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October 20, 2007


Someone remind me why we helped elect Dems last year? It seems all of them have forgotten it, because they are, most of them, busy being shills as big as any of the GOoPers ever were.

(Pelosi is now papering over Pete Stark's remarks on the floor this week; they apparently were too harsh for her tender ears.)

P J Evans --

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

i love the "jello jay" tag.

hope you keep it going.

it's well deserved ridicule - and ridicule can really hurt a politician. hope that's true of this craven.

"(W)hy is the Administration going to such lengths to compartment the current DNI out of knowledge of the programs earlier incarnation?"

It suggests that when Bush agreed to bring the Program under the FISC in January of '07, he was given By Rockefeller, in return, a Free Pass for all prior activities in exchange for 'allowing' FISC review going forward - it was an 'Immunity Deal' for BushCo - which Bush reminded Jay of this week - "Hey Jay, you gave me Immunity back in January, now I want you to Re-Affirm My Immunity before we talk about the Telcos."

So, Immunity in Hand, Bush is back to cover his buddies, the Telco's, with the same Deal he got - and all he had to do was go to Rockefeller and say, "A deal's a Deal, Jay. You can't hold me harmless, and not those who acted under my direction, too. Put the Telco Immunity in there, or I'll re-consider my noble gesture of 'letting' the Program be reviewed by FISC."

"Here, Jay, I'll even help you out - I'll let you see The Portions of My Order for the Program, but only the bare minimum, that show I compelled the Telcos to cooperate blindly with me. You oughta not have any problem with that - you gave me Immunity, now you'll give it to my Agents, too, see? It's only fair."

So, having a DNI that 'knows nothing' - like Sgt. Schultz McConnell - about the prior incarnations of the Program is to both Bush's and Jello Jay's advantage.

These one-way backroom deals have got to Stop. Reid, Rockefeller, Pelosi, Reyes and anyone else who is 'negotiating' on Our behalf, in Secret, with BushCo is complicit in the Circumvention of the Rule of Law to 'legitimize' the Unitary Executive.

I would suggest that the "immunity deal" both back in January and now with the pending FISA legislation is not primarily for the Telcos.

Junya and Deadeye couldn't care less whether the Telcos are hung out to dry or not. Crocodile tears in the Administration have flowed quite readily over those poor, poor Telcos.

The "immunity deal" is primarily a "cover" for giving the Administration a pass on their own criminal violations of the FISA law.

Junya and Deadeye are insisting on Telco retroactive immunity only as the mechanism to deliver said "immunity" to themselves.

Additionally, the motivation to have Congress provide said "immunity" rather than Junya using his own "pardon" powers is meant to make Congress accomplices and accessories after the fact in the criminal violations of FISA.

And Jello Jay happily obliges by downing more Administration Kool-Aid with his Jello. Jello Jay, snookered again, and lovin' it.


Pelosi is now papering over Pete Stark's remarks on the floor this week; they apparently were too harsh for her tender ears

I just sent Madame a very pointed email about this here:
AmericanVoices@ mail.house.gov

We probably can't stop her and Steny and Jello Jay doing what comes most naturally to the spineless, but at least we can let them know it doesn't make them popular.

I think the amnesty (retroactive immunity) is a bit of both, care and feeding of the telecom helpers, and political ass covering.

There is no way that President Bush (or any other president in the future, for that matter) is going to be held criminally or civilly liable for breaking FISA, assuming the surveillance does just that. Not even if he was surveilling political enemies. The Church Committee uncovered all sorts of nasty tricks, and the only reactions were scorn and more legislation for future actors to ignore.

Congress has no more genuine interest in personal rights than the administration does. They confuse legislation with action, and by the tenor of the legislation they pass (mandatory SSN on ID, REAL ID Act, need for approved government-issued ID in order to work, travel or purchase, etc.), it's abundantly clear that Congress is actively ANTI-privacy -- at least as between the individual and the state.

also this from the same article:

During a long committee debate behind closed doors Thursday, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, proposed an amendment to strip the immunity provision from the bill. But it was defeated on a 12-to-3 vote, with only Mr. Wyden and one other Democrat, Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, joining Mr. Nelson.

so, this means that sheldon whitehouse didn’t just vote for the entire bill - he specifically voted for telco immunity? am i the only one who's surprised by this? i thought we could count on the support of whitehouse on "rule of law" and administration abuses.

