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Telecom Immunity Showdown in the Senate Today 221

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the come-and-see-the-hypocricy-in-the-system dept.
CPeanutG writes "A make-or-break moment for telecom immunity has arrived — after months of back-room committee-meetings, the FISA bill will finally reach the Senate floor on Monday! Unfortunately, a previously-reported version of the bill that grants telecom immunity will be presented to the Senate on Monday morning. The clock is ticking. Write your Senators now."
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Telecom Immunity Showdown in the Senate Today

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  • by FatSean (18753) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:22AM (#21724772) Homepage Journal
    One of my senators is the once-RINO, now 'Independent' Joe Lieberman. That little rat-faced turd is a cancer on my state, but he has perfected pandering to key groups and so continues to be elected.

    Phaf!
    • Must be the Freedom Derangement Syndrome.
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      He was a Democrat - not a Republican, and he's one of the only politicians that I can stand listening to.
    • That little rat-faced turd is a cancer on my state, but he has perfected pandering to key groups and so continues to be elected.
      I thought it was interesting how he lost the Democratic primary, ran as an independent, and then won while the person who ran as the Republican got only about 5% of the votes. Lets you know who he is really representing.
      • by MightyYar (622222)
        Yes, it's a real shame when an entire state overwhelmingly embraces it's Senator.

        He got only 33% of the Democrat vote, though, which is a shame since Lamont was a wing-nut. He got 70% of the Republican vote, and over 50% of the independents.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Yes, it's a real shame when an entire state overwhelmingly embraces it's Senator. He got only 33% of the Democrat vote, though, which is a shame since Lamont was a wing-nut. He got 70% of the Republican vote, and over 50% of the independents.

          I wasn't arguing that he didn't win the election (although "overwhelmingly embraces" is overstating his case just a bit). I was simply agreeing with OP that he was only pretending to be a Democrat, as evidenced by who ultimately supported him. The Republicans liked

  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:22AM (#21724776)
    Now tell me why I should care.
    • by abburdlen (131870) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:35AM (#21724910)
      simply stated if you care about any of your rights it's important.
      Fourth Amendment:

      "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


      While the executive branch is more at fault for strong arming the telecos I don't think the public is well served by granting amnesty for ignoring the law.

      • by KDR_11k (778916) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:39AM (#21724944)
        While the executive branch is more at fault for strong arming the telecos I don't think the public is well served by granting amnesty for ignoring the law.

        Also telling people "if we ask you to do something illegal that doesn't mean we won't punish you later" is a good way to make it harder for govt branches to get illegal help from private entities.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:49AM (#21725024)
          This basically like your local police officer, lacking the basis for a warrant, asking a someone else to break into your home to plant cameras. Hey, government, you cannot pay someone else to break the law for you!!

          Which is really what these bills are about: It is not giving teleco's amnesty so much as giving the executive branch amnesty for asking someone else to do an illegal thing on their behalf.
      • by gambolt (1146363) on Monday December 17, 2007 @12:17PM (#21725936)
        Here's the problem, from the FISA as it stands:

        An aggrieved person, other than a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a) or (b)(1)(A) of this title, respectively, who has been subjected to an electronic surveillance or about whom information obtained by electronic surveillance of such person has been disclosed or used in violation of section 1809 of this title shall have a cause of action against any person who committed such violation and shall be entitled to recover--
        (a) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages of $1,000 or $100 per day for each day of violation, whichever is greater;
        (b) punitive damages; and
        (c) reasonable attorney's fees and other investigation and litigation costs reasonably incurred.


        OK. Let's do some math here. It was the goal of the NSA to make records of every phone call made within the US and who it was to and from. Let's be conservative and say they only succeeded in recording the phone logs of 10% of the population and were in violation for 4 years.

        (300000000/10)((4)365)(100) = $4,380,000,000,000.

