Anti-Immunity Porn

Senators Dodd and Feingold aren’t waiting for Monday to keep fighting the good fight on FISA. Feingold has issued the following statement:

The conduct of Senate Republicans yesterday was shameless. After weeks of insisting that it is absolutely critical to finish the FISA legislation by February 1, even going so far as to object to a one-month extension of the Protect America Act, they obstructed all efforts to actually work on the bill. Now they want to simply ram the deeply flawed Intelligence Committee bill through the Senate. They refused to allow amendments to be offered or voted on, including my straight-forward amendment to require that the government provide copies of FISA Court orders and pleadings for review in a classified setting, so that Members of Congress can understand how FISA has been interpreted and is being applied. If the Republicans succeed in cutting off debate on Monday, the Senate won’t even get to vote on the amendment Senator Dodd and I want to offer to deny retroactive immunity to telecom companies that allegedly cooperated with the administration’s illegal wiretapping program.

Democrats should not allow the Republicans to ram this bill through the Senate without amendments. Monday’s cloture vote will be a test of whether the majority is willing to stand up to the administration and stand up for our rights. [my empahsis]

And Dodd just finished kicking some serious ass on the floor of the Senate. He has called those who claim the telecoms will go out of business "amateur economists" and pointed to AT&Ts huge profits. He explained, "the point of immunity is to challenge Bush’s assertion that he is the law." And he accused the telecoms of using the Nuremberg defense. Finally, after listing all the abuses of power that can’t be undone–including the destruction of the torture tapes and AGAG’s lies before Congress, he described immunity as one thread that we can use to combat the Administration’s abuses. "We can grab hold of the one thread left to use here and pull on it until the whole garment unravels."

Update: Whitehouse just finished speaking. Two of his best lines were, the Administration "couldn’t be troubled to get a court order, to protect these companies they’re so concerned about now" and if we pass telecom immunity, "we are taking away real rights of real Americans that are being litigated in courts right now. I don’t know if Congress has ever done before."

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33 replies
  1. nolo says:

    so sorry to zed O/T, but — as
    we continue to fight the FISA
    fight — judge richard w. roberts,
    in the federal district court in
    DC, has ordered [full-text under
    this link] by way of memorandum, that
    the DoJ answer for the torture tapes’
    destruction ON VALENTINES’ DAY 2008
    !

    W O O O T !

    now, that may evoke a day of
    reckoning, not unlike one, long-
    ago, in an alley-garage on the
    sordid side-streets of chicago,
    on this very same day. . .

    we now return you to your very-
    worthwhile, and regularly-sceduled
    FISA fight — NO IMMUNITY!

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      You don’t bring me flowers, anymore?

      Won’t the Bush lawyers say “We can’t meet that date, we can’t
      get our own fucking story straight, and hey it’s a State Secret?”
      I’m hoping for the best but preparing for more delays…

  2. ProfessorFoland says:

    Without jinxing it, it seems like we might manage to put off the vote another month. Reid annoys the hell out of me (especially for passing PAA in the first place) but you do have to say, in the face of probably over 60 Senators for telecom immunity right now, he and Dodd may end up having bought us over two months of delay on the final vote on telecom immunity.

    If we do get it stretched out it’s incumbent on us to use any extension as much as we can without letting up. I’m still on the phones this morning (FWIW Dodd’s office this morning seemed not to have heard about Rockefeller voting against cloture.)

    I called Obama and Clinton’s offices this morning; anyone here who’s voting on Super Tuesday might want to let those offices know that actual leadership on FISA will go a long way towards making up your mind…

    Dodd, Feingold, and EW are right–don’t wait for Monday, and don’t stop after Monday, either. If we lose Monday, there’s House / Senate conference; if we win, we’ll have 30 days to increase pressure on waverers for the final vote.

  3. Paddy says:

    Just caught the end of Dodd’s speech and the text should be sent to every single one of the media toadys. It should be covered and discussed endlessly.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      I’m so pissed at Tweety, KO, and MSNBC. All they have is annoying, fucking, election dribble.
      Why doesn’t KO lead with the FISA debate, and put a moratorium on the
      election drama?

