Perhaps The Senate Won't Roll Over On Telecom Immunity

from the could-it-be? dept

Maybe, just maybe, there are a few people in the Senate who actually won't just roll over and hand the President a "get out of jail free" card to give to telcos who carried out the almost certainly illegal "warrantless wiretapping" program. While last week reports suggested that the new "compromise" bill (which basically does grant immunity, as well as expand the warrantless wiretapping program) would breeze through both the House and the Senate, there may actually be a few politicians with a backbone fighting to stop it. It did cruise through the House relatively easily, but now Senators Dodd and Feingold have announced that they'll filibuster against immunity, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (who had earlier suggested he supported the faux "compromise") says he'll support the filibuster.

What's not clear is whether or not there will really be enough support to get rid of telecom immunity. Early on it seemed like there was plenty of support for the "compromise" from those who thought it was best to get past that and focus on "other battles" instead. Also, there's the issue of corruption campaign funding. Jim Harper points to an analysis of the correlation between telco immunity flip-floppers in the House and donations from telcos. Take a guess what the analysis shows. Yup, those who switched positions received nearly twice as much in contributions from the big telcos. Funny how that works. And, of course, rest assured that the same telcos donate plenty to Senate campaigns as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 5:13am

    Blatant Corruption

    They've gotten away with so much in the past that now they don't even care to try to hide it it seems.

    Truth be told, I wish Obama or McCain (I know McCain won't...) would support the filibuster.

    It NEEDS to be stopped otherwise America is dead.

     

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  2.  
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    some old guy, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 5:14am

    two party politics

    Two Party Politics has failed the people. The very concept is flawed, it cannot work, *something else* needs to replace it.

    Career Campaigners has also failed the people. You should either get elected for life (and have real processes to boot people that are no longer competent), or the initial term should be the only term allowed. Everything else is begging for corruption.

    Sorry, Mike, if I subverted your comments thread.

     

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  3.  
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    ttrygve, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 5:18am

    telco immunity

    I think this issue is hugely important, but I don't actually care if the telcos don't get punished for their involvement in this. It's patently obvious that they were merely the tools used to violate the law. All I want is to ensure their full cooperation with all investigations into the matter.

    We shouldn't be giving them immunity for *nothing*, we should be offering it in exchange for their cooperation.

    Screw punishing the tool, we need their help to go after the ones who wielded it.

    *That's* the compromise Democrats should be talking about.

    Otherwise we're just legitimizing the bypassing of the Constitution and countless other laws that happened.

     

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  4.  
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    ttrygve, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 5:22am

    Re: two party politics

    "elected for life"?! Do we really want to risk a mistake even half as bad as Bush becoming a permanent fixture? No thank you.

    The system is broken, I agree, but that doesn't seem like a solution (not that I have one to recommend).

     

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    some old guy, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 5:25am

    Re: Re: two party politics

    Do we really want to risk a mistake even half as bad as Bush becoming a permanent fixture? No thank you.

    No, and that's why I said there has to be real process to remove those no longer competent. This includes those no longer acting in their constituents best interests.

     

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  6.  
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    Matt (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 5:31am

    at least some are willing to make a stance

    I got this (obviously canned message) as a "correspondence" from my senator Dick Durbin, but this part here does sum up his stance on it:

    "I oppose retroactive immunity for these companies and supported an amendment to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (S. 2248) that would have prevented them from obtaining retroactive immunity. This amendment, however, was unsuccessful. After the amendment failed, I voted against the bill, but it passed by a vote of 68-29."

     

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  7.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 6:08am

    We need to

    show them that it doesn't matter how much campaign funds they have, and vote them all out.
    The bastards are selling us out (although its obviously not the first time).
    Must remove them from office.

     

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  8.  
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    jonnyq, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    politics

    Mike, as much as I like your stuff, I don't like it when you get into my darned politics.

    Doesn't the President already have "get out of jail free" cards, i.e. pardons?

    What if the government tells you to do something or else you're breaking the law, and then the government comes back later and tells you that you broke the law when you did what they told you to do? Wouldn't that feel just a wee bit unfair?

