Bush Administration Was Afraid It Would Have To Admit Telcos Helped With Warrantless Wiretaps To Get Immunity

from the why-would-they-want-immunity-otherwise dept

With the EFF finally successful in getting the federal gov't to hand over some lobbying documents involved in the process of granting telcos total immunity in lawsuits over warrantless wiretapping, the press is starting to go through the documents. Wired digs in and finds that the Bush administration was worried it would have to admit that the telcos had actually broken the law in order to get immunity -- but were able to route around that by having the Attorney General "submit a certification to the district court that the carrier defendant either did not provide the assistance as alleged, or did so in connection with a counter-terrorism program authorized by the president and pursuant to written assurances of legality." In other words, by doing a "this" OR "that," they could claim some sort of plausible deniability for the gullible.

Of course, the whole thing is silly. Why would the telcos need immunity if they hadn't broken the law? The only reason to push for immunity was because they obviously had broken the law. The entire push for immunity was never really about protecting the telcos, but about protecting the federal government from having to admit that it clearly broke the law as stated concerning oversight of wiretaps.

The other interesting element in the Wired report is that the Bush administration was worried that future administrations would reverse the immunity -- something it doesn't seem to have to worry about considering that the Obama administration has happily continued to hold the same position on warrantless wiretaps. However, the administration was unable to get anything put in the bill that would prevent future administrations from changing the immunity -- so, perhaps there's still some hope.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
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    John H Kennedy (profile), Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Push your Congressman to call for enforcement of Federal Law

    Embarrass your Congressman in their District to push them to Demand Enforcement of Federal Law. Organize local Pro-Prosecution Protests in front of their District Offices and At every public event Ask Them Loudly "Why they support Torture". Embarrass them!! If they haven't recently called for enforcement of our Torture Laws against the Bush-Cheney Conspiracy To Change Federal Torture Laws, THEY Are Supporting Torture! The same thing applies to them calling for prosecution of the Carriers that violated our Federal laws. And SIGN the PETITION calling for Prosecution ANGRYVOTERS.org The battle for Enforcement of our Federal Laws will be won in the Districts of our Congressmen and Senators. If YOU have the courage to step out into the streets and call them out at public events, WE can have Justice!

     

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    •  
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      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:35am

      Re: Push your Congressman to call for enforcement of Federal Law

      You forget that our government officials are above the law. All those Obama appointees that didn't pay their taxes, the Bush admin example above, there was/is no recourse, no trials. If it were average Joe citizen the IRS would come down hard on him. And the stupid voters, although these Congress critters have an approval rating of around 20% seem to reelect 95% of the incumbents.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:40am

        Re: Re: Push your Congressman to call for enforcement of Federal Law

        Correct, the IRS would come down hard on the average Joe because they can't hire a lawyer who can defeat the governments. There is no Federal Law that says you have to pay taxes.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Push your Congressman to call for enforcement of Federal Law

          I refer you to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, aka Title 26.

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:37am

      Re: Push your Congressman to call for enforcement of Federal Law

      Sorry dude, this is America - land of the free, but completely uneducated and uninvolved.

      Not to mention you'll probably get tazered, tear-gassed, bludgeoned, and arrested for exercising you're First Amendment Rights.

      God Bless the United Police State of America.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:34am

    I still don't understand how retroactive immunity isn't an ex post facto issue constitutional issue and wouldn't be invalidated.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:40am

    Such bullshit..

    Here some laws for you guys. Not us.. Just you.. We can do whatever we want, if its you though we are going to lock you up and throw away the key.. but its ok if we do it.. We can just change the laws for a minute to suit our needs.. but if its you, your going to prison for the rest of your life.. Such a frekn joke man.. our setup sucks some serious ass.. And they wonder why we have shit blowing up and people going on killing sprees around the country..

    I swear I can't wait for the end of all this.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:43am

      Re: Such bullshit..

      "I swear I can't wait for the end of all this."

      Then run for office, get elected, and try to make a change; or start blowing shit up - in other words, get involved.

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re: Such bullshit..

        "Then run for office, get elected, and try to make a change; or start blowing shit up - in other words, get involved."

        Or even do something in between. Educate those around you. Write a book about it, fictionalized or reality. Do SOMETHING. My contribution might only be small, but it's SOMETHING.

        I am still desperately waiting for my generation's Martin Luthar King....

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:42am

    RE: #6

    Ask Westly what he thinks about that..

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    RE: Get involved..

    I am involved.. It's called a 49' Hunter...

     

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    Richard (profile), Nov 16th, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Why do the telcos even need immunity? Surely they are simply the tool being used to perform the wiretaps. Gun manufacturers don't get into trouble when police shoot people with their guns, so why should telcos get into trouble when the govt wiretaps people with their systems?

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 16th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      "Gun manufacturers don't get into trouble when police shoot people with their guns, so why should telcos get into trouble when the govt wiretaps people with their systems?"

      Er, gun manufacturers don't take an active role in police shootings. The Telco's actually actively assisted in perpetrating the crimes against the American people....

       

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    Chucklebutte (profile), Nov 16th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

    Orz

    When will the revolution start?? Seriously we need to raise up take these fuckers out and start over. We did this when we left England, we did it when we wanted to end slavery. Wtf has everyone's balls gone? Sheesh. I thought President Odrama would be some "Change" and "Hope"... All I see is a Black Bush. I'm glad I dont vote anymore, I cant be blamed for the problems the rest of the idiots vote in.

     

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    Ryan Diederich, Nov 16th, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Yeah right folks...

    Definately give rights to the people who are planning to kill our innocent civillians. I would rather watch one or two or even ten unworthy arabs getting tortured than watch 3000 innocent americans die like in 9/11.

    /sarcasm

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    "Why would the telcos need immunity if they hadn't broken the law? The only reason to push for immunity was because they obviously had broken the law."

    I'd venture this works much like any US citizen using the 5th ammendment to avoid self-incrimination (being a witness against himself). If you haven't done anything illegal, there is no reason to rely on the 5th, but using it cannot be used as evidence for guilt (or at least shouldn't be, the human factor nonwithstanding).

     

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