EDIT: This Diary has been updated in response to new information from Daily Kos commenters. Thanks for the correction, everybody.
Seventy-six senators -- more than enough to break a filibuster -- voted to bring the telecomm immunity bill up for debate.
George W. Bush's demand for immunity for telephone companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program won an initial victory on Monday in the U.S. Senate.
On a vote of 76-10, far more than the 60 needed, the Democratic-led Senate cleared a procedural hurdle and began considering a bill to increase congressional and judicial oversight of electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists.
It includes a provision to grant retroactive immunity to any telecommunications company that took part in Bush's spying program -- surveillance without court warrants of e-mails and telephone calls of people in the United States -- begun shortly after the September 11 attacks.
Why do the telecommunications companies and Bush want immunity?
Nearly 40 lawsuits have been filed accusing AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel Corp. of violating U.S. privacy rights.
And there you have it. Bush broke the law by illegally spying on Americans, with the help of telecomm giants, and because they fear actually being prosecuted they're ramming retroactive immunity down our throats. Fuck the Constitution, sys the shrub! We need to protect our own law-breakin' asses!
Senator Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, interrupted his long-shot presidential campaign to return to Washington to help lead the charge against immunity. "For the last six years, our largest telecommunication companies have been spying on their own American customers," Dodd said.
Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Capitulator, has apparently decided to bring the bill up for debate in January, knowing that fellow senator and presidential candidate Chris Dodd will likely be too busy campaigning in the early caucus and primary states to mount a filibuster. In this fashion, Reid avoids the embarrassment of having to kill a filibuster from his own party. Reid could have brought up the Senate Judiciary Committee's bill, which does not grant immunity. Instead, he chose to bring up the one that does, knowing full well that attempts to amend out immunity will fail. When is Reid up for re-election? Can't we primary the motherfucker?
CBS News has an article that goes into more detail on what's going on with this.