Don’t Gag Ma Bell

I’ve been dissing my Congressman John Dingell by not pointing to the letter he, Bart Stupak (also from Michigan) and Edward Markey sent their colleagues about the FISA bill. But it raises an issue that deserves more attention. After discussing the rationales for telecom immunity, they point out,

For the past five months this Committee has asked, in a bipartisan manner, the phone companies and the Administration to explain whether they acted outside the bounds of the law and what would justify Congress telling a Federal judge to dismiss all lawsuits against the phone companies. The phone companies respond that the Administration has gagged and threatened them with prosecution if they respond to our inquiries. When the Committee requested that the Administration either remove the gag or provide the Committee with the relevant information, the Administration repeatedly refused. Surprisingly, even at this late date, the Administration has not deemed it important enough to respond to our repeated inquiries or even to brief the Committee Members in closed session.

Understand, John Dingell is a long-time friend of the telecoms (and can muster an awesome lecture to constituents on telecom history on demand). And this is the crowd in the House that legislates on telecoms more generally.

Yet the Administration won’t let Ma Bell talk to them–at least not about her overwhelming need for immunity. The Republicans claim that, unless Ma Bell gets immunity, she’ll go out of business. But they won’t let her tell that to the legislators who know the telecom business best.

So it’s not just the Administration’s justifications for their illegal spying program they’ll show to only 20 or so members of Congress in each house. They won’t even let Ma Bell make her case herself. 

I’m traveling tomorrow through Wednesday, so I won’t be glued to the teevee to liveblog the FISA votes. But I’ll try to touch base as the Senate vote develops.

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119 replies
  1. freepatriot says:

    It’s kinda like a “catch 22″

    I could tell you the answer, but I’d have to kill you FIRST (there’s a typo in the rule book, so deal with it)

    you gotta admire freeper logic

    I never suspected you could stack bullshit so high

  2. perris says:

    emptywheel, that is stunning information

    he won’t even let ma bell plead their case to congress

    stunning in the implications…I have said from the start that the only reason the administration didn’t want anyone to check in on them is that they are stealing, that is what they are doing and they are afraid ma bell will tell congress the what information is being requested and from whom

    that information CLEARLY has NOTHING to do with national security SINCE if the information had the nature of security the administration would not only be on sound ground but they would be proud of testimony

    • bmaz says:

      Sure they can be subpoenaed, but Congress won’t do it. No cojones. Goopers would scream that the Dems were traitors are traitors and outing our national security; even though that is a lie and they were happy and slapping themselves on the back when there was real traitorous outing of national security assets on Plame. Then, once they got to Congress, the Administration would order that they not testify under state secrets, and our heroic congresscritters would, of course, meekly say okay.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Here’s where I politely differ from your view:
        As long as Bu$hCheney were categorized as partisan mudslingers they were untouchable. They’ve claimed that all attacks on them were ‘partisan’. It was the perfect shield, because anyone who disagreed was instantly disregarded as ‘a partisan’ — and therefore ignored.

        However, during the past year, Bu$hCheney have been shifting OUT of the category “politician/mudslinger/partisan whiner’ –>–> and into the category “criminal. Each week, more and more people view them as ‘criminals’ rather than ‘partisans’. People ignore partisanship, but they don’t ignore criminal conduct.

        There’s a whole new dynamic in place, and nothing Bush, Cheney, nor any of their surrogates do will change that — the more they try to change it by sending out Condi, or Laura, or Karen Hughes, or Rove, the more they screw themselves. Note the fact that Cheney should have given his FISA rant to the Nat’l Press Club, or some other ‘non-partisan’ forum. Instead, he gave it at a wingnut foundation — that’s a sign the dynamic is taking its toll ;-))

        If the Dems fail to address “criminal” behavior, they’ll also pay at the polls.
        My $0.02. That’s like your local cops asking for their salary, provided they don’t have to show up for work, or investigate robberies. People expect cops to investigate crimes, and Congress now falls into the ‘cop’ role.

        Since you are a criminal defense atty (at least, that’s my assumption), you may dispute my assessment. But I think that I’m correct about the new dynamic that’s come into play.

  3. TexBetsy says:

    The Republicans claim that, unless Ma Bell gets immunity, she’ll go out of business. But they won’t let her tell that to the legislators who know the telecom business best.

    of course. protect big business instead of the citizens.

