The Real Problem With Telecom Immunity
by Josh Orton, Mon Jun 23, 2008 at 05:37:54 PM EDT
At the New America Foundation today, Russ Feingold got to the heart of the real problem with granting immunity to telecommunications companies (via Beutler):
"[Immunity] doesn't simply have the impact of potentially allowing telephone companies to break the law," Feingold said. "It may well prevent us from getting to the core issue, that I've challenged since December 2005, which is the president ran an illegal program I think that was essentially an impeachable offense."
This is exactly right. It's too bad so much of the messaging around immunity centered on corporate accountability.
While that point is relevant, the real issue is governmental accountability. If lawsuits went forward against the telecom companies involved in the domestic spying scandal, those companies would then have to provide evidence that they were asked to comply with Bush administration demands. And then the public would find out exactly what the government did.
Feingold has little tolerance for those in support of the cave:
"Anybody who claims this is an okay bill, I really question if they've even read it."
"Democrats enabled [this]," Feingold went on. "Some of the rank and file Democrats in the Senate who were elected on this reform platform unfortunately voted with Kit Bond who's just giggling he's so happy with what he got. We caved in."
Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., is the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and has been the Bush administration's chief congressional point man in its attempt to secure both retroactive immunity for telephone companies and much wider authority to conduct surveillance on both foreign and domestic targets.
The final Senate vote will likely be Wednesday.