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February 29, 2008


Stephen Hudler


Perhaps you've heard that the Senate has voted a fifteen day extension to the "Protect America Act". This bill is widely known as the Telecom Amnesty bill. The bill is a favorite of Dick Cheney's. The President has expressed his wish that the bill be passed. He gave special emphasis to the bill in his final State of the Union address. You'll recall that the Republican side of the House chambers gave the President's demand for passage a standing ovation. Representative Miller (R, MI's 10th Congressional District) was one of those standing to applaud this bill. You may also recall that President Bush has threatened to VETO the bill if it does not include retroactive immunity for crimes telecom companies may have committed by spying on Americans.

The body of this bill extends changes the Bush Administration has made to the FISA court. This court used to control warrantless wiretaps on Americans. Under Bush there are no controls on warrantless spying upon Americans, none, except those that the President might deem to exercise. There is no evidence that Bush has exercised ANY discretion whatsoever when spying on Americans.

Amongst the provisions of the bill is one giving amnesty to telecom (phone) companies for any crimes they may have committed by cooperating with the Bush Administration while they spied on Americans.

Retroactive forgiveness used to be the purview of God. Now the Bush Administration wants a piece of that.

It occurs to me that if wrong can be made retroactively-right by legislation, cannot the opposite also be made so? If the Senate of the United States and the President of the United States can, by law, retroactively make legal what is illegal, who's to say they cannot retroactively make illegal what is legal!

Think of the possibilities! Think of all the acts one might commit with a clear conscious, in utter innocence, that could be retroactively be turned into crimes! If the President chooses to do so, any behavior, however innocuous, could retroactively be made criminal. Example: say one checked out a perfectly legal book from a county library. If that book should come into disfavor with George W. Bush, or perhaps more ominously, with Dick Cheney, they could have the Senate declare possession of the book RETROACTIVELY to be a felony! Why not? They can retroactively make spying on Americans legal! Why not make having read or even possessed a book retroactively illegal? All the President would need to suggest is that the once innocent act of having possessed that book is now a threat to the safety of America.

Hell, perhaps someday the writing of this opinion, or any opinion, could be made a crime.

Can you see the problem? By retroactively making a crime not a crime the President and the Senate would destroy the line between what is right and wrong. You'll never know, and laws will not delineate, what is criminal and what is not.

Long ago the Bush Administration crossed the line between what is right and what is wrong, what is legal and what is criminal, now they want to destroy the line itself.



Stop it. The reason for the legislation is stop zealots like you from bankrupting corporations who do what is right.

Not Telling You

Bullshit. If what the telecoms are doing is legal, they are *already protected* from lawsuits. If, however, they are violating the law, they are deservedly open to civil action.

I think the neocons actually got this one right: "If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to worry about." That applies doubly to the telecoms.

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