Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why Telecom Immunity is a bad thing

(Room 641A is an alleged intercept facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency, beginning in 2003.)

President Bush threw quite the hissy fit this week, when the House debated a FISA bill that didn't include telecom immunity. He stamped his little feet and wailed, "I am prepared to delay my departure and stay in Washington with them if it will help..."

Bush apparently thinks we're a nation of dummies, and says it'll be Congress's fault if FISA expires and the terrorists win. The MSM has finally gotten on board and is pointing out that Bush is refusing to sign any bill that doesn't include immunity.

Fortunately, Congress responded by shelving discussion for the week or so February recess, allowing Bush to go to Africa and spread his rare form of hypocrisy there. I'm sure various leaders there are dancing with joy at the prospect of being lied to by Bush in person.

Why is Bush so adamant about immunity from any potential criminal or civil charges against the giant telecommunications corporations that may have illegally spied on Americans? Is protecting these ginormous entities more important than the Constitutional rights of our nation's citizens?

Well, according to Bush, of COURSE it is! The Constitution is simply a pesky obstacle that needs to be circumvented so Bush can do anything he wants.

Some people are saying, "Well, what's the big deal? I don't care about telecom immunity. I haven't done anything criminal, so why would I care if they spy on me? Only the guilty should be worried about that!"

They don't understand that once you give up your rights, it's very difficult to get them back. And also, it makes it much easier for the government to take away ADDITIONAL rights. Doesn't the phrase "slippery slope" hold any meaning to these people?

Suppose we allow the government to pass immunity. Right there we'll give away the right to sue the telecoms for illegal wiretapping. Not only that, but we'll also prevent any useful oversight of their actions.

Suppose in the course of their wiretapping/nettapping (yes, I just invented that word) someone at a telecom grabs your personal info and accesses your credit? You've given away the right to investigate them because of the immunity law. You'd have a much tougher time getting justice, because you gave away some of your rights.

Once you give up a certain amount of privacy, where can you stop them? How about your mail? Would you mind if the government opened and copied every single piece of mail that's delivered to your house? I mean, if you're not guilty, why would it bother you?

Terrorists might use the bathrooms on an airplane to prepare a weapon for use. Maybe they should put video cameras in the heads. Would you object to them watching you pee, just to keep everyone safe? How about strip searches before getting on a plane? We already take off our shoes and remove our belts, jewelry, eyeglasses, etc. Why not take it to the logical conclusion and march everyone naked through the metal detectors?

Yes, these are extreme examples.

But really, did you ever think just ten years ago that Congress would be seriously considering laws that give the Executive Branch such widespread powers to suspend our rights and give giant corporations legal protection to do anything they want?
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"
- Ben Franklin

No comments: