Senate On Verge Of Agreeing To Immunity For Wiretapping Phone Companies

Yesterday, the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee “reached a tentative agreement… with the Bush administration that would give telephone carriers legal immunity for any role they played in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program.” The senators who have been reviewing classified documents related to the phone companies’ participation in the program are now saying that they believe the companies “acted in good faith” and “that they should not be punished through civil litigation for their roles.”

The committee is reviewing the proposed legislation in a closed session today.

“Senate Deal on Immunity for Phone Companies” [New York Times]
(Photo: Getty)


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  1. Three words for you:

  2. SeattleGuy says:

    It’s a horrible day for the American Way. Truth, Liberty and most importantly JUSTICE have yet again flown out the window spurred on by those bastards in Washington. It’s a shame that cronyism and a plethora of lobbyists are nibbling away at our basic freedoms. I can only get down on my knees at night an pray to God that she will see fit to smite these fuckers one day. I pray that the karma credit plan calls in its debt early and with a high interest rate!

  3. goller321 says:

    Leave it to the scumbag repukes to throw something like this into a bill. Makes me ill that I ever considered myself a republican. They should all be impeached for their roles in undermining our rights and selling out to big business.

  4. new and troubling questions says:

    My parents are Muslim Turkish immigrants, and I used to laugh whenever they told me not to make any “un-American” statements on the phone (e.g. the war sucks), because “someone could be listening”…turns out, they might have been right

  5. geekfather says:

    Cowards and traitors.

  6. CurbRunner says:

    It’s becoming clearer each day, that in our complacency, we are allowing the people that represent us to drag us into fascism.

    An interesting article by Chris Rowthorn points to our current status:

    “When one looks at present-day America and reads plaintive musings about if and when America will turn fascist, it is useful to ask oneself the following question: When do you think the average German realized that he or she was living under a fascist dictatorship? How about the Japanese or Italians of the same period? Do you think that Hitler, Mussolini or Tojo made a public announcement to the effect of, “Dear Citizens: Please be advised that you no longer have any rights or political power. We have taken control of the government. Opposition and resistance are futile and will be punished.

    The fact is, most of the “good” citizens of these countries clung desperately to the notion that it was business as usual long after constitutional government was dead and buried. Sure, they knew that their governments were a little further to the right than normal, but as long as they kept earning money and eating well, they ignored the grim realities of fascism.”

  7. tseabrooks says:

    This sucks, I agree. But I think you are missing one thing. The telcos were in a pinch also. They were likely threatened with legal action if they revealed the existence of the wiretapping and likely coerced into doing this. What you have is an Agency that thought they had the right to make them do it because the Administration said they did. Corporations that didn’t think they had a choice. And a committee wise enough to see that the telcos are not theones that need chastised for this.

  8. iheartconsumerist says:

    I love that the telcos didn’t have the balls to stand up to the initial illegal requests, but they now have the balls to try and thrwart a legal inquiry into wtf is actually going on..

    Obviously contact your senators and tell them how retarded this is (not sure if it will help). Is it just me or does the democratic congress need to grow a pair and start standing up to the administration?

  9. Buran says:

    Um, excuse me? If you break the law and hand over information without a warrant, you SHOULD be punished!

  10. axiomatic says:

    Nice message you are sending there Mr. Senate. Only citizens have to obey the law? Corporations don’t?

    Die in a fire please.

  11. Buran says:

    @tseabrooks: Yeah, well, they broke the law. If they thought they were in the right, too bad. If I think it’s OK for me to steal a car, but the law says I’m wrong, I deserve what I get.

  12. CliveDobbs says:


    Uh, no, it’s not just you. I’m getting tired of talking to Chuck Schumer’s assistant every other damn week about one damn thing or another…

  13. CurbRunner says:

    That “Corporations that didn’t think they had a choice” is bullshit.

    AT&T actually sought out and volunteered to let the NSA wiretap it’s customers in violation of the Constitution. Corporations like this always have a choice.
    Their choice is the one that they’ll always take…to choke off any politician that doesn’t support their concerns. Politicians (and the current administration) exists because because of the money from these corporations.

  14. tseabrooks says:

    Your analogy is not entirely accurate. Let’s assume it went down like this – Which I don’t think is far fetched given what we’ve seen from this administrations.
    “Please give us this information”
    “Uhm, Thats private I don’t think we can, sorry”
    “Well, It’s ok, secret.. approved.. legal now…”
    “Uhm, ok, great, can I see those documents verifying that?”
    “No go friend, Unfortunately showing you, or even telling you anything more about the program, would pose a serious risk to national security and potentially give … “

    My point here is that you breaking a law you are ignorant of is NOT the same as being coerced into breaking the law by the people supposedly enforcing the law.

  15. CNote3 says:


    This bill would never have seen the light of day if it wasn’t for Rockefeller, and he’s a Democrat. They’ve broken many 2006 campaign promises, but this takes the cake. Will a viable third party emerge, or are we stuck with this abominable machine?

  16. CNote3 says:


    No, they were threatened with blackmail. Help us, or lose government contracts (welfare).

  17. Mr. Gunn says:

    That’s only comforing, Tseabrooks, if there’s a remote chance of the law-enforcers themselves being held accountable.

    Wanna bet?

  18. @tseabrooks: Wow. That still sounds like horse shit. There’s no in-between here. Buran is right. That’s like your cousin Joey who is a cop saying it’s ok to smoke a joint with him. Still illegal but you were dumb enough to do it so when you get arrested for possession the excuse “Joey is a cop, he said it was ok.” doesn’t fly.

    I think our biggest problem is that with all the secrecy, coercion, and flagrant disregard for the law and our rights there is very little we can do about it.

  19. mconfoy says:

    @tseabrooks: Qwest managed to say no.

    Did anyone really expect anything different?

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    @CurbRunner: And let us not forget Qwest, who refused. Then their honcho was later prosecuted by the Feds for an unrelated fraud. Makes one wonder if the dogs would have been called off had Nacchio broke the law and let the gov’t illegally spy on his customers…

    The ones that did break the law should be punished. Whether they’re the gov’t or quasi-monopolistic businesses.

    Call Your Senator. Takes just a second, people!


  21. LucyInTheSky says:


    next thing you know, we shall have thought police. i am sickened.

  22. othium says:

    Total B.S.

    Sick of this.

  23. magus_melchior says:

    “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
    (Paraphrased as “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” — Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum address of 1838)

  24. royal72 says:

    “… That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

  25. SayAhh says:

    Ken Lay should’ve asked for retro-immunity, then he would’ve been cleared of all them ridiculous Enron charges and wouldn’t have died of [I believe] stress induced heart attack. OR, if you’ve ever watched 24, then you know how they faked Jack Bauer’s death to fool the Chinese, so, maybe Kenny-boy is still alive.

    Maybe OJ, too, should’ve asked for retroimmunity, then he could’ve [allegedly] killed even more people.

    And Martha Stewart…the list goes on and on…why is it that it sounds just plain STUPID when it comes to REAL people (albeit celebrities, as real as they can be) but when it comes to this admin. all rules go out the window?

    REMEMBER, to ask for retro immunity means that they acknowledge that what they did was ILLEGAL. The focus shouldn’t be on whether or not the telcom companies should be granted immunity, rather on whether the people who’ve asked them to commit those crimes should be themselves criminally charged.