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We should be used to this by now, but it appears the Democratic leadership is preparing to sell us down the river yet again.  Here's the link.  I know little beyond this basic story, but based on things I've seen in Greenwald it sounds like the "compromise" on immunity is no compromise at all:  the law will insruct the courts to dismiss the lawsuits if the telcos can prove the President requested them to wiretap and that he assured them it was legal.  This, of course, is exactly what happened.  What does a law mean if a President can instruct one to violate it with impunity?  The bill will also have all the other bad warrantless wiretapping crap we've come to expect.  See after jump for info on an upcoming action alert. Update Below.

Greenwald also addresses this here.  (See the update to the lead article.)  He is working on a campaign to derail this.  All the information I have is in the blockquote below -- check back with Greenwald until he provides more information.  You can also call the leadership, your reps, blue dogs, and anyone else you can think of.  I'm awfully sick of going down this road, but it's worth it to defend the Constitution.  

UPDATE: Speaking of fear-mongering, I've been working today on various campaigns to derail the Steny-Hoyer-led effort to vest lawbreaking telecoms this week with immunity. Quick -- and severe -- action will be required because the House Democratic leadership is conniving to negotiate this in secret and then pass all of this quickly so as to avoid debate and consequences. The campaign is going to expand well beyond Chris Carney and will include, at the very least, a massive effort directed at voters in Steny Hoyer's district to make them aware of just what he is doing. I hope to have more details and updates on all of this later today, but will, at the absolute latest, have it early tomorrow morning.

A concerted effort, lots of resources, and alliances with other like-minded factions and groups will be required to make this work. If, as appears, Congressional Democrats are intent on doing this, there should be a hefty and real price for them to pay for doing it.

Update: has a petition on this issue here.  Can't hurt to sign it and add a few choice words for your representatives and Senators.

Originally posted to RenMin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:33 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Rec'd (6+ / 0-)

    mcjoan's probably doing a front-pager as I type.

    "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

    by MikeTheLiberal on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:34:32 AM PDT

  •  Thanks! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack, drblack, RenMin

    Will pass it on.

    John McCain will end Roe v. Wade if he's president.

    by Phoenix Woman on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:38:54 AM PDT

  •  If not the Telcos- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    reflectionsv37, joe shikspack, RenMin

    Then the President should stand trial for these actions.

    That is the only compromise worth discussing.  Ma Bell or Bush.

    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds - Samuel Adams

    by Red no more on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:39:12 AM PDT

  •  what is up with our democrats? (7+ / 0-)

    it seems like when all they have to do to come out ahead is just sit there, twiddle their thumbs and do nothing, they can't seem to stop themselves from throwing things on the table for action. other times when it is imperative that they get off of their butts and do something, they can't even find the table, much less get something on it.

    go figure.

    yoo broke the law, now the law breaks you

    by joe shikspack on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:42:11 AM PDT

  •  The lobbyist, after destroying the Repug brand (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack, drblack, RenMin

    decided to court the Democrats. And the Democrats were very happy. And it was good.
    Reid, Pelosi...YOUR FIRED! This feeling of hopelessness is overcoming me again.

  •  Discussed it with Sen. Feingold Friday night (8+ / 0-)

    at the State Dem Convention.

    He and Dodd will be fighting the deal, but he didn't seem terribly confident this time. I'm expecting a diary from Russ soon.

    McCain: The best they could come up with.

    Masel4Senate 2012

    by ben masel on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:48:51 AM PDT

    •  Here's the l.etter Dodd and Feingold sent out (7+ / 0-)

      June 10, 2008

      Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) are urging Congressional Democratic leaders working to finalize the FISA Amendments Act to include provisions to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans and not to grant retroactive immunity to companies that allegedly cooperated in the president’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program. Feingold and Dodd, who led the fight in the Senate against the immunity provision and other provisions containing overbroad, unchecked powers for the executive branch, wrote the following letter amidst reports that negotiations on FISA legislation may be nearing completion in the House.

      June 10, 2008

      Dear Majority Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Chairman Leahy, Chairman Conyers, Chairman Rockefeller and Chairman Reyes,

      As you work to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, we urge you to include key protections to safeguard the privacy of law-abiding Americans, and not to include provisions that would grant retroactive immunity to companies that allegedly cooperated in the President’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.

      With respect to immunity, we are particularly concerned about a proposal recently made by Senator Bond, and want to make clear that his proposal is just as unacceptable as the immunity provision in the Senate bill, which we vigorously opposed. As we understand it, the proposal would authorize secret proceedings in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the companies’ immunity claims, but the court’s role would be limited to evaluating precisely the same question laid out in the Senate bill: whether a company received "a written request or directive from the Attorney General or the head of an element of the intelligence community ... indicating that the activity was authorized by the President and determined to be lawful."

