New Spy Law Will Provide Immunity To Wiretapping Telcos

Update: Voted! Passed 293-129.
Today the House votes on a new compromise FISA Bill that will make the NSA’s formerly questionable activities—like spying on Americans—legal, and will grant conditional immunity upon the telephone companies that aided the NSA in spying on their customers. It’s “conditional” because there will still be a court review, but nobody seems to be taking the court review seriously: Senator Russ Feingold, D-WI, calls it a “capitulation” in the ongoing fight over holding the telcos responsible, and Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, says the review will be a “formality.” Looks like you’re about to get off free, Verizon and AT&T!

We’re curious what Senator Obama and Senator McCain have to say about this—particularly, whether Obama will vote speak out against it. Oh wait, he’s too busy campaigning to weigh in on important issues, right? Because that’s how career politicians work. (End of rant on politicos not doing their jobs.)

“Deal clears way for wiretap-law overhaul” [CNN]
New FISA Bill Would Grant Telcoms Immunity; Vote Is Tomorrow” [Slashdot]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. rockstarjoe says:

    Shocker. Worst Congress Ever.

  2. redragon104 says:

    I just watched this on C-Span… We need to force Pelosi and gang out of congress.

    Hopefully Obama will say something before it goes through senate. But signs seem to point to no.

  3. Bladefist says:

    We’re curious what Senator Obama and Senator McCain have to say about this-particularly, whether Obama will vote against it. Oh wait, he’s too busy campaigning to vote on important issues, right? Because that’s how career politicians work. (End of rant on politicos not doing their jobs.)

    Ya, neither one of them will say anything. He didn’t vote on issues even before when he wasn’t campaigning.

    This is further proof that the congress is the root of the problem. And their approval rating seems right on w/ their quality of work and ethics.

  4. pal003 says:

    I can only imagine that there was some serious blackmailing going on behind the scenes. It all seems very Nixonian.

  5. stopNgoBeau says:

    I’m a Republican and all for this War on Terror that we are fighting these days, though I am always second-guessing my opinions on everything my party is doing. That being said, I don’t care what the government asks me (or tells me to do), if its against the law, I’m not doing it.

    Therefore, I think the Telco’s that violated the law for the NSA should be punished completely for their actions. If the federal government thought information could be obtained through wiretaps, there is a system in place to grant warrants. Sounds pretty cut and dry to me.

  6. rockstarjoe says:

    @pal003: Agreed! I don’t think this thing had much support from We the People on either side of the aisle.

  7. redragon104 says:

    Sorry for double posting, but im very upset about this.

    Jane Harmen (D-CA) had to say this about the bill, and I paraphrase:

    My phone was ringing off the hook with constituents complaining about how they did not want to lose their civil rights. But I have to consider my views and their views, so I am going to vote yes because this bill is better than the senate bill.

  8. mike says:

    This is not as cut-and-dry as most people believe. The majority of the wiretaps were on suspected terror suspects. I’m not sure what that means, but it wasn’t like they just picked random people and wiretapped them.

    Why would they want to waste the time and the money to spy on someone who isn’t going to further their investigation?

    I’m of the opinion that the telecoms didn’t do anything wrong in a grayish-legal sense. I think the only reason they wanted protection is because of the posibility of having lawsuits. These cost money on both sides and they didn’t want to spend money on an issue that probably would have sided with the telecoms.

    It’s kind of like getting immunity without having committed a crime.

    From where I stand and where this bill got started, I think it was a good compromise all around.

  9. Stormyaaron says:

    @Bladefist, Congress’ approval rating always suck, people tend to only like their congress rep but hate every one else in congress. Low approval ratings on congress as a whole mean nothing nor are stunning.

    The founding fathers were rolling in their graves as it is, but they must be rolling so much now that we can use their remains as a source of energy now.

    When will more Americans start to stand up and organize to defend their civil liberties and the Constitution as the Government clearly using the Constitution as toilet paper.

  10. Stormyaaron says:

    @Linus,
    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    No warrants were issued, no probable cause supported by oath or affirmation were giving. It was clearly illegal. Bush told other countries not to suspend Civil Liberties to fight terrorism, Bush said that the Terrorist hate us for our Liberties, yet him and congress are killing our Civil Liberties, according to his own logic he is a terrorist.
    (sorry for double post)

  11. Bladefist says:

    @Stormyaaron: Oh don’t get me started. lol. I am definitely the Constitutions biggest fan. And it’s not even considered anymore when these hacks make laws

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    Err, Chris, you realize this is a House measure and McCain and Obama are Senators, right?
    Obama has spoken previously against telecom retroactive immunity, even if not this particular bill. So he’ll do the right thing.
    McCain? Ha ha ha. He’ll order anyone complaining to be waterboarded, stress-positioned then sodomized (but not tortured because he strongly (strongly!) feels America shouldn’t torture).
    Call your House Reps, people. Especially if your Rep is Republican! (Tragically, the GOP is nearly 100% in favor of the telecoms getting a pass, while the Dems are nearly 100% against illegal spying on millions of innocent US citizens. But your Dem Rep needs to hear from you too.)

  13. CaptainConsumer says:

    You guys can make wahtever lame political points you want to. Here’s the deal:

    The REPUBLICANS with help from AT & T and Verizon BROKE THE LAW

    The DEMOCRATS just helped cover for the REPUBLICAN LAWBREAKING

    It’s why I’m not voting for ANY candidate in EITHER of those parties this November, they have not EARNED my vote.