    What does it matter if the telcos get immunity for doing what they were told to do? (That is after all the condition of the immunity...)

    What does it matter? What good does it do to go after the telcos instead of going after the responsible government officials? Won't it be easier to get telcos to cooperate in an investigation if they have reasonable immunity?

     

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    Overcast, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 6:39am

    Two Party Politics has failed the people. The very concept is flawed, it cannot work, *something else* needs to replace it.

    It's really ONE party politics - they have just been good at making people think there are two - it suits their needs, for now.

    This is really about our rights - this whole 'domestic spying' BS is against the 4th amendment, plain and simple.

     

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  10.  
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    Duane, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 6:45am

    Re: politics

    The mistake you're making here is assuming that the government is a monolithic organization. It is not, and anybody that can afford a lobbyist knows that. Shame on them for acting with the political acumen of a 3rd grader. These are the same companies that buy and sell Congresspeople every day. They knew better.

    If they had yelped a bit when they were first asked to do this, what most likely would have happened is that Congress would have OK'ed it in some closed door session and this wouldn't be an issue now. Everyone would be sweeping it under the rug.

    Instead, they just did what they were asked. Dumb. This is politics, and the first thing you learn is that every move has ramifications and everything you do will eventually come back on you.

    Also, yes, the President does have pardons he can use and if he was really concerned about telco execs, he could have simply let this investigation proceed. Once they started naming names, he could have started handing out pardons. That's what my last governor did during his scandal. Everyone got to be outraged and everyone of importance got off easy. This says to me, that he doesn't really care about these folks as much as he cares about further eroding our civil rights.

     

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  11.  
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    DaveW, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 7:08am

    Well SOMEBODY better get into your politics.

    If immunity is passed there can be no investigation. That's the whole point. All cases will be automatically dismissed on the say-so of the "justice" department.

    As to the "unfairness", the telcos are not some poor schlubs just trying to do the right thing. They are giant corporations with hundreds of their own lawyers They should be capable of figuring out what is legal and what is not, or at least questioning it. And at least a few of their competitors did refuse the illegal Bush orders.

    Aside from that, do you really think that if Bush told you to shoot down your neighbor, no warrant, to law, no court order, just his word, that you should get off free just because you followed orders? Didn't work at Nuremberg so why should it work in the land of the free?

     

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    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    Perhaps . . . Yeah, Right

    Perhaps The Senate Won't Roll Over On Telecom Immunity

    And perhaps the sun will rise in the west tomorrow.

     

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  13.  
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    jeff nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:18am

    splitting legal hairs

    Mike,
    I'd like to hear your evidence to suggest that the program was "almost certainly illegal". The 1978 FISA law is less than certain on the definition of "foreign surveillance" when it comes to foreign agents residing in the U.S. (interestingly, the Aldrich Ames case involved the same issue).

    More on point is the fact that these telcos were asked to do something that provided them no commercial or competitive advantage, if anything it imposed a burden on them, and now a chattering class is calling for them to be drawn and quartered because they cooperated.

    Maybe a solution here is a Mad Max "break a deal, face the wheel" credo.

    It's somewhat pathetic that you point to Sen. Dodd as the moral crusader considering the events of recent weeks... perhaps if Verizon gave Dodd a VIP cell phone plan he would be flip flopping on this too.

     

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  14.  
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    tige995, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:31am

    you show 'em

    Thats right you teach those telcos what happens when they help track terrorists!! How dare they help defend American lives!

    So what if it helped find and stop a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. We didn't have the right paperwork and someone should pay for it!

    Next time I see ppl running form a collapsing building my first thought will be "Well at least we played fair with those killers."

     

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  15.  
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    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:32am

    Re: splitting legal hairs

    Pull your head out of the sand for a moment, Jeff. Perhaps you'll see that the telcos were asked to violate the law by the Executive Office, and they did so. Who gives a rat's ass whether or not it provided them commercial or competitive advantage? That has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they violated the law.

    It's beyond pathetic that you don't seem to even understand the issue, then try to insert a strawman argument into the mix.