        Over four trillion dollars in civil liability, and that's being conservative. Even AT&T can't absorb that much. Think about what would happen if AT&T, Verizon and South Central Bell all went bankrupt at once. Think about the stock market. Think about the mutual funds which presently hold telecom stock and all the pension funds and non-profit endowments that are currently invested in them. Think about trying to get a job in the tech sector when you're competing with all the unemployed telecom workers. Think about broadband deployment in unserved areas for sure.

        Knocking out communications infrastructure is something invading forces do. It's not something that governments are supposed to let happen.

        There are some executives who need to have their heads on pikes, but the industry itself needs protection.
        • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Monday December 17, 2007 @12:43PM (#21726228)

          Knocking out communications infrastructure is something invading forces do. It's not something that governments are supposed to let happen.

          There are some executives who need to have their heads on pikes, but the industry itself needs protection.

          Why? Why should the government bail out yet another set of mega-corporations? AT&T, Verizon and South Central Bell all going bankrupt at once will have an effect on the economy, but those are the breaks. Or do you think big corporations should be immune from prosecution just because of the financial effect it might have on some people?


          Also, making these bastards answer for their crimes won't knock out the communications infrastructure. It will still be there, but AT&T, Verizon and South Central Bell will have to sell theirs for pennies on the dollar to telcos that didn't violate the law. And, if there is some disruption in communications, maybe people will for once stop watching staring at the tv all the time and actually pay attention to who is running things. It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned.

        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Monday December 17, 2007 @01:09PM (#21726552) Homepage Journal
          The telecom industry is to telecommunications as the recording industry is to music. Let the bastards hang.
        • by nahdude812 (88157) *
          So what you're saying is that once a company gets big enough and important enough, they should be granted blanket immunity on all the really bad things they can do, because we just can't live without them, as long as it was sufficiently bad that it would jeopardize operations at the company.

          No, the full sanction can and should be brought against the company, and if they honestly cannot afford to cover the costs of their mistake, the government should make the necessary allowances for ensuring the company re
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by e-scetic (1003976) *

      Now tell me why I should care.

      The issue at hand is whether companies should be granted immunity for performing illegal and criminal actions if they are asked to do so by the government.

      Another issue is the government should not be allowed to amend laws to make something legal, after the fact, just because the government did something illegal.

      During the Nuremberg and other war crimes trials many people claimed they weren't responsible for the atrocities they committed on the grounds that they were just

  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:29AM (#21724832)
    I read that as "Telecom Immunity Shot Down". Too bad...
  • Well, let's see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smchris (464899) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:33AM (#21724868)
    Coleman? Yeah, calling him is going to do a lot of good.
    Klobuchar? Voted for FISA last summer. Blue dog Dem who votes against the constitution more often than not.

    Democracy, 21st century style, in action.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by innerweb (721995)

      Maybe, but I have helped to change a few people's votes here. The best thing to do is get enough people to call in to let them know this is a decision that would force many people to consider them unelectable. In other words, they go into the anyone but them box. I am not saying it is easy, but is can be done.

      Businesses may have the dollars, but the people have the votes, and grass roots can work - albeit with time.

      InnerWeb

      • by smchris (464899)
        Oh, I sent Klobuchar a letter after her first FISA vote. Got back a bunch of "strong on terra" blah-de-blah. She's just playing the tired old hand that "nobody ever got ousted being tough on 'law enforcement'." No matter what it does to the structure of the country. Hard to argue with that proven strategy when they're all just unprincipled survey watchers.
    • Yeah, I am from Minneapolis and feel the same way. Ain't it crazy how many conservatives are running the show in our supposedly liberal city?
    • by techpawn (969834) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:43AM (#21724988) Journal
      If the telecoms monitor everything you email and call about... What's to stop them from monitoring/blocking/listing you for contacting your senator in opposition to their immunity?