  4. Loo Hoo. says:

    Lordy. I keep thinking nothing will shock me anymore. But this is huge. I know what you mean, Minnesotachuck.

  5. AZ Matt says:

    Loo Hoo, yup, it is big. The companies are in a bad place. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They are pissing of the folks who write the laws(except Bush League rewrites them). If I were on the board of directors of these companies I would fire every lawyer who told them to go along with the Bushies and any executive who gave the go ahead. I suspect these companies are giving more to Democrats this cycle than Republicans who are leaving them to hang to dry.

    • mikenportc says:

      I suspect these companies are giving more to Democrats this cycle than Republicans who are leaving them to hang to dry

      I’ve looked here http://www.campaignmoney.com/, and from the cursory sample of telecom donations I’ve seen, they’re spreading it around fairly evenly, to incumbents of both parties.

  6. bmaz says:

    Folks: Repeat after me. This is a lie. The telcos will not go out of business. They are filthy rich, have plenty of money and are not liable for anything they did that was not blatantly illegal. Immunity is not needed and is only wanted to cover up gross illegal and unconstitutional acts perpetrated against the American public.

    Anytime you give them the benefit of even discussing this in terms of the health of the telcos or “protecting big business”, you lend some small measure of credibility to their argument. This is not about business, big or otherwise; this is about the criminal activity of the Bush Administration.

    • MadDog says:

      …Immunity is not needed and is only wanted to cover up gross illegal and unconstitutional acts perpetrated against the American public…

      I would add one important caveat to bmaz’s statement:

      Junya and Deadeye may think that giving retroactive immunity to the Telcos (as is likely with our cowering Congress) provides an impenetrable shield against this Administration’s criminal behavior, but soon there will be another Administration!

      The next Administration will be a Democrat Administration, and will have the powers to declassify anything Junya and Deadeye have classified.

      Junya and Deadeye’s attempt to shield themselves from FISA criminal violations by invoking State Secrets at the Judicial level and by intimidating Congress to pass Telco retroactive immunity ain’t gonna be sufficient to cover their asses.

      Junya may even grant blanket FISA violation pardons to his underlings on the way out of office, but he can’t grant one to himself.

      Folks who think the war is lost when Congress finally caves on Telco retroactive immunity mistakenly conflate it as losing the war instead of the truth, losing a battle.

      I’m not suggesting that losing the battle is my preferred choice, but instead pointing out that the war will continue.

      We ain’t surrendering anytime soon! Our cause is just. We will prevail!

      • sailmaker says:

        What is the statute of limitations on FISA violations, i.e. ‘we have not done that for _ _ _ years, FU’ ??

      • spirilis says:

        I hope you’re right but with the battle lost the Dems will throw in the towel and leave the battlefield ending the war. Losing the war! Do you have any confidence that they will then pick up the fight with new leadership? They sue for peace even with overwhelming odds on their side (impeachment anyone?). They fold holding 4 aces.

        • Rayne says:

          Have you thought at all why one would fold while holding four aces?

          What if you were holding four aces in the face of a gun barrel to your head, figuratively speaking?

          I suspect that the other driver besides the scale of evesdropping involved that prevents the administration from simply demanding legislation to ease economic hardship against the telcos is that the telcos can prove that the administration was doing more than listening in on citizens’ communications for reasons of national security.

          We all suspect it, I’m sure, but what if the telcos produced solid evidence that the administration was spying on us for all reasons BUT national security? What if was purely for financial gain or political control? What if the telcos were permitted to spy as compensation for allowing this? There would be no punishment big enough, would there?

          And what if the folks who were supposed to get to the root of this have been compromised — blackmailed, or compromised by campaign donations — would they fold or would they dare the administration to pull the trigger?

          This letter by Dingell, Stupak and Markey is the first time I’ve seen a solid dare. Maybe it’s the first time that folks who aren’t compromised have been at the table.

      • sojourner says:

        There are some bigger things going on that are major food for thought. Sure, Cheney and Bush want to get their butts covered because they know they are in deep legal doo-doo if telecom immunity does not get taken care of. In terms of the overall scheme of what is going on, though, their problems are minor in comparison to the big prize.

        What is more important is that AT&T has re-arisen from the ashes of antitrust to create a monolithic, one-stop shop that can monitor electronic communications virtually anywhere in the world at a moments’ notice. Now that it is re-created, the neo-cons want to make sure that it cannot be dismantled, at least during the next four years while they do not have control of the White House. That way, when and if they can get back into the White House, they have instant control of EVERYTHING.

