From voting down the three amendments intended to amelioriate some of the worst aspects of FISA Amendments Bill, it was a short trip to approving the initial legislation itself in all its horrible glory. Bush, as expected, is chortling with delight and itching to sign this little gift which the Democratic congress has given him, the least popular Republican President in history, while Cock-a-Doodle Bond was also on the radio crowing about the victory that he and his pals helped engineer:
The bill will keep us safe and protect our liberties,” said U.S. Sen. Christopher Bond, a Missouri Republican and a lead sponsor of the bipartisan compromise measure.
God save me! This guy really thinks we are stupid.
The final vote was 69-28 with Barack Obama joining the Republicans to vote for the legislation–which Hillary Clinton, incidentally, voted against. Buyers remorse anyone? I read today that McBush, who abstained from voting, is already planning to use Obama’s flip-flop against him.
A full account of the ins and outs of the legislative process–and who voted how–can be found here.
Of special interest to readers here are the following votes by Claire McCaskill who, as expected, also voted for the final legislation:
The Dodd/Feingold/Leahy amendment to strip the provision immunizing the telecoms: McCaskill voted against. Obama voted for it.
The Specter amendment which required a court to determine the constitutionality of the NSA spying program and grant telecom immunity only upon a finding of constitutionality: McCaskill voted in favor of the amendment; Obama also voted for it.
The Bingaman amendment which required that the Senate waits until the IG audit of the NSA program is complete before immunizing the telecoms: McCaskill voted in favor of the amendment; Obama also voted for it
What will this legislation mean for all of us? As Andrew Tilghman put it on the TPM Muckracker:
… the nations largest telecom companies no longer have to worry about a batch of multi-million lawsuits filed by customers angered that the companies turned over their personal information to the government without a warrant.
It also means that if you are at home making an overseas phone call to a suspected terrorist, the government can monitor that call without a warrant.
And it’s not clear how intel agents define who is a suspected terrorist.
So … what do we do now? Lie down and play dead?
The first thing that I am going to do is write McCaskill and thank her for helping to lay the Constitution to rest–I will be enclosing a length of black ribbon twisted in the loop form that has been popularized by those advocating Aids funding (red), supporting the troops (yellow), Saorise (green), and so forth. I will also let her know that I won’t forget what she has done just in case she is counting on the length of time that will elapse before she has to face voters again. She should know that she can’t count on my support and that I will certainly help anyone brash enough to give her a primary race.
The second thing I am going to do is send a contribution to the ACLU which sent me a message this afternoon with this statement:
The FISA Amendments Act allows for mass, untargeted and warrantless surveillance of all communications coming into and out of the United States. And to top it off, it hands immunity to telecom companies for their role in domestic spying … .
It’s outrageous, unconstitutional and un-American. That’s why the ACLU is prepared to challenge this unconstitutional law the moment President Bush signs it — and you can rest assured they’ll be meeting our lawyers in court.
Help the ACLU protect your privacy. Donate now to the ACLU to defend your rights.
Another group of people working to hold the Democratic sell-outs responsible can be found here and would also welcome donations.
I will also let the Obama campaign know how much I have donated to these groups and make it clear that this is money that I would have otherwise given to his campaign.
Finally, I am going to look into getting rid of my AT&T home phone line–and letting them know why. There are alternatives; perhaps I will finally get a cell line from the Credo folks who barrage me with spam promising to be a progressive phone company. I will no longer send my monthly check to a company that is giving me so much more than I bargained for.
Are there any other ideas out there? please let us all know what you are going to do.