      Not to scare anyone, just thinking... This is one time where pen and paper would have been the only way to go.
      • If the vote was today, paper mail would arrive late. Paper mail is a little harder to ignore though.
        • Anthrax (Score:3, Informative)

          by Presto Vivace (882157)
          After anthrax was sent to Senators Leahy and Daschle the mail procedures were change such that paper mail wont reach the Senate office until months too late. In a fight such as this volume everything. Contacting a Senator through his senate web site is the fastest, most convenient way, or telephone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kohath (38547)
        What's to stop them from monitoring/blocking/listing you for contacting your senator in opposition to their immunity?

        Life is not a conspiracy movie.

        It works differently when there are no writers trying to make everything interesting for an audience. It's a lot more real, with people going to work and doing normal things rather than everyone either trying to take over the world or stop you from taking over the world.

        You should consider joining us here in reality sometime. It's less interesting, but you get
    • by j.sanchez1 (1030764) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:59AM (#21725142)
      Thanks for the contact info. The EFF site link in the summary has a form letter on it. Fill out your information and the EFF will send it to the appropriate senators for you. Took me less than a minute, and it was sent to both my senators.
    • by AndersOSU (873247)
      If anyone is interested, the bill is likely to pass, but Chris Dodd [rawstory.com]may be stage a filibuster.

      Also the house passed a version of the bill without immunity, so even if this does pass it isn't quite done yet.
  • A glimmer of hope. Some senators are saying that while the telecoms should get some protection for how they helped after 11-sept that it shouldn't be complete immunity and it shouldn't be completely retroactive.

    Meaning that there are some people still holding out that total blank slate is wrong but some protections be grated for some limited period in the past. If that's the compromise that has to be made to get it through the senate to reach the inevitable veto, it's still better than saying that they're
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iminplaya (723125)
      That's not hope. That's a distraction. The simple fact is that if you work as an agent of the government, no matter what capacity, then the constitution must apply. But we don't even require that the government itself operate under its constitutional restrictions, so what does it matter? There should be NO immunity! Ever! As the authoritarian apologists tell tell us, "If you don't like the law as it stands, then change it."

      All we are is farts in the wind
      • by techpawn (969834)
        But the government also works on compromise. I don't agree with compromising the constitution but if it's the only way to move the bill ahead with the other parts you need/want is to include this partial protection carrot then it has to be done. Then we have to have faith in the judicial system and that it will reach the courts and that section be thrown out over being unconstitutional.

        Politics isn't the cut and dry thing we make it out to be. Sometimes we need to agree to deals we know to be dirty to acc
        • by Bearpaw (13080)

          But the government also works on compromise.

          This government -- particularly the Administration and their enablers -- works on their personal version of compromise. Which essentially means that they just keep demanding what they want in different ways, and if they don't get what they want, they find a way to simply take it. Then, when necessary, they hide their thefts behind "state secrets", "executive privilege", and the all-inclusive "national security".

  • by slashname3 (739398) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:40AM (#21724954)
    If anyone thinks this bill is going to be modified to eliminate immunity for the telecom companies I have some beach side land in Arizona that you might be interested in.

    The telecom industry pays well for the politicians that they hire. No amount of complaining by us or anyone else like us will modify the votes of those politicians. Unless you can provide more money than the telecom industry there is little chance of influencing this bill and getting it changed.
  • by CambodiaSam (1153015) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:43AM (#21724982)
    I was at a conference a few years ago where a former US Senator told us exactly how to get the attention of your congressman. Sending an email is a black hole and won't get noticed. A hand written letter is much better, but it has to go through all of that Anthrax screening and will probably get delayed 6-8 weeks. The solution? Faxing.

    Here's what you you:

    1. Hand write the letter of your dreams and include these aspects:
        a. Make sure it's not overly emotional
        b. Mention how you will be "posting the response in our place of business" near the end
        c. Mention how many voters currently work in your office and that you are all anxiously awaiting the response
        d. Include a response fax number, email, and more
    2. Fax the letter to the congressman's office (you can usually find their number online)
    3. Watch for your reply!

