Which means taxpayers paid telecoms via their government to spy on them.
What happened to all the campaign rhetoric about protecting civil liberties, eh?
Update: I found this at Think Progress
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has consistently spoken out and voted against granting retroactive immunity for telecoms that participated with the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. This stance was part of the reason he won the support of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), a leader on civil liberties issues.And the ACLU on this "compromise"
One of Obama’s advisers on intelligence and foreign policy advisers, however, is someone who “strongly” supports telecomm immunity. John Brennan is a former CIA official and the current chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. In a new National Journal interview, Brennan makes it clear that he agrees with the Bush administration on the issue of immunity.
"No matter how often the opposition calls this bill a ‘compromise,’ it is not a meaningful compromise, except of our constitutional rights. The bill allows for mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all communications coming in to and out of the United States. The courts’ role is superficial at best, as the government can continue spying on our communications even after the FISA court has objected. Democratic leaders turned what should have been an easy FISA fix into the wholesale giveaway of our Fourth Amendment rights.Update II: I would suggest that if you're bothered by this, you contact Senator Obama's campaign and express your (if you feel like me) utter dissapointment at his running away from the premise of his own promised campaign. Hopefully, a deluge of complaints about him betraying his own campaign rhetoric might change his mind over the course of the next week.
"More than two years after the president’s domestic spying was revealed in the pages of the New York Times, Congress’ fury and shock has dissipated to an obedient whimper. After scrambling for years to cover their tracks, the phone companies and the administration are almost there. This immunity provision will effectively destroy Americans’ chance to have their deserved day in court and will kill any possibility of learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions. The House should be ashamed of itself. The fate of the Fourth Amendment is now in the Senate’s hands. We can only hope senators will show more courage than their colleagues in the House.
As I hinted at above, it seems like Obama is trying to have his cake and eat it too with his "I'll try to remove telecom but..." passive voice response. Glenn Greenwald explains this further in one of his updates
Nobody should be fooled by Obama's vow to work to remove telecom amnesty from this bill. Harry Reid is already acknowledging that this "effort" is likely to fail and is just pure political theater: Reid said: "Probably we can't take that out of the bill, but I'm going to try." The article continued: "Reid said the vote would allow those opposed to the liability protection to 'express their views.'"And let's take a look at the response of Obama again
We should continue to demand that amnesty is removed from the bill -- and fight it to the bitter end -- but this whole separate vote they'll have in the Senate on whether to remove amnesty is principally designed to enable Obama, once he votes to enact this bill, to say: "Well, I tried to get immunity out, and when I couldn't, I decided to support the compromise." It's almost certainly the case that Hoyer secured Obama's support for the bill before unveiling it.
Either way, Obama -- if amnesty isn't removed -- is going to vote for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, and his statement today all but sealed the fate of this bill. There is no point in sugarcoating that, though we ought to continue to fight its enactment with a focus on removing amnesty in the Senate. Greg Sargent makes several good points about Obama's statement.
It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -– and the liberty –- of the American people.In other words: trust me with these powers, I'll use them responsibly. No. No, I will not trust you, Senator Obama. I trust no one with such powers. I trust the law. The (D) after your name is not some kind of magic charm that means you or your administration is to be trusted with the Ring of Gyges.
As Thomas Jefferson put it:
[F]ree government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power: that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go ... In questions of powers, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.And as John Adams said
There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.And choosing this key issue to do what Democrats love to do - cave on the issue - so that you can try to say you're for civil liberty while also saying you're "strong" on national security (i.e. voted with Republicans to erode civil liberties) doesn't do a lot in the way of earning my trust, anyways.
It is with actions like these that the tide inches closer in, with each approach taking back a little bit more of our liberty as it dissappears like a castle made of sand.
Update III: I noticed this comment/reply comment at Balkinization
At what point do you think that the Republicans in Congress are going to wake up in a cold sweat about the vast surveillance powers they've just handed to a liberal black Democratic president?Spot on, I say. And this is going to stress our constitutional order. When a Republican is president, movement conservatives are comfortable granting him virtually unlimited powers to do what he says need be done in the name of national security. When a Democrat becomes president they then panic that they are living under totalitarian tyrrany irrespective of whether or not they actually are (case in point).
January 21, 2009.
Heads or tails, it won't really matter. It wil be either Democrats are not protecting us from terrorists and we're going to die (John Bolton already expressed this view) or Democrats are not protecting us from terrorists and they're Liberal Fascists (Jonah Goldberg, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, et al.)