back to article House of Reps passes FISA bill sans telecom immunity provision

The US House of Representatives on Friday narrowly passed the latest version of a controversial terrorist surveillance bill that defied President Bush's demand that it grant telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for cooperating in past warrantless wiretapping. By a margin of 213-197, the House passed the measure, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nancy Pelosi...

    Who is a couple of districts north of here needs a BIG clue stick!!

  2. Tam Lin

    The only terrorist detection aid Bush needs...

    is called a mirror.

  3. Joel
    Thumb Down

    Nancy isn't the one...

    who needs a clue stick.

    Now the coward, really needs it.

  4. asdf

    @Nancy Pelosi

    Yes because as he have seen, the FBI never abuses its illegal wiretapping powers. Bush the first president to not only ignore the US constitution but even the Magna Carta as well. The skeletons in the closet that will come out after Bush and cronies are gone will keep historians busy for generations.

  5. Malcolm Weir

    Hey, @AC...

    Bush is alleging, with no visible means of support, that without *retroactive* immunity, this bill is worthless. That's so obviously wrong that it's funny, and Pelosi is spot on to point that out.

    This bill, as written, protects the telcos if they cooperate with the FISA court. As it should. But pretending that you need to provide immunity for actions that happened prior to this bill passing is just silly.

    The core problem seems to me that Bush told the telco's "trust me, we'll take care of you". And now it seems increasingly likely that he never had the authority to do that. And while I agree that's unfair on the telco's who believed him, some of the telco's DID decline to participate in some of the scheme(s).

  6. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    @ac Nancy P. or so the standing joke goes is the best repuke leader in the lower house for the last decade !

    Further both George and his VP Darth have stacked Justice to only pursue his perceived enemies and the latest band of federal judges approved since 2001 are on the low side for both intelligence and independent thought too and will "White" wash most court documents !

    Now as all the evidence has been locked away under a permanent classification seal by Darth or has been fed into the furnace via a paper shredder getting a Federal Court to convict these questionable flotsam on hearsay would be well nigh implausible to say the least !

    Unfortunately all these problems with the corrupt US Telco bosses will be reduced to background noise in the new tsunami that will shatter the ultra thin walls in Wall Street because of a new US Bank implosion/collapse scandal that makes the Savings and Loans losses of the late eighties under Daddy Bush look like petty cash !

    Count down to the financial collapse of '08 has begun , almost eighty years after Black Thursday October 24th 1929 !

  7. b shubin

    Piled higher and deeper

    according to the documents that came out in one of these lawsuits (at&t), the warrantless universal surveillance started in the 1990s, and continued right through 9/11. it didn't prevent 9/11, and is unlikely to prevent anything else, for the same reasons.

    the Constitution is being subverted, for no good purpose. if AC#1 doesn't get that, perhaps a few months in Gitmo (or one of the CIA's guest houses in Egypt or SA) would help the AC understand why we need the rule of law, and not the rule of an autocrat (King George, i'm looking at you and your shadowy Veep).

    the best part was when some Congresscritter asked Attourney General Mukasey, if waterboarding was used on him, would he consider it torture? Mukasey said that, yes, he probably would. they tried to pass a law against it, and GW vetoed it, with the support of the Congress Republicans. it was used by the Spanish Inquisition, and the German SS in WW2 (movie reference: "Jacob the Liar"), and both parties considered it torture; yet Dubya and the GOP think it's just great.

    even the former POW, McCain, sold out and voted with the GOP. so much for his integrity.

    which part of "pondscum" did the AC not understand?

  8. Luca


    Finally Pelosi is growing some balls, I might even start to like her...

  9. E

    Same law for all

    Rather central to USA gov't structure, indeed any gov't structure that descended from the English model is the principle that nobody is above the law. That includes the people sitting in government. Bush & co. seek to subvert that principle with the telco retroactive immunity: making the telco is immune frees the executive to break the law at second hand.

    Pelosi is correct in her comment that Bush is wrong. I don't really know if Bush knows it though. She may give him too much credit. If he does know it then he is a criminal.

  10. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Paris Hilton

    Oofs of Office.

    > Now as all the evidence has been locked away under a permanent

    > classification seal by Darth or has been fed into the furnace via a

    > paper shredder getting a Federal Court to convict these

    > questionable flotsam on hearsay would be well nigh implausible

    > to say the least !

    It has been mooted one of those mid morning BBC 2 Finance/Political shows that the recession in the USA is likely to cost a trillion dollars or the annual income/GNP/whatever of the country.

    But we are going to get plonked deep and dirty too as we import ex cold war country labour (never mind why) without preventing their taking their money back with them.

    Couple that with the junk bonds the British banks bought from the US and we have a bigger pit to wallow in than we had in the 1930's.

    At least we kept the natives quiet in our day. And if there was any trouble we only had to bomb their women. children, tents and flocks with hand grenades thrown out of biplanes.

    This bloody monkey and his ex sock puppet didn't have a bloody clue.

    Fortunately, we live in the age of "the internets", so I doubt these secrets will remain secrets once the people who made illicit copies see their time has come.

    When you are a chimpanzee you can fool yourself cant fool again shame on me.


