TELECOM IMMUNITY: DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP IN THE SENATE AND HOUSE IS CORRUPT RIGHT ALONG WITH THE REPUBLICANSThe following is the reason that I say the system is fatally flawed. The U.S. is a house divided. It is actually splintered. No amount of work done within the system will ever bring forth true abundance. The system is a forced union. It is based upon coercion. That never works. It never has. It has always brought greed, violence, and other forms of depravity (all selfish and all harmful).

Glenn Greenwald
Tuesday June 17, 2008 15:28 EDT
Targeting Steny Hoyer for his contempt for the rule of law
(Updated below - Update II - Update III
Update IV — Wed. morning)

It is now definitively clear that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is the driving force behind a bill — written by GOP Sen. Kit Bond — to vest the President with vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers and to vest lawbreaking telecoms with amnesty. Even as his office dishonestly denies that he is doing so, still more reports yesterday — this one from the NYT and this one from Roll Call (sub req'd) — confirm that a so-called "compromise" is being spearheaded by Hoyer and the House Democratic leadership. The ACLU and EFF are holding a joint call tomorrow to denounce Hoyer's "compromise" as nothing more than disguised guaranteed immunity for telecoms and, further, because "the proposed deal could be used to authorize dragnet surveillance of Americans' communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment."
As Judge Walker ruled, the alleged actions by the telecoms "violate the constitutional rights clearly established" by prior Supreme Court rulings and "no reasonable entity in [the telecoms'] position could have believed [the spying program] was legal." Beyond that, the telecoms — by allowing the Bush administration to spy on their customers with no warrants — knowingly violated at least four separate federal statutes (.pdf).

Despite that, Steny Hoyer and other House Democrats are about to block the court from ever ruling on those issues and, instead, hand the telecoms something that no ordinary citizen would ever receive: namely, complete immunity without their ever having to answer for their conduct in a court of law. It is corruption in its most extreme and transparent form.
Hoyer is working to perpetuate a two-tiered system of justice in America where rich corporations with lobbyists and big campaign contributions are literally allowed to break our most serious laws and receive retroactive amnesty, while ordinary citizens have their lives destroyed over the pettiest offenses, as America turns itself into the world's largest prison state.
...By compelling the dismissal of lawsuits against telecoms even if they broke our domestic spying laws, Hoyer and other House Democrats are about to trample on what they called — when it came time righteously to rail against George Bush — the "fundamental tenet [] of equal treatment under the law."

More amazingly still, Hoyer himself — back in March of this year — pointed to the above-cited ruling from Judge Walker and argued that amnesty for telecoms would be corrupt and wrong. This is what Hoyer himself said back then:

Let me remind my colleagues of the statement by Judge Vaughn Walker, the chief judge of the Northern District of California, in a case involving AT&T's participation in this warrantless program.

Judge Walker, a Republican appointee, wrote: "AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal."

I submit that a reasonable –- responsible -– Congress would not seek to immunize conduct without knowing what conduct or misconduct it is immunizing.

What Steny Hoyer back in March called unreasonable and irresponsible is exactly what he is now about to do.

Finally, just listen to this lecture Hoyer gave on the House floor back in March when speaking out against telecom amnesty. In it, he said "the most important thing this body does" is "uphold the law. Not just pass the law. Uphold the law." Yet now, he's about to betray what he said is the "most important thing" the Congress does — "uphold the law" — by giving immunity to companies that Hoyer himself said very likely broke the law and violated the Constitutional rights of Americans, and by vesting the type of domestic spying powers in the President which — as our own Government repeatedly has said — are the hallmark of tyrannical regimes.
* Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd have issued a joint statement vehemently condemning this "compromise."
Regarding Hoyer's ongoing, false denials that he is engineering the bill to provide telecom amnesty, yesterday's article from The Hill specifically says that "[t]he latest development comes after Rockefeller, Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and the Bush administration reached an accord late last week to break a weeks-long stalemate over balancing electronic surveillance with the right to privacy for American citizens, according to several people familiar with the talks." ...
The fact that Hoyer is outright lying about his central role in this deal, along with what is obviously the insultingly deceptive plan of Congressional Democrats to pretend that this bill somehow doesn't provide amnesty when the bill makes immediate and conclusory dismissal of the telecom lawsuits a foregone conclusion (without any inquiry into whether telecoms broke our laws) — a sham process which the ACLU calls "judicial theater" — only compounds the cravenness and deceit here.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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