Birth Announcement

It's a wonderous thing to watch the birth of a new Republican Repugnican talking point. Here's the second mention I've seen in two days of this idea — the first one was here —with this one coming from the Evans-Novak Political Report:

"Congress recessed without renewing authority for eavesdropping because Democrats bowed to trial lawyers' demands not to grant retroactive immunity from lawsuits for phone companies that helped U.S. intelligence agencies. It shows greater Democratic reliance on contributions from trial lawyers than their vulnerability on the national security issue."

"Bowed to trial lawyers' demands"!!! The mind boggles!

Let's review: The Bush administration went to the telephone companies and asked them to turn over records and emails, allegedly in an attempt to ferret out foreign terrorists and their American co-conspirators, but actually to spy on their political opponents. The phone companies, being good corporate citizens, mostly said, "Sure, here you go!" (The one exception was Quest, which had the temerity to actually ask for a warrant!)

When all this came to light years later — December, '05, to be precise, when the NY Times, which had known about the problem for over a year but waited to print it because it allegedly "didn't want to affect the outcome of the 2004 election," ran a massive story in it — various groups and individuals filed lawsuits, rightfully claiming that their right to privacy in their communications had been violated by the telephone companies working in collusion with the Bush administration, which hadn't bothered to get any search warrants to do what it did, allegedly because it was all legal under the Authorization to Use Military Force — the same document that got us into the Iraq war.

Of course, that was horseshit: The AUMF gave no explicit authority to tap phones or examine emails, the FISA law had been passed in the late '70s to deal with just such a situation but Bush & Co. had decided not to use it ... and so about 40 lawsuits have proceeded — and it's got Bush scared silly. See, if any of those suits go to trial, the whole domestic espionage network the administration has put together will be made public, and lots of Bushies, including Bush himself, will be exposed for the criminals they really are. 

Obviously, such exposure would be bad for any Repugnican running in the '08 election, so those Deep Repugnican Thinkers, realizing that simply repeating the line that the wiretaps were legitimate wasn't working, came up with a new idea: The suits aren't going forward because the Bush administration and the phone companies committed any crimes and everyone who can read the Constitution and the FISA law knows it. Rather, they're going forward because the lawyers representing the various plaintiffs whose privacy was violated will be getting paid a shitload of money if they win at trial.

See; it has absolutely nothing to do with impeachable offenses — "Move along; nothing to see here" — it's just another greedy lawyer trick.

But the point is, watching the birth of a new political tactic is sort of like watching a slow-motion car accident: It's horrific, but you can't take your eyes off of it.


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