I was on Air America with Chris Dodd the other night and took the opportunity to ask him about the upcoming battle over the FISA bill:
JH: I find that people are really upset about the thought that the Republicans will introduce retroactive immunity for the telecos into the new FISA bill in the Senate. I think people feel that that’s just outrageous. And really want to know what kind of leadership is going to come through in the Senate to keep that out of there. And I don’t mean to put you on the spot Senator Dodd but people are really looking for somebody to commit to filibustering this to keep it out.
DODD: Well, may have to do that….Hope it doesn’t come to that.
We discovered the next day that it has come to that. According to the ACLU, the Senate bill does have language that allows telecom company criminals immunity for their crimes.
I just learned that the FISA bill cooked up by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s Senate Intelligence Committee does contain full retroactive amnesty for telecoms. Here is a list of all registered Verizon lobbyists, and here is a partial list of some of the lobbying firms working on behalf of AT&T. AT&T was the fifth largest contributor to Rockefeller’s last campaign, followed by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association in Sixth place, Bell South in Ninth Place, and Verizon was in the top 20.
It’s basically legalized bribery and influence peddling — they pour money into the campaign coffers of these Senators from both parties, pay former government officials such as Jamie Gorelick to help them, and then these Senators jump and pass laws providing that they will receive amnesty for serious felonies.
Somehow this completely craven act is going to be shoved down our throats as absolutely necessary so the terrorist boogeymen won’t eat the babies, with the help of an obliging punditocracy.
I certainly hope Senator Dodd means what he says, and that John Kerry — who has been blogging over at savetheinternet.com — joins him.