Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Democrats Delay a Vote on Immunity for Wiretaps

Mark this one down on your calendar...US Senators actually stood up on principle, and prevented the passage of the privacy eviscerating FISA bill! You know the one, that if passed, would have given retroactive immunity to the same telecom companies that gave the administration open access to your private phone and email conversations!

Well, thanks to the likes of Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, and a handful of others, this abhorrent piece of legislation won't be debated again until January. If nothing else, this means that all Americans who care about the Constitution, the rule of law, and their inalienable right to NOT be spied on by their own government, have time to ban together and pressure lawmakers to strip retroactive immunity from any new FISA law!

Before I get to the article, watch the following Senate Floor speeches:

Senator Russ Feingold

Senator Chris Dodd

Senator Ted Kennedy

The New York Times reports:

The Bush administration had pushed for immediate passage of legislation to grant immunity to the phone companies as part of a broader expansion of the N.S.A.'s wiretapping authorities. But that will not happen now.


"Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy," Mr. Dodd said in a statement. The president should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens," he said. "I thank all my colleagues who joined me in fighting and winning a stay in the rush to grant retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies who may have violated the privacy rights of millions of Americans."


Ultimately, the Senate is likely to consider three different approaches: a plan by the Senate Intelligence Committee to immunize the phone carriers from liability; a plan by the Judiciary Committee to leave out immunity; and an alternative plan by Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, to indemnify the companies from legal liability by making the government responsible for any damages instead. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, threw a fourth option into the mix Monday by proposing that the foreign intelligence court, the FISA court, be allowed to decide whether individual companies should get immunity.

And one quick note on the role of the telecom industry, and the peoples' right to hold them accountable. To date, there are 40 lawsuits pending against AT&T, Verizon and other major phone companies over their alleged cooperation in the eavesdropping program. No surprise that the administration, and their corporate allies want immunity...that keeps the truth from ever seeing the light of day.

Click here to read the article in it's entirety.

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