        With all of the abuses that have come to light in the last year, I think it is a certainty that these chuckleheads have controls in place to allow them to continue using that infrastructure to spy. They do not care about laws — laws are made for the little people to follow. National defense is what they have used to scare people into doing what they want — but defense is small potatoes compared to the fortunes to be made. Just think of all the money that could be made if they had the means to monitor everything!

        • Rayne says:

          And how do we stop them?

          They are a fifth column inside this country, the unelected third party in control. If a Dem is elected and Congress is a solid Dem majority, they will burrow in deeper, more insidiously.

          We are going to have to do some serious house cleaning, the like of which we have never experienced.

    • spirilis says:

      Why is the business endangered? Because they can be sued. Not a real big deal unless they lose the lawsuit and have to PAY for the wrongdoing. If the business is endangered from the loss then they must have some idea of the MASSIVE amount of wrongdoing that was done and that they have no credible defense. How much would it take to bankrupt AT&T?

      • bmaz says:

        And to Sailmaker @33 Their business is not endangered and they will never have to pay for their wrongdoing. There is no chance in the world of AT&T, or any of the others, will go bankrupt. Tell me, when the telcos were wanting de-regulation, do you remember seeing the commercials they all put out explaining what a good deal it was for all the citizens? Any time there is any action they want taken by Congress, they always put on a show to get the public to back it. Even when they have faced class action lawsuits before; the y have advertised to taint the jury pool. You have not seen that here have you? I didn’t think so. Neither has anybody else. Want to know why that is? It is because they are not really worried about any substantial losses from these suits. Want to know why that is? In the first place, there are only a few cases, only a handful of potential plaintiffs wanted to sue and could gin up an argument for standing. The statute is up, there will be no more cases, there will be no giant class action nor rush of every Tom, Dick and Harry to the courthouse; so this is a false argument and a false concern. Secondly, they all kinds of plausible, if not credible, defenses. Third, what kind of fools do you think the telcos are? Have you ever dealt with a telco on a wiretapping matter and seen what they do to protect themselves and what happens if they get sued and get a judgment against them on an issue where they directly acted at the government’s behest? Well, I have. The telco lawyers are very good and very experienced at all this; they have been doing this since telcos first existed, this is not their first time to the rodeo. The telcos have indemnification provisions, arguments and rights that they are not telling you about and the government will not let them tell you about. Any judgment that is eventually entered against them, assuming one ever is, will be subrogated/indemnified out to the government to pay and cover expenses on through such an agreement and/of the Tucker Act process. You are, like I urged you not to above, framing this on their terms. You are buying into a bunch of bullshit. Don’t do it. This is a more false paradigm than the one we went to Iraq on. It is a wing and a lie and I tell you that with every ounce of conviction I have in my soul and as someone that has been around the block with telcos on criminal surveillance issues and liability suits for improper and illegal surveillance ordered by the government.

        • Rayne says:

          Sorry, bmaz, I have to disagree with you.

          It might be true that the telcos will be prevented from going bankrupt by the legislature.

          What is not being taken into consideration is that market forces are also working in tandem to force the telcos as they exist today into irrelevancy.

          I suspect that there was corporate spying enabled by this quid pro quo, that the telcos cannot and will not willingly come to the table to talk even if the impediment of state secrets was removed and if the telcos were offered immunity for their acts of spying on the public at the request of the administration for the purposes of national security. They may have had access to information about their emerging competition that allowed them to kill them in the cradle, allowed them to thwart their actions, in order to delay the inevitability of their obsolescence.

          How can acts not on behalf of the government, but against the best interests of the people be immunized? I believe this is the real question.

          • bmaz says:

            The acts you describe here would not be covered by immunity. You may never see them because immunity precludes them from being exposed; but they would not be protected under an immunity grant if they were not directly done on behalf of the government, so that really is separate from the acts I am describing and that are germane to the immunity discussion. And you are right about all the market forces etc., but again, that is not the direct issue on whether immunity is granted or not; that is a side consideration. As to the the central acts at issue, in the handful of cases existent, I can pretty much guarantee you that I am correct. It is simply how their legal departments do things; trust me, they did not suddenly forget and throw out the window all the savvy, work, forms and procedures they have been perfecting since they were born.

