Rocky Mountain News Bashes Bush Over Telecom Immunity

It's not often that the Rocky Mountain News editorial board takes President Bush to task.

Today it does just that, over his complaints about the House of Representatives' balking at the extension of his warrantless wiretapping program and his threat to veto any bill that does not include retroactive immunity for telecoms who cooperated with the National Security Agency.

The Rocky does not mince words:

Earlier this week, President Bush actually suggested that al-Qaida operatives are watching the calendar, poised to plot new attacks freely with Congress absent - and U.S. intelligence officials will be largely powerless to stop them.

Don't insult the American public, Mr. President. You'll still have the ability to wiretap suspected terrorists - and the warrantless surveillance powers in the bill are valid until August.

It also opines that we need the lawsuits against the telecoms to go forward so the public can see whether privacy rights were trampled. [More...]

If immunity is in the final legislation - and Bush has said he'd veto any bill that doesn't include it - it would kill the 40-plus lawsuits that have been filed against telecoms in federal court. The litigation challenges the legality of the program and the actions of telecoms that cooperated with the government.

If the lawsuits don't move forward, we may never learn if some telecoms compromised the privacy of innocent Americans. A grant of immunity could also set a dangerous precedent for other businesses when federal agents or local cops who don't have a court order demand private or confidential information about their customers.

Both Colorado Senators, Republican Wayne Allard and Democrat Ken Salazar, voted with the Bush Administration in favor of maintaining telecom immunity in the proposed legislation.

The editorial discusses the possible role of Joseph Nacchio and Qwest in the telecom issue and says:

Court documents released in October revealed that Nacchio first met with national security officials in February 2001 - six months before the 9/11 attacks. "Nacchio's account,"The Washington Post reported, "suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon."

Letting this litigation proceed would not, as Bush said Wednesday, punish companies that want to "help America." Businesses that want to help America need to be mindful of the Constitution - and so should the government.

Senator Ken Salazar siding with President Bush has not been an unusual occurrence. But the Rocky siding with Democrats? It's an editorial I'm going to relish for a few days.

[Cross-posted on 5280.com]

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  • Display: Sort:
    The Liberal Media (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by white n az on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 11:06:35 AM EST
    not that the Rocky Mountain News is often called liberal media...

    bravo, it does seem that some of the media is starting to get it

    That's delicious! (none / 0) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 11:10:55 AM EST
    I saw Ken this morning, he did a public service message for dish network encouraging everyone to participate and vote.  I haven't actually had to look at him since we left Colorado.  Whenever I challenged myself to visually have to drink him in it makes me groan quietly to myself ;)

    the administration (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 11:23:33 AM EST
    doesn't need immunity to quash the lawsuits, they'll just claim that any documents requested during discovery can't be released because of national security concerns. poof! no more lawsuits.

    bet on it.

    Not quite so fast (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 11:51:49 AM EST
    CP - the case being brought in SF over the secret room in AT&T's building, where they split the internet signals (Klein v. ATT, IIRC) was  one in which they tried that.  The judge denied the motion, saying that because the documents had already been publicized they were no longer a state secret.

    While that's on appeal, it's still the law of the case there.  I just wish, wish, wish one of the lawyers would caption a point in their argument "Reynolds v. United States was wrongly decided".  That case is Patient One in this epidemic of lawlessness, and needs to be gone.  While it would be reviewed and argued over again and again (and be refused, on the grounds that Courts of Appeals cannot overturn S.Ct. cases, though they can distinguish them, particuarly on facts unique to each case) at some point these cases will reach the S.Ct. and they will need to address it.


    right you are scribe! (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 07:48:13 PM EST
    and given the makeup of the curret SCt., what do you suppose the outcome will be?

    Wow... (none / 0) (#5)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 02:01:30 PM EST
    ...never thought I'd see the Republican Mountain News print something like that.  Perhaps the tide is turning towards common sense.

    Bruce Benson's quest to dismantle the state's universities side-tracked, Doug Bruce blowing any creditability he might have had.  Oh happy days!