     

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  16.  
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    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:33am

    Re: politics

    Nixon tried that line of reasoning before and it didn't hold. The President cannot tell you to break the law. Being AT&T, they're quite used to getting wiretap requests, so they have a legal department well versed in what federal laws apply to their behavior. They knew what they were doing was against the law (actually it was against four separate Federal laws designed to prevent exactly this sort of behavior).

    Aside from that, Congress ought not be telling the Judiciary (a co-equal branch) what the outcome has to be.

     

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  17.  
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    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:36am

    Re: you show 'em

    This had nothing to do with the hare-brained scheme to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.

    So, Mrs. "You Show 'em," exactly how many terrorists has this illegal wiretapping actually caught? How many plots has it uncovered and prevented? Really, how many?

    When you're ready to come out from behind your mother's apron, maybe you can find the answers to those questions. Or better yet, just ask your government nanny.

     

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  18.  
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    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:39am

    Re: splitting legal hairs

    If you think the telcos got no commercial advantage, I suggest you look into how much money they make whenever they do wiretapping for the government. I especially like the part where one of the companies threatened to turn off the wiretaps because the government was delinquent in paying the bills.

    In fact, when Qwest turned the NSA away (because they obey the law) they were denied contracts. The loss of this money caused the CEO of Qwest to dump some of his stock, which eventually landed him in prison.

     

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  19.  
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    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:45am

    Re: you show 'em

    I suggest doing some research. The plot involved cutting the support cables for the Brooklyn Bridge. And the plotter (Iyman Faris) concluded that it was unlikely to work and called it off.

    You're also engaging in the logical fallacy known as a false dichotomy - choosing between tracking terrorists or not tracking them. No one is saying "don't track terrorists". Quite the contrary, we all want to listen in on al-Qaeda.

    Rather, we're saying "track terrorists lawfully so that the rampant abuse of the past does not happen again".

     

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  20.  
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    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    I didn't say the telcos got no commercial advantage -- I said it's not relevant to this issue. Whether or not money exchanged hand, whether or not the telcos turned a profit, doesn't make one bit of difference. The only issue is whether or not they broke the law at the behest of the President.

    Perhaps, before making an argument, you should actually read what you think you're arguing against.

     

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  21.  
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    jonnyq, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:53am

    Re: Well SOMEBODY better get into your politics.

    "If immunity is passed there can be no investigation. That's the whole point. All cases will be automatically dismissed on the say-so of the "justice" department."

    That's the part I don't get. Even if immunity is passed, there can still be an investigation of whatever government agency is responsible. If the telcos have immunity, it seems like they would be more willing to cooperate.

    Yeah, telcos paying off politicians is bad. Helping the government break the law is a bad thing. But, why focus on the telcos when the real problem seems to be the government, and giving telcos immunity does seem to hinder an investigation into the government.

    And even without immunity I don't see why the President couldn't just give out pardons anyway, rightly or wrongly.

     

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  22.  
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    Matt, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Re: two party politics

    Two-party politics has not failed the people. The people - who have all the power they need - have failed themselves. It is us who, for example, elected Ted Kennedy to the Senate for forty years virtually uncontested. We have turned these people into career politicians, and in doing so they have forgotten what it is like to be a regular citizen, with regular citizen duties, on a regular citizen paycheck.

    Back on topic: I, for one, hope the telcos maintain their immunity, lest an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits really hose stuff for everyone. In case you didn't know, there are very strict rules as to how the intelligence community uses information, particularly when it contains information about US citizens.

    People are so easily whipped up into a frenzy by an over-anxious media. I guess I shouldn't be surprised they have let the same bunch of idiots run the country for the last three decades.
    Matt

     

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  23.  
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    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Re: Re: Well SOMEBODY better get into your politics.

    You (and several others) are conflating "pardon" with "immunity." Immunity is granted before or during a trial; a pardon is granted after a conviction. President Bu--sh-- can't grant a pardon if there's no conviction, so he's trying to get immunity for the telcos so that they can't be convicted.

