FISA Telecom Amendment Rejected

By February 12, 2008Briefly Legal, Communications

The Senate has just rejected an amendment to S. 2248, the FISA amendments legislation, by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Russell Feingold (D-WI) that would have stripped out the retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies.

The vote was 31-67. Roll Call vote here.

This is a clear statement in favor of effective, legal surveillance of suspected terrorists overseas, and an endorsement of good corporate citizens aiding in the protection of Americans. A very important vote.

UPDATE (11:37 a.m.) A poster at the Daily Kos website, with which we disagree, is liveblogging the debate.

UPDATE (11:46 a.m.) The AP story.

UPDATE (12:13 p.m.) Second string of Kos commentary here. Quotes e-mail from Senator Reid’s office: “If, as appears likely, none of the amendments to strike or modify the provisions of the bill concerning retroactive immunity are adopted, we expect Sen. Reid to oppose cloture and oppose final passage of the bill.”

UPDATE (12:34 p.m.): Cloture invoked, 69-29. Senate now breaks.

UPDATE (12:39 p.m.): The Dow-Jones story.

Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • tommo says:

    Spying on innocent Americans is good?

    Baghdad Bush is a terrorist: he’s used the “War on Terror” as a bludgeon to attack domestic political opposition, he’s made friends with dictators like Hosni Mubarak and Pervez Musharraf when he should be declaring them our enemies, he has taken us on the tragic detour of Iraq, he’s sacrificed the goodwill of all nations and the leadership of the Free World, he’s failed to hold America out as a special nation that doesn’t torture its prisoners and that shuts down the world’s Abu Ghraibs instead of running them, he’s neglected to stand with those spreading democracy and prosperity to the world’s darkest corners.

    Why do you hate America? You stupid turd.

  • SpyNdasky says:

    I thought I would come here and be a lonely voice denouncing this amnesty for law breaking telecoms. I am so pleased you are getting the dressing down you deserve for your support of this unconstitutional and unneeded legislation.
    All hail Corporate America!

  • Jim Pharo says:

    It may interest you to know that this extends retro-active immunity. (Prospective immunity has already been granted, so presumably there is no fear of liability for future actions, so we can ignore the idea that this is needed to induce companies to co-operate in the future.)

    There is already retroactive immunity if the telecom was operating in good faith reliance on government instructions. In fairness, this should be called “bad faith immunity.”

    And you’re in favor of it to send a clear signal? Maybe you need to do a little more reading…

  • VanGogh says:

    This is how it starts. Please all of you who feel this Telecom immunity is such a good idea, read 1984. The Fouding Fathers are rolling over in their graves. What have we become?


  • Constitutionalists says:

    Support the House in the Last Stand Against Telecom Immunity! It’s not to late to stop this!
    Today, the Senate passed a terrible surveillance bill granting immunity to lawbreaking telecoms, putting the House and Senate at the brink of a face-off. Show your support for the House to keep telecom immunity out of the final bill!

  • Constitutionalists says:

    You are correct this is about phone records of Americans. AT&T, Bellsouth and Verizon turned over all records. QWEST (attorneys) was the only firm which asked the NSA to go to FISA, but the NSA said they didn’t want to do that because FISA may not agree with them. Here is a link to a very informative USA Today article from May 2006.

  • announcerguy says:

    How can you applaud this “very important vote”??

    Granting retroactive immunity to these so-called “good corporate citizens”(who became less good, I suppose, when they were asked to provide the info for free and refused) just leads us one step closer to a totalitarian state. Laws don’t matter; the executive will decide what the law is.
    There’s a name for that system of government, and it’s not “democratic republic.”

    Do us all a favor…read Madison’s Federalist #7, then, tell me again why this vote was a good thing? The founding fathers would be ashamed of today’s politicians and their corporate backers. I want to live in America 2008, not Italy 1938.

  • Winston Smith says:

    I have to join the posters who found the phrase, “…good corporate citizens aiding in the protection of Americans…” to be truly frightening.