      • mainsailset says:

        Since Dan Abrams is running on his legal ‘keeping them honest’ mantra, he of all people should go at this on his segment.

      • Evolute says:

        Why doesn’t KO lead with the FISA debate, and put a moratorium on the election drama?

        The first bit is a good question. As for a moratorium, with his now proclaimed (rumored) power and influence at that network, I think he could reframe the “election drama” into what is actually at stake, where the race is more about the Dems trying to represent all of the people – the every day sort that actually have to work for a living – and the Rethugs whose primary interest is business – profits over people. And if the other side of the aisle is going to own up to the Bush legacy and face their folly.

        He doesn’t have to flat-out state the obvious, that the entire neocon experiment has been an utter failure for all except for those invested and profit from the machinations of war.

        Of course, at least one aspect of the FISA debate dovetails into this quite nicely. He and his researchers are said to have a handle on the pulse of the netroots, tonight’s show should be an indication.

  4. chetnolian says:

    Help a very confused Brit. As I undertsand it, a failure of cloture on Monday would mean no bill, including telecom immunity, is yet going towards legislation, right?

    Let’s assume, just for a moment, that Harry Reid saw this coming.Let’s assume therefore that all the apparent reasonableness over the last few days was designed to get the GOP into the corner it is now in. He can say with absolute honesty that he went as far as he could, and perhaps further than he should, and they still wouldn’t be bipartisan. Is it possible you guys are all on the same side after all?

    • emptywheel says:

      I have my suspicions that’s right. But there’s no way of knowing. Reid’s people aren’t claiming credit for it, though they’ve always been kind of saying, just wait.

  5. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Mukasey will not comply or he would not be AG, judge will be told to
    get hairlipped. Dodd is great, but we need a shitstorm to move the
    bluedogs along on this, besides, they all want to go to Davos and hold
    hands with Bono, Bill Gates, and Bill Clinton.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, except that Whitehouse seems primarily concerned over minimization, not immunity. That concerns me a great deal; although I do agree wholeheartedly as to his professionalism.

      nolo and BSL – Yes, as I stated yesterday when discussing that news from the court of Judge Roberts, my guess is state secrets is exactly what will be interjected next. Hooray for Judge Richard Roberts though for doing his part.

      Mainsailset @9 – Abrams is not a natural at this; his new found activism is due pretty much to the fact that he had no ratings/viewers to speak of and was about to be a goner, so he made the wise choice to tag onto Olbermann’s bandwagon. Pound on him with an email or three if you want him to catch on.

      • emptywheel says:

        No, his speech today was focused on both (see my two excerpted lines above).

        But frankly, I’m concerned no one else is working on minimization. Immunity is one thing–it prevents holding telecoms accountable for the past. But if we don’t get some oversight over minimization, then Congress is basically giving Bush the approval to do anything with US person data, since there will be no way of holding them responsible for doing any real minimization.

      • mainsailset says:

        Done. I’m counting on him being enticed with a couple of ratings hikes. Maybe a visit by Jonathan Turley.

      • nolo says:

        . . .nolo and BSL – Yes, as I stated yesterday when discussing that news from the court of Judge Roberts, my guess is state secrets is exactly what will be interjected next. Hooray for Judge Richard Roberts though for doing his part. . . .

        i really don’t mean to veer off-topic,
        here, bmaz — but in fact, as the briefs
        in opposition, and the order itself, makes
        plain — the govt. has not raised, and thus
        has very-likely WAIVED any defense based
        on state secrets:

        . . .Respondents oppose petitioner’s motion by arguing that
        prudence cautions against granting the motion. . . .

        we will see — but i think
        this may finally be the reckoning
        we are all so earnestly pining for.

        p e a c e

        • bmaz says:

          I am not sure on this at all (heh I have never had to argue that state secrets could be applied), but I would think that it is a doctrine that could be invoked about any time; at least that was my inclination from the al-Haramain case.

