Another one for ya:
The FISA plot thickens again. Bush wants to keep Senators clueless because telecom immunity also gives Bush immunity. Telecom immunity includes by definition the approval of two condition precedents: Bush had constitutional authority for the warrantless surveillance and the surveillance was determined to be lawful. Under the doctrine of Congressional ratification, the effect of this approval is to retroactively “legalize” Bush’s authority and program. This means that Bush may have immunity from prosecution. Moreover, for years, Bush could not cite any statutory authority for his theory of unitary presidential prerogatives. Bush will now have precedent.
My judicial clerkship with state supremes taught me that arguments are a little like onions: Sometimes you need to peel away the surface claims to uncover the real issues.
Bush argues that retroactive immunity is imperative to protect the telecoms from financial ruin from lawsuits and to avoid unfairly punishing patriotic telecoms which cooperated after receiving assurances of lawfulness. Neither of these grounds is presently an issue facing the telecoms. The law already immunizes telecoms and if financial ruin becomes an issue, there are remedies which have been used in the past which do not involve retroactive immunity. In fact, there is no political or legislative precedent for retroactive immunity under these circumstances.
If the telecoms do not actually need immunity at this time to address issues that presently do not exist, what is Bush’s real motive for pushing retroactive immunity now? The answer lies in what may happen to Bush if the telecoms are not provided immunity now: The courts may review evidence showing that Bush acted illegally.
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