I don't understand why you think that McConnell has not been read into these programs. He almost certainly has been. The last time the Democrats tried to make a deal with McConnell they got blindsided by the White House. Jay-lo at his Senate site made a big deal of how nifty and bipartisan this all was and how he had been working hand in glove with Bond. It is unsurprising then that this time around Jay-lo's BFF Bond went directly to the source. What is interesting is that source was Cheney and not anyone in the President's office.

I feel like a broken record saying this, but I STILL have not heard any reason to believe that Jello Jay and his ambrosia salad like cohorts that were so generously allowed by the Administration to look at the family jewels, actually saw ALL of the pertinent memos, opinions and justifications that comprise the totality of what the Administration has done, and is doing. And i damn sure have not seen any indication that they were adequately briefed on the nature and circumstance of all the program(s) they were being applied to; which really is the crux of the matter.

Selise - Yeah, I was a little shocked at that as well. Pretty easy to see DiFi; but Whitehouse? All I can figure is that, you know, he is a prosecutor at heart; and prosecutors love this kind of stuff. I know that sounds a little cynical, but it is the only thing that quickly came to mind. I hope there is a much better explanation; but I seriously doubt that it is because all the things BushCo has been doing are just hunky dory after seeing their Yoo like spew of self serving documents, and not all of those, per the above, at that. I will say this much, irrespective of what Whitehouse's motivations were, I can flat out tell you that it is a common tick of the prosecutorial mindset to like stuff like wiretaps and other invasions of privacy; it just makes their jobs easier.

And the nightmare continues. Every angle of this--Cheney's continued usurpation of power, Jello Jay's recent campaign donations from the telecos, more secret deals, Whitehouse(?!?!?!) not voting with Feingold and Wyden, Bush getting everything he wants at 24%--it's simply maddening. I'm convinced that the information Cheney and Rove must have gotten from spying on all these these people over the last 6 years has to be the reason why Congress is entirely ineffectual and so easily bribed. How else can you explain the entire breakdown of oversight and rational thought?

And the nightmare continues. Every angle of this--Cheney's continued usurpation of power, Jello Jay's recent campaign donations from the telecos, more secret deals, Whitehouse(?!?!?!) not voting with Feingold and Wyden, Bush getting everything he wants at 24%--it's simply maddening. I'm convinced that the information Cheney and Rove must have gotten from spying on all these these people over the last 6 years has to be the reason why Congress is entirely ineffectual and so easily bribed. How else can you explain the entire breakdown of oversight and rational thought?

McConnell led the team that designed this program:


it is a common tick of the prosecutorial mindset to like stuff like wiretaps and other invasions of privacy; it just makes their jobs easier.

bmaz - yeah, but illegal wiretaps?

i really wanted to think well of whitehouse.

Lisa: How about a "Rightmare?"

Selise - Yeah, I dunno; its the best I could come up with for a confounding proposition. You get pretty jaded when you ply the depths of an active practice in criminal law for a long period of time; whether you are a prosecutor or defense lawyer. Legality and propriety can easily become a function of what side of the fence you are straddling. That I can easily assure you from my own experience. Whether or not this is any part of Whitehouse's deal, I have no idea; but I would not be totally shocked if it was at least part of the equation although I hope not. He was very aggressive on the US Atty issue; but, really, that is protecting prosecutors, and may not necessarily mean he is a bleeding heart liberal/progressive across the board. I hope so, but this vote speaks volumes to me; so we shall see.

Based on the 12-3 committee vote, someone was absent. I sure hope it was Sheldon Whitehouse, but the list of sellouts really depresses me.

WO - As I understand that Dec. 2000 pdf, it says that Groundbreaker is an out-sourcing project to be awarded to a Contractor. Is that how you read it?

If so, which Prime Contractor got it? Almost certainly a backbone-communications providing Telco had to be involved as a sub-contractor, right? An outfit who could 'plug-in' to geographically scattered Local/Regional/International Switchrooms and 'split-off' the signal to the National CyberCenter, run by the Contractor in question.

Presumably, the Prime Contractor would have an interest in the Immunity issue, too? I wonder who that Contractor was/is? What if it was/is a Giant Global investment group like Haliburton or Bechtel or the Carlyle Group some other notorious BushCo/CIA/DoD front-company?

why is the Administration going to such lengths to compartment the current DNI out of knowledge of the programs earlier incarnation?