     

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  24.  
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    JS Beckerist (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:04am

    Re: two party politics

    Transparency in government is the only way to reduce corruption. Lifetime terms work for the Judicial branch, but every other branch needs that check of being temporary to ensure the pool doesn't become stagnant.

    It's websites like this that inform people like ME what's going on in government that will ultimately reduce corruption. It also falls on you, the US citizen, to write your representatives and tell them where YOU stand, because ultimately that's who they answer to (whether they act like it or not.)

     

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  25.  
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    Jake, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:09am

    Re: you show 'em

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

    - A Man For All Seasons

     

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  26.  
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    DaveW, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Well SOMEBODY better get into your politics.

    This isn't about some naughty agency. It's about Bush's White House. Who is it you think is going to investigate if this law forces dismissal of all lawsuits against the telcos? Tho only way we have to force discovery of what the government did is to let the civil suits proceed. Bush can't pardon corporations who are defendants in a civil suit. That's the whole point of this law: to give Bush a free pass, yet again, and make sure nobody ever knows how he corrupted basic American freedom.

     

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  27.  
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    deadzone (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Re: politics

    We also have a little something called "Checks and Balances" in this Country, supposedly. No one should be above the law in this country - not even the President. Do you not support Checks and Balances? You feel the President can do what he feels necessary even if it requires basic disregard for our Laws and the Constitution? I guess you are ahead of the game if that is how you feel because the current Administration has been doing this the whole time they have been in office.

    The Telecos will continue to help the Government out because the FISA Bill in it's current state already grants immunity to them. (The telecos also have shown that they will stop wiretapping if the bill isn't paid so go figure...)

    Regardless - this is a non-issue, but a common talking point amongst those who support Telecom Immunity.

     

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  28.  
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    deadzone (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Re: you show 'em

    And there it is. When facts start showing up and it becomes clear that this administration and the telecoms broke the law, it's time to bust out the A-Game - FEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Terrorists are coming to get us! Be very afraid! You could die at any moment! The world as we know it will end! Mushroom clouds, dogs and cats living together, men kissing men, women kissing women, CHAOS, ARMAGEDDON!!!!!!!....

    Unless we give the Telecoms immunity, then you can rest easy knowing we are safe from teh terrorr.

     

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  29.  
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    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    actually I do understand the issue is whether the 1978 FISA law was actually broken or whether the law inadvertently set up a conflict that was only to be resolved by Congress.

    The 1978 FISA law creates an ambiguity arising from 4 words, "unless authorized by statute", which the administration contends as the exclusion which AUMF allows for the NSA program to operate outside of FISA.

    The Hamdi case that went to the Supreme Court addressed this issue of AUMF having powers granted to the executive branch by statute, and then the Hamden case went the other way, so there is a legitimate conflict here that renders the notion that this NSA program is "almost certainly illegal". Based on what legal precedent?

    Furthermore, as I stated above, the issue of domestic agents of foreign powers comes into play and even legal critics who see a Fourth Amendment issue acknowledge that FISA may in fact address this, yet the issue has not been tested beyond the circuit court level.

    What you are engaging in is constructivism truth, attempting to use a community consensus to bully your way to resolution. That is not how the law works and anyone who cares about liberties and a society ruled by law should condemn you.

    BTW, what is pathetic is when people like you throw ad hominem attacks while hiding behind a pseudonym. I use my real name on all my comments, grow a pair and do the same when you calling me pathetic.

     

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  30.  
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    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    There's no community consensus here, and I'm not engaging constructivism truth (I suggest you revisit the definition). I want the truth, period. And granting blanket immunity to the telcos, and then preventing the courts from determining if the law has been broken, does nothing except attempt to hide the truth.

    You, on the other hand, continue to engage in strawman arguments, by attempting to turn the discussion towards some other subject that has nothing to do with the matter at hand. So, you're still pathetic, and an asshole to boot.

     

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  31.  
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    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    Perhaps, before replying to someone, you should make sure that their comment was actually directed at you.

     

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  32.  
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    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    how is the law not a relevant subject to the "matter at hand"?

    Simply put, your myopia is astounding... and you are still a coward.

