Monday, June 16, 2008

Congress on Verge of Giving Telecoms Get Out of Jail Free Card

Thomas Ferraro of Reuters, reporting today:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House and congressional negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on an anti-terror spy bill that would permit court dismissal of potentially billions of dollars in lawsuits against phone companies, sources familiar with the talks said on Friday.

Under the possible accord, a federal court could immunize a company by ruling it had been given written assurances that its participation in the U.S. government's warrantless domestic spying program was legal and authorized by President George W. Bush, one source said.

For the rest of the article, go here.

When Bush was caught red-handed "persuading" the major telecoms such as AT&T, Bell South and ("Can you hear me now?") Verizon into engaging in massive, illegal, warrantless surveillance of Americans' phone calls and Internet activity beginning - get this - in February 2001, seven months before 9/11, he first lied about it and claimed that it was only a small number of international phone calls and that it involved known or suspected terrorists.

Then when more revelations came out, revealing his first cover story to be utterly false, he changed his tune and said that all of this surveillance was necessary in the war on terror and that FISA's rules couldn't be abided by against such an implacable enemy. Those rules, for those who don't know, included retroactive permission for government spies to do their surveillance. The FISA court meets in secret and provides a means for the government to carry out national security surveillance, but also provides a means by which the government, if it's engaging in surveillance of its political rivals (such as what Nixon got caught doing against the Democrats and against the anti-war movement and civil rights movement), will be curbed.

The whole notion propagated by people like Bush, Cheney and former A.G. "Torture Boy" Alberto Gonzalez that FISA interferes with their holy war on terror is, in other words, transparently ridiculous and obviously false.

Yet the mass media for the most part has been unable and/or unwilling to make this simple point clear.

This telecom amnesty bill gives the companies who went along with this felonious behavior - the one company that refused, QWest, was punished by the White House and its CEO has been prosecuted in revenge - a free pass for their knowingly violating the law. The cowards and the criminals get rewarded and the one company with courage to stand up for the law and against unconstitutional invasions of our privacy gets punished. This is the world under Bush and Cheney, the Congress and both major political parties.

This is how far things have come.

The felons in charge of our country get caught, they lie about it, then they get caught with their hands even deeper in the cookie jar than was previously known, and unable to lie anymore, scream "national security," and the people charged with supervising the executive branch, decide to make what was previously illegal, legal. "You want cookies from the cookie jar?" Congress says, "Here, have more cookies. In fact, we'll give you the cookie jar and the cookie company FOR FREE. Anytime who're feeling the need for cookies, feel free. In fact, here's my daughter. You're feeling horny, take her. Rape her all you like. You need a place to sleep? Take my bed. Take my wife. Beat her and rape her too, as you please. Take my house. Take anything you want. It is, after all, a free country. And we're living proof of that fact."

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