    • sailmaker says:

      What about THE Math? Every FISA violation is $5000. If everyone in the US (300,000,000) was warrantlessly datamined, and it was only counted once (not daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) would that not add up to trillions of dollars? Telcos are rich, but not that rich. I think that we are on negotiating turf: if they tell us exactly what they have done, who ordered it, and tell us how they will get rid of the data and data collection devices MAYBE we consider reducing the fine to $4000 per each. And so on.

      IMO there is a reason the administration does not want the telcos anywhere near Congress, what I think happened is that the telcos were promised immunity by the administration if they (telcos) kept their mouths shut. IMO the telcos bought into this plan because it also (as Marcy has noted) gives Bushco immunity and the telcos figure that Bushco, in the guise of defending itself from lawsuits will also protect the telcos.

      • Praedor says:

        Bush cannot immunize the Telcos. The President has no such power. The CONGRESS can immunize (as we are seeing). Thus, I repeat my proposal that Congress, instead of immunizing them from legal jeopardy for their illegal past spying, immunize from any and ALL charges that would otherwise stem from them spilling “state secrets” about exactly what they did, at who’s order, and when.

        • sailmaker says:

          You are correct, I misspoke: Bushco can not immunize the telcos. I meant that Bushco promised to ram immunity through Congress, inorder to keep the telcos quiet about what they had done, and for Bushco’s own agenda.

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        Or perhaps instead of, or in addition to, promising immunity they promised to ward off us hordes demanding to preserve and enhance internet neutrality. See my comment #14, above.

    • Leen says:

      Had not read this. Thanks for repeating bmaz.

      How do International Telecom companies like AmDocs or Comverse Infosys fit into this investigation? I have read that 95% of all U.S. phone companies bills go through these companies data mining systems?

      • bmaz says:

        Yep that is effectively correct. I am doing a more detailed post that will be up sometime in the next 2 or 3 hours, but i got a bunch of junk boiling at one time right now….

  7. Minnesotachuck says:

    Lest we forget, there is another crucially important issue up for grabs regarding the telecom industries: Network Neutrality. As people who hang out here realize, but as many others don’t, the MSM’s coverage of current affairs is badly skewed. This is especially serious regarding broadcast media, and especially TV, since it is the distribution channel through which most people get their “news”. The cable TV providers, especially, are deeply threatened by the internet, because a truly neutral, ultra-wide band internet would fatally disrupt their business model. There role as the programming middleman would be totally eliminated. No longer would our viewing choices be limited to “basic” and “premium” packages half the channels of which invariably include junk we’re not interested in. Instead we’d be served only the programs we want to watch, when we want to watch them. All we’d pay the wideband provider for would be the movement of bits, which will be a commodity business.

    The upside for citizens is that a truly wideband, neutral internet (which we don’t have in this country compared with some others, such as South Korea), combined with converged functionality of PCs and TVs, could make political coverage such as Josh Marshall’s Veracifier easily available to all. But his TPM operation is just a start. There will be lots of entrepreneurial trial and error that will gradually converge on viable business models that meet needs not now being met.

    Cable systems are fighting a desperate rear-guard action, however. David Isenberg, a former Bell Labs researcher and current consultant, has been all over this issue, as have some others, including EFF. Here’s one of his blog posts about Comcast’s anti-neutrality initiatives:
    http://isen.com/blog/2008/01/c…..cking.html

    It would seem that there should be some potential for synergies in fighting these two telecom iniatives (eavesdropping tort immunization and undermining of network neutrality) but nothing jumps out at me at the moment. Perhaps a night’s sleep will provide some inspiration.

  8. NanaMoesie says:

    EW…Ed Markey is an easy guy to reach and enjoys talking to everyone. My
    daughter interned with him during her college years. He has a good reputation in DC and has many connections. I think we should get many of the bloggers to start sending letters to Ed and tell him to keep up the fight.
    What do you think?? It certainly would not hurt.

    One way or another we have to keep that immunity out of the bill.

    Maureen

  9. Hmmm says:

    What I don’t understand is, if you’re Team W and Team Dick, who needs telecom immunity to forestall discovery when you’ve also got the state secrets doctrine? Is this just belt & suspenders fail-safe redundancy, or is some other angle being covered there? Do they think they’re likely to lose one or the other in the near term?

