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Obama, Surveillance, and Telecom Immunity

This week the Senate is scheduled to take up H.R. 6304, The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the latest iteration of controversial legislation to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill passed the House on June 20th.

One of the most interesting elements of the debate is the apparently contradictory positions presidential candidate Barack Obama has taken with respect to the bill, and on the key issue of whether there should be legal immunity for telecommunications firms that may have assisted with illegal surveillance.

Today, one of the largest groups on Obama’s own interactive Web site is called “Senator Obama – Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right.” As the Washington Post reports, Obama responded to his online critics late last week. However, he may have gotten himself in deeper trouble.

Salon contributing editor and prominent blogger Glenn Greenwald, for example, took after Obama’s new statement last week, pointing out various inaccuracies and reversals in the Senator’s statement.

The legislation itself is important and interesting. The overlay of presidential politics makes it all the more so. Here’s the current vote on the bill. Click to vote, comment, or edit the wiki:

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The picture accompanying the post was digitally altered.

Jim Harper

Thanks for pointing that out, Brad. I thought it was an amusing picture and didn’t give it much thought. Taken seriously, it could portray Senator Obama unfairly.

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