Asked specifically why he's supporting the current FISA bill when he'd promised months ago to support a filibuster of an earlier version of the bill, Obama suggested flat out that "national security" overrides the question of telecom immunity.First of all, we've managed to pass FISA extensions for years now: it's not as if there's a choice between national security and the constitution. That's a Republican fallacy that, sadly, Obama seems all too happy to promote. Second of all, it can't be described how weak this is on Obama's part: it's something we may have expected out of a Democrat in 2002, not today.
There's an opportunity here to further brand the RNC as the party of fear mongering and political manipulation, which is all true, if Obama is willing to take it. All we need is a minimum of patience and some political courage to turn this into a conversation of "do you support the Constitution or not?" Apparently, Obama's too afraid of being called a Muslim, or something.
For the naysayers: anyone who says "AT&T deserves immunity, because the national government demanded it," is either a hack or an ignoramus (no offense to the latter). In no way whatsoever did the Federal Government vote to sanction our intelligence community to wiretap US phones without going through FISA and getting a warrant. The Bush administration is not the federal government; it's just one branch. As such, it had no authority to demand telecoms bypass FISA whatsoever.
All of these Telecoms have lawyers enough to populate entire communities, they knew Bush had no such authority, so that argument just doesn't fly. Point in case: not all of the Telecoms did Bush's bidding, some refused and demanded the BushCo. compel them, which the White House could never do... because it wouldn't be constitutional. No, there were other reasons why most of the Telecoms went along with it - a hint: it rhymes with squid bro fo.
The "Government" didn't force the telecoms to do anything; certain agencies, under the auspices of Dick and Bush, asked for that information, maybe even bullied for it, but nothing changes the fact that ultimately the Telecoms chose to give up the goods (your 4th amendment rights). None of them kicked and screamed and took the Government to court to protect you, their paying customers, from being spied on by the Government. Swallow that while considering the thousands a year we all pay these companies - the very same companies that are now asking for immunity, for protection against us.
No, these Telecoms deserve whatever punishments eventually come their way, criminal or otherwise, if we can somehow prevent them from cashing in early on some of those quid pro quos - in the form of the ultimate get-out-of-jail free card. With millions of people in this country's prison system, we're going to decide that the white collar executives at AT&T, who have teams of lawyers and never suffer from wont of anything, are the ones who deserve retroactive immunity? With all the lawyers they had on staff to give them sage legal advice, these are the people who deserve to be free from 'frivolous lawsuits?'
Does Senator Obama and Speaker Pelosi even know what accountability means? This is perhaps the biggest scandal in the history of modern America and not only are the Democrats content to do nothing about it, they're making sure they'll never have to do anything about it ever. With immunity, what's there to be done? Ask telecoms politely not to do it again? How will we ever know the full extent of what went on if Verizon gets to Pass Go & Collect $200? On FISA alone, I'll refuse to send Obama a dime or volunteer a single minute, unless he changes course pronto.
The good news: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came around on the issue, as well as Senator Chuck Schumer from NY. If Senator Clinton follows suit, as she often does, who knows? At least, for true blue Democrats who bought into the mantra of "change," Hillary would have the last laugh if she could help lead the filibuster. Unless, of course, Obama quickly