The Senate passed the FISA bill today, which effectively puts an end to any chance of legal repercussions for telcos who helped the government spy on citizens. Senator Obama voted for it, Senator McCain didn’t vote, and Senator Clinton, for what it’s worth, voted against it. Find out how your senator voted here. [TechCrunch]

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  1. castlecraver says:

    I will likely still vote for him in Nov, but with this vote Sen. Obama has assured himself that he won’t be getting another dime of my money, or minute of my time.

  2. DrCrippen says:

    Real nice Constitution we had once. It had Amendments protecting basic liberties and everything…

  3. azntg says:

    Okay, good to see that the two senators representing my state (NY) at least pretended to care that illegal wiretapping that was done with the telcos was indeed illegal.

    @castlecraver: Same story here. If he wanted to advocate change, he’s definitely taking the slippery slope path.

  4. Tightlines says:

    @DrCrippen: What is this “Constitution” you speak of?

  5. kingofmars says:

    I’ve heard consumerist imply that Verizon took part in some of this wire tapping. Is there any proof of this? Full disclosure, I work for verizon, and I would be very surprised/disappointed in verizon if they took part in wire tapping without a court order.

  6. JeffDrummer says:

    Absolutely great vote. Our stinking Senate has finally done something right.

    Thank you for voting to keep us safe even when its unpopular Sen. Obama.

  7. QuantumRiff says:

    @kingofmars: I’m more curious what happens with Quest. They were the only major phone company to say no, not without court approval, and apparently, they lost out on a few multi-million dollar federal contracts because of it..

  8. Fivetop says:

    @kingofmars: You won’t see any proof now. It’s all buried with this crappy legislation.

  9. WraithSama says:

    @JeffDrummer:
    When the government wants us to sacrifice our liberties for the sake of “safety”, I’d rather keep those liberties and put safety in my own hands.

  10. Half Beast says:

    Why does this entire Telecom Immunity fiasco hurt my brain so much?
    Why is it such a massive deal to get a freaking court order…I thought invoking FISA was already a mere ceremonial task…

  11. Darklighter says:

    It’s worth noting how your senator voted on the Dodd-Feingold and Bingaman amendments as well, since those were targeted at removing telecom immunity. I don’t know about McCain (although I could guess), but Obama voted yea on both.

  12. neost says:

    The telecom immunity was a smoke screen for the fact the new FISA bill basically legalized the Bush administration’s stance that they have the authority to perform surveillance on American citizen’s without court oversight.

    Wait until you hear about domestic agencies using the new FISA to bust Americans for things based on wiretaps the government said they needed to fight terrorism. Things like copyright infringement, etc. etc. And no court oversight to stop them.

  13. Bob_Marley_and_the_Hartford_Whalers says:

    @WraithSama:
    Amen.

    I’ve had enough of the “Terra! Terra! Terra!” crowd holding America hostage.

    Perfected by Rockin’ Ronnie Reagan.

  14. MentallyRetired says:

    @kingofmars:
    [www.msnbc.msn.com]
    “[National Intelligence Director Mike] McConnell confirmed for the first time that the private sector assisted with President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. AT&T, Verizon and other telecommunications companies are being sued for their cooperation. “Now if you play out the suits at the value they’re claimed, it would bankrupt these companies,” McConnell said, arguing that they deserve immunity for their help.”

  15. CaliCheeseSucks says:

    Is it just me, or does Russ Feingold (D-WI) (former rumored presidential candidate) rarely make a decision that is bad for the consumer, whether popular or not? Yes, as you can tell, I hail (hale?) from Wisconsin and I’m proud of my senator.

  16. MentallyRetired says:

    @CaliCheeseSucks: It’s not just you, Russ does good.

    /from AZ
    //pays attention to other states’ Senators since some of my state’s senators don’t bother voting anymore.

  17. rellog says:

    @CaliCheeseSucks: You and me both. He is one of the most honest and reputable senators in Congress. Even if you don’t agree with his politics (I do), you have to admit to his outstanding ethics.

    Sad to see this happen. Once again, we the people are sold out to corporate entities. While mainstream is too comfortable and feeble minded to actually do something now, I wonder if we aren’t heading towards a more Russian/China type of state…

    @castlecraver: I agree. Whether he voted for the amendments or not, he should have never voted for this bill. Change my ass…

  18. Obama did what he did because his idiot handlers told him not to give the Republicans a “national security” club to beat him with.

