Saturday, February 23, 2008

They Still Don't Get It

What is so difficult to understand about the Fourth Amendment guarantee of privacy? Apparently a lot, if an editorial in today's Los Angeles Times is any indication. The right not to be spied on by one's government is not a just a convenience; it is a major underpinning of our democracy. The Los Angeles Times, however, apparently doesn't see it that way and sees the whole issue of retroactive immunity for the telecoms who collaborated with the present administration as a mere distraction, a bluff used by Congressional Democrats to pry more information out of the White House on the warrantless wiretapping of Americans.

The White House and House Democrats are needlessly fixated on retroactive immunity. The administration, echoed by House Republican leaders, warns darkly that the lack of immunity for past cooperation by telecoms will deter the companies from cooperating in the future; yet both versions (properly) make it clear that companies that comply with lawful orders in the future have nothing to fear. For their part, House Democrats overstate the usefulness of private litigation as a way to pry loose information about the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The Democrats' opposition to immunity may have made sense as a bluff to induce the administration to provide Congress with documents relating to the program, as it belatedly has begun to do. But the possibility that private lawsuits would expose internal deliberations about the origins of the program was always slight. That sort of disclosure is even less likely after the Supreme Court refused this week to reinstate a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the NSA on behalf of lawyers, journalists and academics who claimed they were harmed by the surveillance program.

If the telecoms willingly allowed the government to wire tap Americans without a warrant signed by a judge, then those telecoms also broke the law. To argue that the telecoms were just doing their best to keep America safe by cooperating with the government in good faith might make sense if those same telecoms hadn't suspended service on some of those lines when the government failed to pay the bills for their use.

No, the telecoms should not be granted retroactive immunity for their behavior. They were collaborators in the scheme to deprive Americans of one their most basic rights.

And no, Los Angeles Times, it is not a mere bluff or distraction.


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Anonymous PopeRatzo said...

Here's the funny part:

" For their part, House Democrats overstate the usefulness of private litigation as a way to pry loose information about the Terrorist Surveillance Program. "

I guess the LATimes has never been sued.

4:51 AM  
Anonymous Nancy Willing said...

Our local Gannett rag came out along these lines too. Caused a major stink with us liberals.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. If you and I had participated in a crime...

Well, you know what would happen.

I'd really like to know how many warrants the telecoms had, their dates, specific facts, not necessarily names, but the facts.
I know there probably aren't more than two, but it would be appropriate for them to share with congress the fact that they did at least have two or more.

Hopefully, they will stop the BC evil ways and get back to reality.


6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for calling them by name, Diane.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Charles Utwater II said...

Um, sorry. The above comment was by Charles of Mercury Rising, Phoenix Woman's co-blogger.

Still having trouble with OpenID sign in procedures.

5:01 PM  

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