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June 19, 2008

Surveillance Deal Reached, Including Telecom Immunity Provision

Hang on, I'll quote it shortly.

Gabriel says the Democrats folded almost completely. As I'm still trying to access the article, I'm not sure about that yet; I know a previous suggested compromise on the telecom immunity issue involved allowing the telecoms to be sued, but also allowed them to argue their assurances from the government that they were acting lawfully to the court and jury. If that's the deal, it's hardly a complete fold, as they still bear a lot of risk and may, as many deep-pocketed defendants do, simply settle out of court for smaller sums here and there rather than risk a huge judgment.

A Better Compromise Than That: A "conditional immunity" for the telecoms, which mostly seems like transparent face-saving by the Democrats, because the condition of that conditional immunity will almost surely be satisfied in every single case:

Critical to sealing the deal was a compromise that would grant conditional immunity to telecommunications companies for assistance they provided from September 2001 through January 2007. If the companies can show a federal district court judge "substantial evidence" they received a written request from the attorney general or head of an intelligence agency stating the president authorized the surveillance and determined it to be lawful, the cases against them will be dismissed.

...

The House Democratic leadership's decision to move forward on the measure reflects a calculation by House leaders to complete action on the issue, to prevent it from becoming a distraction in a campaign season during which they hope to focus on economic, not national-security issues. The House is likely to approve the measure with significant support from Republicans and the measure is expected to win Senate approval easily.

A vote might happen tomorrow.


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posted by Ace at 02:16 PM

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