    Apparently this method will get your letter to the top of the pile since it's personalized, instantly delivered via an underutilized technology, and it mentions votes.

    Enjoy!
    • You forgot 1e (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621)
      1e. Mention how much you and your co-workers could donate as campaign contributions next year. Half ;)
  • by Liberaltarian (1030752) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:43AM (#21724984)
    Thankfully, Chris Dodd (D-Jowls) will be leading a filibuster in the Senate. Let's hope other Senators join and support him (call your congresscritters!).

    Here's a good outline [dailykos.com] of what will be going down.
    • I don't know if there are more who support this, but look at the letter here [senate.gov] to see a list of Senators who are also a part of Senator Dodd's cause. I don't know who among them will be involved directly in the filibuster, but they all support the Judiciary Committee's version of the FISA revisions.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:46AM (#21725002) Homepage Journal
    This is just a gimmick used by those in government to push the issue away from the real issue: government's unnatural immunity against committing crimes against the People.

    Seriously, I could care less about the telecoms. That's not my worry. When government tells you to jump, you jump. Gitmo is an ugly hotel for those who refuse. If the State forced me to release my logs, what can I do to fight it? Call the EFF or the IJ [ij.org]? That'll help, maybe 3 years down the road.

    No, the real issue is the one most geeks and freedom-lovers ignore: that our elected candidates continue to violate their oath to uphold the Constitution. The President, the Senators, and almost all of the Congressional Representatives save 2 have violated this oath. The penalty should be the equivalent to the most extreme penalty available for the greatest crime that specific level of government can enforce.

    Stop turning the issue to the telecoms, who are merely shills for the State. The true crime has been committed by every branch of government, and it is a crime that must be investigated. Unfortunately, the investigators are themselves, so the crime will be ignored, with the anger pointed at businesses who will likely get what they deserve.
    • There's only one presidential candidate who will put an end to this crap. No need to mention his name; he's voted against it for 30 years as a Congressmen and was just given $6 million in a single day by 50,000 Americans who are tired of all this crap.

    • by kmac06 (608921)
      How is this flamebait? I totally disagree with the post, but it's certainly not flamebait. If you don't like the post, either respond to it or leave it alone.
      • by dada21 (163177)
        It's just me, I always get flamebait mods on my posts. There are a lot of people here with cushy government tech jobs, and they don't like the idea of having to compete in the market that would exist should my "utopia" come to fruition.

        Luckily, there are many more freedom-inspired moderators today than 4 years ago. I think I had the worst Karma for a good year with basically the same opinion.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by spun (1352)
          That's right, dada, people are threatened by your genius. Except for you, a selfless defender of the Rugged Individual, we are all spineless pawns of The Man. Nobody could possibly have real issues with your proposals, it must be self interest. We know that we are miserable failures who can't compete in the real world, like you.

          Not that you deserved a down mod for your post. Some people can be assholes. But your arrogance, and willingness to ascribe the basest of motives and lack of ability to all who oppos
          • by Danse (1026)

            But your arrogance, and willingness to ascribe the basest of motives and lack of ability to all who oppose you reveals you to be the very kind of authoritarian you purport to hate. You don't want freedom for individuals, you want everyone to do what you say without question.
            May the mods shower you with +1 Insightfuls.
    • by wonkavader (605434) on Monday December 17, 2007 @11:16AM (#21725314)
      "Seriously, I could care less about the telecoms. That's not my worry. When government tells you to jump, you jump. Gitmo is an ugly hotel for those who refuse. If the State forced me to release my logs, what can I do to fight it? Call the EFF or the IJ? That'll help, maybe 3 years down the road."

      Forced compliance which the Telcos are anxious to productize? And why didn't Qwest wind up in Gitmo when they said "no"?

