There goes the Fourth Amendment. Rather than appear "soft on terrorism," Senate Democrats once again caved in to the Bush Administration and passed a broad, warrantless domestic surveillance bill that "violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance."
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69 to 28 and soon will signed into law by President George W. Bush. This bill legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed by The New York Times, and, provides immunity for the telecom companies that helped the Administration listen on your cell phone calls and check your email. The program has been extensively discussed on Rod 2.0 such as here, here and here.
The FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance by allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The FISC will not be told any specifics about who will actually be wiretapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful role for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Via Politico is a view of the interesting party split on the vote : "Twenty Democrats, including Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the party's presumptive presidential nominee, supported the measure despite continued resistance from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Obama's former rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Democrats voting in favor of final passage of the FISA bill: Bayh - Carper - Casey - Conrad - Dorgan - Feinstein - Innuoye - Kohl - Landrieu - Lincoln - McCaskill - Mukulski - Nelson (Neb.) - Nelson (Fla.) - Obama - Pryor - Rockefeller - Salazar - Webb - Whitehouse.
Democrats voting against final passage of the FISA bill: Akaka - Biden - Bingaman - Boxer - Brown - Cantwell - Cardin - Clinton - Dodd - Dorgan - Durbin - Feingold - Harkin - Kerry - Leahy - Levin - Lautenberg - Murray - Reed - Reid - Sanders - Schumer - Stabenow - Tester - Wyden.
This is an excessive abuse of power by the Bush Adminstration that has been opposed by many progressives, legal scholars, gay rights organizations, environmentalists and the privacy and consumer lobbies. Clinton, Dodd and Obama campaigned against this bill and promised to
oppose its passage. Two kept their promise. Shame on anyone—especially a gay man or woman—who puts their candidate before the Constitution and tries to defend why it's good politics to take away privacy rights. It is not.