February 18, 2008

From the “yeah, but at least they aren’t SHREDDING THE CONSTITUTION!” files

Bring on the changeyness and the hopeitude!:

A closed-door caucus of House Democrats last Wednesday took a risky political course. By four to one, they instructed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call President Bush’s bluff on extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to continue eavesdropping on suspected foreign terrorists. Rather than passing the bill with a minority of the House’s Democratic majority, Pelosi obeyed her caucus and left town for a 12-day recess without renewing the government’s eroding intelligence capability.

Pelosi could have exercised leadership prerogatives and called up the FISA bill to pass with unanimous Republican support. Instead, she refused to bring to the floor the bill approved overwhelmingly by the Senate. House Democratic opposition included left-wing members typified by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, but they are but a small faction. The true cause for blocking the bill was the Senate-passed retroactive immunity from lawsuits for private telecommunications firms asked to eavesdrop by the government. The nation’s torts bar, vigorously pursuing such suits, has spent months lobbying hard against immunity.

The recess by House Democrats amounts to a judgment that losing the generous support of trial lawyers, the Democratic Party’s most important financial base, is more dangerous than losing the anti-terrorist issue to Republicans. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the phone companies for giving personal information to intelligence agencies without a warrant. Adm. Mike McConnell, the nonpartisan director of national intelligence, says delay in congressional action deters cooperation in detecting terrorism.

Big money is involved. Amanda Carpenter, a Townhall.com columnist, has prepared a spreadsheet showing that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in the telecommunications suits have contributed $1.5 million to Democratic senators and causes. Of the 29 Democratic senators who voted against the FISA bill last Tuesday, 24 took money from the trial lawyers (as did two absent senators, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama). Eric A. Isaacson of San Diego, one of the telecommunications plaintiff’s lawyers, contributed to the recent unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd, who led the Senate fight against the bill containing immunity.

Protecting the country’s surveillance capabilities in a time of war? Not so much. Protecting trial lawyers? A party imperative.

As the neo-civil libertarians on the left continue to argue (in between crafting smoking bans and environmental legislation that will have the government, in essence, monitoring your thermostat), their real concern here is that the telecoms not be given immunity for their “illegal activity.” Point out to them that no “illegalities” have been established, and the answer is always the same: if these big corporations have nothing to hide, than why would they need immunity? — an argument that studiously ignores two obvious facts, first, that litigation not only penalizes the telecoms financially (would they go to court or just settle?) while enriching the trial lawyers (who get paid either way); and second, that such a threat of legal liability is also a back door way of keeping risk-averse corporations from cooperating with the government. After all, why cooperate if doing so could open you up to a lawsuit, even if you have assurances that what your are doing isn’t illegal?

Net effect? Well, try this on for size:

It is worth observing that the Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, was the Director of President Clinton’s National Security Agency from 1992-’96. He is not a partisan hack. He was a Vice Admiral in the Navy and is an old intelligence pro.

On Fox News Sunday this morning, McConnell explained that President Bush has been following his (McConnell’s advice) on intelligence reform. As of midnight this morning, intelligence gathering powers are now back to where they were before the Protect America Act was passed in August 2007. At that time, according to McConnell, we had lost about two-thirds of our overseas collection capacity because of the FISA court ruling which, for the first time in history, required court authorization for monitoring foreigners outside the U.S. who contact other foreigners outside the U.S.

[my emphasis]

The reasoning? Those transmissions — between foreigners speaking on foreign soil — are likely routed through US wires. Which, by FISA’s determination, incredibly requires that the government obtain a warrant, and so necessitates probable cause.

Which I’m guessing is one of the reasons the founders didn’t want wartime powers in the hands of lawyers and the courts to begin with.

The Protect America Act reversed that ruling for six months. It is now expired. We cannot collect on new targets overseas without going to the FISA court and showing probable cause that the target is an agent of a foreign power. As foreigners outside the U.S. have no U.S. legal protection (or at least didn’t until the FISA court ruling), and as the federal courts have no jurisdiction outside the U.S., we are not supposed to have to make any showing whatsoever to collect intelligence overseas.

When you go from no restrictions to no collection absent probable cause, that represents an enormous drop off in capacity. It’s that simple. Democrats who claim that people like McConnell are engaged in partisan fear-mongering are talking nonsense. And as McConnell noted this morning, every day we don’t fix this problem, the problem — the investigative leads you don’t get, the connections you don’t make, the things you don’t learn but which you should know — metastasizes. Intelligence is dynamic: you can’t stop collecting for a day, a week, a month or more and then figure you are picking up right where you left off. What you have lost tends to stay lost.

Sure. But at least the trial lawyers are happy. Fluffy bunnies for FREEDOM!

And besides: the Dems can always count on people like Glenn Greenwald(s) to project fear mongering onto Republicans and classical liberals, even as he engages in purple-prosed hysterics about the loss of our freedoms, conjuring up images of indescript government agents sitting in vans outside “your” house, monitoring “your” downloads of Cabana Boys Gone Wild III: This Time It’s Purrrrrrsonal

For decades now, the Dems have worked (with outspoken exceptions) to weaken US security — either by placing (unconstitutional, in my opinion) restrictions on intelligence agencies (FISA was never supposed to affect military intelligence gathering), or by cutting military spending, or by adopting a cynical tone of moral indignation at the “loss of freedoms” that they know to be a chimera of their own construction.

Which is their prerogative, naturally — but something that John McCain should be outraged by (if only for appearances), and seeking to use as wedge issue by trumpeting his concerns to his buddies in the media. Like a shiny maverick riding to the rescue of a weakened nation.

And who knows, maybe he will. After he’s done extolling the virtues of Hillary Clinton.

Meh. Maybe he and Ann Coulter could get on, after all.

****
previously, on protein wisdom…

Posted by Jeff G. @ 1:54pm
135 comments | Trackback

Comments (135)

  1. But our souls will be healed and we can travel to those foreign places with pride again!!

  2. hehe, touche!
    i think dr. yes will like this.
    and frankly, jeff, ur writing is (as always) filled with unique swoony deliciousness.
    indeed more ppl shud read u.

    echelon type programs are even more critical after the clinton adminstrations systematic destruction of our HUMINT networks in MENA.
    i dont honestly know if those are recoverable.
    :(

  3. Now, now, McCain voted the right way on this; and how could you be surprised at the Botox-Baby’s action?

    And of course lawyers are more important than the rest of us. They get to call themselves, “Esquire.”

