From pow wow in the comments:
Suzanne Spaulding, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 9/25/07 about the PAA and FISA, pointed out very clearly why granting this sort of immunity is a dreadful idea:
…On a related point, the Administration has indicated that it will be back in front of Congress seeking immunity for carriers and others who cooperated in the Terrorist Surveillance Program and, perhaps, other intelligence activities. It is hard to imagine a more powerful way to undermine respect for the rule of law and the critical role that communication providers play as the last line of defense against government abuse. Moreover, it’s not clear why this is needed. Under current law, communication providers already can avoid liability if they simply have a letter from the AG saying the government’s request is legal. If they did not even get that, what message do we send by giving them immunity for totally disregarding the law? Why wouldn’t the next telecommunications CEO decide to go ahead and ignore the legal requirements, figuring the government would bail the company out if it ever became public?
In an area such as this, where the normal safeguards of transparency are lacking, requiring communication providers to at least get a certification that the request to hand over customer information or allow communication intercepts is legal serves as an important potential deterrent to abusive behavior by the government. At a minimum, Congress needs to fully understand what past activities would be immunized before adopting such a wide-ranging provision….
Looseheadprop had a series of comments yesterday that are well worth a full read on the importance of upholding the Constitution and the rule of law when drafting the FISA provisions. See here, here, here, here and here for the comments. Great stuff from someone who has worked in the field — something we ought to see more of in terms of public discussion on this issue, I think.
And finally, some huge kudos to several of our Blue America candidates — Larry Kissell, Darcy Burner, Sam Bennett, Eric Massa, John Laesch, and Donna Edwards — who have been speaking up on the FISA issue and the importance of liberty as well as security. Thanks to Matt Stoller for pulling all of these statements together.
You can express your thanks to our candidates on our ActBlue page of Blue America if you have a little to spare — or by passing along some kudos in the comments as well. Also, do keep in mind our campaign for more and better Democrats through the Blue America PAC. It’s certainly getting some attention in the districts of the targeted DINOs.
…The groups — Blue America and BlogPAC — are targeting Marshall and four other House Democrats who voted against the bill that would have added $35 billion over five years to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known nationally as SCHIP and in Georgia as PeachCare for Kids….
A number of progressive blogs across the state are helping turn up the heat on Marshall to vote for the SCHIP funding, which would provide an addition 4 million more children with insurance nationwide.
Martin Matheny, of the Georgia Democratic Party, declined to comment on how the phone-in campaign against Marshall could play out in the 2008 election, but acknowledged that many state Democrats are unhappy with the three-term congressman.
More and better Democrats. Every little bit helps, gang and we really appreciate all of your support! And please, keep on making those calls and sending FAXes on FISA and SCHIP. Let’s get to work…
(Somehow, a little Ming the Merciless seemed appropriate today…)