While Bush & company try to scare us into supporting an immunity that benefits no one else but themselves, the telecoms flex their considerable monetary muscles by twisting Congressional arms. According to Opensecrets.org, the telecom/electronics lobby ranks #4 w/$2 billion+ spent since 1998. That’s a heckuva lotta of campaign contributions, free dinners and scotches. My guess it that that a majority of this went to Bush, Boehner, DeLay, “Duke”, Blunt, Stevens, Doolittle, Lewis et al.
No small wonder the Republican Representatives walked en masse yesterday. They had been already paid by the telecoms for their day's work to ignore their sworn duty to serve the American people. Inquiring minds want to know how many Dems voting for this bill also received some sort of past or renewed "support" from the telecom lobby.
Glenn Greenwald examines this fandango's latest developments here. In it he snags the following killer Mike McConnell quote from NPR this morning:
"We can't do this mission without their help," he said."Currently there is no retroactive liability protection for them. They're being sued for billions of dollars."Yes, McConnell cannot "do this mission without their help." But the telecoms also cannot fail to cooperate in any lawful information gathering activity. Glenn fells this strawiest of the eavesdropping straw man arguments:
The claim that telecoms will cease to cooperate without retroactive immunity is deeply dishonest on multiple levels, but the dishonesty is most easily understood when one realizes that, under the law, telecoms are required to cooperate with legal requests from the government. They don't have the option to "refuse." Without amnesty, telecoms will be reluctant in the future to break the law again, which we should want. But there is no risk that they will refuse requests to cooperate with legal surveillance, particularly since they are legally obligated to cooperate in those circumstances. The claim the telecoms will cease to cooperate with surveillance requests is pure fear-mongering, and is purely dishonest.If the telecoms committed no wrongdoing, what are they so worried about? After all, the telecoms can afford the very best lawyers. And once one suit is dismissed, the rest will soon follow. Its the complete lack of debate over whether any law has been broken that is conspicuous by its absence. (This from an administration still arguing that water boarding is not torture!)
This urgent need for retroactive immunity stems from the fact that all involved in warrantless wiretapping know that their crimes are completely indefensible. If they succeed in giving the telecoms retroactive immunity, the Bush Administration also immunizes themselves from any related prosecution. That is more important to Bush & Co. than protecting the asses of their generous telecommunications industry campaign contributors or, for that matter, the American people.
That is a talking point worthy of wider dissemination.
Meanwhile the clock keeps a tickin' on Bush's shot at scoring hisself sum immunities.