I'm disappointed about this, but not terribly surprised.
The Senate, by a 69-28 vote, sent the House bill for the FISA overhaul to President Bush's desk, where he'll probably have to restrain himself from giggling uncontrollably while he signs it with his child-like scrawl.
The bill includes complete immunity for crimes that the giant telecommunications corporations MAY have committed in their mindless rush to serve our lord and master's every whim and desire, regardless of the letter of the law. We'll never know for sure what crimes they may have committed, the details of the widespread nature of the surveillance, or indeed, the actual chain of command the orders came down for them to spy on all of us.
Very few people, especially the uncritical media, seem to grasp why telecom immunity is a terribly bad thing.
Nobody really gives a crap about punishing the telecoms. What would have come out of any investigation would have been countless hours of testimony from telecom executives about the way they were illegally pressured into spying on Americans, and the extent of the spying. The testimony would have eventually been used to put members of the Bush administration on trail in the coming years.
That won't happen now, at least as far as any telecom angle goes. And regardless of what fixes to this flawed FISA act we'll see made next year when we'll have a Democratic President and a vigorous majority in Congress, once you give immunity you can't take it back.
It's a done deal. Bush and Friends managed to squeak through yet another in an endless series of close calls. They really are the Teflon Administration, apparently.
Sen. Barack Obama voted for the bill, despite his campaign promises to the opposite. Again, this troubles me somewhat, but doesn't surprise me very much. I've never considered Obama to be a true a progressive candidate, and I have a feeling we'll see his presidency resemble Bill Clinton's conservative-Democratic administration to a large extent. I know that right now within the lefty blogosphere there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth about Obama's vote, but I'm willing to accept the fact that NO candidate is going to please "all of the progressives, all of the time".
Of course, no matter what Obama does while in office, it won't come close to approaching the massive crap-storm that will rain down on our nation should John Sidney McCain somehow manage to slither on his mottled belly into the Oval Office.
I can come to terms with the fact that Obama needed to vote for the FISA bill even with that toxic immunity pill included, or else he'd give McCain more ammunition to claim that he's "soft on terrorism" or some such bullshit. Listen, it was a 69-28 vote. His vote was totally meaningless. I can see if it was 49-48 and his was the deciding vote and he voted that way; of COURSE we would be righteously pissed. But his vote turned out to be largely symbolic, and if it helps get him some more votes in important swing states, then so be it.
So, all you voters out there who are angry about this, try not to forget the importance of putting a Democrat, even a slightly imperfect one, into the White House this November. It's the only way we'll see ANY chance of the Constitution being put back in effect.