March 22, 2011
In October, 2007, candidate Barack Obama — in response to the Bush administration’s demand for a new FISA law — emphatically vowed that he would filibuster any such bill that contained retroactive amnesty for telecoms which participated in Bush’s illegal spying program. At the time, that vow was politically beneficial to Obama because he was seeking the Democratic nomination and wanted to show how resolute he was about standing up against Bush’s expansions of surveillance powers and in defense of the rule of law. But in a move that shocked many people at the time — though which turned out to be completely consistent with his character — Obama, once he had the nomination secured in July, 2008, turned around and did exactly that which he swore he would not do: he not only voted against the filibuster of the bill containing telecom amnesty, but also voted in favor of enactment of the underlying bill. That bill, known as the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, was then signed into law by George W. Bush at a giddy bipartisan signing ceremony in the Rose Garden, which — by immunizing telecoms and legalizing most of the Bush program — put a harmless, harmonious end to what had been the NSA scandal.