June 20 was a sad day for Democrats and liberals around the country — proof that Democratic control of the House and Senate means absolutely nothing. This was the day that the House approved passage of the amended FISA bill — the bill that virtually assures immunity to law-breaking telecommunications companies and grants the government new powers to spy upon its citizens.
Nancy Pelosi and others have tried to paint this legislation as a “compromise,” but all but one Republican voted for this bill, while more than half the Democrats voted against it. The New York Times called this legislation “a major victory for the White House,” and Republican Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri said, “I think the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get.”
Clearly this was no compromise. It was a capitulation to George W. Bush, the most unpopular president in history. And it was a capitulation to huge campaign donors like AT&T, Comcast, etc.
What is particularly saddening, but maybe not unexpected to some, Barack Obama, who was a vocal opponent of telecommunications amnesty during the primaries, didn’t take a stand on this issue when it mattered. As the current leader of his party, he could have stepped in, but instead chose to remain silent. Last October, Obama said he would “support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.” What changed? Will he be reneging on his primary promise to reinstate habeus corpus next? What happened to “change we can believe in”?