Senate Approves Intelligence Reform And, With It, Telecom Amnesty

from the oversight-is-for-your-phone-calls dept

The Senate has just approved controversial legislation reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, by a vote of 68–29. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), empowers the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to authorize warrantless surveillance of foreign parties whose communications pass through U.S. switches, even when they are communicating with Americans. It also grants retroactive amnesty to telecom firms alleged to have illegally provided the government with access to their customers' data without a court order -- a provision some Democrats tried and failed to have stripped from the legislation earlier today.

Several other amendments that would have provided additional checks on surveillance also failed in the Senate, including language reasserting FISA's status as the "exclusive means" by which intelligence surveillance may be conducted, a provision barring indiscriminate "bulk collection" of telecom traffic, and a compromise measure that would have allowed civil suits against the telecoms to continue, but substituted the federal government as the defendant. The one victory for civil libertarians was the approval of an amendment offered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) permitting the secret FISA court to review intelligence agencies' compliance with "minimization" rules meant to limit the retention of communications involving innocent Americans. Following a vote to invoke cloture, bringing debate on the bill to a halt and foreclosing any attempt to mount a filibuster, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) delivered impassioned speeches condemning the legislation as an affront to both privacy and the rule of law.

The Senate bill must now be reconciled in conference with the House version, known as the RESTORE Act, which lacks the controversial immunity provision and provides for greater judicial oversight of surveillance. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is seeking to further extend the stopgap Protect America Act, which this reform bill is meant to supplant, in order to provide time to reach agreement between the two chambers.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    Why should telecom companies be punished for following directions from the NSA, CIA or other governmental agencies?

    Funny, but a telecom company can sell their customer data and you don't mind, but give it to the government in an attempt to protect the nation and you whine and scream.

    The way things shape up, I hope all of you go to this years democratic convention and protest. Maybe it will be just like 1968 and I can watch the Denver cops kick your ass on TV. I will buy popcorn for that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      identicon
      Iron Chef, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 5:26pm

      Re:

      The way things shape up, I hope all of you go to this years democratic convention and protest. Maybe it will be just like 1968 and I can watch the Denver cops kick your ass on TV. I will buy popcorn for that.

      LOL!

      Tad Devine was on Colbert on the 6th. Tad said something to the likes of "If you go to Denver, Bring A Few Cigars." You should have seen how Colbert's eyebrow slowly raised, but he tried hard to restrain himself.

      Pure Classic.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Omali, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 7:15pm

      Re:

      1. Because the actions were illegal.
      2. Yea, but that's because selling your information to a company won't end up with you in an undisclosed prison cell in Cuba.
      3. Enjoyment out of watching police beat people? Alberto Gonzalez, ladies and gentlemen. Give the guy a hand (granted that hand is pointing towards a prison cell)

       

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    •  
      identicon
      john, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 7:26pm

      Re:

      It should be this year's. Maybe you republicans should have listened to your 7th grade English teacher instead of thinking of ways to exclude people.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 4:18pm

    First, Because the directions were illegal, that's why.

    Why should rank-and-file soldiers be tried for Abu Gahraib for following directions? "I was following orders" didn't work at Nuremburg and it doesn't work today.

    The

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Greg, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 5:31pm

    "...tried and failed to have stripped from the legislation earlier today..."

    Considering that they have a majority in the senate, it's not like they couldn't have forced this bill from going through. Way to knuckle under, Democrats, you've disappointed me yet again.

     

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    identicon
    Jared, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 7:03pm

    Feingold always has been a slimeball. Ashamed to admit he's from our state. First post, great comments.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Cynic, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 7:15pm

    Some people have a problem with burning the flag in public, but apparently taking a leak on the Constitution in the halls of Congress is OK (which is how I would characterize this legislation).

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 7:20pm

    I wonder how long they keep copies of the emails I get about the size of my package ...

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 7:21pm

    Senate approves intelligence

    HEH

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Cool, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 7:47pm

    the way

    So - I can now record all my telephone conversations with impunity

     

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  •  
    identicon
    moe, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 1:40am

    Contact your Senators

    This was the Senate version of the bill. The House version does not contain immunity for the telecoms. In order to get a bill to the President, the Senate and the House need to reconcile the two bills.

    Contact your Senators and urge them to reconsider their position if they voted against stripping the immunity clause, or to try to build more support if they voted for stripping the immunity clause.

    You can check the voting record here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=s2008-15

    or

    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LI S/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00015#top

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a good summary here: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/02/faa-news-roundup

    Sorry, too lazy to do html right now.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Matt, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 7:21am

      Re: Contact your Senators

      I guess a lot of people are checking out the record, when trying to access it myself all I get is:

      GovTrack.us is currently having some down time. Either the website is undergoing maintenance, or the site was shut down because of an error or high load.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 7:15am

    "Maybe you republicans should have listened to your 7th grade English teacher instead of thinking of ways to exclude people."

    Ha, I laugh at your petty post. I will also be laughing after the election after watching the dems. self destruct. Bet it pissed you off when Bill started bringing up race.

    You just don't get it, do you Dems? You lost it in 1968 and you have never gotten it back. Maybe you really do need to grow up and learn how the real world operates.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 13th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Outrageous

    This is preposterous.
    They deserve NO amnesty for breaking the law. NONE.
    Not to mention the Senate approved version of the bill sucks majorly to begin with.
    The House better win on every single front in this.
    And if it isn't approved by the Pres, they should cancel the whole program since he obviously doesn't need it right?
    Oh wait, the President called the Constitution just a goddamned piece of paper. We covered this before so I am not going to link yet again for that one, you can use Google if you doubt it.

    I agree completely with Post #6. They hate flag burning yet will allow those we elect to piss on our constitution, just freaking great. Wtf.

