Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gmail - Good Morning Silicon Valley: We modeled it after the very successful Little Big Horn Compromise - - Sent Using Google Toolbar

Gmail - Good Morning Silicon Valley: We modeled it after the very successful Little Big Horn Compromise -

Good Morning Silicon Valley

Article Launched: 06/20/2008 02:49:47 PM PDT

We modeled it after the very successful Little Big Horn Compromise


Congress is now in the process of enshrining into law the precept that the president has the power to secretly grant dispensation giving entities permission to break the laws of the land along with protection from any liability under the "just following orders" defense, and if that doesn't take the edge off your Independence Day celebration, I don't know what will.

After holding out for months against a new wiretapping bill that, among other things, would effectively grant the big telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for unquestioningly cooperating with years of illegal government spying, the congressional Democrats finally signed off on what they're calling a compromise, which is true only in the same sense that a bug compromises with a speeding semi. All that barking and they rolled over like puppies. "I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get," said Sen. Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations. The House easily passed the bill today, and it's expected to cruise through the Senate next week.

Those 40 or so lawsuits filed against the telecoms by groups or individuals who think the Bush administration illegally monitored their calls and e-mails will now be subjected to a ritual of dismissal. Under the bill, a federal district court will review certifications from the attorney general attesting that the telecoms received presidential orders telling them wiretaps were needed to detect or prevent a terrorist attack. As Glenn Greenwald puts it, "So all the Attorney General has to do is recite those magic words -- the President requested this eavesdropping and did it in order to save us from the Terrorists -- and the minute he utters those words, the courts are required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal their behavior was." A confident House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said flatly, "The lawsuits will be dismissed."

Further, the attorney general's office can classify the documentation it submits as secret. "So basically," writes Greenwald, "one day in the near future, we're all going to learn that one of our federal courts dismissed all of the lawsuits against the telecoms. But we're never going to be able to know why the lawsuits were dismissed or what documents were given by the Government to force the court to dismiss the lawsuits. Not only won't we, the public, know that, neither will the plaintiffs' lawyers. Nobody will know except the Judge and the Government because it will all be shrouded in compelled secrecy, and the Judge will be barred by this law from describing or even referencing the grounds for dismissal in any way. Freedom is on the march."

The clearest insight into what the administration expects of its citizens came from Bond: "I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do." We didn't swallow that reasoning at Nuremberg, and we shouldn't here.
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