    The Constitution is in dire straits now as it’s under attack from BOTH parties.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    @linus: “The majority of the wiretaps were on suspected terror suspects.”
    Ah, were if that were so. Tens of millions of people were wiretapped. Does the US harbor tens of millions of terrorists?
    And, if there WAS a need to wiretap, there’s FISA. Authorities can even wiretap THEN get FISA approval retroactively. It’s clear-cut Federal Law that the Executive must get FISA approval. Period. No exceptions (and many allowances to allow for public safety)
    There’s no excuse for bypassing FISA. None.

    And, Jane Harmon is a DINO on many issues, regrettably. She’s also out of step with how the vast majority of Dems are voting. It’s a Republican give-away, so if your Rep is Republican, CALL them. This morning. Please?

  15. Bye says:

    @CaptainConsumer: Though I’ll have to keep myself from vomiting all over my own ballot, I will still be casting a vote this Fall only because I already know how additional Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justices will vote when Constitutional issues like these make it to them.

  16. Bladefist says:

    @Rey: Maybe you don’t. Traditionally Republican Justices are strict Constructionist when it comes to the Constitution.

    Most Democrats don’t even know what the purpose of the Constitution really is. They think it’s for telling people what their rights are. It’s actually made for limiting Government.

    The founding fathers knew the Government would never stop without it. It’s the democrats who think the Constitution is living and think it should be interpreted differently each decade.

    But thanks for your input.

  17. savvy999 says:

    I am a Democrat, and I will be the first to say it, the Dem leadership in Congress sucks.

  18. Trai_Dep says:

    Never mind. Vote just happened half an hour ago. It passed on a 293-129 vote.
    It’s absurd that this passed under an absurdly unpopular, lame-duck President when a simple extension would have given everyone more time to consider this rationally.
    Arrgh. To the Senate!

  19. Gokuhouse says:

    Pretty freaking awesome….Our elected officials broke the law, SO THEY CHANGE IT!!!! This is an outrage, if I murder someone, I can’t just change the law to exclude me from going to jail.

  20. snoop-blog says:

    who cares if your rep, or dem, can’t we all agree this is bullshit? And it’s not Obama’s or McCains fault that the media is full of so much spin that a presidential candidate has no choice but to try not to make a move or even breath, out of fear of what the recourse might be.

  21. pal003 says:

    @Bladefist: Actually it appears that many of the Republican appointed Supremes do not care about Constitutional protections – if they interfere with Corporate profits. Just read those recent opinions that throw out the rights of citizens to sue corporations, whether for grave injury of worker rights. And nevermind the Justices own personal conflicts-of-interest with some of these corporations.

    Apparently they ignore the Constitution when so inconvenient to corporate interests.

  22. Trai_Dep says:

    @Bladefist: Bush v Gore? Strict Constructionalists? What?!

    @savvy999: Pelosi was STRONGLY against it. As were the Progressive ones. It was the conservative Dems that voted for it.
    And the vast majority of Republicans, of course. But don’t blame them. They wore many flag lapel pins and spoke on the floor a lot about Liberty, Accountability & A Limited Government.

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    @pal003: That’s demonstrably false! Republicans also ignore the Constitution when it’s inconvenient to their OWN interests. :)

  24. pal003 says:

    @Trai_Dep: Then there would be no Consumerist and the need to complain!

  25. drkkgt says:

    @linus: Who exactly determines who is a terrorist? If there is no checks and balances on this then it is going to get abused. Heck, there are stories of this being abused anyway, with cops searching out old girlfriends, or others doing GPS tracks, etc but those people were convicted. My biggest problem with this is that it isn’t JUST the telcos that should have been sent to trial but the ones who asked for it as well.

  26. Parting says:

    So USA became new-USSR, only ”capitalist”.

  27. snoop-blog says:

    Chris, I love it when people rant about politicos not doing their job, especially because we elected them there. they didn’t grant themselves that position, we did. Makes you wonder what we saw in them to put them in office in the first place. I think it takes a greedy snake to run for any office. It has way more to do with power and underlying motives than income, which is what draws the rest of us to our jobs. anyway, you can’t please everybody, and they know that so they just please themselves. If you, Chris Walters, think you could do a better job, why don’t you run for senate? Why do you think we would elect a greedy douchebag over you? If you really have some answers to some problems, than running for office would be better than bitching.

    there I said it.

  28. Parting says:

    @Bladefist: Stop trying to rewrite history. Take time to read in what context ”founding fathers” wrote your Constitution. I’m sure they are turning in their graves right now.

  29. @Bladefist: This logic is seductive, but erroneous. Congressional approval ratings are always low, and most of the time always lower than the President’s approval ratings. This is because giving an aggregate approval to a body (people approve of the body based on their perception of the member(s) that represent them) [Fenno 1978] and thus people generally shift their perception of the President onto Congress. [Lebo 2008 [ms.cc.sunysb.edu]] Second to last entry. Congressional approval ratings don’t mean anything. People are always (probably correctly) pissed off at Congress.

