How Olbermann Missed the Boat on FISA

Keith Olbermann had a special comment on how Obama should handle the vote on the FISA bill.

Follow this link to see the special comment. The comment was made at the beginning of the July 4 recess and before the Senate actually got to vote on the bill.

Olbermann missed the boat in several ways. I’ll point out just two items.

The best political idea was to force the Republicans to vote against the FISA bill that was missing telco immunity.

Olbermann and John Dean think that the fact that there is no immunity from criminal prosecution makes the civil immunity almost worthless. He thinks this is a big mistake that the Republicans made in writing the immunity clauses.

He needs to think about how the criminal prosecution involving the telcos will proceed. Some one person, either low down in the hierarchy or high up, could be charged with a crime. The telco for which that person works will cut this person loose as far as providing any legal or financial support to fight the charges. The telcos will deny all responsibility for what the individual did. Other than losing an employee to jail time, the telcos will suffer no loss from what they may have done.

As usual, the wrong person will suffer for what has been done. Apparently the Republicans are cleverer than Olbermann and Dean give them credit for.

ACLU Stands Up For Our Rights

Follow this link to hear a discussion with Jameel Jaffer, the Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, regarding the two legal proceedings commenced a few days ago by the ACLU challenging the constitutionality of the new FISA law. The discussion is roughly 20-minutes long.

Jaffer mentions who might be injured by the expanded powers now given to the government.

Let me be more explicit. Remember how Valerie Plame’s CIA identity was exposed to get back at a critic of the administration? Suppose that Bush is irked at Amnesty International for exposing his own war crimes. Suppose Amnesty International has a covert operative exposing torture in some foreign country. Suppose that as a result of the massive vacuuming of foreign phone calls that the Bush administration learns the identity of this covert operative. Suppose that Bush leaks the name of the covert operative to the foreign government for arrest or possible assassination.

Suppose that an oil company plans to compete for a contract in a middle eastern country. Suppose that the company is competing against Haliburton. Suppose the administration picks up the details of the competitor’s bid from a general wire tap and leaks the bid details to Haliburton.

Suppose your daughter works in international accounting for a multi-national corporation. Suppose she makes lots of international phone calls as part of her job. Do you want her on the government’s list of people who make suspicious foreign phone calls?

Suppose you end up on the do not fly list because of foreign phone calls you made.  You cannot even find out how you got on the list let alone which foreign phone call was misinterpreted.

Some times people have legal activity that they want to hide. Not all government employees are completely trustworthy.