Wednesday, June 18 2008 - 9/11 Consequences
Spying on Americans: Democrats Ready to Gut the Constitution To Protect Their "Constituents" -- The Telecoms
By Tom Burghardt
Proving the old axiom that Congress "is the best that money can buy," congressional Democrats are preparing to gut the Constitution by granting giant telecom companies retroactive immunity and liability protection on warrantless wiretapping by the Bush regime.
According to Congressional Quarterly, "Congressional leaders and the Bush administration have reached an agreement in principle on an overhaul of surveillance rules."
Tim Starks reports,
In other words, the telecommunication corporations and their "customers," the NSA, FBI and other members of the "intelligence community" will get everything they want--retroactive immunity and billions of dollars in continued taxpayer subsidies for intelligence "outsourcing."
Under rules being considered by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Bush administration officials, the deal would allow the federal district court "to look at a lower standard of evidence to determine if companies received such orders--a provision sought by the GOP, according to one person involved in the talks," The Hill reports.
Without clear standards for determining whether immunity for these privateers is even justified, the courts will be forced to issue virtual get-out-of-jail-free cards to corporate executives and their shareholders, thus freeing them from any and all liability, should companies claim they had "received assurances" from the state that its spying program was "legal."
Indeed, no warrants at all would be required when the administration and their outsourced private "partners" choose surveillance "targets" under "exigent," or urgent circumstances. Needless to say, such "exigent" circumstances are determined by executive branch "intelligence officials," of whom fully 70% are private mercenaries in the employ of corporatist state structures.
However, civil liberties' campaigners charge that language currently under consideration by House and Senate "leaders" is "judicial theatre" and a "mirage." According to the ACLU,
Who then, are the privateers that "opposition" Democrats want to "protect" from litigious "radicals" such as the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation? Some of the wealthiest recipients of "outsourced" intelligence handouts, that's who! Major players in the administration's illegal spying programs include, according to Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 Government IT Contractors : Verizon Communications Inc., $1,320,637,982 (No. 18); Sprint-Nextel Corporation, $839,946,000 (No. 25); AT&T Inc., $505,358,533 (No. 38); Qwest Communications International Inc., $306,617,000 (No. 51).
If this weren't bad enough, mendacious "leaders" such as Jay Rockefeller claim that spying telecoms "deserve" immunity because they were "ordered" by the NSA to cooperate with the administration. Indeed, back in January,
Pity the poor "helpless" telecoms! But as investigative journalist Tim Shorrock documents,
Helpless indeed! Let's make a couple of things clear: the Democratic party is completely beholden to their "constituents"--the multinational corporations, including the telecoms, the giant defense contractors and the well-heeled lobbyists who fill their campaign coffers. Since 9/11, with few rare exceptions that can be counted on one hand, the Democrats have been complicit with the Bush administration's quasi-fascistic "war on terror" and everything that followed in its wake--illegal spying, torture, wars of aggression, not to mention the looting of public assets for private profit known as "outsourcing."
The facile "debate" over retroactive immunity for spooky telecommunication corporations will reach its inevitable denouement with the Democrats allowing either the FISA court or Federal District courts to essentially rubberstamp immunity orders issued by the Bush administration.
As the ACLU's Caroline Fredrickson told The Hill, "Whatever silk purse Hoyer tries to make of Bond's sow's ear and no matter how they try to sell it, the end result of all this negotiating will be exactly what the administration has wanted from the beginning--FISA rewritten to delete court oversight of surveillance and immunity for its pals at the telephone companies."
In the final analysis, these "negotiations" are taking place behind closed doors, subject to input by influence-peddlers and corporate lobbyists, without even a cursory--let alone, public--exploration of whether these mercenary outfits violated the law.
It's a rigged game without a referee...
See also this excellent blog entry:
Wiretaps "R" Us: Is the FBI Tracking Your Cellphone?
With a history of domestic counterinsurgency operations against the left, and despite bruising attacks after 9/11 on its (undeserved) reputation as the nation's premier "crime fighting agency," the FBI nevertheless, remains a formidable organization when it comes to repressing dissent.
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author, who is solely responsible for its content, and do not necessarily reflect those of 911Truth.org. 911Truth.org will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.
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