Friday, February 15, 2008

I fought the law and Ma Bell won:

The last I heard W. and Cheney were on their way down to Congress to rough up the House a little over their reluctance to rubber stamp their domestic spying program. The Senate did their bit by voting to protect the telecoms, but the rabble in the House is proving to be a little more difficult. Nona Pelosi & Co. are balking at giving the phone companies a pass for letting the unitary executive sift through every phone call every American made for five years or so without any legal authority. [WaPo] Cheney, obviously, is there to provide the muscle and W. is there to play on the fears of the House members that they'll be accused of helping the terrorists by refusing to let W. spy on whoever he wants, whenever he wants, no strings attached.

W. is panicking everybody by saying that if the temporary spying law expires this weekend; the government won't be able to spy on the people they need to be spying on. As Suzanne Spaulding, a security expert with 20 years in the government, pointed out on ATC last evening, the government already has the authority granted by the FISA court to continue the wiretaps they currently have and if something else pressing comes along, they can go back to he FISA court. I mean, it's not like the judges on the FISA bench are exactly liberal "activists" or anything. This isn't the national security crisis W. and Cheney are painting it as.

What's really behind all this fearmongering is money. Lots of money the telecoms are going to lose if Congress doesn’t let Ma Bell off the hook for robbing the 7-11. W. got a little hot under the collar yesterday and warned that if the House didn't give the telecoms retroactive protection from lawsuits for breaking the law, "They won't participate, they won't help us." Some how I'm having a little problem with that line of thinking. If the US government actually has a legitimate concern about a particular phone they need to listen in on, then they can go to the FISA court and get a warrant. The issue here is that the phone companies allowed the NSA to suck up every single phone call made in the US for years and years without asking the government what legal authority they had to do it.

In the future, perhaps after losing a few billion dollars in lawsuits, they'll get the idea that they can't break the law and get away with it. You know that old Bobby Fuller song "I fought the law?" Well if W. and them get their way the new lyrics will be: "I fought the law and I won!"


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