Thursday, October 18, 2007

A "Mr. Smith" Moment

Remember the scene in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" when Jimmy Stewart uses a filibuster to hold up legislation and then convinces his colleages to rethink their positions after a passionate speech?

Congressional Democrats caved today on the issue of whether to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that violated the law by illegally releasing information. In short, enough Democrats caved in to Bush's demand that these lawsuits not go forward despite the fact that:

1. We do not yet know the extent of the lawbreaking since its shrouded under a state secrets defense.
2. We know that at least one telecom refused to go along with the government's request for information and claimed it couldn't release the information since it would violate the law to do so.
3. We know that one judge has found AT&T's arguments silly, writing that "AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity could have believed the lalleged domestic dragnet was legal." (Judge Reggie Walton, of Scooter Libby fame, opinion here)

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post on what is truly at stake in this legislation, but what's important right now is Senator Dodd's move to put a hold on this capitulation and grant of retroactive immunity for corporate lawbreakers.

I just rewarded him for his courage with a small donation. Maybe his move will start a mini revolt and spark the "opposition" party to stop this move which grants lawbreakers immunity for past crimes before we have a chance to see the extent of the violations.

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