties groups" will care.

It still has to get through the senate to become law, so no, it's not too late.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:41 AM on June 20, 2008


Rise up folks, this is the real reason why the founding fathers gave you the right to bear arms.

------Slightly Related Matter of Crazy Government------
Speaking of undemocratic carry-on, here in Ireland, there's talk of making us vote again on an issue we've already voted on.
Didn't like the result? Well do it again, and this time get it right.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 7:59 AM on June 20, 2008


The USAPATRIOT Act was the first shoe to drop. This is the second

Hmm, I think the Federal Law Enforcement act of 1994 was the first shoe. It dropped very quietly so as not to be noticed. I like to refer to it as Patriot Act light, or diet.

Sweden just passed a law(?) this past week as well, regarding all traffic voice and data, didn't they?
posted by a3matrix at 8:31 AM on June 20, 2008


Sweden just passed a law(?) this past week as well, regarding all traffic voice and data, didn't they?

Pretty much. It's to allow tapping of all cross-border e-mails, phone calls and text messages:

The new law, set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2009, will enable the military National Defense Radio Establishment (FRA) to monitor Swedes' Internet usage as well as content from e-mails, phone calls and text messages.

The legislation requires all telecom operators in Sweden to bring their systems into line with FRA's surveillance system.

But although the government said only cross-border communications would be monitored, all communications risk getting caught in the net since some internet servers are located abroad and FRA would need to check all emails to determine whether they have crossed the border.

posted by jmd82 at 8:49 AM on June 20, 2008


Didn't like the result? Well do it again, and this time get it right.

That seems to be the current craze here in the US on a whole host of issues--from telcom immunity to privatization of public resources. The pols bring up an unpopular policy (one favored by industry and business leaders), then when there's a vigorous popular opposition to it, they let the policy seem to die in a very public defeat. Then whenever some new pretext for pushing the policy emerges later on, they bring it up again, and if there's still too much resistance, they shoot for something called a compromise (though that's really just a way of saying a plan to roll out the policy gradually) or just let it die in the process once more.

Then that meta-process repeats for years, if necessary, until even the most ardent opposition movements are exhausted from fighting the policy or until public attention has waned sufficiently. Then the pols push the still unpopular (but now largely unopposed) policy through and declare the outcome a victory for the public interest. Take for example the renewed push to drill off the coast of Florida and other long sought-after US sites: and how convenient that there happens to be another timely energy commodity crisis--just like that one in California that helped lubricate the way for Cheney's energy policy--just as the push (a push that really only benefits oil companies in the short-term) gets underway again.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:09 AM on June 20, 2008


good thing all these bastards will be turfed out in the next election and replaced by carefully-selected and vetted candidates with solid records of honesty and dedication to community service...

right? right?
posted by klanawa at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2008


Rise up folks, this is the real reason why the founding fathers gave you the right to bear arms.

I agree, but I am deeply pessimistic about the will of "folks" in the US to rise up against anything requiring personal sacrifice. After all, Bush is the guy everyone wants to have a beer with! It's going to take at least two generations of deprogramming to overcome the last 220 years of paternalism.
posted by oncogenesis at 9:43 AM on June 20, 2008


Rolls for today's vote.
posted by grobstein at 10:22 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Start calling your senators.
posted by carsonb at 10:32 AM on June 20, 2008


I see my Congresswoman voted for it. Way to go ahole.
posted by a3matrix at 11:54 AM on June 20, 2008


Obama just won Atrios' Wanker of the Day award. He's supporting the bill and says he'll work to yank out the immunity clauses in the Senate, but still, yuck.
posted by mullingitover at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2008


damn. well, he sucked some of the wind out of my sails by taking this position, that's for sure. i'm still hoping he'll make good on his word and work with the other the dems to get the immunity provisions stripped out in the senate. but that's still not enough to keep me from feeling pretty depressed about this.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2008


There's only so much we can expect to have done about the main provisions of the bill, as much as that pisses me off, too. It's the immunity that really steams me up, and that's the part that truly shouldn't be in there. I expect him to get those immunity provisions stripped out.

Fuck.
posted by Caduceus at 2:19 PM on June 20, 2008


I see my Congresswoman voted for it. Way to go ahole.

My congressman did, too. He was on the record as being opposed. Liar.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:34 PM on June 20, 2008


NOT VOTING:
... Paul ...
WTF RON PAUL
posted by vsync at 3:56 PM on June 20, 2008


I may send a gift basket to Timothy V. Johnson R-IL.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:59 PM on June 20, 2008


Yeah, Harman voted for it, though she had opposed previous bills granting retroactive immunity. Because she's a punk.
posted by klangklangston at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2008


Well, my rep lost my vote. And if it weren't for the Supreme Court situation, plus the fact that I live in Florida, Obama would have, too. I'm so very tired of voting for the (only microscopically less) evil.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:11 PM on June 20, 2008


Goddamn it, Barack, isn't it exactly the wrong time in your campaign to start giving us clear signals that "Change you can believe in" is an empty slogan? Or maybe not; I think you know that no sane Democrat is going to vote for McCain, so you're basically hunting Republicans, right? Fucker. Yeah, I'll still vote for you. But you can win without doing this kind of shit to the country.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:34 PM on June 20, 2008


Goddamn it, Barack...

