Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« More Data for the Great Slog P... | Uh... »

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And While We Were Arguing About Dogs…

posted by on June 19 at 18:26 PM

Congress caved to the Bush administration and granted the telecoms retroactive immunity for helping the Bush administration spy on American citizens without a warrant—oh, and they also expanded the governments ability to spy on us in the future. From the NYT:

With some AT&T and other telecommunications companies now facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”

“The lawsuits will be dismissed,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican in the House, predicted with confidence.

The proposal—particularly the immunity provision—represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute. “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations.

Hm… I wonder if the Democrats in Congress will continue to give George W. Bush, whose approval ratings have hit new lows, everything he wants even after he’s no longer the president—you know, just out of reflex?

RSS icon Comments


Psssst...Dan. Yeah, you! Over here. Behind the that used needle, dammit!

Yeah, hey. How you doin'? Um, listen, I'm kind of nervous to meet you. Out in public, ya know. Heh heh. I mean, you're famous. And shit.

Anyway, I have some information for you. Lemme just look down the alley here, left and...

OK. So, here it is: the telecommunication companies own both parties.

Got it? You heard it? OK. So, cool. All right then, man, I'm gonna go. Love your column. Good luck.

See ya.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 19, 2008 6:38 PM

tell us the votes of BHO HRC JMcCan't McDermott etc.

They should be indicting and impeaching and instead the compliant congress is still giving in.

Where is our leader Obama is he just standing silent on this?

Posted by PC | June 19, 2008 6:48 PM

The Constitution IS a suicide pact. There are things not worth living through. Like a fucking police state.

Posted by Bob | June 19, 2008 7:01 PM

Ah, passing legislation based on anecdotal evidence that it will save us from the baddies. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Posted by umvue | June 19, 2008 7:08 PM

The only way this could possibly be shocking is if Sarah Connor and Sonya Blade were involved.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 19, 2008 7:09 PM

They haven't actually passed it yet...I think the vote is tomorrow. The progressive blog community is raising money to try and replace vulnerable "blue dog" Dems that hand this adm. and the telecoms everything they want:

Posted by LCM | June 19, 2008 7:15 PM

i really can't wait for russ feingold to become the president, i hope obama paves the way for that.

Posted by um | June 19, 2008 7:37 PM

Mr Cornballs (is that right? or is it just one ball he has?) hit the nail on the head. The American people have allowed their elected officials to become whores of corporate America because, well Americans WORK for corporate America. So is it any wonder the elected officials would save the fannies of the corporations for which the people work? No. See how easy that is.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | June 19, 2008 7:44 PM

What JTC said, pretty much. Bending over and giving the telecoms industry whatever its pretty little heart desires has been a bipartisan sport in this country since at least the "telecom reform" bill back in the Clinton administration.

...and that's not even speculating about what kind of leverage against opposition lawmakers the executive might have been able to collect with a massive program of warrantless wiretapping. Ahem.

Electing Obama is a necessary step to rolling back some of this nonsense, but it's not even a fractional percentage of sufficient. Give your money to ActBlue, starve the DNCC of donations, and most of all remember the names of the fuckers who tried to sell us down the river. Reid and Pelosi will continue to let this happen as long as they aren't afraid for their jobs.

Posted by Doctor Memory | June 19, 2008 8:09 PM

Guys, the terrorists hate our freedom-- this is all a part of a larger strategy to make us safer by eliminating said threatening freedom.

Posted by christopher hong | June 19, 2008 8:10 PM

But we have to elect Democrats because the alternative it just is..believe has to be...because the democrats tell me there is no other choice and i will do whatever they tell me even though I keep pointing out ways there there is no difference...

there has to be a difference...if that doesn't work then talk about the Supreme Court.

Yeah! Thats it!! We need to elect democrats to protect the supreme court..because they might not be trustworthy on anything else, but they wouldnt do something shady to the court would they?

OH no...we have to vote democrat we have to....duhhhhhhhhhhhhh....drooooolllll....

Posted by patrick | June 19, 2008 8:21 PM

@9 Dr Memory:

Did you see where Obama has taped an ad for one of the worst blue dogs--Barrow(GA) who is being challenged from the left in a primary..and Barrow didn't even endorse him for President until after he won the GA primary.

I do support Obama and share your hope that electing him will be a first step...but I think we've got to send a loud, loud message to the Dems--see also

(good name for readers here, don't ya think?)

C.Hong @10 --made me grin

Posted by LCM | June 19, 2008 8:31 PM

The expansion of government power in this bill is real and troubling. But the press seems not to have made clear that the telecom immunity aspect was never anything more than political theater.

It's not their job to protect our rights, and any case predicated on an false assumption was never going anywhere in a real court of law. The telecoms had the right to ask for warrents if they felt like it, but it was never incumbent upon them to do so. The government asked them to do something and they did, and for anything short of Nueremberg-level crimes, that is defense enough.