Because the earlier incarnation was explicitly illegal, and concealing knowledge of illegal activity is a federal crime. If McConnel doesn't have personal knowlege, he can't testify against them.

Tekel - I guess I need a good civics class or something. I can not see how this non-reading-in of a director on programs can be legal or even functional from a managerial point of view. Any ideas on how to stop this stuff? Heads need to roll, but can Congress do it or the Inspector General?

"Jello Jay Pillowfeller"

I doubt the current DNI is out of the loop. I think reality is more banal; as long as they continue to gut the Constitution, Addington, Cheney, and Fielding could care less who gets it done. They have one unflagging premise--for a number of the worst reasons possible the Democrats will continue to be the Cavocrats.

As everyone here has recognized, and EW and other bloggers and commenters have followed closely, this is about to become a prodigious assault on the Fourth Amendment.

Also the classic whore house paradigm is in place in the U.S. Senate. It's not just Vitter who knows a thing or two about hookers. Jello Jay has his own Escort Service going and he's turning tricks for dollars.

The Telco Lobbyist law firms have been writing this bill from the start and they've paid well to do it.

Converging worlds of IP Telephony, VoIP, Broadband

Rockerfeller’s contributions from Telco’s to buy immunity have exponentially climbed off the wall since Spring 2007.

The list of Verizon’s law firms lobbying for immunity alone is staggering and among them are the largest law firms in any major US city.

Senate Bill Gets Telcos Legal Immunity and Lets NSA Wiretap In U.S. Without Court Approval

Democratic Lawmaker Pushing Immunity Is Newly Flush With Telco Cash

Of course Democrats formerly in power at the highest levels are helping the current Democrats to Cave for money as Glenn Greenwald notes here:

Former Clinton officials lobby for amnesty for FISA lawbreaking

So if Telco Immunity is being framed in a fillibuster there are a two numbers to keep in mind:

1) It takes 60 votes to stop the fillibuster or in Senatespeak to “invoke cloture.”

2) It would take 67 votes to overcome the inevitable Lil Bushie Veto that would follow a bill that maintained Telco Immunity–what we all want to happen but what I personally would be shocked to see happen given the lack of backbone in Democrats and the lockstep rubberstamp Senate and House Republicans have given to Bushie on every major vote I’ve seen in the last few years.

Everyone should be extremely bothered by the way this is unfolding:

No one in the House or Senate considers you important enough to know anything about the substance of information given to Senate Intelligence Committee members that the Senate Judiciary members are complaining they haven’t seen. I predict an inevitable cave-in of Democrats as to cloture. I predict a Bush rubber stamping of Republicans if Telco immunity were included and then 67 votes would be needed to overcome the inevitable Bush veto.

We know nothing about what’s being marked up right now–but it’s pretty obvious that Telco immunity is in there thanks to spineless Rockerfeller. He can always be counted on to cave as can his fellow Intelligence Committee members with the exception of Russ Feingold.

None of them will tell you anything about what’s being marked up, nor anything substantive about what they’ve been able to review as far as classified documents. I know they’re classified, but let’s get real–You’ve never had the door shut on you as a voter more firmly than now.

You aren’t given any real indication about the markups in Senate Intelligence or Senate Judiciary and you aren’t given a clue about what the classified documents show but I’ll give you one: It’s worse than you can immagine.

Billions of your tax dollars are spent on gathering all of your information from every source with all kinds of alphabet subagencie communications centers you’ve never heard of and never will–your email, your searches, your phone calls, and your medical records and your Democratic Senators and House Members are poised to to extend it.

Again Fillibuster–60 Votes and you’re talking Cavocrats here–they cave each and every time–I’d say the chances of invoking cloture look awfully good right now. I couldn’t be more happy that Dodd and Biden are at least the first ones to promise to fillibuster. Right on.

Veto–67 Votes and you’re talking Bush Rubber Stamps here on both sides of the aisle unfortunately.

Conference Committee will be a disaster–Secret negotiations controlled by synchophants to the principle of State Secrets spelling Telco Immunity but it's really about cash paid for services to people like Rockerfeller and forget about help once it gets there.

That Georgie Orwell had it down when he wrote that little book in 1948.

