Friday, June 27, 2008

Both Obama & McCain Support Telecom Amnesty Bill & Increased Domestic Spying

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are supporting legislation to shield telcos from showing up in court to explain their illegal activities on behalf of the growing domestic spy business.

At the same time, neither candidate is protecting innocent Americans from FISA rush backwards to 1984.

According to CBS News, "Retroactive immunity could squash about 40 lawsuits pending against telecommunication companies that helped the government monitor the telecommunications traffic of Americans without warrants. The telecom industry has lobbied hard to insure that the provision is included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act update Congress is currently considering."

From Wired:

"Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama supports the spy bill compromise passed by the House Friday, despite having opposed retroactive amnesty to telecoms that helped with the President's secret, warrantless wiretapping.

The measure expands the government's ability to install blanket wiretaps inside domestic communication infrastructure and frees the nation's phone and internet companies from lawsuits accusing them of massive violations of their customers' privacy. The Senate is expected to take up and pass the Bush-approved bill next week. The bill is widely perceived as a victory for the White House, and was agreed to by Democrats out of a fear of being labeled soft on terrorism in the upcoming elections."

Obama is in good company. According to data from, over in the House of Representatives, 94 Democrats switched their votes to pass the bill. Those who switched were richly rewarded with money from the the telEcom companies.

Media General News Service offered this perspective: AT&T, Sprint and Verizon PACs have contributed about $3.5 million to House campaigns since 2005, according to MAPLight.

The companies spent about $10.8 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2008, according to lobbying disclosure records. Disclosure rules do not require lobbyists to break down their expenditures by issue.

MAPLight executive director Daniel Newman said money from interest groups is undemocratic.

"If you're Joan Citizen and you're concerned the government has eavesdropped on your phone calls, who is going to get the meeting - you or telecom?" Newman said. "It's access."

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Computer and Communications Industry Association - opponents of telecom immunity -- spent about $1.2 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2008, according to disclosure records.

The ACLU spent $11,675 on campaign contributions to 11 members between January 2005 and March 2008, according to a MAPLight analysis.

ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson charged that the telecom contributions did influence members' votes.

"They're making cold political decisions here, not principled ones," Richardson said.

If Obama's idea of change is changing his mind from protecting citizens to protecting illegal spying, then I think he's trying to sell us more of the same old DemoRepubliCrat BS.

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