Telco immunity is a done deal, at least in the Senate. Though Senators reportedly considered alternatives to granting retroactive telco immunity from past warrantless surveillance--such as the concept of having the federal government stand in as a defendant--the Senate ultimately voted yesterday to include telco immunity in the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It was major victory for the Bush administration which had promised to play hardball and veto anything with immunity attached. But it's an even bigger victory for the telcos who would have faced at least 40 lawsuits without the immunity clause.
The full Congress will now debate the issue, and while the House of Representatives passed a bill without telco immunity, Congress watchers are saying it is likely the House will compromise with the Senate.
- see this story at The New York Times
- The telco immunity issue has lingered in legislative limbo for months