Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More on Retroactive Immunity...

There seems to be a little confusion about who the old guy is in this week's cartoon... in retrospect, he does look a little like Rob Reiner. Actually, he's supposed to be the guilt-trip guy in the Christian Children's Fund commercials.

Article tidbits:
  • Glenn Greenwald sums it up perfectly (sorry about the length, but this whole thing has gotta be one of the top 5 objectionable things that our government has done the past few years):
    It's worth taking a step back and recalling that all of this is the result of the December, 2005 story by the New York Times which first reported that the Bush administration was illegally spying on Americans for many years without warrants of any kind. All sorts of "controversy" erupted from that story. Democrats everywhere expressed dramatic, unbridled outrage, vowing that this would not stand. James Risen and Eric Lichtblau were awarded Pulitzer Prizes for exposing this serious lawbreaking. All sorts of Committees were formed, papers written, speeches given, conferences convened, and editorials published to denounce this extreme abuse of presidential power. This was illegality and corruption at the highest level of government, on the grandest scale, and of the most transparent strain.

    What was the outcome of all of that sturm und drang? What were the consequences for the President for having broken the law so deliberately and transparently? Absolutely nothing. To the contrary, the Senate is about to enact a bill which has two simple purposes: (1) to render retroactively legal the President's illegal spying program by legalizing its crux: warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, and (2) to stifle forever the sole remaining avenue for finding out what the Government did and obtaining a judicial ruling as to its legality: namely, the lawsuits brought against the co-conspiring telecoms. In other words, the only steps taken by our political class upon exposure by the NYT of this profound lawbreaking is to endorse it all and then suppress any and all efforts to investigate it and subject it to the rule of law...

    That's really the most extraordinary aspect of all of this, if one really thinks about it.

  • Meanwhile, Bush tries to get us to shit ourselves with fear:
    Bush renewed his demand today for Congress to complete action on the measure promptly. "Our intelligence professionals must be able to find out who the terrorists are talking to,'' he said at the White House. "Their goal is to bring destruction to our shores that would make Sept. 11 pale by comparison.''

    As does Ted Poe, after the House refused to vote on the Senate bill:
    “I think there is probably joy throughout the terrorist cells throughout the world that the United States Congress did not do its duty today,” said Representative Ted Poe, Republican of Texas.

    Dana Perino helps the House get some perspective:
    "The ‘people’s House’ should reflect the priorities of the American people, not the fantasies of left-wing bloggers."

    And, Lamar Smith reminds us who the real good guys are:
    Exposing the phone companies to lawsuits would be unfair, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said. "Is that any way to treat a friend? No,'' he told reporters.

    They're YOUR friends, jackhole, not mine. They didn't donate a dime to my last campaign.

  • Matt Stoller on public opinion:
    Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters reject amnesty for phone companies that may have violated the law by selling customers' private information to the government, preferring to let courts decide the outcome...

    Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters oppose allowing courts to issue blanket warrants for wiretapping American citizens that would not have to name any specific individual...

  • But... the programs were only initiated after 9/11, and only involve calls going out of the country, right? Uh-huh...
    In a separate N.S.A. project, executives at a Denver phone carrier, Qwest, refused in early 2001 to give the agency access to their most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls, according to people aware of the request, which has not been previously reported. They say the arrangement could have permitted neighborhood-by-neighborhood surveillance of phone traffic without a court order, which alarmed them.

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