Yeah, it sucks that he's supporting this FISA legislation. I suspect, however, that the issue and the timing just months before the general election plays into it, blunting the likely GOP and McCain attack on Obama and Democrats as being weak on national security, etc.
"In so doing, Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a 'vital national security matter' -- and alienating his base."*
Too bad he couldn't stand with Specter.
"Sen. Arlen Specter (R - Pa.), the most prominent Republican opponent of the compromise bill, issued a statement today calling th[e] exclusivity provision 'meaningless because that specific provision is now in [the] 1978 act.' Specter said Bush just ignored existing law in starting the warrantless surveillance program."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would attempt to remove the amnesty provision in the bill:
"Reid said the Senate may try to remove a provision from the bill that shields telephone companies from privacy lawsuits. Holding a separate vote on that issue next week may provide political cover for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Even though the attempt may fail, Reid said the vote would allow those opposed to the liability protection to 'express their views.'

'I'm going to try real hard to have a separate vote on immunity,' Reid said in an interview to be aired this weekend on Bloomberg Television's 'Political Capital with Al Hunt.'

'Probably we can't take that out of the bill, but I'm going to try.'"*
"That effort should be helped by Obama's opposition to the provision. His support of the remainder of the bill is disappointing, but that would be in large part offset if he can help kill immunity."*
posted by ericb at 7:44 AM on June 21, 2008


A commenter on TPM writes:
Actually, according to John Dean, the language re immunity (which is apparently somewhat ambiguous in the FISA cave-in) may simply be in regard to civil suits, not criminal prosecutions. And Obama, in the past, has talked about looking into criminal prosecutions against the telecoms if he's elected.
It's possible that the result will be immunity from civil suits by customers; and you can sort of see a thin pretext for this given that it was "the people" -- to use an essentially false doublespeak term for the government -- who asked them to do it. If criminal prosecutions remain on the table you might have something. Still, it's a little backwards to me; it seems that if you're going to go after corporations for complying with an illegal government program, a civil action is less schizophrenic than a government action.

More than anything else, all of this shows just how screwed up everything gets when one or more of the three branches of government decide that the law doesn't matter. This isn't the first bizarre contortion we'll see as some people -- still without a reliable majority -- try to put things right again.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:00 PM on June 21, 2008


Obama: I'll Fight To Strip Telecom Immunity From FISA.
posted by ericb at 3:49 PM on June 21, 2008


ericb, I don't see any indication that that's new information. There's no dateline on the post nor any date or time given for the statement*, and it sounds exactly like what he said before the vote.

*This happens too often on these kinds of blogs. WTF is a CBS "blog" doing with no datestamps in their template, no dateline on the story and no date or time for the event the story is about in the body of the text? I had to read it three times just to be sure that there was no evidence of new information. The oldest comment in the story is from today, which suggests it was posted today, which still doesn't help.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:05 PM on June 21, 2008


There's no dateline on the post...

The CBS blog post states right at the top: "June 21, 2008, 12:20 PM: Obama: I'll Fight To Strip Telecom Immunity From FISA."

The CBS blog post references Obama's statement that he made yesterday -- June 20th.
“Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act.

Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.’”
posted by ericb at 4:17 PM on June 21, 2008


ericb, quite right: the date was in a spot and style normally associated with slug lines and my eyes just skated over it. But the rest of my point remains, that it refers to a statement made yesterday before the house vote and has already been covered here.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:42 PM on June 21, 2008


Argh. On rereading the earlier link in this thread, he actually said it after the vote.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:44 PM on June 21, 2008


But the rest of my point remains, that it refers to a statement made yesterday before the house vote ...

Actually Obama's statement came after the House vote: "After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act."
posted by ericb at 9:35 PM on June 21, 2008


Or, what you said!
posted by ericb at 9:35 PM on June 21, 2008


FISA: Turning Up The Pressure
posted by homunculus at 12:53 PM on June 23, 2008


Interview with Senator Russ Feingold.
posted by homunculus at 10:12 AM on June 24, 2008


FISA: Call Your Wobbly FISA Senator
posted by homunculus at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Message To The Federal Government: No, You Can’t Search My Laptop!
posted by homunculus at 9:39 AM on June 25, 2008


Chris Dodd's speech and a glimmer of hope for stopping the FISA bill
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2008


Schumerr opposes FISA bill and Feingold's impassioned floor speech.
posted by ericb at 12:42 PM on June 25, 2008


Err --*Schumer*
posted by ericb at 12:47 PM on June 25, 2008


Spying Bill Redefines WMDs
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on June 25, 2008


(1) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas device that is designed, intended, or has the capability to cause a mass casualty incident;
(2) any weapon that is designed, intended, or has the capability to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of persons through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors;
(3) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as such terms are defined in section 178 of title 18, United States Code) that is designed, intended, or has the capability to cause death, illness, or serious bodily injury to a significant number of persons; or
(4) any weapon that is designed, intended, or has the capability to release radiation or radioactivity causing death, illness, or serious bodily injury to a significant number of persons.'


I’m guessing “significant” means any number between 2 and infinity?
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on June 25, 2008


Confirmed: Final FISA Votes on July 8
posted by homunculus at 7:35 PM on June 26, 2008


FBI Data-Mining Slashed After G-Men Dis Congress
posted by homunculus at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2008


AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates 'Infrastructure for a Police State'
posted by homunculus at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2008


AT&T billing site makes jokes about company's participation in warrantless wiretapping?

I've yet to meet a bully who didn't gloat.
posted by homunculus at 8:55 PM on June 27, 2008


Olbermann Challenges Obama To Do The Right Thing On FISA
posted by homunculus at 11:14 AM on July 1, 2008


Blue America Launches Whip Count Call Tool On FISA
posted by homunculus at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2008


Federal Judge Rules Against Bush on Wiretapping
posted by homunculus at 9:56 AM on July 3, 2008


DoJ Policy Would Sanction Racial Profiling, Let FBI Target Americans Without Cause
posted by homunculus at 11:06 PM on July 3, 2008


Analysis: NSA Spying Judge Defends Rule of Law, Congress Set to Strip His Power
posted by homunculus at 11:07 PM on July 3, 2008


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