    Just kidding! I love Big Brother. This telecomm bill is desperately needed to wipe out the last vestiges of Goldsteinism!

  • madmatt says:

    Another step towards fascism as corporations become more important than citizens…they should remove corporations from the protected species list and let them be hunted!

  • walter66 says:

    what I wonder is when the telecoms pay off these senators for the free ride will it be in the form of campaign contributions or a paper bag stuffed with cash.

    Of course maybe the senators like Robert Byrd of WV are paying extortion.

  • norm says:

    looks like the national association of manufacturers is in favor of doing away with the constitution. i suppose as long as they keep making $$$ that’s all they care about. typical republican lapdogs.

  • LiberalPercy says:

    You said “This is a clear statement in favor of effective, legal surveillance of suspected terrorists overseas, and an endorsement of good corporate citizens aiding in the protection of Americans.”

    What a crock of Bullsh*t. It wasn’t effactive, it wasn’t legal and it wasn’t about spying on anyone overseas. It was about spying on Americans – you know, the people the Constitution is supposed to protect from such Big Brother tactics.

  • MeMeMe says:

    Please stop spreading misinformation. This bill has absolutely nothing to do with spying on terrorists overseas. The issue is spying on Americans on American soil. That is where the telecoms broke the law.

  • Brian says:

    I only wish that as a result of my 34 years of having been a Good Actual Citizen I could break the law with impunity and change it retroactively.

    Shame only Corporate, and not Military Veteran, citizens have that privilege.

    All men are created equal, and we’re all inferior to The Company.

  • ibfamous says:

    shhhhhh, they’re listening….

  • Constitutionalists says:

    It is despicable that we have an administration that doesn’t want to follow the rule of law when ease dropping on telecommunications of US citizens because of national security concerns and at the same time we have such porous national borders that Osama bin Laden himself could march all of his supporters in country overnight.
    Consider that the communications industries are for profit corporations which, not unlike any other corporation, are responsible to their stock holders and also their customers. Also consider that the telecommunications industries are totally versed in the legalities of privacy and engage legal staff to ensure compliance with applicable laws. They even quote code in customer disclosures.

    So, what if a legal challenge occurs where they, the telecoms, claim that they were acting under a law that after the merits were scrutinized, has now been legally proven to be unconstitutional?

    •Ask them why they didn’t challenge the law whenever it was first enacted? They usually spend millions lobbying issues that affect their industry.

    •Or ask them if they challenged the law whenever it was first used against them.

    •If they did, then ask them to prove what was spent on their legal challenges. Was it more than a legal letter? Ask how much they’ve spent on other legalities.These companies spend fortunes on legal expense.

    •Did they disclose their legal position to their directors, stock holders and most importantly, their customers?

    •Ask them to show how they’ve disclosed their legal position to their customers who where currently using their services under possibly a different privacy disclosure.

  • mike says:

    Heh! You wrote “legal” and “overseas.” That’s pretty funny! “Funny” in a “totally untrue” but said with a straight face kind of way.

  • Ben says:

    Your questions are answered right in the original text of the post:

    “ endorsement of good corporate citizens aiding in the protection of Americans.”

    Remember good citizens. Report your fellow citizens to your local rehabilitation recruitment office for reprogramming and redeployment and you’ll be entered in a drawing to receive a free gift-basket!

  • wmforr says:

    Ah, I must agree with yourmother.

    How often do we have to pass special laws to give individuals (human or corporate) immunity from prosecution for committing legal acts?

    How often, in fact do prosecutors arrest and prosecute people for obeying the law?

  • fred says:

    What happened to the constitution in all of this? If the acts of terrorists have lead us to abandon the constitution, then they have already won. Why do you hate the constitution, applauding this stab in the back?

  • yourmother says:

    Just one question? If this was a “legal surveillance of suspected terrorists overseas,” then why would the Telecoms need to be granted immunity from prosecution? If they are so innocent, why would they need to be protected? The answer lies in Room 641A at 611 Folsom Street. They broke the law, and you apparently have no problem with that.

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