     

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  33.  
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    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, SCOTUS found that Article II does not give the President the power to indefinitely detain a US Citizen.

    Hamdan v. Rumsfeld didn't really have anything to do with AUMF or Article II of the Constitution. Rather, it said that the military commissions were bogus and that common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to all detainees in the GWOT.

    Besides for that, if you read up on the Church Committee I'm sure you would see the legal precedent for warrantless surveillance being illegal. If AUMF is a loophole for enforcing federal laws, why didn't it work back when Nixon was President and we were at war in Viet Nam?

     

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  34.  
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    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    btw, I suggest you revisit the definition for social constructivism, the fact that you say you want "the truth, period" puts your ignorance on full display. There is no absolute truth to be found here, just interpretations of the law. I'll explain constructivism truth to you because there are a lot of big words; it asserts that all truth is constructed based on historical and social factors, human perception, and ultimately a struggle within a community where dominant and submissive positions are determined.

     

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  35.  
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    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    Oh, right, how could I forget. There's that whole fourth amendment thing, too...you know, the one that says you need a warrant.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Last I checked, in a fight between something Congress passed (AUMF) and the Constitution, it is the Constitution that is supposed to win.

    If they want the right to wiretap people without warrants, they should have the majority necessary to pass an amendment.

     

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  36.  
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    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    I suggest you reread the Hamdi decision. It affirmed the right of the government to detain enemy combatants who are U.S. citizens and that authority was granted by the AUMF, but also affirmed their right to challenge their detention in front of a judge, in other words the detention, as you said, can't be indefinite.

    Hamdan found that the exclusion Congress set up via AUMF was illegal.

     

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  37.  
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    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    wrt to the AUMF exlusion and Nixon... I'm somewhat at a loss to answer you because 1) FISA was enacted in 1978, well after Nixon was in office, and 2) AUMF was similarly enacted well after Nixon. I think your argument pivots on the ability of Congress to establish an exclusion but even there I don't think there is much debate about the fact that they do have an authorized role.

     

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  38.  
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    PixelPusher, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: two party politics

    You say there are 'very strict rules as to how the intelligence community uses information'. I'll be generous and assume you meant to include 'collection' of said information.

    The problem is there are rules, they require a court order to conduct surveillance on US Citizens. The 'immunity' being granted runs roughshod over that. It allows the 'very strict rules' to be bypassed simply by having the President say he needs it and it's important.

    That's not even a slippery slope, it's a cliff and we're going over it now. Independent verification of need is the *only* way for this to work. They can even get after the fact permission as granted by the ORIGINAL FISA law. How is being able to get permission *after* you collect information an inconvenience that imperils national security?

    This Administration is fatally corrupt, though in their own minds they are 'helping' America. Sadly they don't seem to realize how badly these changes will be abused in the future.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:37am

    Re: two party politics

    If two-party politics is the problem you see, then you're trying to treat the symptom of plurality government, where the first past the post wins the prize. As long as we run things by plurality it will always reduce to two parties, as like-minded groups will band together to get bigger shares until thi's just "us" and "them" -- once it reaches two parties there's no reason to combine any further.

     

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  40.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    Re: splitting legal hairs

    I'd like to hear your evidence to suggest that the program was "almost certainly illegal". The 1978 FISA law is less than certain on the definition of "foreign surveillance" when it comes to foreign agents residing in the U.S. (interestingly, the Aldrich Ames case involved the same issue).

    Jeff, if it's not illegal, then what's the issue here? Wouldn't it just get thrown out of court? Why would they need immunity?

    More on point is the fact that these telcos were asked to do something that provided them no commercial or competitive advantage, if anything it imposed a burden on them, and now a chattering class is calling for them to be drawn and quartered because they cooperated.

    They were paid for the taps, and apparently paid well for them.

    And, while I take slight offense at being called a part of the "chattering class," I think even you agree that just because someone is asked to do something by the gov't and they cooperate, doesn't mean that they should get *immunity*. It certainly can be a part of their defense, where they can explain why they believed what was requested of them was legal. But to grant them full immunity is a miscarraige of justice.

