“The idea of granting blanket retroactive amnesty for private companies and high government officials who repeatedly broke the law in how they spied on Americans is the stuff of tin-pot third-world dictatorships. It is so corrupt and reprehensible that it ought to be beyond the ken of what could even be considered.”
Former Clinton officials lobby for amnesty for FISA lawbreaking
Following up on Jim Risen’s NYT article this week reporting that Congressional Democrats appeared likely to agree to some form of retroactive immunity for telecom companies which illegally enabled the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping on Americans (thus compelling dismissal most of the remaining lawsuits challenging the illegality of the eavesdropping), Newsweek‘s Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball reported the same thing:
Congressional staffers said this week that some version of the proposal is likely to pass — in part because of a high-pressure lobbying campaign warning of dire consequences if the lawsuits proceed.
The Newsweek article sheds further light onto the reasons for its likely passage:
The nation’s biggest telecommunications companies, working closely with the White House, have mounted a secretive lobbying campaign to get Congress to quickly approve a measure wiping out all private lawsuits against them for assisting the U.S. intelligence community’s warrantless surveillance programs.
The campaign — which involves some of Washington’s most prominent lobbying and law firms — has taken on new urgency in recent weeks because of fears that a U.S. appellate court in San Francisco is poised to rule that the lawsuits should be allowed to proceed.