  4. Meanwhile, a few stray electrons go uncollected at the NSA:

    “Dear Steve4321,

    I ams so glad I was able to wins the eBAy auction of your overstockt supplies of micro switching and timing pieces. Tho I ams also sorry to hears of you closing your watches repair business, thank Allah that here in the Gaza it is still chipper to repairs a watch then just goes an buys a new one. My address for sheeping of the merch and dices is shown below the note. I prays that my Paying Pal account still activates. Well, GTG, as thay say. They jus droped off my crazy Aunt, and sinse she bin in the loony-bins for a few yers, her watch needs some new repairs. This time I think I give her a reomote radio-control one so she don’t have to keep up with it herseff.”

  5. McCain may have voted the right way, but he is the putative Republican nominee for president. Why isn’t he raising a ruckus about the gutting of our intel in front of every camera or microphone that will have him?

    Maybe he’s just waiting for the NYT to give him the go ahead.

    Maverick. Edgy.

  6. Gee Jeff, I thought we were gonna wait awhile before we started the swiftboating.

  7. I mean about the post not your comment there. It’s ironic.

    Nevermind.

    I like the part about the bunnies,

  8. I think I started sometime in ’01. It’s like a habit now.

    McCain is the monkey on my back.

  9. but I think about your comment that McCain won’t really get a lot of bright-line opportunities like this.

  10. I question their patriotism.

  11. The Democrat Copperheads have been in favor of slavery for over 100 years — from the plantation to the collective to the madrassa. Why are you surprised?

    As for McCain, why do you think lots of people like me are not going to vote for him? All he does is put RINO lipstick on the Copperhead.

  12. I’m a little hesitant to use the “quid pro quo” argument. My hunch is that for every trial lawyer dollar/lobbyist there is a telecom dollar/lobbyist on the other side. Even if the Democrats received not a single penny from the trial lawyers, they were wrong and reckless to allow the law to expire.

  13. And I am not longer joking when I say that. Placing the good of the trial lawyers, the ambulance chasing detritus of law schools, above actual and real national security concerns, due to proclomations from the likes of the shirtlifting gleenwalds is no longer acceptable. Fuck them.

  14. I’m so over the not going to vote for McCain thing, and really, if that’s how you feel I don’t think you understood the post. That’s just my opinion.

  15. Not that it was ever acceptable before, but the real world consequences of their perfidy had been less pronounced.

  16. The difference being, angler, that the telecoms didn’t do anything illegal — and both the Dems and the trial lawyers know this. That last part is key. But it tracks with the Dem’s MO these last 8 years: raise the specter of impropriety, put the administration on the defensive, stake out a moral highground that, once the airy clouds are removed, is revealed as a dungheap.

    Crass opportunism that puts the safety of the country at risk. That risk, however, likely not being immediate, gives the Dems time to craft a nice tu toque, or else build up a facade of wounded plausible deniability.

    It’s sickening, really.

    But you’re correct. The bottom line is, they were wrong and reckless to let this expire. But the trial lawyer angle still plays, I think, because of Pelosi’s spineless retreat. Which is illustrative — though I’m not sure who needed more object lessons at this point.

    Still, your point is well taken.

  17. I’m a little hesitant to use the “quid pro quo” argument. My hunch is that for every trial lawyer dollar/lobbyist there is a telecom dollar/lobbyist on the other side.

    I don’t know that it’s an even balance, though it may be. The telcoms have the threat to deal with, while the trial lawyers are looking for a fishing expedition/payday. If these suits are allowed to proceed, I see enormous settlements to see that they don’t. Not because they’re necessarily liable, but because the risk of being found liable is too great, as is often the case. So, the trial lawyers get rich, and every telco customer gets a check for $3.25, and then watches their rates go up to pay for the settlement. And then I see the telcoms telling the government to go fuck itself because getting in the national security game is just too much of a liability for them. A bad deal all the way around.

  18. Unless you’re one of the lawyers, that is. Then it rocks.

  19. I once had rabbits. They ate their young.

  20. Jeff G – McCain is the monkey on my back.

    Other-Otherphobe!

  21. I once had rabbits. They ate their young.

    They have to get protein somehow.

  22. They have to get protein somehow.

    Don’t we all.

    I prefer lawyers.

    But seriously, folks, I don’t have The Golden Answer, but something needs to be done about the fact that “The Process” is by, for, and about lawyers, and everyone else is just an object.

    I mean, yeah, the process is made by lawyers. Law, lawyer, makes sense.

    But in any other context, this would simply be corrupt payment for service – the people lining up lawsuits (without legal standing) are essentially paying the politicians (lawyers) to pass the laws that make the lawsuit (extortion) possible.

    I mean, revolting is a weak word in this context.

  23. I think Jeff is leaving the horn in his back just to make it less comfy for McCain.

  24. the ambulance chasing detritus of law schools

    I think you misapprehend who is chasing the telecoms. The attorneys generally on the plaintiff’s side are high dollar, white shoe, class action attorneys. They are *nothing* like the typical slip & fall scam artist. Some may be ideologically motivated; but more realistically, the possibility of fees in the neighborhood of multiple tens of millions is probably more of a motivation, and the fact that opposing anything (FUCK) Bush does aligns nicely with their politics is a pot sweetener.

  25. Most discussion and analysis of climate change cases to date have focused on the third and fourth elements of causation and injury. How can plaintiffs persuasively link the particular emissions of cars driven one place with reduced snow pack somewhere else? And, even if a causal link can be established between the offending action and the harm, what is the proper measure of the emitter’s liability in the face of multiple sources of greenhouse gases over an extended time period? These are challenging issues, and surely deserve careful attention. What remains surprising, though, is that little beyond passing mention has been written about the first two elements – the duty of care and its breach. Suppose one could establish that emissions from a utility company or an automobile manufacturer’s cars proximately caused greater storm surges that, in turn, harmed a particular coastal community, or proximately reduced snow pack and led to water shortages for a specific farming community. Key questions still remain.

  26. The truth is, Karl, there is no viable candidate for classical liberals or conservatives this election cycle. Obama is an empty-suited Messianic figure — a charlatan pitching his rhetoric to an Oprahfied America. Hillary is, well, Hillary: she’s a socialist, and a political opportunist of the most ruthless bent.

    On the GOP side, we have two statists: McCain, who mimics the progressivism of Teddy R’s “Americanism”; and Huckabee, whose religion allows him to bill himself as a social conservative, but whose policies — and instinct to Christianize America by bending the Constitution to the will of Christ, as he perceives it — are either liberal or, using the early 20th century analogue, Christian progressive. Which is why I often accuse certain social conservative ideas of being, at their ideological base, anything BUT conservative in today’s sense of the word.

    Plus, for a Christian, he sure does seem to lie a bunch.