  10. BayStateLibrul says:

    Waterboarding fuckery in a nutshell:

    “Charting that progression is almost not worth doing anymore, so familiar are the various feints and steps. First, the administration breaks the law in secret. Then it denies breaking the law. Then it admits to the conduct but asserts that settled law is not in fact settled anymore because some lawyer was willing to unsettle it. Then the administration insists that the basis for unsettling the law is secret but that there are now two equally valid sides to the question. And then the administration gets Congress to rewrite the old law by insisting it prevents the president from thwarting terror attacks and warning that terrorists will strike tomorrow unless Congress ratifies the new law. Then it immunizes the law breakers from prosecution.” Dahlia Lithwick

    Question: If and when, will the Supremos shootdown this legal mockery?

    • Praedor says:

      I read an interesting hypothesis somewhere on the inter-tubes this weekend. Someone indicated that installing bugging devices on those trunks would cause a noticeable disruption of service…so perhaps the cables were cut to cause a covering disruption of a different sort so that the NSA could get their pasty meathooks into those lines and garner the ability to suck up ALL traffic to and from the ME and SE Asia.

      They WERE cut, I do believe that (no way a host of stray, dragging anchors all over the place did this…this was intentional) and because the repairs can be made relatively easily, I smell a rat that goes beyond simply desiring to cause a temp disruption.

      • klynn says:

        Hey all, only 3 were cut. One was a power failure due to the overload from Falcon going down from being cut.

        Some good updates and interesting related reads…

        http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/883/eg10.htm

        http://www.wired.com/politics/…..er_command

        http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Run_a_Traceroute

        As of now, 2 have been repaired. One of the two has been reported as cut by an anchor. Although the second is repaired, we have yet to learn the cause of the cut from investigators. As for the one reported as cut by an anchor that was in the area, investigators are trying to figure out if the anchor cut it or if the cable, due to bad weather, moved and snagged on the anchor only to break.

        The most interesting bit to me out of all of this is that Pakistan lost a tremendous amount of cell and web service provided by a Verizon owned cable. All of that was rerouted through BT (British Telecom) and one of China’s largest telecom providers…Verizon may have lost it’s service to them for good…

  11. Praedor says:

    Uh…isn’t there a really SIMPLE way out of this for the Telcos? A grant of immunity of a different stripe, perhaps? Rather than immunizing them from punishment for illegal acts of spying on Americans, immunize them from any punishment for violating Bush’s “state secrets” gag order. They can’t be prosecuted for spilling the beans if Congress immunizes them for doing so.

    • Praedor says:

      Damnit! Lot the link in the reply to.

      In REPLY to klynn @ comment 35:

      But that’s BORING.

      context is evcer

      • klynn says:

        I know. I know!

        But the most interesting questions have been regarding the water depth of the cables. One was at a considerable depth. Two were at average to almost shallow depths. Obviously, cables in shallow water have a higher break/cut rate. The math for cable cuts at considerable depths is quite (extremely) low. Many internet intelligence blogs had everyone asking the depth of the cables in order to “do the math”.

        The cable we have yet to hear about from investigators in terms of the two cables repaired/owned by FLAG, was at a greater depth than the other cut cables… This is the cable that has everyone wondering. It was not near the bad weather or the earthquake (yes, an earthquake was reported in the area at the time of the breaks). This was the cable that also had the most impact on Egypt and Pakistan…Thus the inquiring minds…

        I have also been fascinated by all the undersea cable deals that went down this past week — many which had been behind closed doors prior to the cable cuts and many with buyers sitting on the fence. Suddenly, all the deals were quite public and hurried…Multi billions $$$ not one US telecom included in the deals…

  12. pdaly says:

    Slightly on topic:

    I was playing mp3 files on my computer yesterday as I worked around the house. At one point the music stopped and Libby’s grand jury testimony began playing (I forgot I had down loaded it).

    I rolled with it, and let it play on for several hours.
    At one point Fitzgerald asked Libby to name his telephone provider.
    “AT&T” was Libby’s answer.

    (BTW, listening to Libby go on and on about his Russert conversations about Plame is a hoot. And maybe a little bit creepy given they are now proven lies)

    • bmaz says:

      Much ado about nothing. What he was inferring is that he, Hardin, would eat Novitsky’s lunch, and he will. What you don’t know, and quite frankly Waxman probably doesn’t know, yet is that there is a very good history of very questionable and inappropriate behavior and tactics by Novitsky and that he makes it personal as to the subjects he goes after and their friends and family. He is not a good guy, nor a clean investigator and he is way out of bounds on a lot of things he has done in the several years he has been churning this crap. Just wait….

