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June 26, 2008

Wire Tapping/Telecoms/FISA: Democrats Have No Balls

Letting George Bush and Dick Cheney have their way even though they’re that unpopular and on their way out. It’s really incredible.”

The debate over how the Bush administration has conducted its warrantless wiretapping program seems to be nearing a legislative end.

On Thursday, 6/26, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance a legislative compromise on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, marking the beginning of the end of a fierce battle over civil liberties and national security that has been waged in the halls of Congress for more than three years.

And yet, for all of the political passions the issue engendered, the fight over FISA ended with something of a whimper.

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June 20, 2008

What Does Immunity For The Telecoms Mean?

The U.S. House of Representatives gave George Bush what he wanted by approving legislation that would continue the controversial surveillance program at the National Security Agency (“NSA”) with limited court oversight at the same time the bill will immunize telecommunications carriers that participated in the program from lawsuits.

The House on Friday voted 293 to 129 to approve the bill. Democrats have the majority in the House so why would the Democrats pass this bill?  Is Congress being complacent or do they know something from their classified briefings that we don’t?

The bill would extend the NSA surveillance of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the U.S., while giving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) an opportunity to review Bush administration requests for wide-ranging surveillance powers. The bill, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act, allows the NSA to receive blanket surveillance orders covering multiple suspects of terrorism and other crimes.

The compromise also sends the dozens of outstanding lawsuits against telecom carriers for their alleged participation in the NSA program to a district court, which will review whether they should be dismissed. The lawsuits would be thrown out if telecom companies can show that the U.S. government issued them orders for the surveillance that were presented as lawful.

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