Father(AG) and Son(Verizon atty) Agree on FISA. Isn’t that nice.

We’re talking here about that sunny bright goodness, the very nobility of corporations, that dear, quaint eagerness which just might fade if they were to act legally, and for pay.  Aspects of the AG’s “New Justice”–Lawbreaking Without Consequences–meaning no disrespect or disapprobation, I promise! –will be parsed. (I’ve been watching too much Jane Austen or can’t you tell? – Heh.)

In this corner:

We have the dad, Michael Mukasey, a powerful

figure in charge of JUSTICE in this country,

defending the telecoms, going to bat for the

corporations, for their retroactive immunity

for spying illegally on us.

In the other corner:

We have the son, Marc Mukasey, a young warrior,

defending the telecoms, seeking immunity for

corporations that illegally spy us, turning

over our calls and emails to the government

without warrants.

I’m wondering if it bothers you.

Crossposted on the orange board.

Friday I wrote a diary on kos, a diary about a conflict of interest,  the fact that Michael Mukasey’s son happens to be an attorney for Bracewell & Guiliani. Marc Mukasey

Marc Mukasey
is in charge of the white collar crime division. Marc Mukasey is charged with defending Verizon, one of the telecoms at risk of law suits for illegal spying.

The father, new Attorney General Michael Mukasey is speaking out. He, like his son, wants immunity for the telecoms, including Verizon, which  passed along without any legal basis the phone records and emails of all of their customers– that would be us.

Mukasey, rather than recusing himself, as he promised to do before confirmation in cases involving Guilian, speaks out FOR his son’s firm’s position. He telegraphed his position FOR IMMUNITY for telecoms in this speech @ ABA Security Law Breakfast. Tell me how his son’s job and his own role as AG are not a conflict of interest. Is there any daylight between the father and son positions?

It’s critical that Congress provide retroactive liability protection for telecommunications companies, as a bipartisan bill from the Senate Intelligence Committee does….

He goes on to say that all the telecoms are at huge financial risk now:

….all because they are alleged to have helped the government in obtaining intelligence information after 9/11.

They just “helped the government.” He omits the lawbreaking part.

He concentrates on the economic and reputational fallout for the telecoms. That’s the important thing, not enforcing the law, not upholding the Constitution.

Why, “it’s enough,” says Mukasey:

…enough to send any company into bankruptcy. These companies face lawsuits, they face bankruptcy, they face loss of reputation, they face millions of dollars in legal fees …the prospect of having to defend against these massive claims is an enormous burden for the companies to bear.

Not only is the litigation itself costly, but the companies also may suffer significant business and reputational harm…

“Simply because these companies are believed to have assisted…”  This is not true. Their assistance is not the problem, the illegality is. But our AG is more interested in being a Defender of Corporations than an upholder of the Consitution and Defender of the People. Mukasey switches course in his speech, going down another familiar path–fear:

As you might imagine, these companies and others may decide that it’s too risky to help the Intelligence Community in the future, no matter how great our need for their assistance may be.

….(the Senate Intelligence Committee) said in its report-that, “without retroactive immunity, the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful Government requests in the future,” resulting in a “possible reduction in intelligence.”

Some SENATORS– SUCH AS THAT BOOB I heard on Friday, oh, yes, that was Sen. John Warner R-VA–are portraying the TELECOMS AS VOLUNTEERS(!!) just ever-so-eager to help the government–these same corporations are going to not help anymore if they do not get immunity– when required to– legally, according to the FISA laws?

That shiny bright goodness of corporations, that dear, quaint eagerness fades does it, if they were to be required by law to perform such a service, for pay? What he is arguing here is nothing less than retribution. Nice. In the land of Corporations Over All, we cannot have them paying a price for breaking the law. It’s not fair.

In an age where we need to use every possible advantage to understand an enemy that may seek to exploit and hide **within the vast expanses of the internet,** we simply cannot afford to discourage the private sector from helping us to detect and prevent the next terrorist attack.

And not only is immunity in the best interest of our Nation’s security, it’s also a fair and just result. -Mukasey [emphasis added]

It’s hard to know where to begin. All I know is that Bracewell & Guiliani are going to get a hefty fee from Verizon, and former prosecutor Marc will be moving up the ladder no doubt. Thanks, step-dad.

Look at the implications of AG Mukasey’s “New Justice”.