    We have a penguin, a vulture and a Paris Hilton along with various incarnations of BillanSteve, how about a chimp of office? Or would that be too much like Paris Hilton? Something along the lines of: perhaps?


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    What is the def for "retroactive"?

    The most likely reason for Bush to be in such adamant pursuit of/for a "retroactive" pardon is because the telecomms are very likely STILL busily tapping and recording petabytes of personal communications for use in future terrorist witch hunts. I rather imagine that this very comment...being posted via a west coast USA net access point...will be tapped and recorded by one of the "secret" AT&T optical taprooms in California.

    In other words, now that the telecomms have been caught in the act of illegal wiretapping, and now that the claims of "protecting the public" have fallen short of excusing long-term unconstitutional activity, and now that the risks of "state secret" vulnerability have been accommodated, our fearless leader is attempting to have fifteen plus years of criminal activity excused on the grounds that, "We had the best interests of the country at heart."

    BTW - Have I misunderstood the dates, here? If illegal wiretapping has been in effect for more than eight years, doesn't this debacle pre-date the ascension of George W to the throne of Middle North America?

    - The Garret

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How long..?

    Illegal wiretapping has been in effect for... well, someone help me with the date...

    What year was the telephone invented?

    -- Smoov

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Look! Over there! A shiny immunity problem!

    Maybe the main point is not "immunity"? Let's tune in to Ron Paul:

    "The assurances in this bill that Americans will not have their communications monitored without warrant are unconvincing. The bill merely states that the government should do its best to avoid monitoring Americans if possible. We have seen how meaningless such qualified prohibitions have been as we recount the abuses over the past several years.

    Just today, we read in the news that the federal government has massively abused its ability to monitor us by improperly targeting Americans through the use of “national security letters.” Apparently some 60 percent of the more than 50,000 national security letters targeted Americans, rather than foreign terrorists, for surveillance."

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Examples please....

    8 years of so called 'unconstitutional' wiretapping? Which portion of the constitution is being violated? Reference please.

    Please be so kind as to indicate how monitoring communications that cross international borders is any different from the right of customs authorities to open and examine parcels and letters at border crossings.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    "Bush the first president to not only ignore the US constitution but even the Magna Carta as well."

    Wrong. Lincoln imposed and collected an income tax, which was constitutionally prohibited until after 1900, but only found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court about 1890. Lincoln also suspended habeas corpus without approval by Congress, again in violation of the Constitution, and effectively put Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Taney under house arrest when he ruled that Lincoln had acted unconstitutionally. There's more.

  16. dotfnord

    To an apologist

    @ some anonymous coward, who wrote:

    >8 years of so called 'unconstitutional' wiretapping?

    >Which portion of the constitution is being violated? Reference please.

    Much as Wikipedia has a well deserved bad reputation around here, just go there and read the US bill of rights, the first ten amendments to the constitution:

    Or read Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. US Supreme Court Justice for 30 years who opined that the right most prized by modern man is the right to be left alone.

    >Please be so kind as to indicate how monitoring communications that cross

    >international borders is any different from the right of customs authorities to

    >open and examine parcels and letters at border crossings.

    OK, so I'm in Seattle and I send you an email to Palo Alto, does it cross an international border? Entirely possible, even with a thick direct pipe. That's all BS anyway, the NSA has been pulling domestic communications out of the air for more than 30 years based on the sophistry that because it's in the air it isn't on the ground within US borders and is therefore free to monitor.

    Thank ghod I'm not in Seattle, I'm Canadian, eh, and you're probably closer to Washington, DC.

  17. Brian Miller

    @Examples please

    It is not the act of wiretapping that is unconstitutional, It is the attempt to pass the law which gives retroactive immunity which breaches the constitution.

    If it were allowed to do so then presidents could simply change the laws after they break them. For example this could lead to someone of the wrong persuasion to attempt to install a dictatorship simply by making it legal to do so. This would undoubtedly break several other terms in the constitution, but hey, once you ignore the constitution once, whats stopping the government ignoring the rest of it.

    The thing I find ridiculous is the laziness that this represents. The president (or at least the governors of states) ALREADY have a right to grant PARDONS to anyone they want, it just has to be done on an individual basis. This implies that instead of going through the correct channels of looking after those that broke the laws to help the government, they would rather cut corners and break constitutional laws.

    A very bad precedent for a very bad President.

  18. Jamie

    Why bother???

    The land of the free.

    There is no point in fighting terrorism if in doing so the gov't is going to take away the rights and freedoms that they are suppose to be defending.

    What did all those Allied men an women die for fighting in previous wars if the gov't will take it away now in the name of freedom?

    For evil to win the righteous only need do nothing. But what is the point of fighting if the righteous is going to bring about a society that is based on a lot of the ideals of the "terrorist". Who truely is the evil one here?

    Long live Guy Fawkes.

    Too bad he never succeeded.

  19. ian

    Please do not stampede the sheeple

    Where are the sheeple that snickered at jokes whose punch line was "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you"? It seems all Duhbya need say is "Be afraid, be very afraid!" and they stampede. Duhbya will have sheeple dogs to herd them about soon enough if he gets his way.

    I say to them, "Baa-aa-aa". Translation: you deserve it.

    The flames of the burning constitution.

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