Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Why Spelunking Is Dangerous

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Spelunking Is Dangerous

I avert my attention for two days, and what happens? The Democrats fall back on their old, familiar ways and act like they're in New York in 1941 (that's for my sister-in-law). Calling it a "cave-in" far understates what the Democratic Congress has done on the FISA bill. Democratic Congressional leaders call it a "compromise," but Russ Feingold says it's a "capitulation," and Glenn Greenwald is even more blunt, labeling it "corrupt and repugnant." He presents a nice overview, if you want details. As you might guess from such a complete collapse, it gives the telecoms all the immunity they want. Oh, sure, they have to jump through a couple of hoops to get it, but I'm not sure there's any realistic way that a random telecom would be denied immunity. All they have to do is prove that the President told them it was OK to spy on their customers, and the court will have no choice but to dismiss any outstanding legal action against them. The "I was only following orders" defense hasn't always been a successful one, but it looks like Congress is about to enshrine it into law for the time being.

To make clear, the situation is not that Democrats got out-maneuvered by George Bush and his canny Republicans. Nope, they just sort of put this deal together themselves. The traditional definition of compromise involves two (or more) sides who give in on some points to get what they want on others. But, oddly enough, the Republicans don't seem to have given anything up. Senator Kit Bond, identified in the New York Times as the leader of the Republican negotiators, seemed surprised at his good fortune: "I think the White House got a better deal than even they had hoped to get." Well, sure. Bush is a lame duck, tanking further and further in the polls. I'd figure he's got just about zero negotiating leverage, but look at this--they got pretty much everything they wanted at no cast at all. Needless to say, the White House wasted absolutely no time in jumping on to the deal.

It looks like the House may vote on Friday, with the Senate falling into line next week. Go to Stop the Spying to find out where your representative stands. With that information, you know what to do.


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