While we had thought that Congress was going to easily roll over on the so-called (but not really) compromise
bill on new surveillance powers that included telco immunity from potentially illegal acts committed in the past few years, there has been some pushback
in the Senate, where the bill is finally about to come up for vote. Some Senators have put together an amendment stripping telco immunity from the bill, but leaving the increased surveillance powers in place. Amazingly, the Bush Administration has now said that if telco immunity is stripped from the bill, Bush will veto the bill
, even if everything else is identical. In other words, all the talk you hear from politicians about how this bill is necessary to protect Americans is hogwash. If it were true, then it is simply unforgivable to veto the bill without telco immunity.
What has been made abundantly clear by this statement is that the US government does not
need these extended surveillance powers at all. Its existing surveillance powers are quite sufficient. The entire purpose of this bill then, has absolutely nothing to do with security, and everything to do with making sure that the telcos (and the administration) do not have to defend their potentially illegal actions in court. If that were not the case, then the President would still be willing to approve the bill without telco immunity.