Not Leaving It Alone
Chris Dodd and some colleagues have announced a bill to repeal retroactive immunity from the FISA law:
Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced today that they will introduce the Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act, which eliminates retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that allegedly participated in President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.
“I believe we best defend America when we also defend its founding principles,” said Dodd. “We make our nation safer when we eliminate the false choice between liberty and security. But by granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies who may have participated in warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, the Congress violated the protection of our citizen’s privacy and due process right and we must not allow that to stand.”
Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said, “Last year, I opposed legislation that stripped Americans of their right to seek accountability for the Bush administration’s decision to illegally wiretap American citizens without a warrant. Today, I am pleased to join Senator Dodd to introduce the Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act. We can strengthen national security while protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. Restoring Americans’ access to the courts is the first step toward bringing some measure of accountability for the Bush-Cheney administration’s decision to conduct warrantless surveillance in violation of our laws.”
Let's make it clear up front: This isn't going to pass. Even if you could get 60 votes for it, which you can't, you have an occupant in the White House who voted for immunity, opening the possibility of a veto if it miraculously got through the Congress.
What this does signify is that some members of Congress will not be content to let the past remain in the past, especially if a great wrong was committed. Maybe they get 30 votes for immunity this year. Maybe 35 next year. And so on. But they keep offering it up, because they don't see the justice in allowing companies immunity for perpetrating a great error by aiding and abetting the government in illegal activities that violated the constitution. So they'll continue to push this at the legislative level. Meanwhile, at the judicial level, EFF and other groups continue to sue the government for real civil penalties to this lawbreaking.
It seems to me that, to succeed in politics, you have to be relentless. Introducing bills like this year after year is one example.