So by all means be unhappy at the very real expansion of government power. And by all means be unhappy that your party has lost this game of political theater. But don't confuse yourself into thinking that, absent this law, any telecom was ever going to get punished for cooperating with the government.

Posted by David Wright | June 19, 2008 8:36 PM

Hey patrick, be sure and let us know if/when acting like an obnoxious little shit wins anybody over to your point.

Posted by You've got a little something on your chin there | June 19, 2008 8:38 PM

@13 -D.Wright

Yes, the erosion of privacy rights is the greater issue; however --my objection to the telecomm immunity is NOT that they won't be punished {I agree that material punishment was never going to fall on a corporation doing what legitimate govt.reps. requested} but the immunity will remove 'standing' for a-n-y investigation of or accountability from this administration.

Posted by LCM | June 19, 2008 9:02 PM

My god, what a bunch of turkeys. Did you catch this bit?

Perhaps the most important concession that Democratic leaders claimed in the proposal was a reaffirmation that the intelligence protocols are the “exclusive” means for the executive branch to conduct wiretapping operations in terrorism and espionage cases. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had insisted on that element, and Democratic staff members asserted that the language would prevent Mr. Bush, or any future president, from circumventing the law. The proposal asserts that “that the law is the exclusive authority and not the whim of the president of the United States,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Oh, well done! Thing is, now that he's been handed this legislation on a silver bloody platter, he doesn't need to bother circumventing it. They seem to have missed that point entirely.

Posted by wench | June 19, 2008 9:30 PM

People keep calling this a "deal", a deal implies a compromise, that the Democrats got something in return. What exactly did they get, what did the WH compromise on?

Posted by bob | June 19, 2008 9:56 PM

This country doesn't need punishment of the telecom industry, it needs healthcare and energy. This is not a winning issue for us with most normal voters, who do not care about these kinds of issues.
The congress can and should let this go until we have a real president who can set it right. Just 6 more months, be fucking patient.

Posted by calvin | June 19, 2008 10:01 PM

Patrick: nobody with a brain considers the Democratic party to be anything but a flawed, corrupt vessel. So fucking what? We can either put our energy into taking it over or we can try to build a new nationwide party of the left from scratch. There's plenty of actual historical precedent for each approach (Goldwater on the right versus every attempt at a third party since the civil war), and guess which one actually works more often?

LCM: Agreed on all points, really. Like I said, necessary but very far from sufficient. He may be the best that the party currently has to offer on the national level, but he's still from and of the party.

The last 8 years have piled up an epic mountain of shit in this country. It's going to take a good long time to shovel it all away.

Posted by Doctor Memory | June 19, 2008 10:31 PM

Calvin: the issue isn't whether this country needs "punishment of the telecom industry." The issue is whether this country needs a government that obeys the constitution's limits on search and seizure. Personally, I put that in front of both health care and "energy".

Posted by Doctor Memory | June 19, 2008 10:48 PM


Posted by Matthew | June 19, 2008 10:56 PM

How cynical.

I mean, it's not like they're going to make all of Bush's and Clinton's papers secret until they both die ... oh, wait, they will.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 20, 2008 12:01 AM



Posted by bubbles | June 20, 2008 1:02 AM

Apparently the big deal dems got was the further entrenchment of FISA, which, is funny. It would be like congress retroactively declaring war on Iraq just to make sure that the war powers act could be further entrenched.

Posted by bubbles | June 20, 2008 1:06 AM

Dan, this has not yet passed. So, for those who are inclined to do so, there is still time to contact your House Reps. Also, Dan, there are two bodies in Congress: the House & the Senate. I hate that folks refer to the House as Congress. I'm sure you all learned this in your civics classes.

Posted by Carry on | June 20, 2008 3:57 AM

Corporate destruction of our foundations. Some values. Ugh!

Posted by Vince | June 20, 2008 6:47 AM

November can not come soon enough in Missouri.

Posted by Joy | June 20, 2008 10:24 AM
Posted by Phil M | June 20, 2008 10:47 AM


Posted by skye | June 20, 2008 4:04 PM

Calvin @ 18:

Yep, I bet it doesn't poll well with normal voters. I bet many don't know about it at all.

I don't care. Majority rule can be a very bad standard for civil liberties. Lots of folks don't like illegaly obtained evidence being excluded, lots of folks right now don't like this sissy, newfangled "habeus corpus" that gives terrorists more rights than NAZIS!

And lots of folks just don't like civil liberties at all, 'cuz they're like, always being used by annoying dissidents and accused criminals.

David, you are correct, it's not the telecoms' jobs to protect our freedoms. It is, however, their responsibility to obey the law. Still, you've got to have sympathy for them, they are naive folks, and if they needed legal advice, just who could they turn to? I mean, other than all of the lawyers already on their payroll.

Posted by CP | June 20, 2008 4:51 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.