    @Rey: Bladefist is right to point out that the party of the appointing President does not necessarily give an indicator of the judicial ideology of the Supreme Court justice. When asked if Eisenhower had any regrets as President, he said “Yes, two, and they are both sitting on the Supreme Court” [Edwards and Wayne 2006] and there are various reasons for Presidents to try to ignore ideology when nominating justices. Bladefist, however, is incorrect in his almost comical generalizations of “Democrats think like THIS and Republicans think like THIS!” Judges are more likely to be guided by their policy preferences, not their ideologies, as has been borne out in numerous social science journals.

  30. Parting says:

    @snoop-blog: The problem is in USA, is that law and elected officials are interdependent.

    In a REAL democracy, those two have to be completely independent, since they balance each other. (That’s politics 101).

    Just splitting these two would help a lot, since none of governing parties would be able to influence directly law ”enforcement” and ”interpretation”.

  31. rmz says:

    Anybody up for an armed revolution? It’s been a while.

  32. snoop-blog says:

    @Victo: I just get mad when people blame the people, not the system. It is the system that is fuct. If you want to be a part of it, you HAVE to be fuct or you’ll never make it. Politicians are just puppets %99.9 percent of the time. They “whore” out there power to people who help keep them in power. Any human would probably cave to that pressure. Even in you offices where you work, If your not willing to bend or break the law a little bit, you’ll never move up to management. They want people who will help keep their secrets.

    end sensless rant.

  33. kentmx25 says:

    @rmz: Count me totatly in. This is just insane the goverment is just in the pockets of big business and does not care about the people

  34. Stormyaaron says:

    @rmz: best to keep it coded since Big Brother is watching. And yes it has been awhile, as Jefferson said “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.[Shade’s Rebellion]
    The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
    wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
    they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
    it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …
    And what country can preserve its liberties, if it’s rulers are not
    warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
    resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
    to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
    in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
    It is its natural manure.”

  35. Chris Walters says:

    @Trai_Dep: Yeah, I conflated the two houses for the purpose of my rant, but it was poor writing, I’ll admit.
    @snoop-blog: Point taken. Like I said, I was ranting too. But I likely have far less faith in human rationality than you do, so I’ll probably always blame the generic “people” as much as the institutions they/we allow to remain in power. (For example, politicians–even good, idealistic ones–wouldn’t have to act so duplicitous if we voted more rationally.)

  36. kentmx25 says:

    @Stormyaaron: Hear Hear!! well wrote.

  37. thegirls says:

    @Trai_Dep:
    This ticks me off! I’ve been calling and emailing stupid Steney and many Dem’s to do the right thing! Jerks….I’m working hard to make sure Steny loses his ranking….

    UUUGHHHHHH!

  38. booksy says:

    @stopNgoBeau: @linus: @Stormyaaron: @Trai_Dep:

    Maybe you can get it through your thick skulls that the wire taps are on INTERNATIONAL calls and not domestic ones, therefore no warrants needed in the first place. All this CYA is because the courts are now conferring constitutional rights to forigners.

  39. thegirls says:

    @Bladefist:
    Big fan of The Federalist Society?? Maybe?

  40. plural_of_moose says:

    @Booksy: but if they’re talking to US citizens, wouldn’t those rights apply to listening to what the Citizen said? I think that the argument stems from the fact that one end of the phone is being picked up here, and I don’t think both people have to be citizens for the rights of one to apply (IE, can’t go shooting illegal immigrants and then not get due process)?

  41. bohemian says:

    @rmz:

    I will bring the torches, you bring the pitch forks. This is so infuriating. Starting Saturday nobody gets to fly without a picture ID, it used to be you could refuse and still fly.
    Ve need to zee ur paperz! Total bullocks.

    @booksy: It is being done to US citizens making international calls. Based on how corrupt and dishonest this administration has proven to be they are probably doing domestic spying too but we just have not had someone expose it yet.

    Nixonian indeed.

  42. Stormyaaron says:

    @booksy:
    1) Since when does government NOT abuse it’s powers?
    2) “he NSA warrantless surveillance controversy concerns surveillance of persons within the United States incident to the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”,[1] the NSA is authorized by executive order to monitor, without warrants, phone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, and text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S The taps took place on AMERICAN SOIL with AMERICAN COMPANIES also.

    It also raises many issues with the President’s roles defined in Article 1 and 2 in the Constitution along with the 4th Amendment. It also broke Federal Law by not seeking even getting approval from a FISA court.

  43. mike says:

    @Stormyaaron:

    No warrants were issued, no probable cause supported by oath or affirmation were giving. It was clearly illegal.

    First of all, you quoting the fourth amendment is pointless because it wasn’t the government that did the spying; it was the telecoms, which is why they are asking for immunity. Second of all, the fact that you mention the fourth amendment shows how misinformed people can be on this topic.

    Government asked for the information; Telco complied with the REQUEST.

    I’m not saying that rights were not violated; they clearly were. But what the bill is protecting is the argument that the telecoms were at fault. They weren’t in a very legal sense.

    booksy, you are correct that it was on international calls; but the calls still were on American soil. The constitution affords those same rights to anyone here in the States.

    drkkgt, I’m not sure what they look at. But what’s for darn sure is that they’re not going to be waisting time by checking out some teenage girl texting her boyfriend about what she’s wearing.

  44. ARP says:

    @booksy: Actually, we don’t know the full scope of their wiretapping activities because they haven’t come clean about what they’ve done.

    Also even with the international calls, they orginated in the US with US citizens. So, saying it was international only is false. The truth is, we don’t know who or what they’ve done and they won’t tell us.

