Thursday, January 17, 2008

FISA fight still on

By Libby

It appears earlier reports of the demise of telecom immunity were a bit optimistic. The latest news is that Reid will definitely bring this forward soon and it will be the version that contains the immunity amendment which will be more difficult to win against. Glenn Greenwald is not optimistic about our chances to prevail.

Indeed, as a general matter, betting on Democratic Congressional submission to Bush's demands is one of the surest bets there is. And with Reid and most of the Senate Democratic leadership specifically committed to delivering yet another victory for Bush and their telecom owners on the FISA bill, "uphill battle" is an understatement for describing the challenge which proponents of the rule of law face. As Froomkin put it on a separate, recent occasion in his column: "Historians looking back on the Bush presidency may well wonder if Congress actually existed."

Beyond that, immunity would be a complete evisceration of the rule of law, bizarrely protecting telecoms from the consequences of their lawbreaking and putting an end to any real hope for investigating and obtaining accountability for years of illegal spying on Americans by the Bush administration. When you put all of that together, telecom immunity embodies every form of lawlessness and corruption which are destroying our political culture -- everything that the Democratic presidential candidates endlessly claim in pretty speeches they are committed to fighting.
Proponents are already back to pushing the false meme that immunity is necessary to protect the ability of the administration to "spy on terrorists" and planting the frame that Democrats are enabling terrorism by blocking it. We're going to have to push back harder. Chris Dodd has his work cut out for him, and I hope everyone sent him a note of encouragement. He will pay a high price to stand up in this fight and he needs to know we have his back.