Sunday, March 02, 2008

"Bush Moves to Shield Telecommunications Firms"

Source: Dan Eggen and Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post, March 2, 2008.

"President Bush said last week that telecommunications companies that helped government wiretapping efforts need protection from 'class-action plaintiff attorneys' who see a 'financial gravy train' ahead. Democrats and privacy groups responded by accusing the Bush administration of trying to shut down the lawsuits to hide evidence of illegal acts.

"But in the bitter Washington dispute over whether to give the companies legal immunity, there is one thing on which both sides agree: If the lawsuits go forward, sensitive details about the scope and methods of the Bush administration's surveillance efforts could be divulged for the first time.

"Nearly 40 lawsuits, consolidated into five groups, are pending before a San Francisco judge. The various plaintiffs, a mix of nonprofit civil liberties advocates and private attorneys, are seeking to prove that the Bush administration engaged in illegal massive surveillance of Americans' e-mails and phone calls after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and to show that major phone companies illegally aided the surveillance, including the disclosure of customers' call records."

Comment: If the telecom companies appear to have broken the law, they ought to be prosecuted. If they broke the law having their (metaphorical) arms twisted by the Bush administration, then perhaps Bush should pardon them before he leaves office. If they are convicted and not pardoned, the pressures put on them to break the law should be taken into account in sentencing. We either support the rule of law, or we do not!

Even if the case is weak, the leverage it provides should be used in a legal process to discover what the Bush administration did and seems to be covering up. If we live under a rule of law, then everyone should be held accountable for obeying the law, no matter what the reasons that one might seek to disobey the law!

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