July 23, 2024

FISA Immunity

In what must be a blow for folks like Glenn Greenwald, Democrats and Republicans have come to the logical, inevitable conclusion that telecom firms who aided the Bush administration by compromising records of Americans’ telephony activities shall be immune from prosecution if asked to do so by the government.

Dan Froomkin hates the "compromise", which consisted primarily of Democrats finally acknowledging the reality of the immediate post-9/11 world and shutting their yaps.

What kind of a country is it where, when the head of state asks you to do something that may well be illegal, but assures you that he considers it legal, you can’t be held accountable for doing it?

Welcome to the new U.S. of A.

This is a good question and one that needs to be asked again and again.  Another, even better question for Froomkin to ask would be, "What kind of country is it when national security is breached and nothing is done for fear of offending the sensibilities of the opposition?"

As always I support Mr. Froomkin’s right to think and write as he sees fit and I applaud him for doing so.  Yet I must point out that the Constitutional freedoms he relies on when doing so are protected only by the administration whose actions he now, from the safety of his computer and the arms-length effect of time, decries.

This decision is the right one, at the right time. 

Phillip Carter says:

Absent negligent or intentionally wrong behavior by government contractors (in this case, telecommunications companies), we should not haul these companies into court over these programs. Decisions about surveillance are made by the government — not the telecommunications companies. And to a large extent, because they operate in such a regulated field, these companies have very little choice about whether and how to cooperate with government surveillance requests.

Told ya so, Glenn.

That said, it’s time for Congress to consider taking up the bigger issue at hand, namely under what conditions the continuing domestic spying program can be dismantled.  Thanks to the newfound spirit of compromise there is at least a semblance of due process in the offing.  While this will be an improvement, Americans should not simply accept this state of affairs as inevitable or desirable.  In this Froomkin and Greenwald are quite right.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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