Today, the House of Representatives–following a “bipartisan compromise” engineered by House Democrats–pass a new surveillance bill that legalizes President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program and protects corporations such as AT&T from lawsuits. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement saying that the only “compromise” contained in the bill is “of our constitutional rights.” Similarly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a statement saying:
“The bill was touted as a bipartisan ‘compromise’ on the issues of electronic surveillance and immunity. But in fact it requires dismissal of lawsuits against companies like AT&T that participated in the program as long as the companies received a piece of paper from the government indicating that the surveillance had been authorized by the president and was determined to be lawful.”
The vote comes less than a full day after Democrats–who control the House of Representatives–compromised on a controversial war funding bill. In both cases, the compromises resulted in the Bush administration achieving exactly what they wanted. This has been a characteristic of the Democratic majority in Congress since winning in 2006. It has repeatedly “compromised” on major issues from war funding to telecommunications immunity, resulting in the passage of legislation that undermines many of the positions that the party claims to take.