    Feingold is a tremendous senator, unlike Feinstein.

    Unfortunately, most of the American people have no idea what FISA is, and so would probably get fooled by the “terra terra terra!” Republicans when they chose to throw an Obama “no” vote back in his face. That’s why he voted yes.

    Hopefully, if he wins, he will use his mandate to take part in dismantling this law.

  19. SadFootSign says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: Yeah because presidents usually give up powers that their predecessors had. Obama is just another politician, not the ‘great’ hope people [who am I kidding, even I at times] thought he was.

  20. brettt says:

    I’m from Chicago. I know all about Obama. That is why I voted for Hillary. Americans are so stupid. Bush was a fake change candidate in 2000, remember?

  21. Bladefist says:

    This is something I am not really for. I have mixed feelings about it, but since the democrats and the republicans passed it, I’m thinking they felt it important to have it.

    As far as those upset w/ Obama, 2 things:
    1) Hope, Change are just catch phrases. Every election candidate tries to tie their name to phrases. Actually, Obama has a 97.3% voting record on party lines. In other words, he democrat status quo more then anyone else in the senate.

    2) Cut him some slack, he made a decision he knew he would take heat for. He must really believe this is good for you. Chill-lax.

  22. changecoma says:

    The compromise FISA legislation even with the immunity still allows criminal charges to be brought up against the corporations. This sort of accountability would allow the American people to know just who in the bush administration did this to us and would allow us to know how much it was used. Olbermann had a special comment on FISA directed towards Obama ([www.msnbc.msn.com]) and the choices he can make with the bill and hopefully Obama will say he’s going to push for criminal charges against the corporations.

  23. Bladefist says:

    @Tightlines: If it is against the constitution, the supreme court will be on the scene soon. Try to calm down. It’s the American process. And it typically works.

  24. wjmorris3 says:

    Does this mean we start to see criminal charges brought against the telecommunications companies who helped? Remember, the FISA bill only provides for immunity against civil suits – criminal proceedings are a whole new kettle of fish.

  25. Good-Imp says:

    Several points to make here………………..

    Everyone understand one thing about this legislation. It’s about “National Security”. Not protecting what the corporations’ idea of securing their (intellectual) property and their interpretation of those (copywrite and piracy) laws. And if it’s used to execute such lawsuits, then the Supreme Court will be among the stops in righting that wrong.

    Everyone MUST know the most important responsibility the presidency has is to national security, first and foremost. Everything else is secondary. Plus to all fellow servicemembers and veterans, remember what the “Oath of Service” states as to why this is legal.

    For everyone who is complaining about this and other policies, if you don’t like it, do something about it. Write your Represenatives and Senators, phone elected officials, rally with others and demostrate why you oppose such policies. While you do that, bring forth ideas and show why they would work. Push to get change. It’s all up to us, the stupid Americans. The branches of gov’t and elected officials are only a device for us citizens to ultilize for our nation. The gov’t is like a child. Children need guidance. Think about it if they do and don’t get the guidance they need. The Supreme Court isn’t higher than the Amercian citizen, nor is congress, nor is the president. All answer is to us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When we figure that out for better or worst, things will truely change.

    Plus I like to think our gov’t has our best interest in mind ’til there is a reason to doubt.

  26. petrarch1610 says:

    there is a difference between the Obama the supporters believe they see and the real Obama. This isn’t really a surprise to those paying attention. Obama also voted to extend the patriot act.

  27. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    You would think that when Senators and Representatives see reports that only 9% of survey respondents think they are doing a good job, they might just think that there was a reason for that…
    [www.rasmussenreports.com]

    @DrCrippen: Well, unfortunately when some politicians look at those amendments and see the whole “Congress shall make no laws…” parts, they take that as a challenge.

  28. Trai_Dep says:

    @castlecraver: I’m in a similar boat – his caving to the Neanderthal vote cost him my enthusiasm and volunteering impulses. He’s still got my support for the election, and gods know he’ll be better than the other one, by a long shot.
    But my shiny prancing unicorns will no longer be allowed to play in his garden.

    I’m of the feeling that there should be some basic sort of test to vote. I read recently that of polled voters, 20% couldn’t name the three branches of gov’t and more thought the President could overrule the Bill of Rights on a whim. Add those glued to watching car crashes and celebutards drunkenly crashing their cards thinking this helps our country, and it’s enough to make me think No Voter Left Behind wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    Irks me that people that know better have to play to these flaming idiots. A lot.

