Thursday, July 03, 2008



Take out the candidates for the presidency-- although keep in mind that the Telecoms have given McCain a whopping $356,145, far more than they donated to either Obama or Hillary-- and the senator who has benefited most from their largesse is... Jay Rockefeller, the crooked West Virginia political hack who has been leading the fight to grant his benefactors retroactive immunity for any crimes they may have committed under the FISA laws. The Telecoms gave Rockefeller $51,500 and the next closest senator was-- speaking of crooks-- Ted Stevens (R-AK) at $37,900. Funny how Rockefeller has vaulted to the top of the heap too. Overall, he was only their 25th most favorite senator (at $168,442) and it wasn't until he became the champion of retroactive immunity that they realized he was worthy of some big checks. In way of comparison, this year's #2, Senator Stevens, has gotten $260,450 from the Telecoms over his Senate career, which, I guess, helps explain his popular "tubes" song and dance.

Yesterday another judge rejected the Bush Regime's-- and the paid off members of Congress-- claim that they could wiretap American citizens without legal warrants. Count on Glenn Greenwald to make it clear and easy to understand:
A Bush-41-appointed Federal District Judge yesterday became the third judge-- out of three who have ruled on the issue-- to reject the Bush administration's claim that Article II entitles the President to override or ignore the provisions of FISA. Yesterday's decision by Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California also guts the central claims for telecom immunity and gives the lie to the excuses coming from Congress as to why the new FISA bill is some sort of important "concession." More than anything else, this decision is but the most recent demonstration that, with this new FISA bill, our political establishment is doing what it now habitually does: namely, ensuring that the political and corporate elite who break our laws on purpose are immune from consequences.

In this morning's NY Times Eric Lichtblau took a stab at explaining how the new ruling did not and does not give Bush the right to wiretap without warrants.

The Bush Regime had worked diligently to quash the law suit for the past 2 years claiming the case was a "state secret and citing the president’s constitutional power as commander in chief to order wiretaps without a warrant from a court under the agency’s program."
But Judge Walker, who was appointed to the bench by former President George Bush, rejected those central claims in his 56-page ruling. He said the rules for surveillance were clearly established by Congress in 1978 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get a warrant from a secret court.

“Congress appears clearly to have intended to-- and did-- establish the exclusive means for foreign intelligence activities to be conducted,” the judge wrote. “Whatever power the executive may otherwise have had in this regard, FISA limits the power of the executive branch to conduct such activities and it limits the executive branch’s authority to assert the state secrets privilege in response to challenges to the legality of its foreign intelligence surveillance activities.”

Judge Walker’s voice carries extra weight because all the lawsuits involving telephone companies that took part in the N.S.A. program have been consolidated and are being heard in his court.

But for members of the House and Senate, particularly the Republicans plus corrupt Democrats like Rockefeller, Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel, Chris Carney, and John Barrow, who are determined to keep the bribes from Telecoms flowing their way, no voice carries any weight except for the voice at the polls. There are no plausible opponents for Rockefeller, Steny Hoyer, and Rahm Emanuel in 2008. If Carney loses, as bad as he is, he will lose to a much worse Republican lunatic. That leaves John Barrow. Helping to elect a progressive state Senator, Regina Thomas, who vociferously opposes warrantless wiretaps and retroactive immunity-- and who has made it a key part of her election campaign is the only way to send our congressional employees a message they will hear. There is still a chance to let them know there is a real price to pay for violating our constitutional rights. Please help Regina Thomas this Independence Day weekend. It means at least as much as a parade and a barbecue.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation seems optimistic. "With the Senate poised to vote on the FISA Amendments Act and immunity this Tuesday, this decision is particularly timely, as it demolishes key arguments made by proponents of telecom immunity... udge Walker's decision makes clear that Congress is about to pass telecom immunity based on arguments that are just plain wrong. Congress should take the time to look at the facts, rather than be fooled by the myths. It should not to rush to judgment next week. If you haven't already, phone your Senators now and urge them to vote against ending debate on the FISA bill, vote for the amendments to the bill that would strip or weaken the immunity provisions, and vote against final passage of the bill." And the list of myths and facts is absolutely great. Stuff like this:
Myth: The telecoms can't defend themselves in court because of the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege.

Fact: The Al Haramain decision makes clear that the state secrets privilege will not prevent the telecoms from defending themselves, because FISA's evidentiary procedures preempt the privilege. See Opinion at p. 2 ("FISA preempts the state secrets privilege in connection with electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes.")

Myth: It's not fair to punish the telecoms for relying in good faith on the president's authorization to conduct the surveillance, even though it violated FISA.

Fact: In an extended discussion, the Al Haramain decision makes clear-- or rather, shows how clear it already was-- that the President's commander-in-chief powers do not give him the authority to ignore FISA. See Opinion at pp. 10-14, 23 ("[With FISA,] Congress appears clearly to have intended to-- and did-- establish the exclusive means for foreign intelligence surveillance activities to be conducted. Whatever power the executive may otherwise have had in this regard, FISA limits the power of the executive branch to conduct such activities....")

But there is one problem: the pervasive and all powerful Culture of Corruption that IS Washington, DC. You thought we got rid of that with the end of Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, Bob Ney and Denny Hastert? Not a chance. Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer, Jay Rockefeller, John Barrow and the rest of the bribe-takers who are adamant about joining the Republican to pass retroactive immunity for their benefactors at the Telecoms, make that crowd look like pikers.


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At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would call and/or write my senators but I feel it is a terrible waste of time. Do you think Kyl or McCain would listen to a constituent? I don't think so .... my part time senator here in MT, Jon Tester .... well that is somewhat disappointing with his position.


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