Skip to comments.Senate OKs immunity for telecoms [the Senate rejected by a vote of 31 to 67 an amendment.....]
Posted on 02/12/2008 8:52:37 AM PST by Sub-Driver
Senate OKs immunity for telecoms
By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago
The Senate voted Tuesday to shield from lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on their customers without court permission after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
After nearly two months of stops and starts, the Senate rejected by a vote of 31 to 67 an amendment that would have stripped a grant of retroactive immunity to the companies. President Bush has promised to veto any new surveillance bill that does not protect the companies that helped the government in its warrantless wiretapping program.
About 40 lawsuits have been filed against telecom companies by people alleging violations of wiretapping and privacy laws.
Telecom immunity must still be approved by the House; its version of the surveillance bill does not provide immunity.
The government's post-9/11 Terrorist Surveillance Program circumvented a secret court created 30 years ago to oversee such activities. The court was part of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law written in response to government abuse of its surveillance authority against Americans.
The surveillance law has been updated repeatedly since then, most recently last summer. Congress hastily adopted a FISA modification in August in the face of dire warnings from the White House that changes in telecommunications technology and FISA court rulings were dangerously constraining the government's ability to intercept terrorist communications.
Shortly after its passage, privacy and civil liberties groups said the new law gave the government unprecedented authority to spy on Americans, particularly those who communicate with foreigners.
That law expires Feb. 15, the deadline against which the Senate is now racing to pass a new bill.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Wow, the Dems?
Wow indeed! But then the Dems do strange things in election years.
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate headed toward passage on Tuesday of a bill to immunize from lawsuits telephone companies that participated in President George W. Bush's warrantless domestic spying program.
On a vote of 31-67, the Senate rejected a Democratic bid to strip from an anti-terror bill a provision to shield telecommunications companies from possibly billions of dollars in damages. Seventeen Democrats and one independent joined 49 Republicans in defeating the proposed amendment to eliminate immunity.
The Democratic-led Senate was expected to pass the entire bill later in the day and send it to the House of Representatives for an anticipated fight over needed concurrence.
In addition to immunizing phone companies, the bill would bolster the privacy rights of law-abiding American citizens swept up in the effort to track down suspected enemy targets.
There will be a bunch of pissed off trial lawyers if this goes through.
I doubt the Dems ever had much interest in seeing Telecom companies prosecuted for these things.. they just wanted to use it as an excuse to say “Hey so.. White House, why do they need immunity? What did you ask them to do exactly?”
As an excuse to hold hearings and say that on national television, I meant.
Anyone have a list of RATS who voted for the amendment?
This is great. The left is having fits over this. Foxtrot them.
The non-vote of Hillary and Obama is a national-security NEGATIVE on both - it will be be a significant issue during the regular campaign.
McCain voted for the measure, as most of us knew he would - the Republicans have just been handed a great campaign weapon.
President Bush says he will veto any bill that is non-retroactive.
This could prevent a lot of lawsuits, including any that are justified.
We are certainly in a complex era, when First Amendment rights must be preserved in the face of clear and present online dangers.