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    @dry-roasted-peanuts: 26 – over half – of the Senate Dems voted to kill this, so at least that’s something.

    The irony is the reason why Progressives & Democrats aren’t in favor of the job Congress is doing, it’s because they’re not doing enough to fight the wrong direction this country is headed in. Of course the Beltway types convince them that the path to success is to be Republican Lite. So dumb. So wrong.

  30. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    @Trai_Dep: “So dumb. So wrong.”

    That covers just about everything. And this is coming from a very disenfranchised Republican. Warrentless wiretapping, detaining foreign nationals, a bloated budget, etc. That sure as hell isn’t a part of the “smaller, less intrusive federal government” ideology I signed on for.

  31. rellog says:

    @Bladefist: Not with this Supreme Court. They seem hell bent on reversing our rights and doing as told by the Prez.

  32. rellog says:

    @Trai_Dep: Yeah, it’s sad how mis-informed the general public is. Not that long ago 70% of the US thought Sadam was behind 911…
    It really bugs me when I talk to people that pay more attention to who’s winning on American Idol or Dancing with the Celebs or to baseball or whatever other sport is in season than they do to their own governmental processes.

  33. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Bladefist: The Supreme Court upholding the Constitution? Not when it conflicts with Emperor W.
    @rellog: More people vote for American idle than for the president as well. What does that tell us?

    America. It was fun while it lasted.

  34. battra92 says:

    @doctor_cos: I have to wonder, when Bush is out of office who will the tinfoil hats point to everything at?

  35. thrillwill says:

    @ doctor_cos: “More people vote for American Idol” – That’s with a cell phone on the couch not in the rain outside the firehouse. Plus the majority of those audiences are high school kids who can’t vote anyway.

    @Trai_Dep: “I’m of the feeling that there should be some basic sort of test to vote” – Really? I mean REALLY? You should do some reading on the Civil Rights movement to find why that is/should be completely illegal.

    What you’re proposing is to limit the franchise to only ‘smart’ people. I for one would gladly die in a war to prevent that. – I think I might even dump some tea in the ocean too now that you mention it. Americans have the right to vote – even the dumb ones. Get over it.

  36. nataku8_e30 says:

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”

  37. Angryrider says:

    MF. We should have done our duty and annoyed the hell out our senators.
    But wait! I’m from NY. And both my senators voted NAY!

  38. blackmage439 says:

    Wow, Consumerist. You REALLY need to read between the lines, and watch Countdown some more.

    At least one leading legal expert pointed out a glaring omission in the current FISA bill, that as far as I know, was not fixed at all. This loophole does NOT GRANT IMMUNITY FROM FEDERAL PROSECUTION. It only grants immunity from civil suits, which are pathetic in what they can accomplish by suing a megacorp like AT&T.

    THAT is why Obama voted for this bill. The FISA bill was never a bad idea; the killer was always the immunity the Republicans. The telcos can still be held accountable for their actions. All you whiny little pricks have to do is go to your government officials and tell them to not let the telcos get away with what they did. No “he won’t get my money” nor “OBAMA! HOW COULD U!11!1!!???” Get off you high horse, and TAKE ACTION.

  39. Bladefist says:

    @rellog: The supreme court can do better. That gun vote should have been 9-0. I dont see the supreme court in Bush’s pocket, I see the supreme court in the constitutions pocket, except for where the 3 far left justices try to change it

    @battra92: The tin-foil hats people will find where there is a republican in office. Historically have gone after the senators.

    @doctor_cos: Do you work in Media? You seem just like the Doom & Gloom kind of person they are looking for.

    @Trai_Dep: Republican Lite tastes great, and is less filling. With 50% less misunderstanding then Democrat Lite. So pop open a Republican Lite, and smile. We live in a great country.

  40. boandmichele says:

    @Bladefist: at least your first comment up there made some modicum of sense.

    HOWEVER, it is not our job, as citizens, to just lay back and trust the government. it is our job to question authority, to hold them accountable, and to generally be a thorn in the politicians sides, because we are the citizens. “for your protection” is not a valid excuse for de-constructing the constitution.

