“To be clear. Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.” - Bill Burton during Dem primaries
“Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and has cosponsored Senator Dodd’s efforts to remove that provision from the FISA bill. Granting such immunity undermines the constitutional protections Americans trust the Congress to protect. Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same…Senator Obama will not be among those voting to end the filibuster. Obama Campaign - Dec 2007After the primary win, we of course know what happened:
My view on FISA has always been that the issue with phone companies per se is not one that overrides security interests of the American people,” Obama told reporters on June 25. “It is a close call for me but I think the current legislation with exclusivity provision that says that a president — whether George Bush, myself or John McCain — can’t make up rationales for getting around FISA court, can’t suggest that somehow that there is some law that stands above the laws passed by Congress in engaging in warrantless wiretapsObama's rationale for the flip continued:
This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses....Oversight. Regulations. Inspectors General and comprehensive reviews. So we will never be in a position of having to grant immunity over illegal surveillance right?
The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention -- once I'm sworn in as president -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.
Of course not:
The White House has asked legislators crafting competing reforms of the National Security Agency to provide legal immunity for telecommunications firms that provide the government with customer data, the Guardian has learned.
In a statement of principles privately delivered to lawmakers some weeks ago to guide surveillance reforms, the White House said it wanted legislation protecting “any person who complies in good faith with an order to produce records” from legal liability for complying with court orders for phone records to the government once the NSA no longer collects the data in bulk.
The brief request, contained in a four-page document, echoes a highly controversial provision of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, which provided retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that allowed the NSA to access calls and call data between Americans and foreigners, voiding lawsuits against them. Barack Obama’s vote for that bill as a senator and presidential candidate disappointed many supporters.