    We need us a William Howard Taft, is what’s what. Or at least one candidate who believes in individual freedoms and the Constitution.

  27. That’s… I don’t think that you really countenance the role of the media. We did good to get McCain. They were benevolent. But ask your friends and neighbors if we’re in a recession. To me that right there makes “no viable candidate for classical liberals or conservatives this election cycle” seeem awfully quixotic. I hope that makes sense. It’s either that or lots and lots of paragraphs I think.

    Media bias since Katrina is like when your wife gets fat. You don’t notice and it’s gradual and next thing you know she rolls over on top of you in bed one night and that’s the end of that.

  28. I’d rather be quixotic than complicit. It’s a Spaniard thing. You wouldn’t understand.

  29. The implications of that are like I need me some A*Teens depressing really.

  30. I buy my constitution pre-shredded. It’s lazy, I know, but I think it makes my tacos better.

  31. Maverick. Edgy.

    If you are a Republican. Apparently loose Democrats are called Blue Dogs and are just dull and boring.

  32. When he got to the middle of the ring he saw the flowers in all the lovely ladies’ hair and he just sat down quietly and smelled. And the McCaniacs were mad and the Bilarys were madder and the Baracky was so mad he cried because he couldn’t show off with his cape and sword.

  33. I’m a little hesitant to use the “quid pro quo” argument. My hunch is that for every trial lawyer dollar/lobbyist there is a telecom dollar/lobbyist on the other side.

    What most people don’t know is whose “quid” came first: it’s government intrusion into private business that results in the lobbyists going to Washington. Two examples: WalMart and Microsoft hardly had anyone in Washington until the lefties went after them—now both companies have lobbyists up the wazoo.

    One good way to “get money out of politics” is, therefore, to get the government out of business. It only hinders good business, drives the little guy to extinction (they can’t afford the high cost of regulation), and drives up consumer prices.

    Nice clean solution, if you ask me.

  34. I don’t suppose this fact means anything, but the plaintiffs in the class action suit are represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU, which are non-profit organizations.

    Thus, the lawyers for those organizations make a flat sum and the awards go to the organization. Greed is unimportant and discovery is.

    Shockingly, though, the hypocrisy of Novak bitching about trial lawyers contributions and citing some flack from Red State, compared to AT&T dropping over a million in a desperate attempt to escape immunity is risible.

    The President says we will all die without the ability to eavesdrop; the House passed a bill “fixing” FISA (without which we will all die); the Senate passed a bill fixing FISA (without which we will all die) and adding telecom immunity; the President refuses to sign a bill fixing FISA (without which we will all die) without the immunity…so the President and the Republicans let the FISA changes die, because they are the bitches of the telecoms. The President, by his own words, is willing to let us all die, so telecom immunity can be granted. He’s a hero.

    You must be so proud.

  35. ericd

    So if some of us do die who will you blame?

  36. Uh . . . do you recall when Bill Clinton was Hughes’ bitch so bad he allowed the transfer of missile guidance tech to the Chinese, so they could get their satellites into space cheaply?

    Course you don’t.

  37. “It’s a Spaniard thing. You wouldn’t understand.”

    My mother’s maiden name is “Higuera.” From Spain.

    And I am related to Inigo Montoya in some distant way. (You killed my father. Prepare to die).

    This thread brings an interesting question to mind…

    Who WOULD honestly represent conservative and classic liberal values as a canidate for president? Any of the preeners and posers who ran? Any one in politics at the moment?

    Who?

  38. ericd, little monkey, Jeff already anticipated your argument.

    Point out to them that no “illegalities” have been established, and the answer is always the same: if these big corporations have nothing to hide, than why would they need immunity? — an argument that studiously ignores two obvious facts, first, that litigation not only penalizes the telecoms financially (would they go to court or just settle?) while enriching the trial lawyers (who get paid either way); and second, that such a threat of legal liability is also a back door way of keeping risk-averse corporations from cooperating with the government. After all, why cooperate if doing so could open you up to a lawsuit, even if you have assurances that what your are doing isn’t illegal?

    You should read it again and then maybe you’ll understand better.

  39. The difference being, angler, that the telecoms didn’t do anything illegal — and both the Dems and the trial lawyers know this. That last part is key.

    To quote the Federal Judge (a Bush appointee) on your opinion:

    “AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.”

    Looks like a federal judge believes the telecoms’ conduct violated the Stored Communications Act and the privacy rights of their customers (rights going back to the 1930’s). So, whereas you are pretty sure there were no violations of law, a Federal Judge has noted probable illegal acts.

    Shockingly, once one alleges someone has broken a law that someone can “defend” itself in a “courtroom” with an “adversarial process.” And, the innocent party can be exonerated in this “process”. We call it a legal process and, if you are right (and AT&T, Verizon, and a Federal judge apparently believe you may be mistaken), those impoverished telecoms will defeat the horrible trial lawyers. And, they could do it all WITHOUT buying immunity from Congress!

    Wow! Who would have thought we still had courts? Maybe, the telecoms, who are already immunized against these lawsuits in the future, can just buy themselves out of all court decisions?

  40. Greed is unimportant and discovery is.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU Foundation are both lobbyist groups. Are you sure Greed is unimportant?

  41. ericd, little monkey, what you’re missing is you need to splain better how we can do the surveillance we need on the terrorists without the telecom’s cooperation. Can we think of ways in which this country is different now than it was in the 1930’s? I think we can. We should have drawing time and each make a picture of something different now that you didn’t find back then.

  42. Forgive eric for farting out an answer. He’s been fed a steady diet of talking points, which are like forced fiber to lefties.

    FOR THE INTESTINAL HEALTH OF THE COMMON WEAL!

  43. oops. telecoms’ I think that should be.

  44. To the bunkers! It’s the “attack” of the “pointless” quotation “marks”!!!

  45. I know why the telecoms ought to be sued:

    “Gish reported that the phone-sex industry is controversial. Critics complain that it exploits women and pollutes society.”

    Poor victims of phone sexism!

  46. eric d

    are you familiar with a strategy called SLAPP?

    So let’s hear it again about how innocents can righteously defend themselves in court … legal fees be damned!

  47. Oh. Hah. I had a roommate once that used to do that. It depressed her after awhile. The trick is you build up regulars and then you stop advertising so you don’t get all the one-offs.

  48. SLAPP

    I wasn’t familiar.

  49. Yes, we eagerly await Hillary’s plan to afford low-cost, high-quality legal counsel to all Americans.

  50. “AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.”

