I was so revolted by the House's passage of the warrantless wiretapping/telecomm immunity bill--and the Democrats' craven acceptance of same--that I couldn't bring myself to write anything here for a couple days.
Things still look rather bleak, but at least Feingold and Dodd are going to try to mount a filibuster. We'll soon see if the Senate gets 60 votes for cloture.
Insofar as I can find anything "interesting" in this revolting, un-American piece of legislation, it is this: many of the bill's opponents, including the above-named two Senators and most of the bloggers who have rallied against the bill, have focused on the telecomm immunity provisions. I agree it's appalling to give fat-cat lobbyists a get-out-of-jail-free card for their lawbreaking clients. It weakens the whole principle that we are a government of laws, not men. It will make it difficult, if not impossible, to find out the truth of what this administration has done to our civil liberties over the last seven years. It weakens Congress as an institution: yeah, we made warrantless wiretapping illegal, but see we didn't really mean it before . . . .
Still, if I had to pick the worst aspect of the bill, I'd pick the seven-days provision, which allows the government to wiretap people for a week without even trying to obtain a FISA warrant. I don't recall anything about there being a seven-days exception to the Fourth Amendment. And I guess I am more worried about what the government may do in the future than what it has done in the past. For that matter, I have serious reservations about the FISA system as is. Secret courts run by anonymous judges that approve warrant requests 99.9% of the time are hardly much protection against a government bent on violating people's civil liberties--but it's marginally (very marginally) better than nothing.
Perhaps it's easier to whip up outrage over amnesty for phone companies; nobody likes them much anyway. Still, if I had to choose which is worst between telecomm immunity looking backward and warrantless eavesdropping looking forward, I'd opt for the latter.
Keep your fingers crossed on cloture, and keep your fingers busy dialing your Senators' offices.