  41. uncle_fluffy says:

    @Bladefist: How, pray tell, will the “supreme court be on the scene” when this legislation has the effect of dismissing the lawsuits pending that address the issue? Surely you’re not asserting that the Bush administration is going to launch any sort of criminal proceeding regarding criminal activity that it requested of the telecom companies in the first place?

    My only question now is this: If the Bush administration asks a private citizen to murder a 5 year old child, will the Congress also grant immunity in that situation so long as the president asks nicely again?

    What a bunch of god damn traitors to the Constitution. I’m so pissed about this.

  42. battra92 says:

    @thrillwill: Darn those people that disagree with him. They must be stupid or something not to pull the far left party line he repeats in every post.

    @Bladefist:
    “Do you work in Media? You seem just like the Doom & Gloom kind of person they are looking for.”

    Yeah, that’s one reason I read the news and then wonder how they can sleep at night if we’re all going to Hell.

  43. giggitygoo says:

    I really don’t understand the “outrage” crowd on this one. Regardless of your feelings on the wiretaps themselves, why on earth should we be punishing American companies that cooperate with the federal government? Shouldn’t the focus be ensuring that the government is respecting citizens’ rights rather than going after the companies who actually put their country before profit, for once? The companies received an executive order AND a letter from the Attorney General asking for their help and assuring them that the actions being taken were consistent with the law – why should they be exposed to “victims” trying to win the lawsuit lottery through civil action? What do we do then when all companies refuse to work with the government to avoid a similar fate?

    This bill is actually a good bipartisan effort, another rarity nowadays. It ensures that the FISA court is now the one and only legal route for wiretaps, even extending coverage to US persons living overseas – a protection that did not previously exist. Isn’t this what critics originally wanted? To ensure that the President needs FISA court approval for wiretaps on US persons?

    Too many people think the Constitution protects anything that happens to coincide with their own agendas.

  44. iMe2 says:

    @giggitygoo: We live in a nation of laws, where the Law is King, and not the President. The President asked the companies to break the law, and most of them complied.

    The companies knew full well that what they were doing was illegal but they did so anyways precisely to put profit first (unlike what you claim). These companies have lucrative contracts with all sorts of government agencies and knew they would be rewarded handsomely for their efforts.

    The FISA courts were ALWAYS the “one and only” route for wiretaps via executive order – now they are powerless. Essentially anything the president wants to wiretap he can without just cause or a warrant from a (secret) federal court.

    Like it or not, the “agenda” of this country is the preservation of civil liberties and the right to self-determination as guaranteed by the constitution. That is what America is about.

  45. giggitygoo says:

    @iMe2 It is simply your opinion that the law was broken. (Though many share it) The attorney general’s job is to tell the president what is legal and what is not – he determined that the Presidential duty to protect the nation stated in Article II of the Constitution and the post 9/11 Congressional authorization provided the authority to wiretap international calls between US persons and known foreign terrorists. While this of course doesn’t mean the AG cannot be wrong, it is a valid argument and cannot simply be dismissed because you do not like it. Naturally, legal arguments are not uncommon specifically due to such apparent conflicts in the law. While I believe your argument certainly has a basis, this issue is simply not so clear that you can simply dismiss anyone who disagrees with you.

    There is no basis for your claim that companies “knew what they were doing was illegal” as far as I know. I’m more than willing to reconsider that if you could offer some evidence to support that claim. You do have a good point as far as lucrative government contracts with these companies, but you also must consider that these companies had to know that if this program was ever exposed that they would suffer bad press and lost customers. Either way, I believe it is in the national interest to support the federal government. It is the government that should be ensuring legality, not private companies.

    Also, there is no reason to believe the President can wiretap “anything.” The executive program that brought about this whole issue was one that had an extremely limited scope – international phone calls between known overseas terrorists and US persons. At no point was a warrantless wiretap put into place between 2 US persons or between a US person and an international person who was not a known terror suspect. This scope is consistent with defense of national security. (Once again, not that it is necessarily correct, but it is consistent with the President’s Constitutional argument)

    I’m probably nitpicking here, but countries don’t have agendas, people do. I, like most Americans, want my civil liberties and do not want the government wiretapping random people with no cause. However, I also believe that grave, asymmetrical threats that never existed when most of our laws were passed (including the FISA court) requires us to examine how we allow the government to deal with them. Remember, multiple 9/11 suspects were unknown to the FAA and FBI because of civil liberty barriers between them and the intelligence community. Does anyone really doubt now that it’s worth allowing the CIA call up the FAA and share information about known terrorists so they can’t board a plane? Times change, threats change – what made sense during the Cold War (Barrier between intelligence and law enforcement to prevent domestic intelligence gathering) may not make sense now. Most importantly, this can be done without violating essential liberties. Common sense changes can be made without the complete destruction of freedom, which is what you would think is happening by listening to the “outrage” crowd. Congress settled the disagreement with this bill, which makes the process for performing such wiretaps abundantly clear – an actual case where government worked.