    Looks like a federal judge believes the telecoms’ conduct violated the Stored Communications Act and the privacy rights of their customers (rights going back to the 1930’s). So, whereas you are pretty sure there were no violations of law, a Federal Judge has noted probable illegal acts.

    Actually, it looks like a federal judge has bought into the assertion of a “domestic dragnet” — which is completely silly when we are talking about switches, and data compiled by the NSA, none of which is admissible in court without first obtaining a warrant.

    Shockingly, once one alleges someone has broken a law that someone can “defend” itself in a “courtroom” with an “adversarial process.” And, the innocent party can be exonerated in this “process”. We call it a legal process and, if you are right (and AT&T, Verizon, and a Federal judge apparently believe you may be mistaken), those impoverished telecoms will defeat the horrible trial lawyers. And, they could do it all WITHOUT buying immunity from Congress!

    Ah. So if it’s insurance companies denying claims to the little guy — and having the money to break them, or at least to convince them that a lawsuit would indeed prove financially disastrous — you’re cool with that, right? Or is this kind of bullying by litigation (yes, the ACLU is non-profit. It has no political agenda. MoveON. Nothing to see here) only appropriate when the Truth to Power types think they can wrangle money away from big companies (your line about “impoverished telecoms” really gives away the game, I think — though that wasn’t really necessary. I feel like I had you pegged regardless).

    Wow! Who would have thought we still had courts? Maybe, the telecoms, who are already immunized against these lawsuits in the future, can just buy themselves out of all court decisions?

    So you see a slippery slope, then, from complying with the wishes of the government after a terrorist attack by an enemy who entrenches itself inside a country’s borders in order to launch offensives (and of course, let’s not forget, high-ranking Dems were briefed on this and didn’t begin using it as a wedge issue until around election time, and cynically so), and the prospect that telecoms are forever immune from prosecution for any old thing?

    Is that your argument? Really?

    Lord help us. We really do deserve Obama.

  51. You know how all those librarians ostentatiously destroyed their lending records post-9/11 in response to the Patriot Act–never mind that the feds have never searched for such things?

    Wouldn’t it be cool if the telecoms provided the information to the feds–as requested–then destroyed their own copies of the same records? Then, when sued, they could just say, “We provided information on cross-border communications, as requested, as is normal in wartime. We did not retain specific records.”

  52. “AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.”

    All this sounds like really is AT&T said so even if we did what you allege it was legal anyway and the judge said, well, no, I don’t think so really. But the point isn’t that they knew that they would feel pretty bad if there were an attack and people died and they hadn’t helped. It’s that they would just have likely have been sued if there were an attack and people died and they hadn’t helped. That’s what I think.

    Lawyers is fags.

  53. Except for some what I like.

  54. eric d,

    is a classic example of how this country’s IQ is steadily dropping into the crapper. *PLOOP* Except, of course, for his repeated use of the word “Shockingly” to begin each “money paragraph”. He uses “Shockingly” with such ease. And yet he makes it look as if there is no other word that would ever do for what he’s trying to say. That part right there makes him sound like a tortured genius. I picture him putting his fingers up like “” “” when he mouths the words as he types.

  55. Gobsmackingly would have done just fine, I think, alp.

  56. I dunno, I like it when they tell me when I supposed to be shocked. I would never suspect, otherwise.

  57. “Twatwaffle” goes just as good into those ” ” (/makes the parenthesis motion)money shots you keep flinging out there, ericD.

  58. To quote the Federal Judge (a Bush appointee) on your opinion

    You say that like it’s universally accepted as a Good Thing, eric. Tell you what: type “Harriet Miers” into that search box on the upper left part of this page, and read for a bit.

    For more on the infallibility of judges, type “Kelo decision” in the same place, and read.

  59. Funny how ericd thinks that pointing out that a moronic comment was uttered by a Bush appointee would force us to agree with it—or tear our hair out in frustration. We’re caught! One of US said it!

    Look, the ACLU et al. wants to put the telecoms between Iraq and a hard place. [Ha! See what I did?]: if they cooperate with the government, they could be sued. If they don’t cooperate with the government, they could be stonewalling a perfectly peaceful and nonviolent way of ferreting out terrorists before they announce their presence with a jet-liner to the Capitol (as opposed to our carpet-bombing Waziristan; I’m just sayin’).

    I fear that Jeff is right: our country is on the verge of Learning A Very Hard Lesson on several fronts.

    (Not that we couldn’t have used a good stiff thwack to the head 35 years ago or anything. I mean, DISCO???)

  60. Disco did a lot to bring African Americans into the Pop mainstream and out of traditional “black” genres I think. But maybe we should ask Karl.

  61. This whole thing is bullshit. I mean if the ACLU sues Big Phone, Big Phone will listen in on all of their conversations and be ready to slap their case right back in their mug like Manute Bol in a junior high pickup game.

  62. mcjoan at Dailykos says it just isn’t so. Or something.

  63. Lets just be honest with eachother. If the Democrats and Republicans switched sides on this issue, and instead of trail lawyers standing to make good money we could insert HALIBURTON, then eric would be on the other side of this issue and some here would be on his side. That is those of us with no intellectual honesty.

  64. I see what they’re saying MayBee, but the discovery is designed I’d bet to elicit material on which to base further litigation on. Right now I think they have a decided lack of harms on which to base a tort. And no one has brought up I don’t think that the mere precedent of immunity does indeed terrify trial lawyers.

    But Novak needs to tighten up his piece.

  65. ericd wanders in and serves a useful purpose. Specifically, he shows how patently un-serious the Dems are about national security. That they are willing to subvert the common defense to the whims of the trial lawyers is no longer a surprise. They would rather cater to their special interests than actually substantively debate an issue.

  66. Because judges are never wrong or politically motivated, and tort lawyers never shop for favorable courtrooms where judges are elected through enormous contributions from, wait for it, tort lawyers — check out Madison County in Illinois, if you are so inclined.

    See how easy it is when your heart is pure?

  67. But…BUSH APPOINTEE!

    I’m not for giving telecoms immunity as a rule. In this case, though, I am — and in no small part because I’ve watched as the “progressives” have turned an NSA program designed to ferret out potential sleeper cells and to “connect the dots” before future attacks, into Bush “spying” on Americans.

    The cynical dishonesty and rhetorical opportunism on display from these people makes my skin crawl. I have a young kid; I’m not interested in partisan games. Bush briefed who needed briefing — Democrats among them — and none objected (though, as usual, they waited until Americans relaxed a bit, then claimed they were bullied. LEADERSHIP!). The NSA is a military agency under the auspices of the Executive in war time. Again, nothing that agency collects against American citizens can be used in court without first obtaining a warrant. And FISA was never intended to police that agency.