          • BayStateLibrul says:

            Ah, the key words “history and perception”

            Is he alluding to the Grimsley affair, BALCO and the hunt for
            Barry Bonds?

            I tell ya…. you NEED to live blog for Wednesday

            • bmaz says:

              Well, the head cat is away, I may play. We’ll see where we are on the FISA stuff and what my time constraints are Wednesday. The Clemens stuff is kind of fun and has a lot of interesting angles that are actually decent examples of the misuse of governmental resources and inappropriate cross-pollenization of Federal investigations; but it is of no real significance compared to the stuff we are really focused on. I just have a weakness for this junk because, well, to some extent, this is the type of defense work I have done and been around in the past and watching top notch trial lawyers practice their craft is something I have always done in order to learn. I also have a habit of ringing them up and chatting, you never know when what you learn may be useful to your own cases. As to what is behind the “history and perception”, I will let that stand where that is, but suffice it to say I did not pull that out of my behind, and neither did Hardin.

              • BayStateLibrul says:

                In a sense, though, it IS significant, at least from my pew.
                Ball players are role models, and have an influence on kids.
                There was a great story in the Times about a set of parents who lost their
                teenager to suicide due to steroids. He was a blossoming football
                player, I believe.
                The notion of “role model” has been pretty much beaten to death, especially by athletes who angrily disavow any responsbility to their
                fans or their communities… too often baseball is caught up in the world
                of exorbitant salaries, bad behavior, greed and arrogance so it’s easy
                to become disenchanted…
                So, between the glitter and show on Wednesday, perhaps some good can
                come to baseball’s day of reckoning…

    • JTMinIA says:

      I’m watching, too, but it doesn’t seem worth posting about.

      If anyone has anything from today on whether the House will actually stand up and delete immunity and send it back across, I’d like to read it.

  13. Sedgequill says:

    Congressman Ed Markey’s web site has the full text of the letter, with a short preface that contains the following nutshell remark by Markey:

    The only reason the administration is trying to force a snap decision now is because of their own desire to avoid scrutiny by either the courts or the Congress in their final months of power.

    He nails the primary Bush-Cheney motive—although GWBush and Cheney also like to be protective of their loyalists, to act pro-business, to come across as unfailingly security-protective (of course), and to force stop-us-if-you-can predicaments upon the other branches of government.

  14. freepatriot says:

    oh boy, we get to watch roger clemens argue “balls and strikes” with Congressman Waxman ???

    I’ve seen you argue before roger, you’re a fookin amateur

    Congressman Waxman ???

    he’s the Christy Mathews of congressional investigators

    wait till you see his inside fastball (right at your head)

    the only thing roger is gonna eat is dirt (and maybe a few “high and tight” fastballs)

  15. JTMinIA says:

    Is it wrong for me to want to grab a certain red scarf and use it to bounce someone’s head on a podium while yelling “how you like Mukasey now? how you like Mukasey now?”

    It is wrong, isn’t it.

    I’m a bad person.

  16. JimWhite says:

    Hi folks. I’m just getting caught up from having my old laptop die and setting up my new one. I’m mostly up and running.

    Feinstein sounds pretty sick today, in several senses of the word.

    Pow wow just put up a new comment on the latest thread on Glenn’s blog. It sounds like there might be just a bit of hope that Dodd still can cause some delays in passage, but it doesn’t sound very promising.

    I’ll try to hang in the rest of the afternoon and listen to testimony.

    • bmaz says:

      Are you serious about there being votes? Got to move my gig here from off the patio and back inside by a TV I guess (CSPAN-2 no longer on the regular cable out here). Damn, it is a gorgeous day here, currently clear blue sky and 70 degrees with a high of 77 expected.

      • JTMinIA says:

        DiFi asked for the yeas and nays. The Chair seemed to beg for an objection, but there wasn’t one. For a moment, I thought he was going to call the roll, but then one of the pro-immunity types started babbling, so the moment was done.

  17. JimWhite says:

    Wow! Commenter Svensker over at Glenn’s blog just posted an email received from Pat Leahy, stating that Leahy intends to join Dodd tomorrow in a filibuster to stop retroactive immunity.

    Leahy provides this link to send his email to your Senators and Congressperson. Can’t hurt to join in.