  46. palookapalooza says:

    Personally, I trace (no pun intended) everything back to the fact that the President installed AGs (Ashcroft and Gonzales) that made dubious (at best) rationalizations about “security” vs. “legality”. If the telcos, the Congress, and the President were all following these sorely misguided claims of legality, they figured they were in the right.

    As far as the Obama vote and the rationalization that all this prevents is civil lawsuits, but not federal prosecution… Somehow, I don’t think that this prosecution will happen. After all, they were “just following orders”. I seriously doubt a Nuremburg-style tribunal will be held with telco officials on the stand. Just won’t happen.

  47. blong81 says:

    If we stopped sending money to these monkeys in DC we wouldn’t have this kind of crap to complain about. They don’t care about the people, they care about their pocketbooks and power. They’ve never met you and they don’t want to, they just want you to keep sending in your money. Why should they have power over you?

    Just remember, our founding fathers weren’t viewed as patriots or good Americans in their day. They were traitors and viewed as criminals by the people and leaders of their original country. They would have all been killed if they were caught, but they stood up and fought for freedom and liberty.

    Funny how nowadays when someone tries to stand up and fight for freedom and liberty they’re marked as crazy and ousted or put in jail.

  48. dantastic says:

    @kingofmars: yes, verizon is one of the the companies under scrutiny. this Financial Times recap has just as fair a summary as i’ve seen recently:

    Of the four phone companies the NSA asked for information about customer calls, only Denver based Qwest, the smallest of the big four US telecommunications companies, refused.
    Qwest’s former chief executive, Joseph Nacchio, backed the company’s attorneys who argued that surrendering its customers’ call-detail records to the NSA was wrong.
    […] Qwest was approached in the fall of 2001 to permit the government access to the private telephone records of Qwest customers.
    Mr Nacchio, the statement says, inquired whether a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of the request, and decided not to comply with the demand after he learned the government had not sought such permission.
    ….But unlike Qwest, the three biggest US telecommunications companies – AT&T, Verizon Communications, and BellSouth – acceded to the NSA requests and began sharing records of tens of millions of their customers’ phone calls with the security agency.

    Now I’m as mad about the FISA copout as the next fan of the 4th Amendment. But I don’t blame the telecoms. These companies were pressured into violating the law by the government. They’d stand to lose millions of dollars in federal contracts if they didn’t cooperate. Qwest allegedly lost a $100 million contract after breaking off talks with the NSA in 2001.

    They kept their contracts, but now the Big 3 are terrified of being sued into bankruptcy. Or so they say. But who’s really pushing to get FISA passed? Bush and Cheney are the ones telling us we’re all gonna die of TERRORISMS!! if they have to get warrants to wiretap. Seems hard to believe. But no court of law has called them on their BS thus far.

    Ah, but if the telecoms can be sued, all the government’s sleazy backroom tactics would come out in open court. And presumably, indictments would follow.

    It would be awesome if Obama does as Olberman has suggested, and unleashes a slew of depositions and hearings that expose the war crimes of the past few years. But don’t hold your breath. If history is any guide, Presidents are usually reluctant to investigate the previous administration’s crimes. They don’t want to be investigated after they leave office, after all.

  49. Trai_Dep says:

    @thrillwill: Not biases against “smart” people, but something aiming at some minimum level of knowledge before you get a voice in how this nation should be led. Nothing obscure, simply basic things. # of Senators (see, I’d even waive # of Reps because that’d be too quirky). Branches of gov’t. Who does what. 2nd grade Civics stuff.
    Say a list of 20 questions/answers distributed with the ballot, to study at your leisure. Then there’s three of them on your ballot. Get 2 of 3 right and your ballot counts. That way it couldn’t be used in a politically biased way and it’s automatic.

    There are no biases against people of color, old people or White Southerners – unless you’re saying they’re special needs people, which I doubt?

