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Bush-linked Telecom lobbyists pressuring Congress for blanket immunity for illegal wiretapping. [View All]

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-21-07 02:58 PM
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Bush-linked Telecom lobbyists pressuring Congress for blanket immunity for illegal wiretapping.
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Edited on Fri Sep-21-07 03:00 PM by seafan
This is RED ALERT.

We need quick and decisive action directed at our members of Congress, to head off any capitulation to these high-pressure tactics by Bush and his lobbyists to cover his illegal and secretive activities to eavesdrop on us.

And don't forget the *new* Acting Attorney General, Peter Keisler, who Bush quickly and quietly named just this week to run the DOJ. He's the former key attorney for AT&T who helped derail the rights of citizens to bring lawsuits against them for invasion of privacy. (See links at bottom of this post.)

Very convenient, to have an AT&T key attorney now in charge of DOJ. Surely he can grease the skids for the army of lobbyists to browbeat Congress into immunizing Bush's illegal wiretapping.

Sure enough, now Bush is in a panic to push Congress to issue blanket immunity to the telecoms for turning over illegally obtained wiretaps to the Bush administration.

Here's the latest:

Case Dismissed?

The secret lobbying campaign your phone company doesn't want you to know about

By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

September 20, 2007

Sept. 20, 2007 - The nations 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 communitys warrantless surveillance programs.

The campaignwhich involves some of Washington's most prominent lobbying and law firmshas 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.

If that happens, the telecom companies say, they may be forced to terminate their cooperation with the U.S. intelligence communityor risk potentially crippling damage awards for allegedly turning over personal information about their customers to the government without a judicial warrant.

Its not an exaggeration to say the U.S. intelligence community is in a near-panic about this, said one communications industry lawyer familiar with the debate who asked not to be publicly identified because of the sensitivity surrounding the issue.


"They are trying to completely immunize this from any kind of judicial review, added (Cindy) Cohn, (legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation). I find it a little shocking that Congress would participate in the covering up of what has been going on."


Among those coordinating the industrys effort are two well-connected capital players who both worked for President George H.W. Bush: Verizon general counsel William Barr, who served as attorney general under 41, and AT&T senior executive vice president James Cicconi, who was the elder Bush's deputy chief of staff.

Working with them are a battery of major D.C. lobbyists and lawyers who are providing "strategic advice" to the companies on the issue, according to sources familiar with the campaign who asked not to be identified talking about it. Among the players, these sources said: powerhouse Republican lobbyists Charlie Black and Wayne Berman (who represent AT&T and Verizon, respectively), former GOP senator and U.S. ambassador to Germany Dan Coats (a lawyer at King & Spaulding who is representing Sprint), former Democratic Party strategist and one-time assistant secretary of State Tom Donilon (who represents Verizon), former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick (whose law firm also represents Verizon) and Brad Berenson, a former assistant White House counsel under President George W. Bush who now represents AT&T.


The administration is keeping up pressure on Congress for quick action on the new version of the surveillance lawincluding an immunity provision for telecomswhich will take effect when the Protect America Act expires early next year. Congressional staffers say that Democrats are likely to go along with some version of the proposal. But Democratic leaders, who say they were stampeded into passing the law last summer, are insisting on having more thorough hearings and forcing the administration to turn over documents on the surveillance program. If the telecoms want immunity, some Democrats say, the White House should at least say what it is they need immunity for.

And this story is on the heels of Bush naming former AT&T key attorney Peter Keisler as Acting Attorney General at DOJ. This has me jumping up and down screaming.

Bush is working very fast on trying to push this blanket immunity through Congress. He couldn't care less about the telecoms' situation. He is only aiming to shield his own behind, at any cost.

While the media are plastered with OJ, CBS' new lawsuit, the racial unrest in Louisiana, the school shootings today and the MoveOn ad, Bush IS WORKING VERY FAST. to ram telecom immunity through Congress.

Call your Senators and Reps, people. For all we are worth, we need to prevail on this one. If we lose our rights because of these railroading thugs, we will be living in tyranny. And we won't be able to stop it. Not in our lifetimes.

Related thread from Tuesday:

While the Senate dickers on Mukasey, a dangerous Acting AG assumes the helm at DOJ., September 18, 2007

But is Schumer watching what Keisler is doing at DOJ??

Much more analysis at The Next Hurrah.
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