    This is really encouraging if Leahy intends to join in a filibuster. I really don’t think that fits in with the plan that everyone was expecting for tomorrow. I realize I’m being Charlie Brown to Harry Reid’s Lucy and the football, but this has me ready to make a really hard run at that ball…

    • bmaz says:

      Maybe cboldt will appear and tell us, but if I understand what he was saying at the end of last week, the schedule is pretty well set in stone, so I am not sure if Leahy can tilt the boat or not without the participation of Reid in the effort. Man do I hope I have that wrong…..

      • JimWhite says:

        I agree that cboldt’s information would be in direct conflict with this, but why would Leahy bother to send out an email effort today if he didn’t actually plan something for tomorrow? The Republicans have been pulling “clever” parliamentary moves for years to get their way on a number of issues. Maybe the Democrats finally found a way to fight back and Leahy and Dodd have found a loophole in the consent agreement. Of course, it would be even more encouraging if that loophole comes with the aide of Harry Reid, but I realize that’s pretty wishful thinking.

    • selise says:

      i got that email too.

      can’t see how that could mean anything other than forcing a cloture vote, a 2 day delay, then a vote on cloture, then a bit more “debate” and then a vote on the motion. i can see things being delayed (so that the house has not time to do anything other than pass whatever the senate gives it).

      bottom line – imo, if leahy and dodd wanted to filibuster, then the time to do that was a week ago thursday. they should have objected to that UC.

      • RevDeb says:

        I’m wondering what the effect of Markey’s letter will be. Is there any hope of keeping the caucus together in the house and united against immunity?

        I know. Charlie Brown. Football. Lucy.

        But the stakes are too high for them to just screw it up.

        • selise says:

          Is there any hope of keeping the caucus together in the house and united against immunity

          i don’t know. should probably email rush holt’s chief of staff – he’s been very helpful / informative in the past. and i’d suspect that holt’s office might have a clue (if there is a clue to be had).

          the thing is that the there are enough dems to vote with the Rs and pass whatever horrible bill they want. imo, question #2 (after your questions) is: can we put enough pressure on the house leadership so that they know that if that happened (again!) we would see that as their failure.

          don’t know.

      • JimWhite says:

        Of course, the best outcome is for there to be 41 Democrats willing to vote against cloture. At that point, the filibuster is able to continue as long as Harry doesn’t pull the bill. There can be subsequent cycles of filing cloture motions, 30 hour intervals, and cloture votes. As long as 41 vote against cloture, there is no vote on the underlying bill. If carried out long enough, then PAA expires on Feb 16 or thereabouts.

        Could this be the “filibuster” Leahy says that he is joining?

          • JimWhite says:

            pow wow just counted only to three at Glenn’s. However, from this and previous comments from pow wow, it appears that only Feinstein and Rockefeller at this point could be considered to be “yes” votes for cloture. One shoud also assume Clinton and Obama (and McCain and his pet Lieberman) will be absent tomorrow. That means we need to get 38 of the unspecified 46 remaining Democrats to vote no.

            Of course, that leaves us in the position of needing to flip 3-5 of the votes that went to table the SJC version of the bill.

    • cboldt says:

      This is really encouraging if Leahy intends to join in a filibuster. I really don’t think that fits in with the plan that everyone was expecting for tomorrow.

      Leahy’s statement and intention to oppose limiting debate is perfectly in harmony with the path this was set on. It’s no surprise to me at any rate. He’s an exceptionally diligent advocate.

      DiFi asked for the yeas and nays.

      That’s a formality that creates a roll call vote, when the vote is taken. No votes today, stack of votes tommorrow.

    • bmaz says:

      I fail to see your point. I know about the Qwest case and can say two things about it; one, it was a massively overplayed vindictive prosecution, and two, there were some legitimate grounds for prosecuting Nacchio, his hands were not clean on the accounting/financial end, but such a case would normally be done on the civil side or with a far smaller criminal referral. But that case has nothing to do with what I am saying, and unless you are saying we should all supplicate the the Administration’s criminal conduct because they can “hamper” things (and I am not going to bite off on that argument for one second) then i just don’t get your point.

  18. RevDeb says:

    WHitehouse: “This body is literally incapable of deciding these things without access to the facts.”

    that’s not all they are incapable of doing . . . . .

