Meaningful Liability Protection

Kia Franklin at Tort Deform identifies the real effect of the Republicans demanding retroactive immunity for the big telecoms – making America less safe.

Bush, Cheney, and executive administration officials have been saying in the past two days that if we don’t scurry and pass this bill, and in the form and fashion that Bush wants it, it’ll be at our peril. They discuss this in a do-or-die fashion that creates a sense of urgency and drama, and also depicts opponents to retroactive immunity as the bad guys who don’t want to protect America. Yet their framing it this way doesn’t make it so, and this time I think the American public is wise enough to recognize that. The Administration has yet to explain how retroactive immunity will really help protect Americans, yet it threatens to veto any version of the FISA bill that doesn’t provide it.

Which leads the reasonable person to conclude that supporters of retroactive immunity are NOT trying to protect America. They’re trying to protect America’s favorite corporate big dogs, and they’re trying to protect the executive branch’s unfettered power to wave the wand and say magic words like “executive privilege” and “classified information,” etc., in order to get out of any mess they make, regardless of the repercussions for real people. That’s what I call off the hook protection….

The best protection against liability is to not do things that make you liable for violating people’s constitutional rights. Now that’s real meaningful liability protection.

Right on! The big telecom companies knew what the law was. AT&T helped write FISA back in the late 70s. This was not a case of AT&T and Verizon receiving shoddy legal advice or making decisions blindly in an area of law that was unfamiliar to their business practices.

The reality is that giving the telecoms retroactive immunity would be creating a different set of rules for them than everyone else. If you or I were to break the law, we wouldn’t ever be able to expect that the US Congress would then rewrite laws to excuse us for our law breaking before we were ever even found guilty or liable for our actions. Why wouldn’t that happen? Well, because we are a nation of laws and the expectation is that everyone is equal under the law. And why do we see something different now? Because the Bush/Cheney administration and their cohorts in the Senate want to ensure that no one ever finds out the true extent of their abuse of power from the very first days in the White House in January 2001, right up to today.

The discovery phase of court cases against the big telecoms that helped the Bush administration spy on the American public may well be the last, best chance for us to know what has gone on under President Bush. It’s no wonder that the GOP is going to such great lengths to obstruct any decent legislation from being passed governing America’s surveillance laws. This is how they plan to keep everything under wraps for good.

Cross posted at the CREDO Blog.

2 thoughts on “Meaningful Liability Protection

  1. 3 décembre 1627.

    C’est par mon ordre et pour le bien de l’Etat que le porteur du présent a fait ce qu’il a fait.


    The Republicans don’t like that we are all equal under the law. I find it amazing that the democrats in congress don’t comprehend this, want to allow them to write a modern day carte blanche.


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