    As others have mentioned (and Faux News and Rush Limbaugh somehow fail to mention):

    1) They could have started wiretapping first and got a warrant later. There is no “ticking bomb” scenario that they keep talking about.

    2) The law is clear that its the “EXCLUSIVE” way to conduct wiretapping. There are no exceptions, none. And the “inherent authority” argument loses because it would violate the 4th Amendment. That is, unless you think the Executive can do anything they want in the name of national security (e.g. take away all your property without paying for it, lock you up forever with no charges, etc.). If that’s the case, then I don’t think the terrorists hate us for our freedom anymore, because we don’t have them.

    3) This judicial review is BS. The judge is not reviewing if the program was legal or not. It is only reviewing if the the White House TOLD them it was legal. That’s absurd. So I can kill a bunch of people as long as a cop says its legal. My understanding is that the Executive branch is not the judicial branch.

  45. Bladefist says:

    Anyone who sits here and says republicans are corrupt or sell out to organizations immediately goes on my list of biggest idiots.

    ALL politicians are corrupt. Haven’t we seen this on Consumerist?

    The Republicans and the Democrats are you and me. I am not corrupt. I do not sell out to the big corporations. They are parties. They are sets of beliefs. They are political religions.

    Why cant you get it? If you judge right/wrong by how the politicians of parties act, then they’re all corrupt and terrible for America.

    If you think your parties politicians are doing what is best for you, you should be committed.

  46. mike says:

    @snoop-blog:

    I think it takes a greedy snake to run for any office. It has way more to do with power and underlying motives than income, which is what draws the rest of us to our jobs. anyway, you can’t please everybody, and they know that so they just please themselves.

    I think reps get a bad break sometimes. They need to compromise in order to get a bill passed for “the greater good”. Sure, the dems could continue to fight and bicker but ultimately, the people suffer.

    I know some damn good reps and senators who take their jobs seriously. They fight an honest game and they’re proud they are a part of the system. I’ve even thought about running because, like all of you, I’m sick and tired of old-school politics. What is clear is that if you don’t like the way that things are running, every one here has the priviliage and the duty to do something about it.

  47. Squeezer99 says:

    they’re not spying on americans

  48. mike says:

    @Bladefist:

    Anyone who sits here and says republicans are corrupt or sell out to organizations immediately goes on my list of biggest idiots.

    HERE HERE!

    I’m convinced that it’s the DEMS that have the oil industry in their pockets. By preventing offshore drilling and talking about global warming, it increases gas prices in the middle east. I’m also convinced that they want to restrict guns so that the government will have more power over the people.

    /semi-kidding

  49. sncreducer says:

    @linus:

    It’s kind of like getting immunity without having committed a crime.

    Except they DID break the law, you schmuck. It’s called the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Look it up.

    To quote the George Washington Law School’s Jonathan Turley, it’s like robbing a bank, then going to the legislature and getting them to pass a law legalizing bank robbery.

    And you’re making excuses for them. Shame on them, and shame on you.

  50. ARP says:

    @linus: “…it wasn’t the government that did the spying; it was the telecoms, which is why they are asking for immunity.”

    So who did they give this information to?

    So as long as a private company breaks the law it’s OK. So all the government needs to do is to route its actions through a private company and they can do whatever they want?

  51. sncreducer says:

    @Trai_Dep: Pelosi was strongly against it? Are you on crack? She spoke in favor of it this morning. She VOTED for it.

  52. Stormyaaron says:

    @linus: They were acting as proxies for the government, in some cases possibly violating Privacy policies[i.e. We won’t hand over information unless served with a warren or court order]. Then let’s not forget that even if I was not say an AT&T subscriber my information may still of passed though AT&T’s servers/wires/what ever and allowed the government to ease drop on me. The 4 Amendment REQUIRES the government to get a search warrant from a Judge before they can ease drop
    In Katz V. United States the Supreme Court ruled that Wiretapping falls under the 4th Amendment. [caselaw.lp.findlaw.com]

  53. sncreducer says:

    @Trai_Dep: Pelosi was strongly against it?

    She spoke in favor of it this morning. She VOTED FOR IT.

    So what the hell are you talking about?

  54. sncreducer says:

    Sorry for the double post, Gawker is wonky today.

  55. mikelotus says:

    @Bladefist: That’s your president for the next 8 years sucker.

  56. sncreducer says:

    @booksy: Pull your head out of your ass. They may have been international calls, but on one end of that phone was a U.S. resident. So yes, warrants were required by law.

  57. mikelotus says:

    @Bladefist: abramoff

  58. Bladefist says:

    One thing people forget, what Republicans vote in favor of a corporation, it not always because they are corrupt and selling out.

    Did you ever think that maybe conservatives (me) are also in favor for the corporation? This time around, it’s a bit more tricky. And I can’t say I’m all for this.

    But for big oil, I am all in favor for them. So when my republican senators are all in favor for them as well, they are just representing what conservatives want.

    We don’t want government control. I’ll take corrupt corporations over corrupt government any day of the week.

  59. sncreducer says:

    @Bladefist: Yes, but by supporting the Republican party, you’re backing corrupt government AND corrupt corporations! It’s the best of both worlds!

  60. mike says:

    @sncreducer: if you’re referring to title VII, I’m not as convinced that this violates it. Obviously, we will never find out because the people that the telecoms were reporting on is classified and won’t be revealed anytime soon. Nor will we ever know if having that information prevented any attacks.

