Friday, May 4, 2007

Bush Attempts Damage Control

Update: More on this from the New York Times:

For more than five years, President Bush authorized government spying on phone calls and e-mail to and from the United States without warrants. He rejected offers from Congress to update the electronic eavesdropping law, and stonewalled every attempt to investigate his spying program.

Suddenly, Mr. Bush is in a hurry. He has submitted a bill that would enact enormous, and enormously dangerous, changes to the 1978 law on eavesdropping. It would undermine the fundamental constitutional principle — over which there can be no negotiation or compromise — that the government must seek an individual warrant before spying on an American or someone living here legally.

Read the rest of the article here.

And the EFF chimes in as well.

Update 2: Forgot to tag this post. I really have to quit doing that!

Original Post:

Bush is now attempting to control the damage caused by his warrant-less wiretapping scandal with the NSA and AT&T, amongst others. He wants to have legislation introduced that would grant retroactive immunity to phone companies that have assisted in his scheme in the past. As Ars put it, brace yourself for the longest sentence ever:
Notwithstanding any other law, and in addition to the immunities, privileges, and defenses provided by any other source of law, no action shall lie or be maintained in any court, and no penalty, sanction, or other form of remedy or relief shall be imposed by any court or any other body, against any person for the alleged provision to an element of the intelligence community of any information (including records or other information pertaining to a customer), facilities, or any other form of assistance, during the period of time beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on the date that is the effective date of this Act, in connection with any alleged classified communications intelligence activity that the Attorney General or a designee of the Attorney General certifies, in a manner consistent with the protection of State secrets, is, was, would be, or would have been intended to protect the United States from a terrorist attack.
In other words, caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Bush now wants Congress to give him and his accomplices a clean-slate for his and their past crimes. As the government later explains:
"companies that cooperate with the Government in the war on terror deserve our appreciation and protection—not litigation."
This is Bush trying to protect the phone companies, and in particular, AT&T, for actions that are clearly illegal, and is likely specifically targeting the EFF case against AT&T over the scandal. If the actions were authorized and legal, as the Bush administration claims, why would this (overly long and painful to read) clause even be necessary? The government already attempted to have the suit tossed by asserting state secrets and asking Judge Walker to dismiss the case, and failed:
"Dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security," (Federal Judge) Walker wrote.
As Benjamen Franklin once said, those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. I hope the Democrats who control congress do the right thing and reject this legislation. Furthermore, more investigations into the scandal need to be done, and Bush should be impeached for his blatant violations of the US constitution and the rights of his citizens (as well as his baseless aggression and attacks against countries such as Iraq).


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