    I know it’ll never happen, and I’m not totally serious about this. But geezus, if you’re voting, make the effort to know just a smidgeon of how the country works.

    Keep in mind that when the country was founded, the right to vote was limited only to land owning White people, so it’s hardly kosher to say it’s Un-American to expect that voters actually have a sliver of knowledge of what it is they’re voting about. :)

  50. Trai_Dep says:

    @Bladefist: True. But I think we both agree that it’d be better if my side covered the Dem & Dem Lite, and yours did the Repub & Repub Lite?
    Then it’d be a reasonable continuum for voters to choose. It does neither side a favor when one apes the behavior of the other. IMHO. :)

  51. nerevar says:

    Can I get a complete list of the companies that went along with the wiretapping?

    I’m going to switch my service now.

  52. BlazerUnit says:

    @CaliCheeseSucks: This poster from Alabama believes we need a lot more senators like Russ Feingold.

    This bill sells out the Constitution’s 4th Amendment, pure and simple. It shields the Democrats who voted for it (covering their butts on ‘national security’ issues for their upcoming elections), and it shields the criminal acts performed by George W. Bush. (‘Criminal’ being the descriptions used by law professors of both liberal and conservative tilt.)

    Goodbye civil liberties and privacy.

  53. BlazerUnit says:

    @dry-roasted-peanuts: “That covers just about everything. And this is coming from a very disenfranchised Republican. Warrentless wiretapping, detaining foreign nationals, a bloated budget, etc. That sure as hell isn’t a part of the “smaller, less intrusive federal government” ideology I signed on for.”
    ————————————————–

    It’s all wrong from a conservative view, and all wrong on liberal/progressive one. Somehow, our representatives have forgotten that we’re supposed to act BETTER than the -isms we’re supposed to be defeating.

  54. Trai_Dep says:

    @giggitygoo: If you think the spying was “limited in scope, only involving calls made by terrorists overseas”, then tell us how many instances of this extra-Constitutional spying took place. Go ahead. I’d be interested in seeing how many times this happened, being that it’s so “limited in scope”.
    And, that number means that there are that many terrorist sympathizers in the US, correct? Or even, 1/10 of that, being generous (a 90% false positive rate would get any law enforcement chief fired in a NY second, right)?

  55. Orv says:

    @blackmage439: The problem with launching a criminal suit is proving standing. Courts have thrown out cases so far because the plaintiff couldn’t prove he/she had actually been wiretapped. Since the program is secret, it’s hard to see how anyone could actually prove they had standing to sue.

    @giggitygoo: The idea that the telcoms didn’t believe they were breaking the law doesn’t pass the laugh test. Qwest’s lawyers figured out that this was illegal, and refused to cooperate. If they figured it out, the other telcomes could have too.

    Rachel Maddow had a great line the other night — she said this was like granting immunity to the getaway driver in a bank heist because the thief told him bank robberies were legal.

  56. Tmoney02 says:

    @nerevar: Can I get a complete list of the companies that went along with the wiretapping?
    I’m going to switch my service now.

    Well then switch to Qwest because they are the only company to stand up to the government and say “NO”. Make sure to send a letter to the execs as well telling them why you switched to the company.

    @dry-roasted-peanuts: That sure as hell isn’t a part of the “smaller, less intrusive federal government” ideology I signed on for. This republican ideology has never seems to actually be put into practice. The party talks a good story around election time but once they get the power in congress and or white house, it all seems to go out the window. Is it any wonder Bob Barr and the libertarian party are actually looking appealing and getting coverage, considering what the republican party actually does when in power.

  57. Orv says:

    @Tmoney02: You have to remember that when Republicans talk about “smaller, less intrusive federal government” they’re only referring to taxes. They’re perfectly happy to throw civil liberties under the bus as long as their pocketbooks are secure.

  58. edenj says:

    But Obama said he wouldn’t vote for it! I’m SHOCKED he didn’t keep his word.

    Not to imply I don’t think the other dude running for President wouldn’t have done the same thing…but it wasn’t a smart move.

  59. iMe2 says:

    @giggitygoo:
    1) The telecoms knew what they were doing was illegal. The part of FISA that makes this clear:

    (a) Prohibited activities
    A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally-
    (1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or
    (2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.

    2) “At no point was a warrantless wiretap put into place between 2 US persons or between a US person and an international person who was not a known terror suspect.”