    Personally, I think FISA is unconstitutional. But then, I thought the same about McCain Feingold and Kelo, which shows how much I know.

    I’ve linked to legal arguments protesting the assertion that electronic signals collected in space by US-owned equipment is the same as collecting information on American soil. But the question is, why should we even have to make such arguments?

    This has been a partisan issue from the outset. And having to listen to progressives pretend that they care for civil liberties while they routinely advance candidates who’d give us universal health care programs and more nannystate contrivances than you can shake a mandatory bicycle helmet or a cigarette at — well, it just pegs my revulsion meter. If Glenn Greenwald(s) is a civil libertarian, I’m a plate of eggplant parmesan.

    Opportunism isn’t the word for what these people do. It goes beyond that. But they’ve got so many Americans either fooled or trained to rely on safety nets that we’re destined for another national Jimmy moment.

    — Which, on the plus side, maybe we’ll get a feature film based on the original “Carter Country” TV series.

    Handle it, Roy. Handle it, handle it!

  68. charles – Funny how many of the mass torts find their way to Madison county IL, or some of the corrupt courts in MS, time after time after time.

    Jeff G – opportunism is far too generous. I prefer lying fucking mendacious crapweasels that care more about political posturing than the common defense, or the general good of the country.

  69. Who knew that eggplant parmesan knew how to do pop-culture references? Who, I ask?

    [Sorry, Jeff: you put the ball on the tee.]

  70. happy- if you get what they are saying, you are a better man than I. My reading was basically, “the trial lawyer’s money isn’t in play here because the trial lawyers say it isn’t and that wiretapping is illegal. And the ACLU”. That’s how I read it.

  71. I prefer the chocolate tort, sprinkled with shredded CONSTITUTION!

  72. Well, just that the bulk of the lawsuits do seem to be ACLU types or the EFF spearheading them. I couldn’t find anything that was contrary to that, but I didn’t search and search. And no one has done any discovery. It seems to me though that it’s after the evidence from discovery is out there and assessed that the John Edwards types will actually move in, but that’s just me guessing. Cause the money involved so far would be punitive-based not damages-based. I’m in marketing what the hell do I know. But Novak should have made it clear that trial lawyers scream whenever there’s talk of immunity for anything and I think it would have made his piece stronger.

  73. The President, by his own words, is willing to let us all die, so [teh] telecom immunity can be granted.

    Otherwise, a wonderful word-salad, eric!

    Negrodamus says: “It’s always an upstream swim for the sperm. And, btw, that’s Clarence ‘Carter Series’, you fucking racist.”

  74. happy- exactly. I don’t assume that just because the trial lawyers aren’t in there now, that they wouldn’t be posturing to get a piece of the action in the future. That’s what they do.

  75. I am going to take a bit of a time out from getting mortared to lay out why the tort plaintiff’s bar wants to stop any immunity for this… it is preserving the field for future use. It matters not that a “non-profit” starts the process, it is the tort bar that finishes it. Contributions, support, etc are easily exchanged for discovery materials (or, as is more likely, the knowledge that certain things/documents, etc exist).

    In my work for the Giant Swiss Insurance Behemoth, I have seen asbestos start to fall away as an income stream for the tort bar, silicon vanish in a puff of plaintiff lawyer malfeasance, criminal activity and fraud – thanks for catching all that Judge Jacks! And benzene, cell phone EMF and other once promising mass torts have failed to materialize as new fodder.

    Peter Angelos needs more yachts. And more money to blow on the Baltimore O’s. Keep hope (and litigation) alive.

  76. I don’t know Major, if you take a sample of the back covers of any of the phone books in my area it looks like asbestos and mesothelioma (Hit Somebody!) are right up there with Vioxx, Phen-Fen, car accidents and “hurt at work?”.

    I was thinking that since I never had my crank pulled by Father Fiklefinger during my 16 years of Catholic school, I would never make the grade. But if we’re going to be able to sue the telcos for providing echelon info, I’m sure I could dig up a few relatives in Egypt. You know Achmed O’Leary and Cormac Muhammed? We’re cousins! Mo’ Money Mo’ Money!

  77. Democrats cannot be trusted with our national security.

    Anybody think that FDR needed a warrant to look at a telegram from Zurich sent to a member of the German-American Bund living in Yorkville (German-American neighborhood in Manhattan), whether or not he was a citizen, circa 1942? Hell, in my own home town, they forced Italian immigrants to turn in their shortwave radios (and seizures are deemed more intrusive than searches under the IV Amendment).

    Mendacious crapweasels, at least.

  78. Comment by JD on 2/18 @ 9:24 pm #

    ericd wanders in and serves a useful purpose. Specifically, he shows how patently un-serious the Dems are about national security. That they are willing to subvert the common defense to the whims of the trial lawyers is no longer a surprise. They would rather cater to their special interests than actually substantively debate an issue.

    Except, Jd, as noted by ericd, the President is the one playing games with national security. The House Bill, already passed and the Senate Bill from the Senate Judiciary Committee, both made the requested changes to FISA. But, the President won’t sign those bills without additional telecom immunity.

    Now, it’s not your fault you can’t read. You have a partisan axe to grind AND hatred of trial lawyers, but in the future you could hold back on writing counter-factual pieces and saving me the time of thinking you are less informed and more easily manipulated than the average Hannah Montana fan. Seriously, you have a rep to maintain.

  79. IJS – BS. You can assert that all you want, but it has been repeatedly shown that your arguement suffers from a variety of flawed premises. Now, I understand that you and yours bow to the whims of the plaintiff bar, and I guess you are alright with that. It is pretty distasteful to everyone else. Your House leaders decided to punt, rather than deal with the issues. The Senate passed immunity. Harry Reid must be a conservative. Now, crawl back into your whole. That you ignore, or do not understand the issues involved tells us what we need to know about you, that we can add you to the list of the patently un-serious.

  80. After listening to a very perplexed NPR this morning try and fail to see any issue here, I think the most important part of this thread really is Jeff’s point that…

    McCain may have voted the right way, but he is the putative Republican nominee for president. Why isn’t he raising a ruckus about the gutting of our intel in front of every camera or microphone that will have him?

    Why why why? I really don’t get it. Did he make a single headline this weekend?

  81. previously, on protein wisdom…

    Oh no! Not another Lostie!

  82. Nothing to see here.

    President Bush says to delay is dangerous, but many intelligence experts, including Suzanne Spaulding**, say very little will actually change Saturday, even if the bill is allowed to expire.

    Spaulding, who spent 20 years working on national security issues for the government and is now a private attorney in Washington, D.C., talks with Michelle Norris.