    And, given the example of Qwest, it's quite clear that there were some telcos who were willing to point out that they did not believe these requests were legal.

    It's somewhat pathetic that you point to Sen. Dodd as the moral crusader considering the events of recent weeks... perhaps if Verizon gave Dodd a VIP cell phone plan he would be flip flopping on this too.

    I'm certainly not suggesting that Dodd, or any politician, is a paragon of moral virtue. I'm merely pointing out that he's the one starting this filibuster.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Well SOMEBODY better get into your politics.

    My understanding is that the Executive branch already got it's own form on "immunity," so the telecos are the only target left to get. The point now is that we have to show these "tools" that it's not OK to break the law just because the President told you to -- which won't fix the wrongs already done but will give the telecos something to think on the next time the government asks them to work against we the people. They'll put up more of a fight against illegal directives if they know they'll be the fall-guy in the end.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    The theory behind using AUMF to circumvent Constitutional requirements for a warrant was that, in a time of war, Article II authorizes the President to do whatever he wants.

    Why didn't Nixon use this line of reasoning when he was President? We were at war with Viet Nam, so in theory he had Article II power to do as he pleased. And yet, even before FISA, he could not use "we're at war" as an excuse to break the law.

    What has changed between then and now to permit President Bush to use Article II as a loophole for dismantling the Fourth Amendment?

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    DCX2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    I do not understand what you're trying to get at by bringing up Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. Even though SCOTUS decided that the AUMF permits the President to detain anyone, it clearly states that Constitutional rights (habeas corpus, right to counsel, etc) still apply. This implies that the AUMF does not provide a loophole for circumventing Fourth Amendment protections.

     

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  44.  
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    jamalystic, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: two party politics

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that the people should be blame. As you rightly pointed, we've given politicians the notion that they can have a life-time carrier. Little wonder then that they share bed with lobbyists of various organization. How about Chris Dodd on the foreclosure aspect?? With all the shout in 2006 of what a democratic congress will look, it's all just farce. Like it or not warrantless surveillace will continue no matter who is in the white house: Warrantless Surveillance: The Worst Is Yet To Come ( http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=494&doc_id=143396&F_src=flftwo)

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    Very intelligent arguments you make: "You're an ignorant, myopic coward." You aren't worth the bits it would take to mock you.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    @sonofdot, that's rich... now you are personally offended. I'm offended that your best effort to mock me was so lame. Certainly I deserve better than what you could give, you resorted to "asshole" almost immediately and now that you are out of your league to beat a tactical retreat while mumbling about how I insulted you. OMG I can't believe how lame you are. Why don't you go off and finish high school before stepping up to the grown up table.

     

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  47.  
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    sonofdot, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    Jeff, don't flatter yourself. I'm not offended at all, and frankly, you don't deserve my best effort. Your weak arguments have been disputed and disproven by others here, so there's no need for me to join the "chattering class" you initially referenced (which I guess we can assume means "everyone but you"). I'm neither out of my league nor beating a tactical retreat. There's no need, except to bait you and see which irrelevant tangent you'll rant about next.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    Mike,
    It would not be an issue if not for the do-nothing Congress' penchant for hearings to trot out company executives for not putting down the toilet seat and liberal groups who don't want a legal decision, they want a show trial. The ACLU has already tried to sue once and had that thrown out because they didn't have standing, I think there is a legitimate concern that the pursuit of a civil trial would only be for the purpose of embarrassing the government. I don't take legal rights lightly but I also recognize that in a time of war we are obligated to take extraordinary measures to ensure national safety and the pursuit of those who wish us harm. This has been the case in every conflict the U.S. has been involved with and it's reasonable when taken in totality. I also recognize that the laws that are passed by Congress, such as the 1978 FISA law and the AUMF, have specific exceptions that are created by Congress and are just as much a part of law as the restrictive parts.

    You say that just being asked to do something is not a defense, but being asked to do something that you believe is legal is certainly affirmative. Certain members of Congress and a range of liberal groups want to hold telcos accountable for something that the government authorized them to do, whether it be the executive branch or the legislature. If we were talking about wiretapping Mike Masnick's cell phone last wednesday while you were talking with your wife, well I'd be right there with you, but we are talking about foreign agents residing in the U.S. under the powers of a war authorization and actions taken by a government regulated business that were authorized by the government. This is not, despite your assertion to the contrary, black letter law.

