Senate OK's Telecom Immunity
In another legislative victory for the "lame duck" President Bush, the Senate has voted against an amendment that would have stripped a key provision from the bill re-authorizing the Terrorism Surveillance program:
The Senate voted Tuesday to shield from lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on their customers without court permission after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.Most of those lawsuits are from civil liberties groups. Some are from detainees at Guantanamo who are on a fishing expedition to see if their communications were intercepted.
After nearly two months of stops and starts, the Senate rejected by a vote of 31 to 67 a move to strip away a grant of retroactive legal immunity for the companies.
President Bush has promised to veto any new surveillance bill that does not protect the companies that helped the government in its warrantless wiretapping program, arguing that it is essential if the private sector is to give the government the help it needs.
About 40 lawsuits have been filed against telecom companies by people alleging violations of wiretapping and privacy laws
The facts are simple; very few ordinary Americans are suing the government because their conversations were intercepted. The Big Lie about this program has always been that it "shredded the constitution" and destroyed the American people's civil liberties.
The truth is less complicated; the program was run with extraordinary care taken not to violate people's constititutional rights and had oversight not just from the NSA but from the Justice Department as well. This is the conclusion of two different independent panels of privacy and civil liberties experts - conclusions rejected by the left not because they have counter evidence to support their contention that the TSP was an out of control program violating people's rights with impunity but because it doesn't fit their deranged narrative of an evil president tearing up the constitution in pursuit of "mythical" terrorists.
The Telecoms acted patriotically in assisting the government while also withholding information on individuals such as names and addresses of customers. They deserve immunity from the unhinged civil liberty absolutists and those who couldn't care less about the Constitution but want to get Bush.
The Senate acted wisely. And now it's up to the House to follow suit.