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Along with the execrable performance of Senators Reid and Rockefeller on handing immunity out like candy to their campaign contributors, the telecom companies, we have this little nugget from the battle in the Senate over the FISA bill:
The Bush administration is trying to persuade the House to agree to retroactively shield from liability those companies that helped the government eavesdrop on Americans without the approval of the FISA court. About 40 such civil lawsuits are pending against telecommunications firms, and the administration says if the cases go forward they could reveal information that would compromise national security. It also contends that the companies could be bankrupted if the lawsuits are successful.Hmmmmm.... "[The maladministration] contends that the companies could be bankrupted if the lawsuits are successful." Because the statutory penalties are on a per-violation basis, this sentence, translated from Republican into English, means:
"The telecoms, on our urging, did a whole sh*tload of warrantless snooping, maybe millions of such violations."And unless you really think there's millions of Terra-ists roaming around in the U.S., that means that they've likely been snooping on the likes of you and me.
From the article above:
One of the reasons that the maladministration claimed that the telecoms should be given immunity is that supposedly all this stuff is supposedly Sooper-Dooper tip-toppy-secret hush-hush, and the telecoms would be prevented from using such documentation in their defence in court because of this imposed secrecy, and thus wouldn't be able to defend themselves properly. So now the maladministration is releasing this documentation. There goes that excuse. Ooops.....
In a move to resolve the immunity issue, the key impasse on the legislation, the White House ended months of resistance Thursday and agreed to give House members access to secret documents about its warrantless wiretapping program.
Reyes and Rep. Pete Hoekstra of, the top Republican on the House intelligence panel, requested access to the White House documents in May. House Democrats say they will not support telecom immunity without seeing them first. Some senators were given access to the documents last fall.
The documents include the president's authorization of warrantless wiretapping, Justice Department legal opinions going back to 2001, and the requests sent to the telecommunications companies asking for their assistance.