Thursday, November 1, 2007

Senate Panel Balks at Telecom Immunity

What has begun to resemble a privacy protection roller coaster ride continues in the nation's capitol where the Senate Judiciary Committee debates whether to grant telecommunication companies legal immunity for their participation in the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

At this point it remains extremely difficult to tell which way the Committee is going go: stand up for the constitution or betray the privacy rights of American citizens? I find it hard to believe that without the option of the courts, and the threat of public lawsuits, we'll ever get to the bottom of just how widespread this program was...and who exactly was being monitored.

The Associated Press reports on the latest developments:

Telecommunications companies face about 40 civil lawsuits nationwide for alleged violations of wiretapping and surveillance laws at the Bush administration's request. Another five lawsuits have been filed against the U.S. government.

At issue is the interception of American e-mails and phone calls from 2001 to 2007. The so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program was conducted without the consent of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees intelligence agencies' eavesdropping inside the United States.

The Senate Intelligence Committee provided immunity in its version of a new eavesdropping bill. It bars civil lawsuits against telecommunication companies if the attorney general and national intelligence director certify that the companies acted on written orders approved by the president. The Judiciary panel still needs to act on the bill before it goes before the full Senate.

Also reporting on the story, is CNET News:

Leahy grilled Wainstein at length on why retroactive immunity is necessary at all. A report accompanying the Senate Intelligence Committee's approved bill says that at regular intervals between 2001 and early 2007, the Bush administration presented electronic communications providers with letters saying the president or the attorney general had certified the various wiretapping requests as lawful.

Given those letters, "if you feel secure in what you did, why ask for further legislation?" Leahy asked Wainstein. "Why not let the courts deal with the certifications that the president said it was legal?"


All Democrats present at the hearing questioned the idea of granting immunity, with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) growing particularly animated.

"Isn't it reasonable to say the company has a statutory obligation to protect my identity and to only give it up for a legitimate, statutorily-recognized purpose?" Durbin asked Wainstein, who responded that he thought all of the companies who have assisted the government "acted out of patriotic duty."

With the exception of Specter, most Republicans on the committee defended the Bush administration's position, asking Wainstein questions intended to tout the importance of surveilling the enemies of the United States at wartime.

1 comment:

Stargirl said...

To everyone who is reading.


Did you know that 70 per cent of the world's cocoa suply comes from Ghana, Nigeria and The Ivory Coast in West Africa?
Did you know that the people working here are not adults but children aged 12 to 14? Did you know that most of them are trafficked (kidnapped) and that they have minial food and sleep, beatings and of course, no pay?

12,000 children may have a fighting chance of a different future if we choose to change what we eat.

Well, its no lie.... according to the US Deparment of State more that 109,000 children were working in cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast in what they termed "worst forms of child labour."

At least 12.3 million people are victims of
forced labour worldwide

So PLEASE do everything you can to make people aware of these horrifying facts and do not by non fair trade chocolate. If your chocolate is fair trade, it was made by people who have a choice to work, who have pay and are able to talk to their families!!

From Stargirl.