The latest comment I’ve seen from Russ Feingold about what they’ve been shown (none of which they are sharing with you the voters is this from NYT):

“The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Bond, worked out an agreement with the administration giving committee and staff members access to the documents in exchange for scheduling Thursday’s review of the bill. But just what those documents showed was a matter of intense dispute.

Mr. Feingold, who had a staff member review the classified documents at a secure location earlier in the week, came away with a different impression. Mr. Feingold said, “The documents made available by the White House for the first time this week only further demonstrate that the program was illegal and that there is no basis for granting retroactive immunity to those who allegedly cooperated.”

kevin H

i wanted that list.

thanks for providing it.

If so, which Prime Contractor got it?

May I offer AT&T or a subsidiary, why else would the Gov. allow them to merge back to one Lg monoply.That would be my guess.

Proposed Senate Democratic Cave-In Surveillance Bill


Project Groundbreaker is a red herring (actually it is almost certainly the public cover for the secret wiretapping program). The key statements in that document are:

To perform both its offensive and defensive missions, NSA must "live on the network".[scare quotes in the original]

The Information Age will however cause us to rethink and reapply the procedures, policies and authorities born in an earlier electronic surveillance environment.

[NSA's mission] will demand a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications network that will host the "protected" communications of Americans as well as the targeted communications of adversaries. [scare quotes in the original]

I woke up this morning with all of this stuff running around in my head. Over the last several days, I have been trying real hard to put my finger on exactly what I am feeling, and it finally came to me.

A close friend of mine died about 10 years ago in a very violent act of terrorism. She was a wonderful person, and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is not to make light of what happened, though. It had been years since we had been in touch, but I felt her dying very deeply.

I kept thinking that there had to be someone to tell how stupid and insane it was -- that no one should have allowed it to happen. I was terribly angry -- but all I could do was get over it. There was no one who could do anything about it.

Where I am going is that what I felt then was a listless type of anger -- it just would swirl around and resurface periodically to let me know it was still there.

In our ordered little American world, maybe we put too much faith in our leaders -- we believed that they could fix it all. We listened too much to their lies -- or maybe we just believed what we wanted to believe, and they just helped us along the way. Time was that entering politics was supposed to be a good and noble thing to do in life. The truth is that it is every man and woman for him- or her- self.

Regardless, I am stuck with this swirling anger again. And, I am really grieving for what we have lost in the Bush years. There is no one in public office, it seems, who really gives a rip. Trying to pin one of these snakes down is like trying to nail Jello to a tree.

I would sure like to know what each of them is getting in return. Perhaps an estate in Iraq? ;-)

Wow. That statement of the NSA's mission purpose that William Ockham related is something else. Lets see if we can cut the filler out of the statement and view, in all it's glory, the meat of the matter.

"NSA will demand a powerful, permanent presence as host of the "protected" communications of Americans".

Yep, just about sums it up I would say.... I have a question. Why even screw around with private telcos at this point. If this is going to be the way it is, and clearly the [insert your own profanity of choice here] Democratic Leadersheep are going to insure that this train stays on the track and on time, why not just have all communications in America handled by the government? It would make the government's job of crawling up our butts a lot easier and at least the consumers could benefit from the savings and reduced costs. Really, it is not like the Omniscient Unitary Cheney Hive (OUCH) could invade our souls any more than they already are.

bmaz, you forget the mantra of the neocons is "privatize, privatize, privatize" and then Grover will drag the remains of government off to his bathtub to finish it off. They've never even had the decency to pretend they had other aims. This is all part and parcel of their world view. Privatize government, make a tidy profit for yourself and your friends in the process, and wipe your bloody hands with the tattered remains of the Constitution.

I always like to bring back DemFromCT's statement that the "Democrats know how to Govern Well."

Ever since the new Congress with a Democratic majority was installed, there has been not much more than complaints from the Democrats/Progressives except of course the ones at the money trough now are well satisfied.

Jodi, your mind is a sewer.

Please take a look at Wired Magazine's website showing a chart of the gifts from Verizon and AT&T to Sen Rockerfellor.

Quite a jump the last few months.

$45,000 will get you taken off the criminal hook.

You'll never know how much of your information has been matrixed into data bases courtesy of the phone company you pay from $30 to $100 to whatever to per month.