  19. bmaz says:

    Folks, go ahead and consider this a liveblog thread or whatever you want for FISA or whatever for the time being. I am working on a post on immunity/indemnification, but it is going to take me a bit because I am multi tasking (and my pea brain much prefers to point and shoot on only one thing at a time…).

    • selise says:

      thanks bmaz.

      not trying to put a burden on you (although would love to read whatever you write)…. how about an “open thread” we could use for such purposes (liveblogging, etc)?

      • bmaz says:

        Lets use this one for now; FISA is on topic, and if I don’t finish with my other post in a bit, then I will put up a discussion thread.

    • RevDeb says:

      not seeing much worth posting. B’Oren ranting on and on about Islamo-Fascism and if we don’t protect the telcos the crazt arabs will be killin’ us in our beds. Whitehouse being ever so polite, saying not.

  20. skdadl says:

    selise, would you still have the whole of Hank Johnson’s exchange with Mukasey at the HJC last week? TPM got the beginning of it, Johnson’s question about TPM’s being taken off the press-release list, but that is all I can see on YouTube, and there was much more to that exchange.

    • selise says:

      i have the entire HJC hearing (as well as the HPSCI hearing) from last week recorded for posting YouTubes (and for me to watch – but i found it too depressing this weekend).

      would be most happy to post any clips you like from these hearings…. but could you get with me after the senate adjourns today? i don’t have the brain cells to do that much multi-tasking (listening to c-span2, working on a project, and organize for current YouTubes). in fact, you would be doing me a favor to let me know what bits i should post. thanks!

      • skdadl says:

        No hurry, selise. There are two exchanges in particular that I think should be added to what’s already available. One is Johnson vs Mukasey, in full (all that’s there now is Mukasey on DoJ retaliation against TPM). The other is Artur Davis’s zingers right at the end of the hearings. Davis was going after the prosecutor purge, three cases especially: Siegelmann, Iglesias, and McKay. Davis really caught Mukasey off his stride, I think, because that subject hadn’t been the one he’d had to work on much before. Davis was really bang bang bang on, which was a great way to end.

        Good vids of Delahunt, Schiff, and Nadler are already there. I’m sure there’s more that matters, but those are the ones I was most after.

        • skdadl says:

          PS: I know that Siegelmann wasn’t one of the purged prosecutors, but you know what I mean — that general turf. It was an interesting and effective shift of topic when Davis did it.

          • selise says:

            good – i’ll hang here after this for a bit and make sure i know which bits you are talking about… sorry i can’t stopy to try to figure it out now.

  21. mikenportc says:

    MinnesotaChuck , you sound as if you have an “in” somewhere . Any possibility there was surveillance done on MSM members? If so, giving it to them might get them irked enough to actually cover this with the diligence they should.

  22. Leen says:

    Where does the “alleged” spying on Colin Powell by John Bolton fall into this Fisa debacle?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl…..sa.comment

    The Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration’s stonewall reflex. The foreign relations committee has discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?

    Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisers and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies within the Pentagon and the vice-president’s office, with whom he was in daily contact and who were known to be working in league against Powell.

    Ma Tell

  23. JTMinIA says:

    I just searched around and reread some things, but I’m more confused than before.

    How can Leahy be talking about a filibuster when there’s an UC controlling the debate and subsequent voting? Isn’t Dodd, for example, already limited to four hours?

  24. Leen says:

    Glad to hear about Leahy (do not have access to listening right now)

    bmaz would take what you call your “pea brain” any day. Thanks for what you do!

  25. Sedgequill says:

    I formed the impression, based on experience under a different user name, that Crooks and Liars blocks commenting from at least some of the Tor anonymity system’s exit node IP addresses. There are several “progressive” blog sites that do that, and the HaloScan commenting system blocks all Tor-user comments, or at least has the option to do so (you don’t know who you’re missing, Digby, although your traffic numbers may rank high). I usually move along when that happens and don’t go back often.

    Some site admins take a radical approach and aren’t concerned about blocking many visitors to get one troll or undesirable. Some seem to resent the visitor’s use of an anonymization tool, as though it conveys distrust; those who think that way don’t appreciate the preference of many users not to have their web activities compiled at the ISP or elsewhere.

  26. Hmmm says:

    (Sorry for cross-posting)

    I’m kind of surprised we haven’t yet had a nationwide pattern of people spraypainting the word SPY on AT&T-logo’ed vehicles and equipment. Seems a natural.

    I am just observing, not advocating.

Comments are closed.