Friday, March 14, 2008

Telecom immunity is bad for everyone

Except for the President, his cabal of insanely wealthy insiders, and a few ginormous corporations.

They LOVE the idea of retroactive immunity.

(Note: Update on today's vote at the end of this post)

The House is currently debating HR 3773, which is similar to the Senate FISA extension bill which was passed overwhelmingly recently (due in large part to Harry Reid's abdication of his responsibilities to the Constitution), except for the exclusion of retroactive immunity protection for the telecommunications companies. Other than that, the House bill extends the necessary laws to protect our nation from international terrorists.

But President Bush's head nearly exploded at the possibility that his beloved telecom companies may be called into court to explain why they may have violated the rights of American citizens. He considers any questioning of his authority to be a direct personal attack, and with the stubbornness we've come expect from him, he refuses to compromise even one little bit.

He would rather see terrorists attack our nation again than jeopardize the profits of some of his biggest corporate donors. He promises a veto of ANY bill that protects America which doesn't include retroactive immunity.

The whole question of immunity is distinctly unfair to the American people. Immunity is something that's usually used in criminal trials to encourage someone who is clearly guilty of a crime to testify against someone else. The presumption of guilt and the threat of punishment is usually the incentive to get their testimony. Too often we see a clearly guilty party get a pass in order for prosecutors to build a case against a bigger target.

This is the way it's done in the criminal justice system.

Most of the time, we the people are left feeling that justice wasn't fully served, but we're willing to accept the compromise to get the "big fish" convicted.

In the case of the telecoms, President Bush and the endless parade of Republicans appearing on the floor of the House are lying about this bill. We will get an extension of the bill passed today that President Bush can sign and keep us protected. Except for his refusal to let the courts decide if the telecoms broke the law, we'd have the FISA extension in place.

And the threat that the telecoms won't cooperate with a government order to legally monitor communications is ludicrous. The government has full power to order the telecoms to cooperate, and the tools necessary to ensure they do so. Such as FCC regulations and licensing that can be immediately suspended if they don't cooperate.

Let's see how well AT&T works without the ability to communicate within the USA. They'll help us. With pleasure.

I don't know how the Democratic Congressmen can listen to the full litany of Republican falsehoods being played out in front of them without jumping up and screaming "Lies! You're all LIARS!"

I'm yelling so much at my TV (C-Span is covering the House debate) that I'm getting hoarse.

Yes, I know they can't hear me. But it makes me feel better.

UPDATE: The House passed H.R. 3773 by a vote of 213-197. This bill includes some legal wrangling that allows telecoms to have an easier time of defending themselves, but stops well short of providing legal immunity. This is a small victory in the ongoing battle to regain our rights, because now the Senate and House are going on vacation for two weeks, and when they return the bill will have to go over to the Senate to be considered.

Every time a FISA bill passes both Houses and is vetoed by the Bush, it makes him and the Republicans look bad. That can only help the Democrats in November.

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