Posted by: Kevin | October 19, 2007

Senator Chris Dodd, My Vote is Now Yours to Lose

Please note:  I started this entry yesterday when this hit the news but life intervened before I could post it.  Having not seen any update on this story it still seems relevant to post. 

From TPM Election Central

“Senator Chris Dodd plans to put a hold on the Senate FISA renewal bill because it reportedly grants retroactive immunity to telephone companies for any role they played in the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program, Election Central has learned.”

I hadn’t even heard of Chris Dodd before this so I have to give him credit.  Not only is he taking a bold stance against the FISA bill which is a disgrace (the bill, not the stand).  He’s taking a stand that is going to impress a lot of people disgusted with the Senate’s lack of backbone on this issue.  

Why is this so important?

“Dodd’s planned action comes amid reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has reached a deal with the White House on the legislation that would give telephone carriers legal immunity for whatever role they played in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, which was approved by President Bush after 9/11.”

Glenn Greenwald, in his usual expansive style, explains why it is particularly odious that this piece of crap legislation was about to pass:

“Congress — led by Senators, such as Jay Rockefeller, who have received huge payments from the telecom industry, and by privatized intelligence pioneer Mike McConnell, former Chairman of the secretive intelligence industry association that has been demanding telecom amnesty — is going to intervene directly in the pending lawsuits against AT&T and other telecoms and declare them the winners on the ground that they did nothing wrong. Because of their vast ties to the telecoms, neither Rockefeller nor McConnell could ever appropriately serve as an actual judge in those lawsuits…

…AT&T’s customers sued them for violating their privacy in violation of long-standing federal laws and for violating their Fourth Amendment rights. Even with the most expensive armies of lawyers possible, AT&T and other telecoms are losing in a court of law. The federal judge presiding over the case ruled against them — ruled that the law is so clear they could not possibly have believed that what they did was legal — and most observers, having heard the Oral Argument on appeal, predicted that they will lose in the Court of Appeals, too.”

Greenwald finishes with what I find to be an excellent point.

“Americans can understand instinctively — if the argument were really made — that it is completely corrupt for corporations which break the law and are sued to go to Congress and get a law passed declaring that they did nothing wrong. That is not an option available to most people if they break the law and/or are sued.”

Individuals have a very hard time changing the laws to suit their needs.  Something I’ve been reminded of on those few times I’ve been busted for speeding.

One sidelight that deserves mention in this discussion is the revelations coming out of the insider trading trial of Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio.  He was recently indicted on 19 counts of insider trading which took place in 2001.  Part of his defense (discussed here and here) is that he was pressured to turn over customer call data BEFORE 9/11.  He also alleges that the government took away several key contracts which caused his company to perform badly. 

Based on what I’ve read I suspect that he’s telling the truth about the NSA pressuring him and the government retaliating against Qwest for not complying.  I also still think he’s guilty since he probably dumped his shares once he realized that the Bush administration wasn’t going to forgive Qwest for not going along with illegal surveillance.

Court ruling against AT&T (page 68 has the relevant quote)



  1. Chris thanks for your bold stand on the FISA renewal bill. We’re unconditionally a country of laws. It’s refreshing to see a man with a spinal cord that’s built and funtion on the Constitution of the U S A with all of her laws and not the waste excreted from corporations.

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