    ** That would be this Suzanne Spaulding…

    First of all, we have the leak of certain details about this program. … Why did this program leak? I believe it leaked because intelligence professionals at the National Security Agency who are committed to the rule of law had very real concerns about the legality of this program and felt compelled to go and tell somebody that they thought illegal activity was taking place in their intelligence community, and I think that’s because of the failure of this administration to put this on a solid legal footing. Reports indicate that the program was shut down for some period of time. Again, if this program is so essential to national security [that] to have disagreements apparently about its legal authority cause the program to be shut down for several weeks, that harms national security.

  83. Again, if this program is so essential to national security [that] to have disagreements apparently about its legal authority cause the program to be shut down for several weeks, that harms national security.

  84. To borrow form your bestest buddy – I love this:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19072207

    NPR: Mr. McConnell, the Bush administration says that if the Protect America Act isn’t made permanent, it will tie your hands, intelligence hands, especially when it comes to new threats. But isn’t it true that any surveillance underway does not expire, even if this law isn’t renewed by tomorrow?

    MCCONNELL: Well, Renee it’s a very complex issue. It’s true that some of the authorities would carry over to the period they were established for one year. That would put us into the August, September time-frame. However, that’s not the real issue. The issue is liability protection for the private sector.

    The old lobbyist for the telecoms remarked….

    As is also pointed out by Glenn, the telecoms have to respond to legal requests from gov’t (reminder: just because you don’t like Glenn doesn’t make it not true). They don’t have a choice, legally, so the idea that the gov’t needs to appease them is absurd – unless the request is illegal.

    The real purpose of this is obviously to cover up illegal surveillance. That the telecoms get protection from lawsuits is just a gravy-like confluence of interests. Or, it’s just coincidence that it cuts off all judicial review of the exec’s behavior. One or the other.

    Personally, I think this new model – the executive branch and industry working as a secret uninvestigatable (is that a word?) cabal will keep us safer. Everyone knows that if any court – even one that was created for the purpose of issuing sensitve security surveillance warrants and will issue them retroactively – sees what the executive is surveilling, the surveillance fails. It’s a magical type of thing. Sort of like saying a wish out loud. And if anyone can look back in time at old surveillance, all sorts of paradoxes are introduced (Zemeckis et al., 1985; Hawking, 1998).

    It’s all terribly complicated, 9/11, and it’s for your own good. Trust us.

  85. NPR: [ Insert Democrat Talking Point Here ]

    MCCONNELL: Well, NPR, it’s a very complex issue and the Democrats may not have explained all the nuances for you in your editorial meeting.

  86. The real purpose of this is obviously to cover up illegal surveillance.

    Thank God we have you to point out what is obvious then steve.

  87. Everyone knows that if any court – even one that was created for the purpose of issuing sensitve security surveillance warrants and will issue them retroactively – sees what the executive is surveilling, the surveillance fails.

    WTH is up with the “retroactive warrant”? you never addressed what happens if the judge reviews it and says, “nope there’s no cause” They’re just going to “unsee” that intelligence? and I think the largest problem with running every single thing through the court is there aren’t enough judges to handle the thousands of requests in a timely manner. you keep ignoring that there’s a difference between surveillance for law enforcement and for military purposes.

  88. And along comes steve … had we only known to ask him, we could have saved ourselves some actual thinking. steve says it is obvious that it was illegal, therefore, it is illegal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1elventy. Certainly, that is more than enough for me.

  89. you keep ignoring that there’s a difference between surveillance for law enforcement and for military purposes

    Maggie – They ignore it because it is inconvenient, and they do not understand it, or … they are too fucking stoooopid to understand it, therefore, ignore it. Either way, it is disingenuous of them.

  90. “As is also pointed out by Glenn, the telecoms have to respond to legal requests from gov’t (reminder: just because you don’t like Glenn doesn’t make it not true). They don’t have a choice, legally, so the idea that the gov’t needs to appease them is absurd – unless the request is illegal.”

    That’s the point. The telecom companies are requesting immunity from actions they are legally compelled to take at the government’s request. That makes perfect sense. Why should a company, or person, be subjected to civil liability for committing an act the government compels?

  91. Jay Rockefeller on the effects of tort litigation to stifle terrorist surveillance:


    “What people have to understand around here is that the quality of the intelligence we are going to be receiving is going to be degraded. It is going to be degraded. It is already going to be degraded as telecommunications companies lose interest.”
    [...]
    And what did they get for their trouble? As Mr. Rockefeller put it last week, “What is the big payoff for the telephone companies? They get paid a lot of money? No. They get paid nothing. What do they get for this? They get $40 billion worth of suits, grief, trashing, but they do it. But they don’t have to do it, because they do have shareholders to respond to, to answer to.”

    The legal left scores cheap political points at the expense of gutting our ability to acquire intelligence on terrorists committed to killing us.

  92. That’s the point. The telecom companies are requesting immunity from actions they are legally compelled to take at the government’s request. That makes perfect sense. Why should a company, or person, be subjected to civil liability for committing an act the government compels?

    angler – Facts, they are impervious to facts. And, logic. And, Kyoto.

    It is ironic that Rockefeller would actually say something like that, something that appears principled, since he has so often been the architect of exploiting the paranoid delusional fantasies of the left in order to score cheap political points. Kudos to him.

  93. Echelon, folks. Semantic Forests.

    THAT’S the danger, not listening in to some AQ goat-herder’s phone calls. Screw AQ, they don’t have any god-damned constitutional rights. I do.

    Worry about me.

  94. And the Telecoms that have seen fit to fund his politics

    You’re kidding, right? I mean, this is Jay Rockefeller. The guy’s worth nearly $100 million, and a sector that has contributed less than $1million over his entire career as a congresscritter is going to cause him to shred the constitution and serve it sprinkled over a mushroom and spinach omelette?

    Powerful, they are. Even more powerful than the five other business sectors that have contributed more, possibly.

  95. We can add dexter to the idjits list.

  96. Peter Angelos needs more yachts. And more money to blow on make sure the Baltimore O’s blow.

    Fixed that for you.

  97. It’s taken me 7 years of doing this, but I can now safely say that it is perfectly acceptable to dismiss “progressives” out of hand. I’ve always tried to engage — to persuade, to overcome ignorance or defensiveness — but why bother? I linked to a category of posts on the topic of the NSA and FISA and telecom switches — what “electronic surveillance” is, under FISA definition, and who/what it most “target” to run afoul of the law, none of which it did, given the nature of the technology involved — but do people like steve or dexter or ericd bother to read the stuff? Do they bother to learn the facts?

