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Froomkin demolishes Bush's arguments on retroactivity for the telcos

[UPDATE Now we discover that, just as Corrente has been saying all along -- Lambert blushes modestly -- that the real target of the program is your email. See the latest. Then give Steny Hoyer a call.]

Go "read:

The telecoms can't possibly be worried about prospective immunity for following lawful orders -- that's already part of the agreed-upon legislation.

So are they actually telling the government: Unless you get us off the hook for billions in potential damages based on our past actions, we won't follow the law -- or we'll do so, but only kicking and screaming. That doesn't sound like a legitimate reason to help them out. In fact, it sounds like extortion.

Yes, and?

Or are they simply saying that without retroactive immunity, they'll feel a greater need to be absolutely sure that what they're doing is legal? If that's the case, that sounds like a good thing. Any company being asked to do something by the government that they have plausible reason to believe is illegal should push back. Otherwise, there are no checks and balances at work. We call that a police state.

Another possibility, I suppose, is that the telecoms are balking about doing things that we don't even know about -- and are worried that they could be sued once we find out.

Sounds like Dan needs a Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

And it looks like "our" Beltway Dems are lining up to cave on this one--so much for the idea that the rule of law applies to big corporations.

The shocking Feb. 14 House rebellion on the surveillance issue was actually just a delaying tactic. All the House did was defy a White House deadline. Now signs increasingly suggest that congressional Democrats intend to go belly up again -- as usual.

Jason DeParle writes in the New York Times: "The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee hinted Sunday that a battle over an expired eavesdropping law might be moving toward a conclusion that gave phone companies the retroactive legal protections long sought by President Bush.

"The chairman, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, said in an interview on CNN that the committee had been talking to the companies 'because if we're going to give them blanket immunity, we want to know and understand what it is we're giving immunity for.'

"Mr. Reyes did not specify what provisions a House bill might contain. But his use of the words 'blanket immunity' suggested that he might be moving toward a Senate bill, backed by Mr. Bush, that would protect phone companies that assisted in a federal program of wiretapping without warrants after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"'I have an open mind about that,' Mr. Reyes said."

Greg Miller wrote in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that House Democrats are considering a plan to set up two separate votes, splitting the immunity issue from the less controversial measures to give the government broad new eavesdropping authorities.

"Harry, Nancy: Nice work.

NOTE At some point, I really do need to make The Wall Of Hurl from YouTubes on that topic. It seems an appropriate response. I've called, I've sent money, I've written, I've lobbied numerous of our representatives in D.C. and in my home town, nobody outside the Beltway is in favor of this shit. We have done everything that we should do. What else can be done?

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shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

One thing you can do is to stop imagining any politician "cares" about what is important to you, deep inside their little hearts.

They are people with jobs. Some of the fanciest and most powerful jobs in the world.

In the choice between giving away your constitutional rights and pissing off a megacorporation, which represents the greater risk to their continued employment?

Batocchio's picture
Submitted by Batocchio on

Froomkin really is a must-read every weekday. One of the very best.

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