As Congress gets ready to vote on a new version of the FISA bill -- addressing the crucial question of whether it should pass immunity for telecom lawbreakers that participated in the NSA's illegal spying program -- the New York Times Editorial Board has weighed in. They describe the so-called "compromise" as anything but:
The bill is not a compromise. The final details are being worked out, but all indications are that many of its provisions are both unnecessary and a threat to the Bill of Rights. The White House and the Congressional Republicans who support the bill have two real aims. They want to undermine the power of the courts to review the legality of domestic spying programs. And they want to give a legal shield to the telecommunications companies that broke the law by helping Mr. Bush carry out his warrantless wiretapping operation.
There's no way around it, even the nation's top paper is facing the facts: The FISA bill before Congress will give the gift of immunity to telecom lawbreakers who willingly participated in the NSA's massive and illegal spying operation.
The Times editorial notes that the Democratic nominee could make a difference -- assuming he were willing to stand up and take the lead on this issue:
Senator Barack Obama opposes immunity and voted against the temporary expansion of FISA. We hope he will show strong leadership this time. He might even take time off from the campaign to vote against the disturbing deal brewing in the back rooms of Congress.
CNN Money quoted EFF's Kevin Bankston on this same point:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Bankston applauded Obama for his opposition to immunity for the phone companies, and he said he would "call upon him to be as vocal as possible on immunity in the coming days."
But if we wait for politicians to lead the way, we may wait a long time. Take action now! Tell Congress to reject the bogus "compromise" -- no immunity for telecom lawbreakers!