    No. Of course not. Instead, they rely on glibness, forced irony, and a willful misunderstanding and intentional misrepresentation of the program in question in order to justify STICKING IT TO THE MAN.

    Well, as I said before, I have a kid. And watching (a select few) Dems try to hold our intelligence capabilities hostage so that they can aid trial lawyers in potential big money future litigation against the telecoms makes my skin crawl.

    That steve would turn this around on Bush is typical: all Bush has to do to protect the country is cave to a bit of extortion by those bought and paid for by trial attorneys. All he has to do to protect us is to agree to allow lawyers to go after the telecoms, so that in the future they will not be so quick to cooperate. All Bush has to do to keep his program is to allow for those necessary for its success to be punished for their participation.

    Fair is fair, after all.

    Fuck off, douches.

  98. “That’s the point. The telecom companies are requesting immunity from actions they are legally compelled to take at the government’s request. That makes perfect sense. Why should a company, or person, be subjected to civil liability for committing an act the government compels?”

    They’re actually already immune to that provided the actions were legal or it’s determined that they acted in good faith that their actions were legal.

  99. They’re actually already immune to that provided the actions were legal or it’s determined that they acted in good faith that their actions were legal.

    And if it only costs them a couple of billion to prove that, well what the fuck, it ain’t steve’s money.

  100. Hey look – Jeff’s acting like a close-mined, overly-sensitive petulant teenager. I can’t believe it.
    But the part about glib answers coming for you Jeff – I mean, come one now. I think Wilco wrote a song about you there Big Guy (points for naming it – HINT: on YHFT)

    I don’t think EVERYTHING that the telecoms did was illegal. I belive the vast majority was quite legal – but pointing to all of the legal programs (in some of your previous posts) to justify a (possibly) illegal one makes no sense. YOu seem to know that the program in question was completely legal when no one outside of the exec but a handful know what the program in question even is. How is that again?

    Another point: I don’t blame Bush any less than the Democrats for this. They are more than complicit: they are co-authors on all of it. That the end result gives the power to the executive is simply what it is – and a democrat might be in the WH soon enough anyway. Let’s not forget that Clinton pushed for some pretty awful expansions of surveillance powers w/o nearly as compelling a backdrop.

  101. “And if it only costs them a couple of billion to prove that, well what the fuck, it ain’t steve’s money.”

    Again, tort reform by retroactive immunity is a pretty silly solution.

  102. “They’re actually already immune to that provided the actions were legal or it’s determined that they acted in good faith that their actions were legal.”

    That’s not immunity. That’s a defense, asserted in response to a claim made, which must be proven in court, after the expenditure of vast amounts of money, which may or may not result in a verdict in favor of the defendant. Immunity, on the other hand, prevents the claim from being brought in the first place.

  103. “That’s not immunity. That’s a defense, asserted in response to a claim made, which must be proven in court, after the expenditure of vast amounts of money, which may or may not result in a verdict in favor of the defendant. Immunity, on the other hand, prevents the claim from being brought in the first place.”

    You’re right – my mistake. It is a defense – not immunity.

    But see #102 for why retroactive immunity is not a solution to these kinds of problems.

  104. Willful fucking dishonesty, or actual physical and mental inability to process the information provided ? I tend to agree with Jeff G

  105. “But see #102 for why retroactive immunity is not a solution to these kinds of problems.”

    Do you mean:

    “Again, tort reform by retroactive immunity is a pretty silly solution” ?

    That seems to me like a bare assertion without any basis. Show your work. Why is it a “pretty silly solution.”

    Why is it silly for telecom companies to receive immunity for doing that which the government compels? And what is so shocking about “retroactive” immunity? It happens all of the time. Witnesses are provided immunity all of the time in exchange for their cooperation with the government – and it is ALWAYS retroactive in that it provides immunity for past actions, not future ones.

  106. Because it is silly! Oh! Well why didn’t you just say so in the first place! I don’t know how Jeff and Karl are going to be able to show their faces after being shot down with an argument like that! You should have your own TV show, steve, with fucking genius arguments like that!

    It’s silly! Wow, that is going to leave a mark!

  107. “It’s silly! Wow, that is going to leave a mark!”

    Well i thought that you could fill in the blanks when I put it into the context of tort reform.

    So let’s see… We have a problem with frivolous lawsuits in all sorts of industries, and these lawsuits cost industry alot of money. What solution should we seek? I know: simply declare that those corporations are immune for whatever it is that they did or didn’t do. So why not afford this to all businesses? Why just the telecoms? Any business that’s getting tied up in lawsuits should get this treatment, right? I mean, it does cost them billions. That’s where this logic leads.

    That’s why retroactive immunity is not a very good method of tort reform.

  108. Why put in the the context of tort reform, steve? What’s the point of that? Couldn’t you put it in the context of a Chuck E. Cheese show instead? Or maybe national security in wartime? One or the other.

  109. “Why is it silly for telecom companies to receive immunity for doing that which the government compels? And what is so shocking about “retroactive” immunity? It happens all of the time. Witnesses are provided immunity all of the time in exchange for their cooperation with the government – and it is ALWAYS retroactive in that it provides immunity for past actions, not future ones.”

    In your example, the gov’t did not direct the person being given immunity to commit the crime that they’re being given immunity for – that’s why this analogy breaks down.

    Further, what the gov’t compels and what is legal are not the same. If the gov’t asks a private actor to break the law, that doesn’t mean that what the actor did was therefor legal – i.e., “the gov’t” can break the law too. The private actor AND those in gov’t should be held responsible for the crime.

    Unless they can get togethter and get the crime declared no longer a crime, after the fact. Then they both get away with it.

  110. “Why put in the the context of tort reform, steve? What’s the point of that? Couldn’t you put it in the context of a Chuck E. Cheese show instead? Or maybe national security in wartime? One or the other.”

    If the point I’m arguing against is that telecoms should get retroactive immunity simply because frivolous lawsuits will cost them lots of money, then retroactive immunity is being used as de facto tort reform.

    And then it makes perfect sense to call it what it is.

  111. Uh, steve, Congress knows nothing illegal was done. That’s one of the reasons they were willing to pass the immunity provision.

  112. Fair is fair, after all.

    Fuck off, douches.

    Welcome to my world, Jeff. It’s liberating, ain’t it? You may now proceed with the mockery.

  113. And then it makes perfect sense to call it what it is.

    steve, you’re an idiot. This has not a goddamn thing to do with tort reform, as this addresses only a specific instance. Do you think about your mother with that fetid little brain?

    See, Jeff? It’s easy and fun!

