Happy FISA Day
Today is the day that the United States Senate, led by Harry Reid, sells the rule of law to our telecommunication companies for a few million in campaign donations. This afternoon, without any knowledge of what happened or who the government wiretapped, our brave leaders will retroactively immunize the telecoms for breaking several laws that were enacted specifically to stop the activity they engaged in.
For Republicans to support this is a given; they’ve followed Bush in zombie-like lockstep throughout this disaster of a presidency. What’s really disappointing is that the Democrats can’t muster enough votes to oppose this painfully obvious end-run on the rule of law and the wishes of the people. Their desire to “go along to get along” is in stark contrast to the two-thirds of America who are clamoring for them to put a stop to this bullshit once and for all. As Glenn points out today:
Analogously, in 1973, The Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for its work in uncovering the Watergate abuses, and that led to what would have been the imminent bipartisan impeachment of the President until he was forced to resign in disgrace. By stark and depressing contrast, in 2006, Jim Risen, Eric Lichtblau and the NYT won Pulitzer Prizes for their work in uncovering illegal spying on Americans at the highest levels of the Government, and that led to bipartisan legislation to legalize the illegal spying programs and provide full-scale retroactive amnesty for the lawbreakers. That’s the difference between a country operating under the rule of law and one that is governed by lawlessness and lawbreaking license for the politically powerful and well-connected.
I know one day this will get corrected, but it will be too late. The constant fearmongering we’ve lived under for 7 years will be a distant memory, and no one will quite understand why the decision was made, but no one will be held responsible regardless. The telecoms will have skated away with fistfuls of cash for their selfless cooperation (which, incidentally, ceased when a bill for $30k wasn’t paid on time) despite laws that clearly state what they did is illegal no matter who authorized it – President or otherwise.
On the bright side, this episode confirms a suspicion I’ve had for some time. Every time Cheney comes out of the woodwork to rattle the terror cage, the topic is something uncomfortably close to administration wrongdoing. In this case, were the telecom lawsuits permitted to proceed, we would learn the extent to which the White House violated the law in the years prior to warrantless wiretapping’s legalization. Thus, Cheney is revived and dispatched to some hyperconservative gathering to generate headlines that will remind the nation of the terrorists who are hiding under our patio tables and park benches.
When it comes to White House lawbreaking, Cheney is the canary in the coalmine. Watch for his next appearance and try to figure out what he’s drawing attention away from. 50 points to the winner!