If Congress immunizes the telecoms for past violations of the law, it
will send the message Congress approves what the administration did. We
would be aiding and abetting the President in his illegal actions, his
contempt for the rule of law, and his attempt to hide his lawbreaking
from the American people. Voting for amnesty would be a vote for
silence, secrecy, and illegality. There would
be no accountability, no justice, no lessons learned.
damage will not stop there. The telecommunications companies are not
the only private entity enlisted by this administration in its
lawbreaking. Think about Blackwater and its brutal actions in Iraq, or
the airlines that have flown CIA captives to be tortured in foreign
countries. These companies may also be summoned to court one day to
justify their actions. When that day comes, the administration may call
yet again for retroactive immunity, claiming the companies were only
doing their patriotic duty as “partners’ in fighting terrorism.
debate we are having now about telecom amnesty is not likely to be the
last round in the administration’s attempt to immunize its private
partners. It is only the opening round. In America, we should be
striving to make more entities subject to the rule of law, not fewer.
Giving in to the administration now will start us down a path to a very
Think about what we have been hearing from the White
House in this debate. The President has said American lives will be
sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said he
will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity–no
immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he is
willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.