Shame On You, Harry Reid!

October 19, 2007 at 10:34 am | Posted in corruption, Democrats, Harry Reid, NSA Warrantless Tapping, secret combinations, warrantless wiretapping | 3 Comments

Glenn Greenwald writes:

I wrote about many of yesterday’s developments concerning telecom amnesty and warrantless surveillance in this morning’s post, but I want separately to highlight one critical fact. Citing various media reports, Jane Hamsher last night noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — in violation of all Senate customs and rules — apparently intends, in essence, simply to ignore the “hold” placed on the FISA bill by Chris Dodd and bring the bill to the floor for a vote (and certain passage).

I was somewhat skeptical of that interpretation. The one “principle” which all Senators share is the sacred holiness of their customs and institutional prerogatives. As Jane notes, Reid has never dishonored a “hold” before from his own caucus, and virtually never dishonors “holds” even when placed by the most far-right Republicans Senators. It seemed inconceivable that he would simply refuse to recognize a “hold” by one of the Senate’s most senior members on a bill of this importance, and the media accounts seemed vague on that score.

As a result, I emailed Reid’s office to ask if they actually intended to override and ignore Dodd’s “hold” and this is the patronizing (though crystal clear) dismissal I received back as a “response” from Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley:

Reid will work with Dodd and other Senators to correct the deep flaws in the Protect America Act.

Clearly, Reid has nothing but contempt for Dodd’s principled stand, which was generated by (and in response to) the actions of tens of thousands of Americans concerned about our constitutional liberties and the rule of law. Reid is dismissively brushing that all to the side — as usual — to ensure the safe and smooth passage of a Draconian bill jointly demanded by the Bush administration, the telecom industry, and their lobbyists.

There is a reason that the Democratic Congress has been as accommodating to the Bush agenda, if not more so, than even the GOP Congress led by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert. It is because that is what their leadership, repeatedly, chooses to do. Dodd needs to demonstrate that yesterday was not a one-time event by demanding that his “hold” be honored, and the other Democratic candidates, as well as others in the Senate who claim to want to stop this bill, ought to do more than issue empty, right-worded statements and stand with Dodd to block this bill by any means available.

Why, Senator Reid, why? Why do you wish to provide telecom companies with RETROACTIVE IMMUNITY? Clearly because you wish to provide them immunity retroactively, it clearly implies there was some lawbreaking in the past by these companies, the kind of lawbreaking that will get these telecom companies into some serious trouble, and could even bring them down. Stand for your principles, man! Stop accepting their money! Don’t be like the Republicans! Shame on you, Mr. Harry Reid. You really are no better than the Republicans.

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3 Comments »

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  1. I hate to say I told you so, but… I told you so. 😉

  2. How’s this for odd, but I kind of feel bad for the telecom companies. I mean, how much power do you think they “really” have? If a powerful government agency came to them and said this is what is going to happen and there’s nothing you can do to stop us, so help or get out of the way. Sure, they could take a theoretical stand against it, but do we really think they have the power to say no? I have a sneaking suspicion that they do not.

    This admittedly is coming from someone who supports spying on terrorists. However, I think blame is misplaced here. You should be getting mad at the government that forced them to do something, instead of getting mad at a bill protecting the telecom companies from having their hand forced.

    I suspect that this spying has been going on for a LOT longer than the Bush administration, and there stands to be a number of past presidents and organizations that would be highly embarassed/compromised if the information were to become public knowledge. This is a classic example of a government protecting itself for better or for worse.

  3. You feel bad for the telecom companies? I can’t. Not when they really do have so much power. And yes, they can indeed say no to the government. QWest did. Yes, it did hurt their business, but when you stand for principles you usually don’t make much money.

    You should be getting mad at the government that forced them to do something, instead of getting mad at a bill protecting the telecom companies from having their hand forced.

    Trust me, this is just one of the multitude of things on the list of grievances with my government and I am furious with them. Perhaps saying that will have someone at the NSA read my blog, write me up, and order someone from the FBI to watch me.

    Such a sad state of affairs.


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