This enables electronic surveillance without approval being issued by a court (provided the government files required papers within a week) and provides retroactive immunity to telcos who have been breaking the old law at the behest of the Bush administration. According to Ellsberg this law breaking preceded 9/11 and has been revealed by leaks to the New York Times.
This represents an undermining or "gutting" of the Fourth Amendment of the American constitution which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures
(1) american democracy
(2) Obama, for his reversal of his previous committment to filibuster this bill
(3) it undermines credibility from the US efforts to help establish democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq
Daniel Ellsberg: You can't maintain a democracy while the State can spy on its citizens without independent approval from a judge (paraphrased)
update (11th July):
This article from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides more detail about the inadequate checks on wiretapping:
The FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance by allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The FISC will not be told any specifics about who will actually be wiretapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful role for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.reference:
The bill further trivializes court review by authorizing the government to continue a surveillance program even after the government’s general spying procedures are found insufficient or unconstitutional by the FISC. The government has the authority to wiretap through the entire appeals process, and then keep and use whatever information was gathered in the meantime.
Daniel Ellsberg on FISA (video). People of my generation remember Daniel Ellsberg for his role in leaking the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, which "demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by a succession of presidents, the violation of their oath and the violation of the oath of every one of their subordinates"
FISA Amendment Acts of 2008 (wikipedia)
Senate Joins House in Caving to White House Immunity Demands (eff site)
strangebedfellows: a unique and diverse left--right coalition which has come together to put a stop to the eradication of civil liberties in America
The FISA Protest and myBO Interesting detail here about the interactive features and dynamics of Obama's website