09 July 2008

FISA bill passed, civil rights apparently not so important

Despite the efforts of a few brave figures like Sen. Russ Feingold, Congress just passed the new FISA bill with the telecom immunity included. This gutless move - backed by both Obama and McCain - passes an only marginally weakened version of the original Republican bill. Bush had threatened to veto the bill if it did not include immunity for those telecoms who broke the law when they permitted illegal warrantless wiretapping, and the clever Republican electioneering ensured that the "compromise" bill was almost a copy of their own. Democrats, terrified of allowing FISA to expire and being vulnerable to claims of being "weak on terror," buckled in short order.

Numerous lawmakers had spoken out strongly against the no-warrants eavesdropping on Americans, but the Senate voted its approval after rejecting amendments that would have watered down, delayed or stripped away the immunity provision.

The lawsuits center on allegations that the White House circumvented U.S. law by going around the FISA court, which was created 30 years ago to prevent the government from abusing its surveillance powers for political purposes, as was done in the Vietnam War and Watergate eras. The court is meant to approve all wiretaps placed inside the U.S. for intelligence-gathering purposes. The law has been interpreted to include international e-mail records stored on servers inside the U.S.

"This president broke the law," declared Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.

So that's that. Once again, the Republican party proved it was soulless, and the Democratic party proved it was gutless.


  1. i thought it said that obama voted against the immunity thing and mccain abstained?


    clearly i'm missing something.

    p.s. you where talking about that 'last inch' tattoo idea a while ago, did you ever do it?

  2. Obama voted yea; McCain didn't actually vote, but he was a vocal supporter of the bill. The roll call for the Senate can be read here.

    Yeah, I got the tattoo. It's on my left wrist, about where a watchband would go. :)