    @Stormyaaron: You’re assuming that the telecoms didn’t surrender.

    If a police officer asks me what you were doing between 10-12 this morning, I’m under no obligation to tell them (outside of being charged with obstruction). I can tell them, should I so choose but that does not make me an agent of the government.

  61. Bladefist says:

    @sncreducer: Disagree. I want smaller government and more power in the consumer/corporation relationship.

    For instance big oil, when they reap huge profits, it is fantastic for our economy. Our 401ks are through the roof, more money is pumped into the system. Jobs are created. It’s nice. (Note the price of gas isn’t up due to profits).

    When the government is taking in that money, it doesn’t do shit for our economy.

  62. stopNgoBeau says:

    @booksy: Maybe you can get it through your thick skull that the activity occurred on American soil, to calls that originated from or ended in America, and that all persons on this soil, whether foreign or citizen, must abide by (and therefore are protected by) the US Consitution.

    If you don’t understand that, go back to high school and take your Civics class again. Anything more to say? Blow it out your ass.

  63. mike says:

    @Stormyaaron:

    The 4 Amendment REQUIRES the government to get a search warrant from a Judge before they can ease drop
    In Katz V. United States the Supreme Court ruled that Wiretapping falls under the 4th Amendment.

    Even the opinion notes:

    Moreover, the surveillance was limited, both in scope and in duration, to the specific purpose of establishing the contents of the petitioner’s unlawful telephonic communications.

    It was under this premise that court said that if the FBI had known that the evidence wouldn’t have been admissable, they could have made it admissable by getting a warrent and that’s what the bill covers.

  64. cohashi says:

    I think what people are missing is that this legislation is a COVER UP for the Bush Administration secretly wiretapping “terrorists” through the NSA.

    * It’s not about FISA or its secret wiretap approval court.
    * It’s not about overseas or local phone calls, e-mails, or text messages.

    The NSA wiretapping shenanigan went on for oh maybe 6 years until the New York Times wrote an article on it. Bush and Congress figured out that their “friends” *might* get in trouble, so they just tossed the law aside to protect them.

    THAT’s what this is about. Here’s the article.

    Democrats have no right to complain that Republicans “accuse” them of having no spine. They don’t.

  65. savvy999 says:

    @Trai_Dep:

    Pelosi was STRONGLY against it.

    You’re high. Why did she even let it come up for a vote? She is the Speaker of the House. That means she controls what even gets to the floor at all. So if this terrible piece of legislation even got to be voted upon at all, it’s her fault; that she even voted FOR it afterwards, is all I needed to know.

    I’m done with “Ooooh! First woman speaker! How awesome!” crap. Pelosi is a spineless turd. I will be sending $50 to whoever her next primary opponent is.

  66. ImCrying says:

    Breaking the law is ok as long as you’re a company and after brown people.

    The first word in “illegal wire tapping” is ILLEGAL. =/

  67. sncreducer says:

    @Bladefist: More power for who? Because the party you support is all about giving those corporations as much power as possible at the expense of you, the consumer.

    Big oil profits fantastic for our economy? You’re kidding, right? The price of gas isn’t up due to profits? So, the oil companies are somehow legally obligated to pass along the high price of crude to us? They couldn’t just, you know, absorb a little of that cost and watch their profits shrink a bit from the record levels they’re at now? Are you not aware that the high cost of gasoline is spread across almost every consumer good sold?

    But I guess you don’t have to worry about all those poor people choosing between food and medicine because it costs them twice as much to go to work these days as long as your 401k is fat and their money is “pumped into the system” and funneled up to the wealthy investors and oil company executives.

    @linus:

    Except as required by law or with the approval of the customer, a telecommunications carrier that receives or obtains customer proprietary network information by virtue of its provision of a telecommunications service shall only use, disclose, or permit access to individually identifiable customer proprietary network information in its provision of (A) the telecommunications service from which such information is derived, or (B) services necessary to, or used in, the provision of such telecommunications service, including the publishing of directories.

    See those words at the beginning? “Except as required by law or with the approval of the customer.” Neither of those standards were satisfied, according to every bit of information we have managed to extract so far.

    The president sent them a letter saying, “Hey. Break the law. It’s totally cool, we’re telling you to do it.”

    One company refused to do it (Qwest). And as a result, they lost their government contracts. The others rolled over and did what they were told. Then they wrote some big checks to Congress. Then Congress bent the American people over and put the screws to them. And then gullible people like you made excuses for their lawbreaking behavior. End of story.

  68. ARP says:

    @stopNgoBeau: No need for name calling. Many of us have corrected his misinformation.
    1) Calls originated in US soil
    2) Domestic only calls were caught up.
    3) Probably much, much more, but Bush won’t release the iniformation, even though “he didn’t break the law.”

    Whether he’s pulling a Faux News and injecting it for FUD or not, I’m not certain. But no need to go with the personal attacks.

  69. snoop-blog says:

    God I miss the wonkette being a part of the gawker family…

    Yeah I know Chris, your probably really surprised to hear me say that.

    But it is nice to have a serious discussion about politics, vs. the crap that gets spewed %99 of the time by their followers.

  70. Tmoney02 says:

    @Trai_Dep:

    “Never mind. Vote just happened half an hour ago. It passed on a 293-129 vote. … To the Senate!”