      Information declassified in the committee report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the FISA Amendments Act, S. 2248, confirms that the companies received exactly these materials:

         The Committee can say, however, that beginning soon after September 11, 2001, the Executive branch provided written requests or directives to U.S. electronic communication service providers to obtain their assistance with communications intelligence activities that had been authorized by the President.

         ... The letters were provided to electronic communication service providers at regular intervals. All of the letters stated that the activities had been authorized by the President. All of the letters also stated that the activities had been determined to be lawful by the Attorney General, except for one letter that covered a period of less than sixty days. That letter, which like all the others stated that the activities had been authorized by the President, stated that the activities had been determined to be lawful by the Counsel to the President.

      In other words, under the Bond proposal, the result of the FISA Court’s evaluation would be predetermined. Regardless of how much information it is permitted to review, what standard of review is employed, how open the proceedings are, and what role the plaintiffs’ lawyers are permitted to play, the FISA Court would be required to grant immunity. To agree to such a proposal would not represent a reasonable compromise.

      As we have explained repeatedly in the past, existing law already immunizes telephone companies that respond in good faith to a government request, as long as that request meets certain clearly spelled-out statutory requirements. This carefully designed provision protects both the companies and the privacy of innocent Americans. It gives clear guidance to companies on what government requests it should comply with and what requests it should reject because the requirements of the law are not met. The courts should be permitted to apply this longstanding provision in the pending cases to determine whether the companies that allegedly participated in the program should be granted immunity.

      We also urge you to correct the significant flaws in the FISA provisions of the Senate bill, some of which were addressed in the House version. The Senate bill authorizes widespread surveillance involving innocent Americans and does not provide adequate checks and balances to protect their rights. First, it permits the government to come up with its own procedures for deciding who is a target of surveillance, and provides no meaningful consequences if the FISA Court later determines the government’s procedures are not even reasonably designed to wiretap foreigners. Second, even if the government is wiretapping foreigners outside the U.S., those foreigners need not be terrorists, suspected of any wrongdoing, or even be of any specific intelligence interest. That means the government could legally collect all communications between Americans here at home and the rest of the world. Third, the Senate version of the bill failed to prohibit the practice of reverse targeting – namely, wiretapping a person overseas when what the government is really interested in is an American here at home with whom the foreigner is communicating. Fourth, the Senate version of the bill failed to include meaningful privacy protections for the Americans whose communications will be collected in vast new quantities. We strongly believe that these problems should be corrected as the legislation moves forward.

      Thank you for your consideration of these concerns. As this legislation moves forward, please know that we will strongly oppose any legislation that includes a grant of unjustified retroactive immunity and that does not adequately protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans.


      McCain: The best they could come up with.

      Masel4Senate 2012

      by ben masel on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:52:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is rich... (6+ / 0-)

    The question for the negotiators will be whether the final product is seen by Democrats opposed to the immunity for the phone companies as conceding too much or whether backers of warrantless surveillance will view the compromise as too weak.

    Emphasis mine, give me a break! Who are these  "We Want Warrentless Surveilance of US Citizens!" people? It's not to protect us, I'm sure.


    If the Coastal Republic had believed in the existence of virtue, it could at least have aspired to hypocrisy. - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age

    by BehereBenow on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 11:55:48 AM PDT

  •  I keep emailing and calling my (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack, drblack, RenMin

    Blue Dog Dem, Tim Holden, about this and I get nowhere.  His office doesn't return my emails at all.  I am nice and respectful in my emails on this subject.  I also keep asking why Rep. Holden is so supportive of immunity and all I get from the phone calls is his staff dancing around the subject.  Why can't Holden answer my question?

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 12:00:11 PM PDT

  •  Sorry, didn't see your diary when I posted mine (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazey, drblack, RenMin

    Thanks RenMin.  I must have been composing diary when yours went up and scrolled a bit down the most recent diaries list.

    Mine's here: FISA Sellout Imminent, Hints Greenwald

    I'll offer to take mine down since that seems to be proper dKos etiquette, but frankly I think the issue needs as much attention as it can get, and I think that beyond both linking to Greenwald, our discussions aren't overlapping.

  •  Remember Lungren's shennanigins in 1982? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The discharge petition stands at 192 out of a needed 218:

    Perhaps that's what's scaring Hoyer and Pelosi so much?  And of course actively meeting with the opposition (albeit behind closed doors) gives credit to the whole discharge petition movement, while simultaneously sabotaging your own power (not to mention credibility amongst your base)...

    Hoyer's not just being devious and anti-democratic, but also playing out a role of minority whip by proxy!

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