    The reason there is not "truth" in this issue is that the truth to be subscribed to hinges on contingent issues that simply don't fall neatly into the Fourth Amendment. It would be like saying the First Amendment is absolute when in fact legal professionals know full well that there are legislative limits on the First Amendment that have been affirmed up to the SCOTUS (e.g. you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre).

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Jeff Nolan, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    disputed and disproven are distinct outcomes, the former yes, the latter no. As for your attempts, they pretty much ran out of gas with the first sentence in your first reply, devolving into ad hominem attack that high school debate teams learn is cause for immediate loss... but we've already determined you haven't made it that far in your academic career and like all anonymous cowards you will no doubt attempt to have the last word.

     

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  50.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: splitting legal hairs

    It would not be an issue if not for the do-nothing Congress' penchant for hearings to trot out company executives for not putting down the toilet seat and liberal groups who don't want a legal decision, they want a show trial

    None of that is a reason to grant immunity. I'm totally with you on trotting out execs for hearings, but that has nothing to do with this issue.

    And, if it's a show trial, let that be dealt with by the judge.

    I think there is a legitimate concern that the pursuit of a civil trial would only be for the purpose of embarrassing the government.

    Again, that's an issue for the court, not the Congress. To even take away the possibility of an investigation into whether what was done was illegal seems highly problematic.

    I don't take legal rights lightly but I also recognize that in a time of war we are obligated to take extraordinary measures to ensure national safety and the pursuit of those who wish us harm.

    Jeff, that's a bogus reason. You're a good friend, and I agree with you on so much -- but pulling out the "national safety" card as an excuse for not allowing a trial to examine whether or not something is legal is very problematic to me. That seems to go against everything this country is supposed to stand for in terms of the rule of law and due process. If you can just yell "national safety" we no longer have the rights that this country is supposed to represent.

    I also recognize that the laws that are passed by Congress, such as the 1978 FISA law and the AUMF, have specific exceptions that are created by Congress and are just as much a part of law as the restrictive parts.

    And if those exceptions were used, then that should be established in court.

    Certain members of Congress and a range of liberal groups want to hold telcos accountable for something that the government authorized them to do, whether it be the executive branch or the legislature.

    That may be true of certain members of Congress and liberal groups, but I am neither of those things. What I want is due process to explore whether or not those actions were legal or not. That, I believe, is very much in question.

    You are arguing a different point -- and none of the points you are arguing preclude having a trial. If you're right, the courts can take care of it.

    If we were talking about wiretapping Mike Masnick's cell phone last wednesday while you were talking with your wife, well I'd be right there with you, but we are talking about foreign agents residing in the U.S. under the powers of a war authorization and actions taken by a government regulated business that were authorized by the government. This is not, despite your assertion to the contrary, black letter law.

    There are numerous stories that go beyond foreign agents residing in the US. What about the case of Lawrence Wright, who discovered his calls were wiretapped?

    But, again, that is besides the point. If, as you assert, these actions were perfectly legal, then there shouldn't be a problem having a court establish that.

    The reason there is not "truth" in this issue is that the truth to be subscribed to hinges on contingent issues that simply don't fall neatly into the Fourth Amendment.

    Isn't that for a court to decide?

    It would be like saying the First Amendment is absolute when in fact legal professionals know full well that there are legislative limits on the First Amendment that have been affirmed up to the SCOTUS (e.g. you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre).

    Again, that relies on the court deciding -- not Congress telling the court it can't decide.

    THAT is my problem with this.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Nasch, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:31pm

    Re: Re: two party politics

    Two-party politics has not failed the people. The people - who have all the power they need - have failed themselves.

    Why does it have to be just one or the other? The system we have now is run by the incumbents and thus canted severely in favor of the incumbents. The primary interest of most politicians who get as far as national office is money and power, so after they get in they do what they can to keep and expand their money and power. If we had a system that reduced such incentives that would be great, but those changes would have to be approved by the people who benefit from the current rules.

