Ain't nothing happy about this.
CQ reports (sub. req.) that "a final deal has been reached" on FISA and telecom amnesty and "the House is likely to take up the legislation Friday." I've now just read a copy of the final "compromise" bill. It's even worse than expected. When you read it, it's actually hard to believe that the Congress is about to make this into our law. Then again, this is the same Congress that abolished habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, and legalized George Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program with the "Protect America Act," so it shouldn't be hard to believe at all. Seeing the words in print, though, adds a new dimension to appreciating just how corrupt and repugnant this is:
The provision granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, Title VIII, has the exact Orwellian title it should have: "Protection of Persons Assisting the Government."
They've just released the text of the bill, and they're set to vote on it tomorrow. 24 hours of "review" to gut the Fourth Amendment, give lawbreaking telecoms a free pass, and eviscerate the rule of law as it's never been eviscerated before in this country.
This fucking "compromise" bill doesn't sunset until 2012. The government has five fucking years to listen in on your phone calls, read your emails, and play spy with the telecoms, before we can reestablish civil liberties.
Do you want to know how outrageous this is? The fact that the Republicons and Bush Regime are gloating and overjoyed should give you a clue:
With some AT&T and other telecommunications companies now facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”
“The lawsuits will be dismissed,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican in the House, predicted with confidence.
The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute. “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations.
The White House immediately endorsed the proposal, which is likely to be voted on in the House on Friday and in the Senate next week.
In a House and Senate controlled by Democrats, the best they could do was give the White House "a better deal than they even they had hoped to get." Outfuckingstanding. Way to run the country.
Obama's too busy supposedly reading the damned thing to comment on it. If he doesn't get his ass off the campaign trail and back up to D.C. to shoot this thing down, he's going to have issues. Serious. Issues. He needs to stand up and be a leader on this. If he doesn't, he deserves to be raked over the coals. So call him and let him know.
You may wonder why I'm so incensed over this. Let's let Carolyn Fredrickson of the ACLU enlighten you a bit:
"This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications. The court review is mere window-dressing – all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all." [emphasis added]
Senator Russ Feingold finds it disgusting:
“The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the
privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.”
Yes, Democrats should. They aren't.
So here's what you do if you want to protect your civil liberties and see the people who raped the law for eight years get exposed for the serial rapists they are. Call Obama and tell him to stop this thing. Call your senators and your congressman. Sign the petition. Donate to the PAC that will be holding capitulators accountable.
Get angry and then get busy.