          • nolo says:

            now that this one is firmly in EPU’d
            territory — i’ll offer what i think
            will be the trump-card to any argument
            based on al haramain. . .
            [a case that dealt centrally with secret
            documents — these are tangential at best.]

            as the government conceded in its
            abdullah papers, there are scarcely any
            “secrets” left to claim as to the matters
            sought in abdullah’s habeas petition.

            abdullah does not seek the release of
            any “document” [for they are claimed
            to have been “destroyed”] — he seeks simply
            to know whether those questioned mentioned
            his name. not what they said — not on what
            basis he was led to his arrest — none of that.

            just whether he was mentioned. it seems
            beyond peradventure that someone now in
            custody at gitmo is no threat for flight, nor
            a threat regarding disclosure of state secrets.

            unlike so many of the other cases, this one
            simply asks whether the govt. violated judge
            roberts july 2005 order by withholding evidence.
            it cares little as to what the evidence might have
            been — for the object here is simply to establish
            that the govt. destroyed evidence it was under order
            to perserve. and that, at least under older precedents,
            could win adullah his habeas-granted release from custody.

            cool.

            [to be fair, his counsel does also
            ask to know — via roberts — what has
            been done since the destruction to track
            down any still-extant evidence, on this score.]

            we’ll see, but i think, because of how carefully
            roberts always drafts his orders [you are so right,
            [email protected]!], this one may actually go
            down the way we hope. . .

            the tone of the govt. in its filings on
            this case, is much like the dog that knows
            it’s already been beat.

            keepin’ fingers crossed.

            • bmaz says:

              nolo – First off, know that I am on your side on this (most everything actually). That said, you underestimate the arrogance of this administration in how they bandy about their privileges and immunities.

              unlike so many of the other cases, this one
              simply asks whether the govt. violated judge
              roberts july 2005 order by withholding evidence

              .
              A court does indeed have to know and evaluate what evidence was not produced in order to ascertain if it was germane to the discovery order and, if so, if it was material or if it was harmless. But the Bushies will never allow a proper inquiry in this regard; they will either clam up under state secrets or produce a fraudulent explanation package. If only we had a track record to predict their behavior from……

  6. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Whitehouse has emphasized the minmization issue more, but this last
    speech makes clear that his view of immunity is linked to it as a
    fundamental legal/logical matter. Kit AA Bond is making it clear the
    cloture move is political payback, pure and simple… this is an
    issue for the candidates to get on, now.

  7. radiofreewill says:

    The Capo Telecoms were doing Bush’s bidding – because Bush said so – (and for money, too – dammit!) and they had No Problems Going Along, until Innocent Victims of the Actions of the Telecoms began seeking Legal Redress for the Harms Wrongly Visited on the Innocent.

    At least Sammy the Bull gave-up his Boss for his Immunity…

    Immunity for Nothing negates the Rule of Law.

  8. Mary says:

    12 – Feingold and Dodd are focused on minimization too. Whitehouse voted for the Intel bill (w/immunity) on that committee, so he hasn’t really sold me on how much he is willing to fight on that front. He seemed swayed by the “they relied on the AG” argument at one point.

    [email protected] Judge Roberts is the best. When the possible judges and cases who might have some interest were being listed, I mentioned that several of the GITMO case judges could still be heard from.

    The sad thing is that I think even if he does manage to go after the lawyers, the ultimately injured at GITMO are still going to be in the same “kafkaesque” limbo that Roberts found them before – no legal or valid claim to hold, but no authority in his court to force a different outcome.

    I still can’t quite get my head around what it takes to be a pro-torture lawyer, but any affiliation with DOJ since, at a minimum, the time when the torture memos leaked out – is the sign of a diseased soul.

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    It seems to me congress could proceed with its vigorous hearings process for both subtexts: retroactive immunity; US person data minimalization; as precondition for implementation of the neoFISA construct. The immunity should be only partial, and with the precondition that some measure of mitigation might be offered but only following discovery in hearings; i.e., keep the threat of prosecution strong, to encourage rule of law. Data minimalization is likely to be a wider discovery as it is a feature of likely many ‘programs’, and has the nuance of euphemism for precisely the kind of over-reaching congress has had to limit in other eras. Admittedly without having read some of the whitepapers extant currently on minimization, I would expect the phonecompanies to provide a modicum of support for minimization as a necessary nuisance but one which respects the privacy US people cherish and which people in less institutionally integrated systems of government envy.