    Hate to break it to you but the law is pretty much passed now. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but the next step will be for this bill to go back to a committee where they will reconcile this bill and the senate bill (which already was passed months ago) to make the final congress bill to be sent to the president, who is waiting to sign it.

  71. mikelotus says:

    @linus: really, you know that for a fact? the majority? should not 100% be on suspected terrorist? And the vacuuming of all communications on the internet had no warrant. That is what happened at AT&T at least.

    @sncreducer: exactly.

    And the shame of it is they got nothing out of it. By then, they were using satellite phones and skype for communications.

    And if you think this is the only illegal activity by the administration that was going to bring back “honor and dignity” to the White House, you have been asleep.

    I can say with confidence that most people posting here did not vote in the last Congressional Elections. Now did you?

  72. sncreducer says:

    @ARP: I would say when people peddle disinformation in service of making excuses for giant companies breaking the law and paying off our elected officials to look the other way, there is reason to name call.

  73. mikelotus says:

    Oh, one more thing. Republicans will control nothing next year, so Democrats better step up.

  74. sncreducer says:

    @mikelotus: I have missed exactly one election in the 15 years since I turned 18. It was a single-issue local special election that I simply forgot was happening, a school bond that narrowly lost (by more than one vote, but I supported it so I still felt bad).

    And my representative is Barbara Lee of California’s 9th District, a true patriot who rightfully denounced and voted against this monstrosity, helpfully reminding her colleagues of America’s long legacy of illegal domestic spying, including but not limited to Watergate, COINTELPRO and recent efforts to “infiltrate” groups of American activists who were, you know, actually trying to influence their own government through protests.

  75. Bladefist says:

    @sncreducer: This is not an oil discussion thread. I’ll just say they are a business, just like walmart, just like Bobs Carpet, and they have a very low margin, and it’s not their job to absorb anything.

    If anyone should absorb anything, the government could give you a tax break. That would save you more money then the oil companies could.

  76. Bladefist says:

    @snoop-blog: Politics are very important right now. And a lot of people are getting in the discussion and having a good debate.

    How can you comment about this article and not be political? What is wrong with a bunch of people in here having a good time? Consumerist is promoting debate, which in return provides ad clicks, and gets more people involved.

    If there were no controversial comments, people wouldn’t come back and read.

  77. tundey says:

    Personally, I thought it was only in 3rd world countries that the govt can pass laws retroactively. I remember in the early 90s when a military dictator will set up a law (they called them “decrees”) and immediately backdate it. Oh it’s illegal to hold people for x # of days without charges? Well boooyaah, here’s a decree extending x to infinity!

    To those pushing for this bill, is this a tacit acknowledgment that what the telcos did was illegal? Otherwise, why do we need a law legalizing it?

  78. sncreducer says:

    @mikelotus: Oh, and today I contacted the offices of Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel, told them what I thought of their compromise, and donated $50 to Blue America’s campaign to take them out of office, by purchasing ads like this. Donate here if you want.

  79. sncreducer says:

    @Bladefist: Really? Because I paid less than $1,000 in taxes last year on my meager income. It’ll go up slightly this year due to a raise I just got at work. On the other hand, considering that gas has been over $3.50 a gallon in the Bay Area this entire year – $4.50 a gallon is the cheapest I can find right now – I’ll be spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,500 on gas this year. And yes, I carpool. (I’d take BART, but I work nights and get out after BART closes).

    So, you know, “cutting taxes would save you more money than oil companies forgoing some of their massive profits” = fail. But then Republicans often forget that not everyone is an upper-class investor whose “economic” concerns amount to losing value on the summer house or paying more for a yacht. Must be nice.

    @tundey: OMG YES. Tundey’s right, Linus, so, care to respond? If what they did wasn’t illegal, why do they need special new immunity now?

  80. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    All you folks on the left that think this is a travesty should donate some money:

    [www.actblue.com]

    All you folks on the right who think this is a travesty should also donate money:

    [www.thestrangebedfellows.com]

    All you folks who think this isn’t a travesty – please, kill yourself.

  81. Stormyaaron says:

    @mikelotus: It was 11 days before my 18th birthday, not my fault I was not born 11 days earlier.

  82. snoop-blog says:

    @Bladefist: you must have mis understood me. I said we here on the consumerist have a nice discussion while the wonketteers spew vomit. except for five of them.

    go on the wonkette if you never have. you’ll soon be booted off by jim newell no doubt. There’s enough snark on there to choke a donkey!

  83. LionelEHutz says:

    Of all you folks are just terrorist sympathizers and libruls from the Democrat Party and such. You probably think Hamas is a dip for Pita bread and that everyone should drive their Volvos to drum circle practice while drinking Latte’s and wearing Birkenstocks.

    (snark over)

  84. Pro-Pain says:

    This whole thing reminds me of the movie “Idiocracy”. This country is getting dumber by the second. Congress = Americans biggest unflushed toilet. Get rid of all these turds.

  85. Pro-Pain says:

    And if the stupid republicans mention “fear”, “terrorists”, or “9/11″ ONE MORE TIME before the election, I WILL vote for Obama. That is all.

  86. Trai_Dep says:

    Aww MAN, Pelosi is a skank. This is “San Francisco Values”?! I’m thinking of another word for her, one that McCain uses for “wife”, also four letters, beginning with “c”. But my ma will make me eat soap if I say it aloud.
    And yeah, I was wrong in my previous post. I assumed (ass-u-me, anyone) that she wouldn’t. That witch!