And thanks to your Democratic pansies who have sold you out on the ridiculously named Intel committee, it won't be the FISA court which has been a rubber stamp anyway in approximately all but 4-5 of the last 20,000 applications for a warrant that decides what is illegal wiretapping. It will be the "Unitary Executive, haul anyone in for years as a material witness, torture's okay as long as it's not my family" Bush Puppet Attorney General in the Senate Intel Bill approved yesterday.

Attorney General to Decide What's Illegal Wiretapping

It's reported that Russ Feingold and Ron Wyden were the only two votes on the Intel Committee against Telco Immunity and Attorney General deciding what constitutes illegal wiretapping.

phred @ 17:03 -- you forgot one thing... With all that money, they will promptly leave the US for their estates in another country where they can avoid any retaliation by citizens who suddenly realize that they have really been played for fools.

Unitary Executive? Sounds like a high-fallutin' name for "common thief."

Kevin Hayden--

Based on the 12-3 committee vote, if the list on your link is accurate, it wasn't Sheldon Whitehead the Democratic former US Attorney who asks very prescient questions that are never answered by Administration witnesses. Whitehead voted for the Intell bill and immunity and the AG deciding what is illegal wiretapping. The absent member was the Republican Richard Burr of South Carolina. It was a Thursday, and a 3 day work week is considered too long for many of them who keep hours that would make a banker jealous.

Had Burr been there, there's not a doubt about how he would have voted. He took large contributions from several chemical-oil companies including MTBE-Conoco in 1997, then sponsored a bill to offer liability protection. The company was found guilty in 1997 of tainting groundwater in the state.

Burr took the Senate seat vacated by John Edwards and won by 5 percentage points.

Cboldt--Plenty of people are just as surprised, as you are and I'd add (for myself anyway) disappointed, and confused that Whitehouse pansied out like the rest of the Jellocrats.

Sorry for the mistake. Evan Burr voted, but according to Kevin's list, it was Carl Levin of Michigan, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee who was the one of the sixteen members of Senate Intel who did not cast a vote.

A different link to the Senate Intelligence Committee proposed bill, this one a 1.9 Mb PDF file.


This is easier, for me at least, than grabbing 50+ separate JPG files.

friar will and bmaz -

jesus h. christ,

do i read you all right?

nsa is planning to arrogate to itself the task and the necessity to run our personal, private communications thru its computers?

why don't i feel safer already?

this sounds like a rationale -

another public relations/advertising/political lie -

of the sort that corporations and politicians have become addicted to in the last twenty years.

and, to boot,

now that i have been forewarned,

it fits in with mike mcconnell's vision of a private nsa -

kind of like "blackwater",

except blacker.

i'd like to wake up from this nightmare,

but i'm pretty sure i'm awake already.


Sorry about the piecemeal in the link--I wasn't happy with it, but it was simply the only one I was able to find yesterday/early this morning, and mixing up Richard Burr's name as well on the vote of the Senate Intel Committee. Thanks for a much better one. It was the only link I could find at the time. I hope everyone will also read the last 5 or so Glenn Greenwald articles at Salon which do a very nice job of following some of the dynamics of this sell-out.

Glenn Greenwald's Telco Analysis at Salon

I don't think any capitulation, and there have been many--(or to put it another way, when have the Democrats not sold out to Totalitarianism) has been worse or a better metaphor for the brutal fact that this government and your rights are in the toilet, I don't care how badly Hillary, Edwards, or Obama could beat Rudy 911.

The Bill of Rights, and in particular the 4th Amendment have now been truly gutted.

As legislators, the Democrats couldn't get any worse. They allow themselves to be steam rollered on every important votee and confirmation and let's emaphasize numerically they have the votes now and ironically Republicans rolled over them when they were the minority, and they continue to roll over them consistently when they have the majority, the Chairmanships, and the most votes on every single Committee.

Perhaps Congress won't settle for only providing immunity, perhaps they'll eventually legislate to protect all potentially embarrassing information about "helpful" companies against disclosure through FOIA filings and compulsory legal process. I mean, bad corporate public relations might be distracting and cause added operational expense and/or affect customer numbers for companies who swear they're devoted to keeping us safe by helping any way they can.

