As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


It's nice to be on this side of things for a change.

The administration is ready to talk turkey, reports The Wall Street Journal. But if the administration "has signaled to Democratic lawmakers it is open to negotiation" about the surveillance bill, it's not entirely clear just yet where the administration is willing to give.

The centerpiece of negotiations, of course, will be whether telecoms will receive retroactive immunity for their participation in the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Though a number of Senate Dems crossed over to support that, the House has managed to hold firm, twice passing a bill without retroactive immunity. Some Dems are floating "a pared-back version of immunity," such as limiting immunity to certain aspects of the program or capping possible damages. Talks about other aspects of the legislation, for instance concerning judicial oversight of surveillance, might come more easily.

This is a desperation move by the White House, they've tried basically everything and they are hoping to at least shield their own conduct if not the conduct of the telecom industry. They even tried crying and it didn't work. I'm sure that the immunity for "certain aspects of the program" would include those aspects which make them liable. They want to make sure nobody knows when the program started (before 9/11), who was involved in the decision-making (the President) and how the program was advanced (illegally).

The Administration has negotiated in bad faith for seven years, there's no reason to think they won't continue now. I'm confident that the House leadership knows this, at least on this issue; otherwise they would have caved long ago. Bush offering the olive branch on bended knee is great optics. There's no reason to cave on anything meaningful from a position of strength. The funny thing is that the Democrats could probably improve their image through standing up to the Bush Administration were it not for the Clinton/Obama pie fight. That's swamping everything, and the media has an incentive to cover it, otherwise they'd have to talk about how their BFF Commander Codpiece is irrelevant and the Democrats look pretty strong.

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