Saturday, June 21, 2008

Illegal, Now Legal

The House of Representatives on Thursday, 6/19/08, approved a bill, pushed by the White House, which would grant the federal government sweeping new powers to spy on espionage and terrorism suspects under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. If approved (as expected) by the Senate, it also will enable telecommunications giants such as AT&T Communications and Verizon to gain retroactive immunity for the illegal spying it conducted between 2001 and 2005 (inclusive) in concert with the National Security Agency. Currently, there are multiple suits consolidated in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against the telecom giants.

On alternet.com, there is a comprehensive article by The Nation's Aziz Huq explaining that the bill is no compromise, as its supporters characterize it, but rather "contains just enough of a pretense of accountability to allow the legislators to claim a victory for civil liberties, as it sells out core principles of accountability and privacy." He notes

pending lawsuits against the telecoms are the best opportunity for the American public to learn what kind of illegal surveillance occurred under Bush's watch, and how existing law against warrantless wiretapping was circumvented. As bad as the telecoms will look, the Administration will look worse as more of its cynical and results-oriented reasoning and contempt for constitutional rights is fully aired.

There is another reason that George W. Bush, the wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate class, lobbied for this bill. Yet again, the interests of the American as a citizen in a free state becomes subservient to the behemoths who have directed foreign policy and controlled economic policy in this Administration.

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