I guess we shouldn't give the legislators or their pet companies any ideas.

orionATL - No, that was kind of my sick humor; however, that might as well be the case for all the privacy we are currently enjoying.

sojourner, you may well be right. Halliburton already moved their HQ to Dubai. I bet they have some lovely suites ready and waiting for Dicky boy and his pals.

With Democrats Like These NYT Editorial 10/20/07

Hi, First time posting here, and someone may have already discussed this. I am wondering if a lawyer could answer a question for me. A while ago LHP wrote that if one wanted to sue the gov't, they needed to put in a Notice of Claim within a short period of time- maybe 15 days elapsing from the perceived gov't offense- to the US Court of Claims. Question 1: Has congress taken away my personal right to sue a telco if I, ever in time, get a letter saying that a telco gave my personal info to the gov't? (Sounds like a duh question, I know). Question 2: Could I later sue congress for giving away my right to sue the telcos? Question 3: Should I, and maybe others, be getting a Notice of Claim into the gov't soon- within 15 days- (of the date congress made the deal-- the vote letting/keeping telcos off the hook)-- telling the US Court that I am notifying them now-- for the possible future-- in the event that I get a letter saying telcos did not protect me, AND I want to sue the gov't in place of the immunized telcos? I think it would be good to get a "bookmark" in there. This may not be possible at all-- However, I guess I'm thinking, a letter now-- to cover myself if the court wants to get picky saying notice should have been given right away--after one knew their rights were voted away, then, a second notice in the actual event of learning one has been Hoovered. Even if it is not possible to sue congress for voting my rights away, I still wonder if my notifying the US Court of Claims would bring something to someone's attention--or maybe someone would have to dispose of my claim in a manner that would be publically noted. Thanks

Pete -- thanks for the link to the NYT op-ed, nice to see them calling the Dems out on perpetuating our one-party rule. Now lets see if it has any real effect either on Congress or public opinion...

Vivian -- I am not a lawyer, so I'll let others answer you, but welcome to the discussion here, hope to see you around in the future...

Why is anyone surprised at four generations of treason to America from the thieves of the Rockefeller family, going back to the original criminal? These guys make the Bushes look like Sunday school kids.

Pete, I actually think I miscounted and all Intel Committee members were present. To me, the factors that make this most egregious is that the telco violations began before 9-11 and that afterward, they continued for years, even after the questions of constitutionality were very public.

I do not know if they have a method of screening cell phone calls, but since I use no landline, I will never again put a penny into the coffers of those telcos. I've boycotted Exxon ever since the Exxon Valdez disaster (its victims have yet to be paid) and I'm certain I can finish my life w/o aiding these crooks, too.

I know my effort's like mouse piss on a yellowphant's leg but even that provides a degree of satisfaction.

On another note, I'll bet Wyden was influenced by the prosecution of a Portland lawyer based on botched intel work. I'm not going to ask for purity in all votes from my representatives, but on Constitution-busting ones, I'll gladly work against every Senator who betrays the oath to protect it.

One last point: 'Jello Jay' suggests spinelessness, but Rockefeller's betrayal was bought. Such a sellout would more aptly be named Judas Jay Rockefeller. That should resonate left AND right.

I believe that the telcoms have been copying the government on our communications, in one format or another, ever since Western Union handed the NSA copies of our international cables. The telcoms had been averaging 13K to Democrats and 18K to Republicans up until the 2008 election cycle, which is nice but not large in election money terms. My conclusion is that they had no need to bribe Congress to let them continue to do illegal acts, rather Congress/government paid them off by giving them favorable FCC rulings, letting them reconstitute the BabyBells, etc, while the government played hardball with those who did NOT copy them in on the illegal stuff (Qwest).

Now that the telcoms want something, immunity from past transgressions, donations have come in at a tsunami rate. A separate issue: if (when) the telcoms get immunity, does immunity for the telcoms inherently mean immunity for the governmment? If one side gets immunity, doesn't the other side get a pardon/amnesty/communtation as well?

What did Cheney give to Rockefeller and the Intelligence Committee so that the documents would not matter? Please don't tell me that they gave up immunity for zero return.

"What did Cheney give to Rockefeller and the Intelligence Committee so that the documents would not matter? Please don't tell me that they gave up immunity for zero return."

