Years ago, President Bush asked the telecom companies to give him massive amounts of personal data from their databases. This request was incredibly invasive, yet many companies (notably AT&T) bent over backwards to accommodate him. Their actions were in fact illegal; no one argues this.
However, a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives these companies retroactive immunity from prosecution. This provision is about as un-American as it gets; forgiving a violation of our rights as private citizens all in the name of decreasing our freedoms without helping fight terrorism at all. It’s yet another in a long line of actions designed to make it look like this Administration is fighting terror, when in fact it’s almost entirely lip service.
This part of the FISA bill needs to be stripped out. The telecoms need to be held accountable for their actions, for one. For another, if passed, it will close the doors on investigations into why the White House did what it did, and what it has done with that information. I personally don’t trust this President at all, and would very much like to see what’s going on in there.
The House has already passed a version of FISA, and it’s up for vote in the Senate. If you agree with me, then please call your Senator now and ask that the retroactive immunity provision be removed from the bill! I just called mine (Salazar). FireDogLake has more info on whom to call, and the ACLU has info on what to say.
FYI, Obama wants to vote "yea" on the FISA bill, because it has many good provisions in it. However, because of the telecom provision, this can be a minefield for him. I’m guessing he would much rather vote on a bill that has immunity stripped out.