Not to make this a political blog, but I really couldn't let this one go without some sort of comment. Plus I thought the joke was funny and it took me a while to find a picture with GW giving two thumbs up, not one.
Yesterday the Senate passed an amendment to FISA, an act that essentially prevents the US Government from spying on American citizens without court orders. This is all part of the checks and balances thing we learned about in school.
There are a lot resources on the web for more info, so Google it to learn more details.
The long and short of it is that the Act was outdated and needed some revising. But in addition to revising, the US government slipped in a couple of pieces that gave retro-active immunity to the President and major telecom companies that helped spy on American citizens without court orders.
That's correct, the US government has been spying on Americans without a court order.
Shortly after 9/11 GW began giving authorization to the CIA, NSA, FBI, ETC. to spy on anyone they thought might be a terrorist. This is good, except that someone should have checked them to make sure they were really doing their job and had good cause to spy on the Americans.
That someone is normally a judge or a court. Apparently that process is annoying and GW decided to skip it completely. That more or less violates the 4th Amendment, but hey who really reads that thing anyways.
In order to spy on people, the government needed some help from Telco companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest. The list is bigger, but you get the idea.
So these companies were all presented with requests to allow the government to spy on people via phones, email and Internet. Most scratched their head, because hey such a request should have a court order attached. Where was the court order? Oh we don't need those anymore, we promise you it'll be OK, the President says so.
Most of the companies agreed and let it happen. One didn't (Qwest) and maintained that such action would be illegal and in violation of the Constitution. They were right, but that didn't stop the government from leaning on them. However, because the NSA didn't want it to get out that they were doing this, they couldn't really force them. So Qwest never did break the law, while everyone else happily complied.
So since 9/11 the government has been spying on American citizens without any checks or balances and in complete violation of FISA and the Constitution. They denied repeatedly that this was happening, while they were actually doing it and didn't come out and admit the truth until some true Americans started telling the truth.
This is bad. Really bad if people realized what was going on. So what happened yesterday? Well the senate passed an amendment and the President will sign it shortly that said, "all is forgiven".
Yep, the President has been violating our Constitutional rights and is about to sign a bill that says that it was all OK. In addition, he's going to save the asses of the telecom companies that went along with him and give them immunity as well.
It's utter and complete bullshit.
Well what kind of impact does this really have, you ask yourself. Well basically the FBI, NSA, CIA can monitor your phone, email and Internet usage anytime they want now. Later if they're asked by a court, they have to say they did it because they thought you were a terrorist, but that's all way after the fact.
Now the fun part. Who do we blame for passing this shit? Everyone. McCain supports it and Obama voted for it. Politicians at work protecting politicians and campaign money sources. Ugghhh. I love America, but damn I hate politicians.