Thursday, February 14, 2008

Republicans scuttle surveillance bill lacking telecom immunity

To the House's credit, they have already tried to grant a temporary extension for the Orwellian "Protect America Act" (as in protect the White House and the telecom companies), that DOES NOT include retroactive immunity for the telecom companies that sold out the American publics' privacy.

Unfortunately, a similar alliance in the House as was built in the Senate, won the day: nearly every fearmongering Republican, along with a small minority of Democrat cowards.

I want to reiterate however, this fight is not over yet.

Cnet News reports:

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have scuttled an attempt to grant a temporary extension to a controversial wiretap law--that did not include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies...By a 191-229 vote on Wednesday afternoon...The law--which Republicans say is necessary to allow interception of communications that transit the United States--is scheduled to expire on Saturday.


This leads to an unusual situation in which the House Democratic leadership, which has objected to retroactive immunity without learning more about what kinds of activities it would shield, has a few options:

1. Give Bush what he wants. This would mean admitting defeat and approving the immunity shield that the Senate already did on Tuesday.

2. Wait and try again. If the Republicans insist that this bill is necessary (which is hardly clear--we've survived for decades without it), the Democrats could hold another temporary renewal vote on Friday at 11 p.m. and dare the GOP to block this supposedly vital legislation a second time.

3. Let the Protect America Act expire. This is politically risky in an election year, of course, but the Bush administration's arguments for passing the law in the first place were based on partial, calculated leaks of secret court rulings. If the Republicans want the Protect America Act so badly, force them to negotiate on that separately from retroactive immunity--the issues really aren't linked.

We need to keep the pressure on! Here's another reminder to take action!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is this freedom your professors and doctors are so adamant about? The freedom to molest students and patients without their families being able to utter any protest? Is this what privacy is all about? Democracy is based on transparency. The word idiot is cognate with the Greek for privacy. Your voter registration is public so labor can prevent a Republican from getting a union job. Your property deed is public so you can be held accountable. Swiss Bank privacy only was created during the nazi era.