For those of you at the dentist or stranded on a desert isle yesterday, Senator Dodd rode to the rescue when the Senate Intelligence Committee went completely spineless in the name of “bipartisanship”.
House Democratic efforts to overhaul the law are falling into disarray, after House Republicans used parliamentary maneuvers to force leaders to pull the Democrats’ FISA rewrite from the floor late Wednesday. Attempting to resolve a central point of contention, Senate Intelligence panel Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) reportedly reached a deal Wednesday with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to give full retroactive immunity to telephone companies if they can demonstrate they were cooperating lawfully with the secret wiretapping program when suits were levied against them.
Evidently the price of bipartisanship is full retroactive immunity for the telcos. Glenn Greenwald explained why.
Just read what Bush-41-appointed Federal Judge Vaughn Walker — operating out in the open, in an actual court of law, with both sides present and in accordance with due process — ruled when rejecting AT&T’s argument that they are entitled to have the case dismissed because they operated in “good faith” [Decision (.pdf) at p. 68]: [ed note: I could not get Glenn’s PDF excerpt to copy so I am handtyping it here]
“AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.”
Just think about what is really happening here. AT&T’s customers sued them for violating their privacy in violation of long-standing federal laws and for violating their Fourth Amendment rights. Even with the most expensive armies of lawyers possible, AT&T and other telecoms are losing in a court of law. The federal judge presiding over the case ruled against them — ruled that the law is so clear they could not possibly have believed that what they did was legal — and most observers, having heard the Oral Argument on appeal, predicted that they will lose in the Court of Appeals, too.
Since the army of excellent lawyers is losing (hey, you can’t make a silk purse outta pig’s ear I don’t care how good a lawyer you are), the telcos dispatched the army—the bipartisan army— of lobbyists, like our own Dem, Jamie Gorelick, who has evidently decided that the best way for the country to forget the intelligence failures caused as a result of her FISA wall memo, is to swing the pendulum too far the other way and just erase the 4th Amendment. But at least it’s bipartisan.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sits on both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels, signaled she was likely to support the bipartisan approach. “At this stage, it is a bipartisan bill,” Feinstein said. “I’m absolutely convinced that the only way we can legislate on this is on a bipartisan basis. This bill so far is bipartisan — that’s good news
Yes, I am screaming at such a high pitched keen, only dogs can hear me!!!!!
Anyway, Senator Dodd, evidently a man, a real man, with real courage and common sense, put a “hold” on this swill of a bill. It will take 60 votes to override his hold. Please dear Deity in heaven, please, just 41 senators with working brains and working spines, is that too much to ask?
Pups, please show Senator Dodd lots and lots of luv and, you know the drill, start letting your other legislators know that:
Retroactive Immunity (for anybody or anything that violates our Constitutional protections) is
“Off the Table”