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Bought-and-paid-for Dems cave to Mr. 24%, destroy rule of law, grant telcos retroactive immunity for warrantless surveillance

Harry, Nance, nice work on that leader thing. I'm proud of you. WaPo:

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government's domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.

Disclosure of the deal followed a decision by House Democratic leaders to pull a competing version of the measure from the floor because they lacked the votes to prevail over Republican opponents and GOP parliamentary maneuvers. [Shystee's Process Dodge]

Unbelievable? All too believable.

And please don't talk to me about the Bush Dogs and leadership in the same breath. I believed from the beginning that no legislation was better than bad legislation, and what the Dems should have done was reinforce their oversight powers with hearings. But n-o-o-o.

What a fucking travesty.

UPDATE Glenn writes:

Let's just describe very factually and dispassionately what has happened here. Congress -- led by Senators, such as Jay Rockefeller, who have received huge payments from the telecom industry, and by privatized intelligence pioneer Mike McConnell, former Chairman of the secretive intelligence industry association that has been demanding telecom amnesty -- is going to intervene directly in the pending lawsuits against AT&T and other telecoms and declare them the winners on the ground that they did nothing wrong. Because of their vast ties to the telecoms, neither Rockefeller nor McConnell could ever appropriately serve as an actual judge in those lawsuits.

Yet here they are, meeting and reviewing secret documents and deciding amongst themselves to end all pending lawsuits in favor of their benefactors -- AT&T, Verizon and others. Let me quote again from that 1998 Foreign Affairs essay by Thomas Carothers helpfully outlining the steps required to install the "rule of law" in third-world, pre-democracy countries:

Type three reforms aim at the deeper goal of increasing government's compliance with law. A key step is achieving genuine judicial independence. . . . But the most crucial changes lie elsewhere. Above all, government officials must refrain from interfering with judicial decision-making and accept the judiciary as an independent authority.

The question of whether the telecoms acted in "good faith" in allowing warrantless government spying on their customers is already pending before a court of law. In fact, that is one of the central issues in the current lawsuits -- one that AT&T has already lost in a federal court.

Yet that is the issue that Jay Rockefeller and Mike McConnell -- operating in secret -- are taking away from the courts by passing a law declaring the telecoms to have won.

I suppose net neutrality goes next, since the telcos want that, too.

UPDATE I called Dodd, who answered. Hillary and Barack, no surprise, threw me off into voice mail hell. Assholes.

UPDATE Here's Dodd's statement on Bush's vomit-inducing presser annoucement that he's reached "common ground" with the Democrat Party in gutting the Fourth Amendment:


While the President may think that it's right to offer immunity to those who break the law and violate the right to privacy of thousands of law-abiding Americans, I want to assure him it is not a value we have in common and I hope the same can be said of my fellow Democrats in the Senate.

"For too long we have failed to respect the rule of law and failed to protect our fundamental civil liberties. I will do what I can to see to it that no telecommunications giant that was complicit in this Administration's assault on the Constitution is given a get-out-of-jail-free card."

"What I can" would be what, however?

UPDATE That pussy, Rockefeller, seems to think he's made some kind of deal with McConnell. Lucy and the football time!

Second: McConnell has indicated his support to Congressional surveillance moves before, only to have Bush reverse him. Since the Senate bill apparently goes further than the Protect America Act in terms of telecom immunity, it's an open question whether the president thinks he can ultimately run the table on a full PAA-plus measure. McConnell's support may not be so ironclad if Bush thinks an even more administration-friendly measure can be introduced or added to the bill in a subsequent amendment.

Oh, pshaw. An "even more administration-friendly" amendment? That would never happen. Why, Harry and Nancy would prevent that, using their extremely magical powers of leadership!

UPDATE At Big Orange, Fran has more and Kos weighs in.

Gut check time for Dodd.

UPDATE Dodd delivers. Good for him. Of course, it's one step. But a good one.

No votes yet


chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

someone put this up. from the wapo piece on this today:

An adroit Republican parliamentary maneuver ultimately sank the bill. GOP leaders offered a motion that would have sent it back to the House intelligence and Judiciary committees with a requirement that they add language specifying that nothing in the measure would apply to surveilling the communications of bin Laden, al-Qaeda or other foreign terrorist organizations.

Approval of the motion would have restarted the legislative process, effectively killing the measure by delay. Democratic leaders scrambled to persuade their members to oppose it, but with Republicans accusing Democrats of being weak on terrorism, a "no" vote proved too hard to sell, and so the bill was pulled from the floor.

spineless. complicit. is there a difference? glenn nails the real reason for this, but i love the Kabuki the wapo is trying to sell us as "governance." sorry, kids. big money is here, and it's backing the "democratic" brand this time around. expect more of this, because the dems don't need us Little People anymore.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

And yet the reality of it is shocking nonetheless. It literally makes me queasy that this is happening. I have said for a while now that I am going to hold my nose and vote Democratic no matter what, even for Hillary, just to punish Republicans, no viable alternative, lesser of two evils, yada yada. Even supporting Democrats on such a cynical and desperate basis, I don't know what the fuck I was thinking. I don't think they are the lesser of two evils, all things considered. At least the goddam Republicans don't pretend to be other than the fucking authoritarian pukes they are. Hell, authoritarianism is what a vocal and influential group of their constituents WANT, so I can even understand on some level why they do it. Shit, I guess it is democracy at work, in some sense, even if the results they are working to get are anti-democratic. But the goddam Democrats??? Doing the wrong thing morally while also pissing all over the people who elected you? That's just precious.

Submitted by lambert on

Dodd's the only Presidential candidate who has made restoring Constitutional government a serious part of his platform. He should filibuster this monstrosity until it dies. As a Senator, he has the power.

What's more important than saving the Constitution?

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
448 Russell Building | Washington D.C., 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2823 | Fax: (202) 224-1083


You may also call politely Amos Hochstein, the Policy Director for the Dodd Campaign, at (202) 737-3633. (Via.) Basically, I said the country was dying for someone to take a stand, and I hoped that Dodd would do the right thing.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

Dodd can't start a filibuster without first weathering a vote on cloture...

Call Hillary and Barack anyway...leave a message...send an email from their websites, congressional ones...hit Rockefeller, too...and Finestein, she had to be in on this...the Dem Senators on the Intelligence Comm are the weak ones here, they always have been...Ben Nelson, too...

And start calling Harry Reid's office about using his control of scheduling to make sure there are hours and hours of debate scheduled...

Where the hell is Senator Byrd on all this, while they gut the 4th amendment?

I still think a majority of Dem Senators don't want to give amnesty, and understand that doing so ahead of fixing FISA in the limited way required, i.e., the House bill, more or less, throws away not only bargaining power but also political power in making their arguments.

Send in emails quoting the Judge from the case now pending, who made clear the ludicrous quality of the arguments being presented by the telecoms and by the administration lawyers also there on their side.

Why are we never sufficiently organized on our side of the blogisphere to do this before they've made the deals?

Submitted by lambert on

I did, but "the Senator was not yet taken a position on this issue."


We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

... for this country until public abandons both the Democrats and Republicans and starts electing honest people from among everyday joes like professors and scholars who are not part of any secret society.

Another simple way to figure out who to vote for should be to see what that person has done earlier, not what he/she says now (Since lying has become a second nature to these assholes).

The cannibals eating this country alive are pretty smart at what they do. They got us dancing like idiots around "our own" parties. But in doing so, they made sure we stick to these two parties.

Stop dancing to their tune and start picking honest hard working people that you know have done good and don't lie.