      No, these are sleazy companies who deserve everything we throw at them. Further, the President won't release info on what he did, but we can pull it out of the telecoms. We can then impeach him based on that info. And ultimately, telling companies that they're above the law means that we only get more AT&Ts and fewer Qwests. We need to reward Qwest's behavior, so that we see corporations say "no" more often.

      Hey, let's give Qwest Michigan! Merry Christmas, Qwest! You were a good little boy, so you get a present. AT&T, you get a lump of coal.
    • by krunk7 (748055)
      And whom will testify against them if the telecoms have immunity?
    • by MobyDisk (75490)
      The only way to fight crimes committed by the government is to use the court system. Yet you are saying we should ignore the fact that they are about to pass a law saying that they are not subject to the ruling of the courts. That would eliminate our only way to hold them liable. The telecoms are just the current battle front: And one that could land a lot of higher-up politicians in jail. If we lose this one, we probably lose the war - that includes Gitmo. This is no gimmick: This is the real thing.
    • We should be concerned over the telecoms so they can't be bullied by the NSA into doing evil. I agree, it's the Executive who makes them do it. But that's what the balance of powers is for, so one branch of the govt can't abuse that power. This isn't just about punishing the abusers, but also to PREVENT that abuse. If telecoms can be legally punished for following orders (even if they go against the Law), they'll think twice before doing it. And that's a good thing. After all, what's left of a gang leader w
  • First, we get more proof that the Republicans and Democrats aren't really all that different when it comes to pandering to lobbyists and being willing to grab power (don't forget a lot of the worst things passed in the last 7 years were passed almost unanimously). Second, the telecoms might not get immunity. Both work out pretty well for the people.
  • Crooks and Liars (Score:4, Informative)

    by christurkel (520220) on Monday December 17, 2007 @11:06AM (#21725212) Homepage Journal
    http://www.crooksandliars.com/ [crooksandliars.com] is running a thread where you can post a letter to be read by Senator Dodd during his filibuster.
  • Have they found the hidden immunity idol?
  • Don't be a pud fucker, call your senator.
  • The EFF has a web form for submitting comments to your senators.

    Don't let AT&T off the hook:

    https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=337 [eff.org]
  • too late (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spikedvodka (188722) on Monday December 17, 2007 @11:33AM (#21725494)
    It's too late to do anything at this point. Pretty much once it hits the floor, everybody known which way they're going to vote... If they even get your letters before the vote.

    Not to say it isn't worth trying, but don't get your hopes up
  • The Democrats will cave again to the mythical, all-mighty filibuster. It doesn't seem like the Democrats got as much mileage out of that threat as the Republicans are. So are the Democrats spineless or is something else going on? It's especially pathetic because the public could really get behind this one and it's an opportunity for the Democrats to make it seem Republicans are beholden to special interests and corrupt (despite the fact that many Democrats are just as bad). And this I think brings us to the
    • by jonatha (204526)
      The Democrats will cave again to the mythical, all-mighty filibuster.

      Good.

      The filibusterer is Chris Dodd, Democrat from Connecticut, and he's filibustering so that the bill granting retroactive immunity won't be passed...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2007 @12:28PM (#21726048)

    Having worked as an intern on the hill (the ones who actually sort all of your letters, and faxes), I can tell you that unless you personally know someone up there your letter (by itself) means little, no matter how it is sent, most likely it will be logged into a database program and assigned a basic form letter reply.

    A letter writing campaign may change a Congressman's mind if he gets enough correspondence from registered voters in his district, but a Senator isnt going to change his mind on a major issue like this due to correspondence from voters. Still though its good to voice your opinion.

  • This was the first time I've actually contacted my senators [eff.org]. I have not heard anything from Dick Durbin's office yet, but Obama's office had some encouraging things to say in a well-written response. Among other things:

    Congress is working on reforms to the FISA bill to be enacted before the expiration of the current legislation. On November 15, 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3773, the "Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007" (RESTORE Act) b

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