    It’s worth noting that 129 Democratic House members voted against it. Want to bet how many Republicans there were? 20? 13? Try 1. That’s it. One.
    More Democrats voted against it than voted for it.
    Out of 189 Republican House members, only one (~0.5%) voted against it. And their President, who swore a veto, making it harder for House members to vote this outrageous bill down. The GOP owns this. Suck it up.

  87. Trai_Dep says:

    @snoop-blog: To Wonkette’s credit, they’re fine w/ opposing viewpoints. Just not too-earnest ones. It’s snark. There are myriad sites for earnest political discussion. If you’re funny, they don’t care which position you take.

  88. mikelotus says:

    @Trai_Dep: there will be less than 189 Republicans next year. I wonder if they will regret giving President Obama this authority?

  89. Pro-Pain says:

    @mikelotus: You know they will.

  90. Trai_Dep says:

    So if they voted a retroactive immunity today, will they be able to vote a retroactive liability next year? That would be awesome.

  91. Bladefist says:

    @snoop-blog: my bad. I apologize.

  92. Democrats were put in congress to counter this kind of crap. What a huge disappointment. Pelosi has to go.

  93. Sherryness says:

    Isn’t that Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan in ‘Shanghai Noon’? Funny image choice.

  94. Trai_Dep says:

    @postnocomments: See my above comment. The problem isn’t the Democrats.

    @Bladefist: I have to ask this. We share many core values, once the partisan rhetoric is stripped aside. Take this case, for example. It’s bad. It’s very bad. We’re in agreement here.
    Objectively, one would then ascertain which policymakers, which party, is more responsible. More so if overwhelmingly responsible. And there’s a simple test for this.
    Which party made it happen? Whose President? Which Congressmembers overwhelmingly supported it. Total ‘em up.
    One can’t use the Bad Apple theory, a rogue distorting the True Ideals, since 99.5% of GOP House members voted for this travesty. They’re all in on it. Neither can one say it’s both parties, since when there was a Democratic President and Congress, nothing remotely close to this happened. Beside the fact that for this vote, more Dems voted against it than for it.
    So if this violates the Constitution, if it’s Anti-American (it is), then objectively, one party, while saying wonderfully crafted words to the contrary, violates your ideals.

    Isn’t that something that might make you ponder whether or not the GOP lives up to the values you hold dear?
    This isn’t about scoring points. Don’t feel you have to respond. But consider, if you’re authentic to the genuine values you hold – many of the same which Progressives hold – shouldn’t you associate with a party that is closer to your ideals?

    All of you guys: isn’t this a really clear-cut example of how your leaders do nothing past blurt out empty, appealing words? It would drive me crazy if my guys did that. I’d be outraged. I’d switch.

  95. RedSonSuperDave says:

    Bill Boyd, Connie Mack, you’ve got some explaining to do. This is nothing less than treason. Believe me, I’ll remember this at the next election.

    I’m too angry to think straight, so this comment isn’t up to my standards.

  96. Onepotato says:

    I really like Trai_Dep’s comment!

    “So if they voted a retroactive immunity today, will they be able to vote a retroactive liability next year? That would be awesome.”

    It would be an historical piece of legislation! Headline goes something like…

    “President signs Retroactive Immunity from Retroactive Immunity Bill”.

    Story line: When queried exiting memorial services of those elected officials whom voted against the bill, Democrats, Replublicans, Independants, Libretarians, and all political ilk claim water boarding and other various forms off non torture by constituents had no influence on creation and near unanimous passage of the bill.

    Obtaining commentary was strained as many of the representatives and senators seemed hurried and harried to resume their efforts to finalize other bills recently introduced. Bills of which the majority seem to be related to civil rights and constitutional issues.

    Expedited passage of the “Belated Impeachment of George Bush Jr. bill” which is said to include exhumation of Bush along with any remains of Cabinet members and Supreme Court Justices appointees during his illegal terms of office was expected. The bill includes charges against Bush and others for treasons committed.

    Both houses of Congress will convene at their new diggs monikered “The Wall” where they were fortunate enough not to be “…first up against!…”. One legislator who asked to remain anonymous stated ” Where before in our work venue we were daily in the presence of the Stars and Stripes wherein the color red represents the sacrificed blood of fallen American patriots failed to inspire our honesty and integrity while we went about doing the The Peoples business, the “Wall” with its involuntarily shed blood of unburied treasonous traitors, the smell of feces and terror has yet failed to be a continually inspirational workplace location.

  97. elisa says:

    @Linus: You’ve never heard of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, where they wiretapped thousands of innocent civilians?

    “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    This is a sad day in the history of our nation.

  98. Bladefist says:

    @Trai_Dep: I’m a Conservative before I am a Republican. I’ve tried to convey to you many times that I believe in Republican IDEALS not always Republican politicans. But the same can be said for the democrats. And the Independents. You got to pick a party and vote for the good guy.

    That’s all you can do. I promote my beliefs. Have you seen me stand behind McCain? Or any of the senate republicans? And I would encourage you to be careful with standing behind any democrat senators. They’ll let you down.