  114. “If the point I’m arguing against is that telecoms should get retroactive immunity simply because frivolous lawsuits will cost them lots of money, then retroactive immunity is being used as de facto tort reform.”

    If this was simply a question about the expense incurred by the telecoms in responding to frivolous litigation, the argument for immunity would not be nearly as strong.

    However, the problem immunity is designed to address is not the companies’ cost in defending frivolous lawsuits, but the practical result of those costs. Withholding immunity will result in the inability of the government to secure valuable information because those companies will not be able to afford to provide that information in the face of lawsuits. So the cost sought to be avoided here is not the company’s litigation expenses, but the intelligence cost incurred by our government. It’s not tort reform. It’s a mechanism to protect the ability of the government to protect the nation. Under those circumstances, immunity seems perfectly reasonable.

    And as for the government witness analogy, it was offered not to draw a perfect parallel to the current situation, but to disabuse you of your apparent problem with the “retroactive” nature of immunity.

  115. “steve, you’re an idiot. This has not a goddamn thing to do with tort reform, as this addresses only a specific instance. Do you think about your mother with that fetid little brain?”

    It’s an excruciatingly simple comparison, and more than warranted when one brings up allowing for retroactive immunity simply because it will cost them “frivolous lawsuit” money.

    If you cannot understand it, there’s no point to responding to you anymore. Thank You.

  116. Great. Steve’s for tort reform.

    I love you, brother.

  117. I like telecom companies. It’s how I talk to my mom and order Pollo Loco. Leave off.

  118. Note how steve flat out ignores the people that address his “points” substantively, and focuses on those meanies that point out how fucking retarded his points are. I wonder which leftist site made “retroactive” their talking point today.

  119. “If this was simply a question about the expense incurred by the telecoms in responding to frivolous litigation, the argument for immunity would not be nearly as strong.”

    Right. That’s my point here – there may be other good reasons to give them immunity, but simply to save them from law suits is not one of them. I was only arguing the tort reform bit becasue this argument is easily refute with it. It really is a distraction from the main debate – which includes all fo the reasons that should or shouldnot get immunity. Pablo has trouble with this notion, but you obviously get it.

    “However, the problem immunity is designed to address is not the companies’ cost in defending frivolous lawsuits, but the practical result of those costs. Withholding immunity will result in the inability of the government to secure valuable information because those companies will not be able to afford to provide that information in the face of lawsuits.”

    Then change the law so that going forward, they’re immune. I’m not sure if I would be for this or not, to be honest – I haven’t given it much thought until you just brought it up. You could even pass a law capping damages retroactively. Even cap them at $0. There are many options that are less dramatic.

    The very fact that one of the effects of this legislation will be to stop any an all investigation of what was going on in the program (programs?) in question – and whether it was legal – is troubling to me. And possibly very self serving to Repubs and Dems considering the evidence that warrantless wiretapping may have taken place. Now we’ll just never know one way or another. Very convenient.

    So the cost sought to be avoided here is not the company’s litigation expenses, but the intelligence cost incurred by our government. It’s not tort reform. It’s a mechanism to protect the ability of the government to protect the nation. Under those circumstances, immunity seems perfectly reasonable.

  120. I’m going to make a JD exception:

    “Note how steve flat out ignores the people that address his “points” substantively, and focuses on those meanies that point out how fucking retarded his points are. I wonder which leftist site made “retroactive” their talking point today.:”

    So what was this substantive point that made me put Pablo on the ignored list?

    “steve, you’re an idiot. This has not a goddamn thing to do with tort reform, as this addresses only a specific instance. Do you think about your mother with that fetid little brain?”

    And this is why I ignore you JD. Becasue you simply have nothing to offer me.

  121. “Great. Steve’s for tort reform.

    I love you, brother.”

    As-Salaam-Alaikum, Dan

  122. You are so Eddie Haskell. Not like in a good way either.

  123. steve – Really, that you may not respond to me matters not a bit. Kudos for actually addressing some of the points made. Can we put you in the category of wants to make sure intelligence gathering is done out in the open, and as many hurdles as possible laid out so as to make it senseless for anyone to voluntarily help the government?

    Now, if you would bother to show a glimmer of understanding in re. differences between law enforcement and intelligence gathering, datamining, etc…

    I know, baby steps.

  124. Then change the law so that going forward, they’re immune. I’m not sure if I would be for this or not, to be honest – I haven’t given it much thought until you just brought it up.

    Jesus Christ on a unicorn, this boy is beyond fucking retarded.

  125. I think steve was saying that he’s excruciatingly simple. Which, I guess we’ve known that for a while.

  126. Sure JD. It’s like Christmas around here.

  127. So what was this substantive point that made me put Pablo on the ignored list?

    Here. Let me help:

    This has not a goddamn thing to do with tort reform, as this addresses only a specific instance.

  128. “You are so Eddie Haskell. Not like in a good way either.”

    Are you refering to my Muslim greeting of friendship to Dan?

    I wonder what Muslim Leave it to Beaver would be like? A lot edgier I guess….

  129. So, steve, why is it that you conflate domestic and international calls? why is it that you conflate law enforcement and intelligence gathering?

  130. Just be nice. And let’s just spy on some terrorists and be safe. It’s just what you do when people is wanting to kill you and blow up your shit. Stop overthinking it.

  131. “You could even pass a law capping damages retroactively. Even cap them at $0.”

    And thus you have come around to retroactive immunity. A moot lawsuit is one in which the plaintiff cannot, under any circumstances, recover. If damages are capped at $0, then there is no ability to recover. If there is no ability to recover, why not stem the flow and prevent moot lawsuits from being brought?

  132. “You could even pass a law capping damages retroactively. Even cap them at $0.”

    Or you could have legislation that removes liability from the telcos and transfers it to the government. Which is what’s been proposed.

  133. Hey look – Jeff’s acting like a close-mined, overly-sensitive petulant teenager. I can’t believe it.
    But the part about glib answers coming for you Jeff – I mean, come one now. I think Wilco wrote a song about you there Big Guy (points for naming it – HINT: on YHFT)

    Unless it’s called, “Fuck Off and Die, steve,” I don’t much care.

    Don’t like the way I act in my own house, take a hike. You’re a douche. That you’ve convinced yourself that you have an open mind (juxtaposed against my “close-mined”-edness) just makes you an especially deluded douche.

    After all, one of us has run a fairly popular political site with open comments on and off for 7 years. While the other of us is a douche.

  134. Jeff,

    You mean it is your blog with the 8,989,957 visits?!?! Not steve’s? Woah… I must have been concussed by that last mortar round!11!1

  135. 9000452…seems to be picking up speed.

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