    I think I'm rambling... my point is it's not just the voters, the system is inherently flawed. As is any system that fails in the absence of a consistently motivated, involved and educated populace. I don't think we're going to have that in the foreseeable future.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Ron, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 8:24pm

    Telecom companies and immunity

    The telecom companies were intercepting conversations to and from overseas in order to protect us. The intent was to collect information about threats including attacks being planned.

    I am glad the telcos allowed the government to use them to protect us. So I support immunity for them.

     

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  53.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Telecom companies and immunity

    The telecom companies were intercepting conversations to and from overseas in order to protect us. The intent was to collect information about threats including attacks being planned.

    Indeed. And there are laws they can follow to make exactly that act legal. But they did not follow those laws.

    I am glad the telcos allowed the government to use them to protect us. So I support immunity for them.

    This is a red herring. The issue isn't whether or not we were protected. There were ways to allow those taps legally. The telcos did not use those.

    That's a problem.

    I find it hilarious that the "law and order" crowd has no problem with the law being broken here, and tosses out the totally separate issue about protecting people.

    This has nothing to do with protecting people.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Sailor Ripley, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 1:15pm

    Re: telco immunity

    They should not get immunity, even with full cooperation.

    Telcos had every right (I'd even venture to say duty) to say no but they willingly agreed to cooperate in this illegal endeavor. I'd say they should get serious reduction of whatever punishment they deserve, in exchange for full cooperation, but they shouldn't get off scot free, that would only set a precedent for anybody in the future to just roll over and do anything illegal when asked by the government, because, worst case scenario, later on you fully cooperate and get immunity

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: two party politics

    First off, plurality is not the (only) alternative to a two-party system. Most democratic countries that do not have a two-party system still work with majority.

    Most European countries do not have a two-party system, here's how the system works in Belgium:

    There is a multitude of political parties, you vote for a person of a party, or for the party as a whole, for both congress/parliament and senate. After the election, unless 1 party would have an absolute majority (which is extremely unlikely, I don't know of it ever happening), the different parties have to start talks and negotiate to form a majority to form the executive branch of the government.
    [So yes, there is no direct election to pick a prime minister, but on the other hand, every secretary of whatever (defense, justice,...) in the executive branch has been elected]

    These negotiations boil down to several political parties agreeing on what they will want to accomplish during the term. So the different parties (that will end up forming "the government") will compromise, are willing to legislate, execute,... certain things their party is not fully in favor of (but another party is) in exchange for the other parties agreeing to accomplish certain goals of their particular party.

    Obviously, if party X gets 38% of the vote and party Y 13%, the agreement will be (on) more (points) of favor of party X than Y then when it would be 27-25 for example.

    The great benefits consist of:

    no 1 party can just do whatever they feel like for a term, since the other parties that are involved in their majority have their own opinions and agenda that differ from any given party.

    since the executive branch is formed by parties that represent a majority of the vote, they obviously have the (same) majority in parliament and senate so there never can be a deadlock like in the US where the president can be Rep./Dem. and the legislative branch dominated by Dems/Reps

    You can accuse anybody of being in favor of the system they grew up with, but when faced with these objective and rational benefits, it's hard to continue defending the two-party system

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Well SOMEBODY better get into your politics.

    If immunity is passed, why would the telcos cooperate?

    After all they have immunity, so not cooperating will cost them nothing, where cooperating will "cost" them the wrath of those government officials they rat out.

    Are you that out of touch with reality (and tv-shows and movies for that matter) that you don't understand the concept of immunity? Immunity or reduced punishment is something you dole out after cooperation, as a reward, the leverage being if you do not cooperate, we will prosecute you to the full extent possible, if you cooperate we will not prosecute or prosecute to a much lesser extend...There's no incentive to cooperate if you have immunity from the beginning...and that is EXACTLY why the government culprits are trying to get retroactive immunity for the telcos, so there would be no leverage to get them to cooperate...

    seriously, you can't be that ignorant...can you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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