    I would say 90% of the time, the things Republican politicians do, that you think is corrupt, or a sell out, they are doing it because that’s how I feel and they are representing me. But this time, I think senators are just going rogue. They have the right to go rogue, and then we need to vote’em out of there. I don’t know what else you can do man. They’re all equally crappy people.

  99. Trai_Dep says:

    The Prez. 99.5%. A seven-year campaign to make this unprecedented abomination happen. It’s not accidental, it’s who they are.

    To defend otherwise is like those ’60s era Communists defending Stalin. “It’s not Stalin, it’s that the Soviets aren’t the best implementers…” No, it’s that what they’re selling is simply a means to hoodwink you long enough for them to seize and retain power. Look at their actions, not their words – then adjust your behavior accordingly. Stop being a slave!, I’d say to them.

    Dude. You’re being played. It’s so black-and-white. Are you cool with that?

  100. SinisterMatt says:

    @savvy999:

    Is that Sheehan lady still trying to run against Pelosi? If I lived in San Francisco, I’d vote for her.

    Sigh, the Democrats held such promise for change this last congressional election cycle. They dropped the ball and ended up kowtowing to Bush, not just on this issue, but on others as well. All just, it seems, to avoid being labeled “soft on terror.”

    Cheers!

  101. SinisterMatt says:

    Oh, and if anyone wanted to know the sole Republican that voted against the bill, it was Timothy Johnson, from Illinois.

    Cheers!

  102. Dakine says:

    @Bladefist: “I’ll take corrupt corporations over corrupt government any day of the week.”

    They are one and the same today. You have been duped.

  103. Trai_Dep says:

    Cheers indeed to Mr. Johnson.
    Let’s also extend our appreciation to the others who voted against this travesty. I regret lacking first names and states for all of the Representatives, but evidently the House can’t afford a proofer.
    Abercrombie, Allen, Andrews, Baldwin, Becerra, Blumenauer, Brady (PA), Braley (IA), Capps, Capuano, Carnahan, Carson, Clarke, Clay, Cohen, Conyers, Costello, Courtney, Cummings, Davis (CA), Davis (IL), DeFazio, DeGette, Delahunt, DeLauro, Dingell, Doggett, Doyle, Edwards (MD), Ellison, Eshoo, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Foster, Frank (MA), Gonzalez, Grijalva, Hall (NY), Hare, Hill, Hinchey, Hirono, Hodes, Holt, Honda, Hooley, Inslee, Israel, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Jefferson, Johnson (GA), Johnson (IL), Johnson, E. B., Jones (OH), Kagen, Kaptur, Kennedy, Kilpatrick, Kucinich, Larsen (WA), Larson (CT), Lee, Levin, Lewis (GA), Loebsack, Lofgren, Zoe, Lynch, Maloney (NY), Markey, Matsui, McCollum (MN), McDermott, McGovern, McNulty, Meek (FL), Michaud, Miller (NC), Miller, George, Mollohan, Moore (WI), Moran (VA), Murphy (CT), Nadler, Napolitano, Neal (MA), Oberstar, Obey, Olver, Pallone, Pascrell, Pastor, Payne, Price (NC), Rangel, Rothman, Roybal-Allard, Ryan (OH), Sánchez, Linda T., Sanchez, Loretta, Sarbanes, Schakowsky, Schwartz, Scott (VA), Serrano, Shea-Porter, Slaughter, Solis, Speier, Sutton, Thompson (CA), Tierney, Towns, Tsongas, Udall (NM), Van Hollen, Velázquez, Walz (MN), Wasserman Schultz, Waters, Watson, Watt, Waxman, Weiner, Welch (VT), Wexler, Woolsey, and Wu.

    I’d include all the Republicans that voted for it, but I’m afraid the vast amount of text would break the Vast Gawker Empire’s entry box. :D

  104. CharlieInSeattle says:

    Norm Dicks you are a traitor! I will do everything in my power to see that you don’t get elected in 2008. No More Dicks 2008!

  105. RedSonSuperDave says:

    @Bladefist: I have to take exception to this comment.

    This is not an oil discussion thread. I’ll just say they are a business, just like walmart, just like Bobs Carpet, and they have a very low margin, and it’s not their job to absorb anything.

    I can’t let this go by. Exxon-Mobil just had the most profitable quarter by ANY CORPORATION EVER. Low margin? Puh-lease.

  106. Bladefist says:

    @RedSonSuperDave: You just don’t get it do you.

    It ain’t my job to teach you either.

  107. chartrule says:

    i really feel for you guy’s south of canada’s border

    bush and his admin have really shreaded your constitution

    and here i thought that the president of the united states job was to defend the constitution – i guess it isn’t so

    hopefully your next president will do a better job and restore the checks and balances enshrined in your society

  108. sncreducer says:

    @Bladefist:

    It ain’t my job to teach you either.

    HAHAHAHAhahaha. The true words of a coward. RedSon and I both challenged your defense of the poor, defenseless oil companies and you can’t be bothered to respond. What a great metaphor for the intellectual bankruptcy of the conservative movement.

  109. RedSonSuperDave says:

    @Bladefist: So, is that a concession I’m right, or what? Yes, I “don’t get it”. I “don’t get” how an industry that consistently posts record profits quarter after quarter can be considered “low margin”.

    Let me guess. Bill O’Reilly is one of your heroes.

  110. stopNgoBeau says:

    @ARP: I only said it b/c of his obvious “I know more than you” attitude.