The House, to its great credit, passed a FISA reform bill that doesn't eviscerate the rule of law by granting the telcos retroactive immunity, and doesn't completely gut the Fourth Amendment*. That's good news, and if we get lucky, the whole abomination might just get deep-sixed, at which point we would return to the status quo ante legally, while much strengthened politically. Read below the fold...
Slate magazine runs a podcast called Gabfest, featuring Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz. This week's episode also aired on the POTUS election channel on XM Radio.
At about 22:14 into the program, the discussion turns to FISA and telecom immunity. And the "point" was repeatedly made that the topic is unbearably dull, even to listeners of a quasi-alternative political show.
I couldn't always be sure which was John and which was David, so I'm supplying my best guesses. Read below the fold...
Fresh from subjecting the body politic to cruel and unusual punishment by inflicting pro-torture Judge Mukasey on us at Justice, DiFi wrestles the Constitution to the ground and gratuitously kicks the carcass by attempting to destroy the rule of law entirely.
Yes--and I know this will surprise you--DiFi's supporting retroactive immunity for the telcos.
[UPDATE: SJC puts off granting the telcos immunity, because the Republicans demanded more time to consider the 26 amendments. At least they didn't go with Spector's bogus Compromise, where the Federal government--that is, you and me as taxpayers--would have assumed the liability the telcos are on the hook for. Modified rapture.]
John Ashcroft was the United States attorney general from 2001 to 2005. He now heads a consulting firm that has telecommunications companies as clients.
Hey, I wonder if Ashcroft's firm funnelled any money to Rockefeller? That would be too, too funny, wouldn't it?
And now the nut graf from Crisco Johnny's at-this-point entirely predictable Op-Ed from the Times:
If the attorney general of the United States says that an intelligence-gathering operation has been determined to be lawful...
Note the very revealing use of the passive voice. Determined by whom? Some Federalist Society operative chained up in Cheney's dungeon under the Naval Observatory?
We know that Bush bypassed the "sole means" for determining legality, the FISA Court, until 2006, when Democrats got elected to Congress. So, when the telcos were briefed that Bush's program of warrantless surveillance was legal, did they ask "Who made the determination and why?" If they did, I want to know the answer, and so should Congress. If they did not, they were negligent, and should be held to account.
... a company should be able to rely on that determination.
Isn't it pretty to think so.
"Should," indeed, except in the unlikely event that the government has been taken over by a gang of criminals.
[Welcome, Crooks and Liars readers. Remember that the hearing is happening today, so let's be on the alert to see how--or, it's be optimistic, if--our Constitution is further shredded by Bush's monarchical pretensions.]
A federal intelligence court judge earlier this year secretly declared a key element of the Bush administration's wiretapping efforts illegal, according to a lawmaker and government sources, providing a previously unstated rationale for fevered efforts by congressional lawmakers this week to expand the president's spying powers.
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear (Mark 4:9).
Typically, "semantic" is contractor-ese for "deeply bogus shit dreamed up by Marketing," and the multibillion sale from the black budget is closed by contractors from Shirlington Limo, but with enough budget, smart, conscience-free people, and concern... Read below the fold...
President Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to urge Congress to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 so the law can better keep pace with the latest technology used by terrorists. [T]he Bush administration says its latest request is narrowly drawn and urgently needed to stymie terrorist threats.