Damn Dems

Remember this? It's back.

Now, a "bipartisan compromise," which may be voted on in the House as soon as tomorrow, has been reached on the FISA bill, which grants immunity to the telecoms who participated in the Bush administration's unlawful spying program—a point of contention on which the Democratic base does not want their party to cave, but hey, everyone had to compromise, they tell us. And, despite House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's assurance that it "balances the needs of our intelligence community with Americans’ civil liberties," the ACLU begs to differ, "sternly warn[ing] members against voting for the legislation."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has worked closely with the White House and has led the effort to gut the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and give the telephone companies what amounts to a pardon for breaking the law.

…This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications. The court review is mere window-dressing – all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all.

The Hoyer/Bush surveillance deal was clearly written with the telephone companies and internet providers at the table and for their benefit. They wanted immunity, and this bill gives it to them.
Write Your Representative and ask them to vote against the FISA Amendments Act, H.R. 6304 and demand the telecoms not be given immunity for their complicity with the Bush administration thugs. Shaker Allie notes in comments that the ACLU also has a free fax form to contact your representatives on this issue. I just used it; great stuff!

UPDATE: Laura Rozen writes:

Here's a question for Pelosi at her press conference today:

Reports of the newest FISA compromise indicate that, on telecom immunity, a federal court would be compelled to grant the telecoms immunity if there was substantial evidence that the Bush administration assured them that the warrantless surveillance program was legal. Doesn't that actually endorse and extend to private actors the Nixonian view that if the president says it's legal, it's legal, regardless of what the law says and the Constitution says? Wouldn't that set an awful precedent that an administration could get private actors to do whatever they wanted including breaking the law?
That's a good question for all of our representatives, as a matter of fact.

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