Senate Passes "Eye of Sauron" Act
What a remarkable display of political expediency. In a 69 to 28 vote, the U.S. Senate approved The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a sweeping new surveillance law that will effectively grant immunity to telecom companies for cooperating with the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in the years after Sept. 11, 2001 (All in favor of a blatant assault on civil liberties say “aye!”). FISA’s passage is a major legislative victory for the current administration and for telecoms like AT&T (T) and Sprint Nextel (S) who will soon see the dismissal of some 40 lawsuits pending against them.
And as for the “those-who-would-sacrifice-liberty-for-security- deserve-neither” crowd? Well, perhaps they can find some solace in this comment from Senator Christopher S. Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee: “There’s nothing to fear in this bill, unless you have Al Qaeda on your speed dial.”
All depends on who you ask, I guess, because the Electronic Frontier Foundation says there’s actually quite a bit to fear no matter who you have on speed dial.
“It is an immeasurable tragedy that just after its return from the Fourth of July holiday, the Senate has chosen to pass a bill that betrays the spirit of 1776 by radically expanding the president’s spying powers and granting immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal surveillance program,” said Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “This so-called compromise bill represents a shameful capitulation to the overreaching demands of an imperial president. As Senator Leahy put it in yesterday’s debate, the retroactive immunity provision of the bill upends the scales of justice and makes Congress and the courts handmaidens to the White House’s coverup of its illegal surveillance program.”