Friday, November 16, 2007

Dancing around telecom immunity

By Libby

Reading the headlines, one might think there is a reason to celebrate. Both houses have moved measures forward on FISA that don't include retroactive immunity for the telecoms. But as far as I can see, my last post still stands. This is just the bouquet of flowers a wayward husband offers as an apology for cheating on you. I'm a long way from believing in a real behavioral turnaround. The suggested 'compromises' aren't convincing me.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the panel, is pushing a plan that would substitute the federal government as the defendant in the lawsuits against the telecommunications companies. That would mean that the government, not the companies, would pay damages in successful lawsuits.
In the first place, making the government the defendants would open the door to shutting down the lawsuits based on the ever popular 'state's secrets' defense and in the second, even if the suits survived that defense and the plaintiff's prevail, the taxpayer pays the penalty instead of the perps. And this observation does nothing to assuage my doubts that the end result will be anything more than another disappointment.

Mr. Whitehouse was one of two Democrats who voted against an amendment proposed by Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, that would have banned immunity for the companies. “I think there is a good solution somewhere in the middle,” Mr. Whitehouse said.

No there isn't Mr. Whitehouse. There is no middle ground here. Telecom immunity is just another word for covering up the telecom's complicity in the administration's malfeasance. They all broke the law and need to be held accountable just as any ordinary citizen would if they commit an illegal act. It's that simple.

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