The bill does not grant the telecommunication companies direct immunity, but it does contain a provision that allows a federal judge to dismiss the suits if the companies can present a letter from the government stating that the program was legal.
So, in court, the telecom needs to present this letter, from the government—from some individual in the government—that states that the program is legal. Letters each company had at the time they granted the wiretaps.
I think I might be able to live with that. It shifts the legal burden away from the corporation, onto the government agent that has assured the telecom that they're obeying the law. But it does not eliminate culpability altogether; someone's ass is still on the line.
It's not unreasonable to expect a company to believe the government when it tells them an action is legal, is it? It's certainly unfair to require them to retain lawyers to be ready to answer that question at a moment's notice at all times...
Hmm. My rage is subsiding. This may be okay.