     —  It is “fair and just” for corporations to break the

         law and not be punished in any way.

     —  It is not “fair and just” for citizens to break the

         law and not be punished in any way.

     —  It is “fair and just” for corporations to do whatever

         they damn well please because corporations come first.

     —  If corporations are punished for lawbreaking at the

         behest of government we can reasonably expect that

         they will in the future refuse to obey the law.

     —  Economic interests of corporations come before the

         law of the land.

     —  It is “fair and just” for us to endure being spied upon.

         After all, we have nothing to hide.

     —  It is not “fair and just” for the administration,

         for Bush/Cheney/Gonzo to have their communications

         made public! Their communications are sacred and secret,

         ours an open book.

     —  Because the corporations were responding to “the

         President himself” they deserve immunity, because,

         well, it’s a sacred thing.

     —  Because of 9/11, we need cooperation of the private

         sector “to prevail” –and immunity is needed to

         maintain cooperation from corporations.

     —  WWII cooperation from corporations was “voluntary”

         and the equivalent to the telecoms patriotic

         “volunteering” to “assist” the government illegally.

     —  The people are not trustworthy, but the administration is.

     —  There is no “conflict of interest.” Ever.

“Voluntary” action by corporations during WWII was legal and for profit. You see, there is voluntary and there is voluntary. One is more free will and for profit, and the other is choosing to do something for no profit. But Mukasey made it sound otherwise.

One could extrapolate Mukasey’s “New Justice” argument to a hypothetical war situation:

   —  A corporation which “volunteers” (read: decides) to help

       in a war effort–for profit–no matter how unethical,

       immoral and illegal its behavior, is inherently good and

       should be rewarded, never punished or held accountable.

       Umm. Kind of like Blackwater, perhaps?

Then there’s the Senate. It’s as Glenn Greenwald said:

Can someone please tell Jay Rockefeller that we don’t actually live in a country where the President has the definitively dictatorial power to “compel” and “require” private actors to break the law by “ordering” them to do so? Like all other lawbreakers, telecoms broke the law because they chose to, and profited greatly as a result. That telecoms had an option is too obvious to require proof, but conclusive proof can be found in the fact that some telecoms did refuse to comply on the grounds that doing so was against the law.

There is a branch of Government that does have the power to compel and require behavior by private actors. It’s called “the American people,” acting through their Congress, who democratically enact laws regulating that behavior. And the American people enacted multiple laws making it illegal… for telecoms, in the absence of a warrant, to enable Government spying on their customers and to turn over private data. Rockefeller’s claimed belief that we live in a country where private companies are “compelled” to obey orders to break the law is either indescribably authoritarian or disgustingly dishonest — probably both.

Yes. Both. Bush/Cheney and are parroted by Mukasey. Break the law and you won’t get punished. The concept of responsibility or accountability is anathema to this administration. Bush/Cheney have had no consequences for breaking laws and promised the corporations they wouldn’t either.

Mukasey, rather than recusing himself, as he promised to do before confirmation in cases involving Guilian, speaks out FOR his son’s firm’s position.

The WH and GOP, as ever on the side of the corporate, the powerful, the wealthy, will portray Democrats who fight immunity as soft on national security, a tried and true weapon whose cache is lessening even as we speak. They argue that we need to pass an immunity for the telecoms to “keep the country safe.” We know however that the two things are not connected.

Legal Spying vs. Illegal Spying. That’s what it is about. Without legality there is no oversight, no just action.

Yesterday brought still more stupidity on the Senate floor. One Democratic senator said that the president had gone against the Consitution by spying illegally. A Republicon argued vehemently that that was untrue. He said that because they had voted to make the spying retroactively legal, that it was not illegal in the past. Retroactive law-making but no justice. Re-writing history. No matter what happens in the Senate now, the fact of lawbreaking is just that, a fact that cannot be changed, or sanitized. They broke the law, they acted against the Consitution and that’s a fact. They will try until they’re six feet under to define “reality” as theirs to decide, to re-write the history books to make themselves look good and righteous.


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    • pfiore8 on February 5, 2008 at 22:50

    another father-son duo… the bushes, the powells, the mukaseys…

    when will this dynastic crap end????

  1. And – pfiore’s right: where IS your tip jar, BTW?

    • odillon on February 6, 2008 at 02:52

    But who has the time for that? Everyone is counting votes.

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