    Of course that depends on your definition of “known terror suspect,” which, if I understand your line of thinking, is alarmingly whatever the government (read: executive branch) says that is. For what it’s worth, there was a significant ruling recently in a lawsuit brouht againt the Bush administration from a now-bankrupt Muslim charity based in Oregon where the JD accidently released a confidential transcript proving this exactly did happen. (Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. v. Bush) An insider at AT&T also revealed that a major hub in San Francisco had opened its lines to the NSA.

    3) “We are facing a new theat and times change where we have to put the old ruls aside.” (paraphase)

    The old laws were more than sufficient. The FISA courts were administered in secret, with all documentation kept a secret. The FISA courts rejected a miniscule number of executive requests for warrants in its 30+ years of existence. More than 99.9% were granted. If you don’t believe me please look it up for yourself.

    Ultimately you believe we should put blind faith that the executive (Bush) will act in our national interest. I think, in light of all the evidence, recent and historical, it is our civic duty to be skeptical of government and to let our laws decide what is right, and not an all-powerful leader, whomever it may be.

  60. iMe2 says:

    @giggitygoo: “It is the government that should be ensuring legality, not private companies.”

    I forgot to mention that it are the courts that ensure legality, not the executive branch. The JD is run under the executive – its head is a cabinet member. We have a system in place (judicial review) whereby Federal justices determine the legality of actions, no matter who committed them. Nobody should be above this standard, especially the President, who has the most potential to abuse power.

  61. JeffDrummer says:

    I find it odd that my comment about how this behavior isn’t that odd at wartime was deleted.

    The Consumerist claims to only have a pro-Consumer bias, but that is clearly false

  62. Trai_Dep says:

    @JeffDrummer: It’s actually Barack Obama’s people, using the new powers of the Telecom Immunity Law, just a couple months ahead of time. Think of it as a test drive.

    Let’s see how the Unitary Executive theory looks when a king of a different clan that yours sits on the throne, okay?

  63. JeffDrummer says:

    @Trai_Dep: I’m for a less powerful Executive…

    And how does that change the fact that a differing POV was suppressed?

  64. Orv says:

    @JeffDrummer: My comments fail to post here a fair percentage of the time. I think a flaky web site is a lot more likely to to be the cause than deliberate censorship. Note that comments *appear* to post immediately, but that’s just the site faking it with AJAX. If you actually reload you’ll find they don’t appear for others until a minute or two later (when they appear at all.)

    The problem with the idea that we should be willing to give these powers up “during wartime” is that the administration has defined this as a war that will never end.

  65. Trai_Dep says:

    @JeffDrummer: that was totally a joke. We’re not ideologically well-suited to Big Brotheresque delusions of kinghood and unitary control. We’re more cat-herders.
    I’ve lost comments too, but ascribe it more to the nature of the interwebs, especially because the Gawker commentator features are constantly upgrading.
    You’re not seriously thinking that some Consumerist gnome waits in the dark to delete posts they don’t ideologically agree with, are you? Why, that would leave them no time to find more Kitten pictures. Which simply. Would. Not. Stand.

  66. wesrubix says:

    The government has long been running monitoring over electronic transmissions for years. Just wikipedia ECHELON. UKUSA has had the effort up for longer than most people realize or even conceive.

    The government passed this bill to protect telecoms from being sued by civilians for following the government’s instructions. This is nothing more (I believe) than the government being fair to the companies that built the very infrastructure that the government monitors.

    The amazing thing about ECHELON is that there’s no need for taps anymore… and haven’t been for a very, very long time.

    Local agencies need taps. The Feds “don’t.”

  67. wesrubix says:

    I have to add, which I should’ve written more about in my last comment, so I apologize for the double post.

    People get so hung up about giving up privacy rights when this FISA bill came into public eye, but we’re forgetting what kind of privacy concerns we should be having in airports…
    – nudie xrays
    – laptops ruled by supreme court as searchable as luggage

    And not to say “look how bad THEY have it” but in the UK, the freakin crossing guards carry staffs with cameras in them.

    I am much more concerned about warrantless searches of laptops and xray-to-body imaging of _children_ in airports than complaining about monitoring that I’ve known about since 99. I just happened to read about it then.

  68. smackswell says:

    @CaliCheeseSucks: Nathan Hale? WEE CHZ PWNS CALY CHZ.