Monday, December 17, 2007

Storming the Black Gate: Big Senate Showdown Today

There is a showdown in the U.S. Senate today between the dark forces of telecom-lobby-backed Senators and an outmatched band of rebels lead by Democratic Presidential hopeful Chris Dodd on granting AT&T et al. retroactive immunity for violating the privacy of its customers by turning their records over to the Big Brother Bush Administration.

If you have not contacted either Lamar Alexander or Bob Corker to encourage them to strip immunity from the telecommunications bill, then please do so. Else, be prepared to have some nefarious third party rifling through your calls and e-mails in the future, and not because you're suspected of terrorism, but just because they can.

Here is a relatively time-efficient link for contacting them, but a phone call to their offices has a bigger impact.

UPDATE: In spite of Chris Dodd's promises to filibuster the FISA bill "for as long as he could hold out," the Senate voted to advance the bill without stripping out the President's desired retroactive immunity for phone companies from being charged with illegal activity in turning over private records to the government. Here are some of Senator Dodd's comments quoted by the NY Times:
For the last six years, our largest telecommunications companies have been spying on their own American customers .... Secretly and without a warrant, they delivered to the federal government the private, domestic communications records of millions of Americans — records this administration has compiled into a data base of enormous scale and scope.

I have seen six presidents — six in the White House — and I have never seen a contempt for the rule of law equal to this.
Senator Patrick Leahy is introducing an alternative that does not include retroactive immunity. Something has to be passed by February, before the previous FISA legislation runs out.

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