Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Think of what he's asking; think of whom he's protecting

President Bush wants a new FISA bill on his desk as soon as possible, and he's strong arming Congress to pass one quickly. FISA allows the federal government to spy on you, and in its current form, with very little in the way of checks or balances. That would spoil the whole sense of secrecy of which the Bush administration is very fond.

Congress seems to be resisting, but only ever so slightly. It's clear they don't want to be labelled "soft on terrorism," and it's clear they want to give the intelligence agencies what they need to "protect" us. It's not so clear anymore that they want to assure the tenets of civil liberties as outlined in that hoary old document the Constitution.

But Bush wants something more. He wants the bill to contain language which will protect telecommunications companies from civil lawsuits for helping the Feds spy on folks like you and me. Maybe more me than you. Bush is afraid that these lawsuits will bankrupt the telecommunications companies. But think about what he's saying:

1. The Federal government knowingly asked these companies to break the law
2. These companies, for the most part, went along with the Feds and broke the law
3. The feds, and the telecommunications companies, tried to keep these crimes (and that's what they are) secret
4. Now that we all know what the telecommunications companies did, some of us might be upset and sue them
5. Bush obviously feels that without immunity, the telecommunications companies don't stand a chance of winning those lawsuits because, well, they broke the law
6. Not surprisingly, Bush, once again, is standing up for the big corporations and abandoning the little guy, and the liberties of the little guy

Now Bush is trying to convince Congress that the telecommunications companies were only trying to do their patriotic duty. Just like the Generals in charge of Abu Ghraib.

You would think that a big corporation with staffs of brilliant lawyers would know better. You would think that they would tell anyone who asked, "We're not going to wipe our expensive Italian shoes on the Constitution." But, AT&T, Sprint and MCI, and others, apparently all went along. Only, little Qwest communications told Bush, the FBI and the NSA to shove it. Thanks Qwest.

I don't have much hope that Congress will resist. It hasn't happened yet. But next time a state trooper tries to hand you a speeding ticket, try telling him, "I'm a warrior in the Global War Against Terror, trying to keep my country safe after the attacks of 9/11," and see how far it gets you.

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