Well, you know, seeing as how the American public is no longer trusted, nor respected, enough by it's elected political representatives and leaders to even be given the minimal amount of information necessary to intelligently exercise our basic right of suffrage; it is impossible to really say. I will say that without some type of verified statement provided by the Administration that these are the full and complete opinions and other relevant document sets, not partial, altered and/or redacted versions, and that all opinions and documents that have been operative during the administration to present have been so produced in full; I literally don't think the administration can be trusted to not be hiding the pea of truth an honesty under a "double super secret" shell of deceit.

Furthermore, in addition to the verification that all the pertinent information and documentation has been produced, it strikes me that simply having the legal memorandums without having a full briefing/disclosure of the actual programs and modalities they are being applied to does not tell you enough to make intelligent determinations about what has gone on, what is going on and how law and oversight ought to be constructed in the name of the American people. If this inquiry is not certain and complete, it is a bill of goods; and this Administration's track record is 100% for deception and deceit in these kind of matters, so you must presume they are lying to you. Bottom line, yes, it is quite clear that Rockefeller and the Intelligence Committee either "gave up immunity for zero return" or, alternatively, effectively zero return.

My question is: Why doesn't Rockefeller resign; be a patriot, and then tell all?

Rockefeller is so institutionalized and such a failure to the people. Him and and about sixty other democrats need to go.

Ron Paul is looking better every day.

Just plain old "FED-UP"!

Kevin as to the vote, I'm not certain. My best info is that at the end of the day, Wyden and Feingold were the only two votes against that Senate Intel committee bill.

It heads to Senate Judiciary and when Leahy says it's going to get a careful look I know enough Vermont English to realize that means whatever the Administration wants, Leahy will do. I haven't seen Leahy take a stand in his career after saying he would, and he's been the dysfunctional facilitator of the current anti-civil liberties Supreme Court that we're stuck with for forty years with the possibility of more terrible things to come there.

I took a look at the Intel Committee and know now that there are 4 ex-oficio members: Reid, McConnell, Levin, McCain and I don't know their level of participation but I don't think they vote. There must be web sites and you'd think a government site or two that record final votes of bills out of committees.

From the the NYT article yesterday, and TPM's the day before, the vote was 14-2 if all 16 voted or 13-2 if one was out. If someone can nail this for me, I'd appreciate it. I'll try to find a site where the official voters are listed. I'm puzzled over why Bill Nelson would have switched given his level of opposition if he did.

I think it's important to read this sucker from Cboldt's .pdf link:


I want to quote a TPM Muckraker article to emphasize the amount of power unfortunately left in the Executive's hands, the discretion of the Attorney General and in the situation with Bush, that just means the discretion of Addington, Cheney and Fielding and their legal staffs and the OLC ala Professor Jack Goldsmith's book on the way OLC has been compromised and taken over by the West Wing.

TPM Muckraker's Points on Surveillance Bill from Senate Intel

"As expected, the Senate intelligence committee has passed its surveillance bill. Also as expected, retroactive legal immunity for telecommunications companies complying with President Bush's warrantless surveillance program is part of the bill. Not exactly as expected: it won't be the FISA Court that determines who complied with the program. It will be the attorney general:

The Senate bill would direct civil courts to dismiss lawsuits against telecommunications companies if the attorney general certifies that the company rendered assistance between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 17, 2007, in response to a written request authorized by the president, to help detect or prevent an attack on the United States.

Suits also would be dismissed if the attorney general certifies that a company named in the case provided no assistance to the government. The public record would not reflect which certification was given to the court.

So you'll never know, if the Senate bill becomes law, if your phone company gave any communications material when the National Security Agency came calling without a warrant. Prediction: as of January 2009, Michael Mukasey can have any sinecure he likes with the telecom company of his choice. (Well, maybe not Qwest.)"

I get a kick out of the "dual path certification" by the AG.

Either the telecoms rendered assistance, or they didn't. Either way, the suit is to be dismissed. Well golly, what's the need for a freaking affidavit then? 100% of the telcos either rendered assistance or didn't. Dismiss the cases already -- no affidavit or certification needed.

"The public record would not reflect which certification was given to the court." What's with this stupid kabuki dance? It's pure amnesty, without any need to discern the guilty from the innocent. Just moot the court cases already.

EFF had a good comeback. One on balance of powers, the other being that statutory amnesty can't cure an unconstitutional encroachment. The problem is, the civil remedy is a statutory, not constitutional construct. But IMO, the constitutional beef survives, and it will take state secret to slay it.