  10. maryo2 says:

    If Congress grants immunity to telecoms, will Bush write a signing statement that says “In regard to this legislation, the OVP is a telecommunications provider?”

  11. sojourner says:

    If nothing else, this particular fight points up something very important: The Republican Party rules over all. Our elected representatives and senators do not represent us, the people. Instead, they march in step to Republican dictates for fear of a) getting beaten up publicly if they don’t toe the line; b) having to face a “party” candidate in the next election (i.e. — someone who will do as they are told); c) having campaign funds shut off by the party.

    I don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, or whatever, I will vote ONLY for those who stand up for our Constitution and the REAL rule of law. Kay Bailey Hutchison plans to run for governor our esteemed state, and John Cornyn is attempting to run for reelection. I think they will both find out that Texans are fed up with how things are done now.

  12. Mary says:

    sojourner – I hope But I hope the same for Evan Bayh and Harry Reid and about 80% of the Senate for that matter. Makes it hard to claim a “home team.”

    OT on torture –
    http://atimes.com/atimes/South…..5Ae01.html
    US and Thailand: Allies in torture


    Wherever the CIA-run interrogation facilities are situated, the torture of suspects in Thailand apparently represents the latest US violation of the Geneva Conventions and also controversially violates Thai law and sovereignty. The US congressional revelations about the facility also raises hard new questions about the role and possible complicity of Bangkok-based senior US officials, including previous US ambassadors Darryl Johnson and Ralph “Skip” Boyce.

    Although Thailand is conveniently not a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Torture, it has signed onto the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which broadly protects human rights, including the right to a fair and speedy trial for those charged with crimes.

    With the prosecution of its “war on terror”, the US has more recently persuaded several of its regional strategic allies – including Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines – to either ignore or reverse their prior multilateral commitments to rights-protecting international laws and covenants like the ICCPR in exchange for preferential trade and military deals.

    Rights advocates monitoring southern Thailand’s conflict note a striking similarity between the torture techniques US agents are known to have used against terror suspects held in both Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with those now in practice by Thai security forces against suspected Thai Muslim militants.

    The only thing worse than the torturers are the lawyers who gave them the free pass to torture and who continue to work their fingers to the bone to insure unfettered torture and cover up of torture today.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Cheney claims that France is moribund, a part of Old Europe, but he is addicted to the ancien regime’s model of executive authority: l’etat, c’est moi.

    In leading the fight for FISA immunity, Mr. Cheney is not protecting national security, or advocating only limited amnesty for prior bad acts committed in good faith. He is not even espousing a grand constitutional [sic] theory that would survive his passing. He is advocating a silent coup and attempting to keep himself and his brethren out of jail.

    The reach of the “unitary executive” will be limited to the reign of the GOP. Democrats will discover when they reach the White House that the GOP will carve out exceptions. They will shred Democratic attempts to use such powers because they “fall outside” the “real” meaning of the unitary executive. Just as the neo-cons’ dominance in the Supreme Court has allowed them to gut abortion and civil rights laws without overturning them. But rest assured, expansive notions of the unitary executive will be born again when the GOP returns to the White House.

    It is time for others besides Sheldon Whitehouse and a resuscitated Harry Reid to call the GOP tactics what they are: unparalleled claims to unaccountable power, not attempts to protect America or Americans.

  14. wcsally says:

    Everyone is having a lot of fun with this issue, but the fact is that the safety and protection of the country depends on the Government’s ability to work with the Telecoms to detect AQ, and their friends.

    I almost think that you don’t want that safety and protection to exist.

    Democratic yes, but Patriotic also!

    At least that is my hope!

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sadly, the issues at play in the current FISA debate are not about protecting Americans or the equitable and voluntary balancing of personal liberty and communal security.

    Mr. Cheney and Adm. McConnell act as if paranoid, and want – or claim the “inherent right” – to monitor all our communications without cause or warrant. They claim unlimited power and its unaccountable use. Citizens have fought and died for centuries to oppose such things. They are criminal acts that deserve prosecution, not immunity and statutory sanction to keep committing them.

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