House denies telecomms immunity.

The U.S. House of Representatives today refused to grant telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for assisting dictator George W. Bush in his illegal spying.

I interrupt this report for a brief rant: I really wish Reuters and other news agencies would cease using the word ‘defy’ and its derivatives when reporting about stories such as this.  Congress is the legislative body, and the branches of government are supposed to be co-equal.  Congress cannot, according to the Constitution, defy the executive branch because it is not subservient to it.

I now return to the story at hand.

But the 213-197 vote was far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised veto by Bush. He has demanded that any telecommunication company that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program secretly begun after the September 11 attacks receive retroactive immunity.

As MSNBC reports, ‘Because of the promised veto, “this vote has no impact at all,” said Republican Whip Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri.’

Republicans falsely accused Democrats of endangering national security by refusing to grant immunity.  But their arguments are based on deception; since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — passed in 1978 and updated in 1994 — set up a secret court that doles out ninety-nine percent of all warrants applied for, there is no legal block to using the power of the federal government to spy on alleged terrorist communications.  It is also unlikely that terrorists would be foolish enough to use telephone and Internet services to pass on information.

Bush’s illegal spying on American citizens is motivated, like Richard Nixon’s administration, to keep tabs on political enemies and to monitor dissent.  If telecommunications companies face prosecution for their role in helping him break the law, they may be more likely to cooperate with investigators to go after members of the White House who ordered the illegal wiretaps.  Bush wants to provide immunity in order to take away any incentive for that cooperation, because testimony and evidence is likely to directly implicate him in lawbreaking.

Cross-posted from EENR


  1. NOW on PBS

  2. Trade secrets, privledged communications, investments and investment strategy, and all of the other information a company might not want the government listening to.

    Yet they are the ones mysteriously silent on the “issue”.

    Might it just be because the entire US government is a subsidiary of “Globo-corp” in the first place.

    Yes, I’m a charter member of the anti-Illuminati Party!

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