Thanks cboldt. Your proclamation of States Secret is in the mail to you as we speak.
Attorney General Keisler-Mukasey

Welcome, Vivian. Great questions. I am not a lawyer so I won't try to answer them.
Instead I'll add my own question along a similar line for the lawyers here to address if possible:
if the spying is privatized, must all future court claims be made against private companies only and not (I assume) against the government since the governement it isn't the one doing the spying?
Does it remove a citizen's chance to 'take this to the Supreme Court' and hold its government accountable?

OT: It was great to meet EW in person this past week after her talk in Amherst. Next time I hope to stay around longer to join you and the gang for beerthirty.

pdaly - Normally in this type of situation, you would sue both the private and public entity and let them argue over who is responsible amongst themselves. If this proposed law, that I would like to christen the "Screw America Act (SAA)" is enacted with the contemplated immunity, it will be a moot question; there will effectively be no suing due to the immunity grant.

On the whistleblower side of things:
In the new telco privatization of NSA are there spelled out specific penalties to whistleblowers?
My guess is that if the administration wants to give the telcos full immunity to act with impunity, the administration would seek the opposite outcome for any of their whistleblowers.

Do you think that Reps know that if the American people became completely aware of the depth and width of the illegal wiretapping and data mining that the smidgen of faith that the American people have in Congress or this system...all faith would be lost?

Or do Cheney and Rove have trash on them?

According to this website below Comcast apparently is intermittently blocking transfers of data and possibly faking routers' addresses in its return to sender messages

While I'm happy to know Comcast is under the watchful eye of someone, that someone is not named in the article. In addition, I was a little suspicious when the passive voice crept into this article ("tests were performed" by these someones). Also suspicious of the fact that 'even the AP confirmed these findings in their own tests.'
Finally the fact is trumpeted that AT&T, among others, were not mucking with the internet. (Of course not!)

To quote: "Tests with other broadband services, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems and AT&T showed no such blocking."

on third reading of this website, looks like the passive "tests have shown" refers to the AP's tests.

Why should Congress accede to letting the AG decide whether a company should be given immunity. That's sheer silliness. Where's Constitutional checks & balances?

Immunity I understand. I know that's not a popular view on the Net, but I guess I'm so focused on Bush that as a pragmatic thing I would use that to force telcoms to cough up every single thing Bushies forced them to do. Complete oversight!

However, on immunity I would specify that only that which was required post 9/11 by NSLs, by Bushies, would be given a pass. I understand some people think even that is a no-no for Constitutional reasons. IANAL, so I can't comment on that.

I want the complete scoop on what Bushies have done. It's bound to have been (or is currently) illegal. Given their politicization of the USAttys and other things there's little reason to doubt they've been using telcoms to spy for political (or commercial) gain. Having that would blast 'em off the planet.

I see no reason to immunize telcoms for spying for their own purposes.

Knowing Bushies spied prior to 9/11 is, to me, the most explosive discovery here. Sure, we all figured they had spied post 9/11 to (as OJ said) catch the bad guys. But, like the rendition flights, there's rarely a single purpose to their actions. They use one thing to cover another so often we can pretty much assume they're doing something.

From Tom Sawyer, Aunt Polly spanked Tom and when he complained he hadn't done nuthin', Polly just reminded him that he'd done something some time, to which Tom had to agree. Bushies are doing stuff.

MarkH - Your expressed concerns are exactly why immunity cannot be allowed. A grant of immunity imparts two lethal wounds to the ability to investigate what the Bush Administration has wrongfully done or, as you put it, get "the complete scoop". First off, it shuts down the ability to use the court system to compel disclosure and discovery of the conduct and establish valid legal determinations of the propriety, or much more likely, the complete lack of propriety thereof. Secondly, it gives the patina of legislative acceptance and ratification of the Administrations conduct because the Congress is saying there was a sufficient legal basis to condone the telco, and therefore, to at least some extent, administration conduct. I have less of a problem with Congress legislating that financial penalties cannot be obtained against the telcos, or mandating that the government must pay the on behalf of the telcos (Which I steadfastly maintain is already the case legally) which is known as indemnification. But the bottom line is that civil and, if appropriate, criminal, actions must not be shut down; so NO IMMUNITY.

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