    Post #13, moe, thank you very much for the links, I will be calling my senators later anyways. Living in Michigan, one voted for and one against striking the immunity. But I will be calling them both to let them know how I feel.

    Post #15, I opened up the link fine. *shrugs*

    The Telcos deserve their punishment here.
    And the government needs to stop abusing our constitutional rights. This administration NEEDS to go ASAP. Before they ruin us more.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:01am

    Sprint was crucified in the media and by the public when they told a woman that they couldn't release the location of a cell phone (gps don't you know) in a car that had been stolen with her baby in the back seat. Sprint said they needed a court order.

    You can't have it both ways, if you want Sprint to give out information, you can't throw AT&T in jail for helping to stop terrorism.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    Re #17

    Your analogy is flawed.
    It was directly proven and shown that the car had been stolen with the baby inside and was a matter of the baby's health.

    Monitoring people is just so the government can do it. It infringes on peoples rights, and they are doing it because they can, not because any person involved is a known terrorist.

    Please try again if you wish to convince me.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Sprint wouldn't do it without a court order. They received a call from the parent. They followed the letter of the law.

    If a CIA/FBI/NSA agent comes to you and says your neighbor is a terrorist knowing you have a key to his house, would you let him in?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Down with Liberty - for S.A.F.E.T.Y., Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    YOU ARE ALL CRAZY!

    IF WE HAD: CHIPS IN OUR ARMS, A NATIONAL I.D. CARD, AND CAMERAS ON EVERY STREET IN EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD ON EVERY CORNER, AND UNMANNED DRONES FLYING HIGH ABOVE US AND WATCHING OUR EVERY MOVE = NO CRIME, WE COULD CATCH ALL THE CRIMINALS AND TERRORISTS, AND THE WORLD WOULD BE FINALLY AT PEACE.

    AND IF YOU AREN'T DOING ANYTHING WRONG - WHAT DO Y O U HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT? I DON'T CARE IF THEY KNOW I'M GOING TO WORK AND OCCASIONALLY PICK MY NOSE.

    DO IT FOR THE KIDS AND FOR SAFETY AND FOR F R E E D O M -

    AND GET A LIFE. IT'S A SMALL PRICE TO PAY!!!!

    ELECT HILLARY CLINTON!! IF YOU CARE ABOUT CHANGE. HECK, I DON'T KNOW WHY WE DON'T JUST DROP A-BOMBS ON ALL OTHER COUNTRIES. THEN WE WOULD HAVE PEACE HERE AND A GOVERNMENT THAT LOVES US AND TAKES CARE OF US.

    RON PAUL CAN'T SAY THAT CAN HE !?!

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 3:53pm

      Re: Down with Liberty - for S.A.F.E.T.Y.

      "THEN WE WOULD HAVE PEACE HERE AND A GOVERNMENT THAT LOVES US AND TAKES CARE OF US."


      The previous post was brought to you by The Straw Man News Service. It can not be reposted or retransmitted without the express written consent of the Straw Man News Service and the Socialistic SuperDelegate Pursuasion Council, Ltd.

       

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  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 13th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

    Re #19

    I psuedo quote B. Franklin.
    I have seen this several different ways, hence my saying psuedo, because I do not know which of the ways he specifically said it, but it still gets the point across:

    Those who sacrifice liberty for security lose both and deserve neither.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

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

    This was motto of the title page written by Ben Franklin (although he later said he didn't write it.)

    So what does essential liberty mean? Calling records?

    In terms of fighting terrorism, another quote comes to mind "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. "

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    SonofSonofDot, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 4:05pm

    You telcom immunity nuts seem to ignore that the telecoms actually helped write the laws that they broke! There is no way to spin that they didn't know what they were doing was against the law. And no, if a cop asked me to break the law, I would NOT do it...

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 6:46am

    You are sitting at a red stop light and a fire truck is coming up from behind you. A traffic cop stops traffic for oncoming traffic and waves you through to allow the fire truck to pass. You pull forward and then the traffic cop writes you a ticket.

    How would you feel about that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 14th, 2008 @ 6:49am

    Re #25

    Your traffic cop analogy is bad.
    Once again, you are equating a KNOWN emergency to a "what if".
    They monitor people just to monitor them. To keep tabs. It is in no way an known emergency.
    If they had specific evidence that a terrorist was planning to attack the US, then they would have NO problem getting a warrant for the wiretapping.

    So your analogy is a little flawed sir. Please try again.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 9:46am

    Killer, the issue is the fault should lie with the govt. (or the cop), not the telecoms. You don't like what was done, go after the govt. where the blame rightly lies. The telecoms should have safe harbor here.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Here - No You All Know What The Real Deal Is, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 11:36am

    F the Man

    THE 545 PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR AMERICA 'S WOES
    BY CHARLEY REESE

    Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

    Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits?



    Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high
    taxes?

    You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.



    You and I don't write the tax code. Congress does.

    You and I don't set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don't control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

    One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President and nine Supreme Court justices - 545 human beings out of the 300 million - are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

    I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central
    bank.

    I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton- picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

    No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

    A CONFIDENCE CONSPIRACY ***!!!



    Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy
    convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

    What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a SPEAKER, who stood up and criticized G.W. BUSH for creating deficits! Oh please!

    The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it! The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.

    Who is the speaker of the House? She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow Democrats, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto.

    REPLACE THE SCOUNDRELS

    It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts - of incompetence and irresponsibility.


    I can't think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

    When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the Federal Government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

    If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.



    If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.



    If the Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ .

    There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to
    regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

    Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist
    disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation" or "politics"
    that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do. Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses - provided the voters have the gumption to
    manage their own employees. We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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