Monday, December 17, 2007

Corker and Alexander Vote to Allow Retroactive Immunity to Proceed in the Senate

Tennessee's U.S. Senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, joined every other Republican and some Democrats to allow a bill that would legalize warrantless federal wiretaps of any American's phone calls to proceed without harm of a Chris Dodd filibuster. The Wired Blog Network has a list of the Democrats who voted against allowing the bill to progress:

Barbara Boxer (D-California), Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).
They also list the Senators who were absent, which includes some noteworthy Democratic Presidential Candidates:

  • Joe Biden
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Barack Obama
The debate on the immunity bill is expected to move through tomorrow with the consideration of amendments, and we should keep an eye on how and whether the Democratic Candidates vote on this.

We should also keep tabs on whether Mr. Corker and Mr. Alexander vote to give the telecoms special legal privileges that you and I would never even come close to getting.

UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid withdrew the FISA bill and delayed it until January in order to avoid a Chris Dodd filibuster.

Kevin Drum uncovers the real wizard behind the curtain:
The Senate as a whole clearly wants the immunity provision to pass, including a majority of Democrats, which means Reid should hardly be held up for any special opprobrium. He's just doing the will of the people.

But why is nearly every senator so anxious to provide telecoms companies with immunity? .... Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote recently that "in the future we will need the full-hearted help of private companies in our intelligence activities," and evidently we want that cooperation whether the government's requests are legal or not. Thus the immunity. It's a message for the future.
Drum goes on to point out that next to no one would have objected immediately after 9/11 if the Bush Administration got telecom cooperation as a temporary emergency measure to catch terrorists, but that this goes way beyond catching terrorists to satifying the Bush Administration's obsessive mission to consolidate government power in the Executive Branch.

Query: Has any local mainstream media source picked this story up today? AT&T has a headquarters in Nashville. And the local media is ignoring the fact that a Presidential Candidate left Iowa to go back to the Senate and possibly filibuster a bill that would shield AT&T from prosecution; yet, no reporters called local AT&T officials for a response? Nobody wants to ask Corker or Alexander how they intend to vote and why?

Instead, we get stories about white plastic nativity scenes and the opening of another Democratic Presidential Candidate's headquarters absent the Democratic Presidential Candidate and the "busiest day of the shipping year." An amateur could have written this. The professionals are supposed to write the hard-hitting stuff, for Pete's sake.

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