One of the biggest disappointments of last night's debate for me was Senator Chris Dodd's refusal to discuss (sure Russert and Williams were not going to ask about it, but so what, thrust the issue into the debate) the raison de etre for his candidacy – restoration of the Constitution ad the rule of law. And today, as Glenn Greenwald discusses, Senator Jay Rockefeller reaches a new disgraceful low, as he argues for total disrespect for the rule of law:
Today there is significant debate about whether the underlying program — the president's warrantless surveillance plan — was legal or violated constitutional rights. That is an important debate, and those questions must be answered.
In the meantime, however, these companies are being sued, which is unfair and unwise. As the operational details of the program remain highly classified, the companies are prevented from defending themselves in court. And if we require them to face a mountain of lawsuits, we risk losing their support in the future.
What drivel. Losing their support in what? Breaking the law? What in blazes is rockefeller talking about? The telcos will not honor duly issued warrants because they are being sued? Ah, there's the rub. Rockefeller does not believe in the NEED for the government and telcos to follow the law. What's the rule of law to Rockefeller? Nothing at all. He is a disgrace. More.
Rockefeller fills his column with a pack of
Let's be clear. First, there is no automatic amnesty. All Americans, including corporate citizens, must follow the law and be held accountable for their actions. The bill authorizes case-by-case review in the courts only when the attorney general certifies that a company's actions were based on assurances of legality, and the court is specifically required to determine whether the attorney general abused his discretion before immunity can be granted.
No law is needed to provide this defense to the telcos. It exists under existing law. As Greenwald notes:
FISA and other laws already contain amnesty if telecoms can show they acted in good faith. When telecoms comply with the law, they don't get sued. They get sued only when they violate their legal duties to their customers and the country by engaging in exactly the behavior which the American people, through their Congress, decided to prohibit in the form of our “laws.”
In sum, Rockefeller has expressed his contempt for the rule of law. As Greenwald says:
Rockefeller's bill rewards deliberate lawbreaking. His amnesty gift further bolsters the image he and Fred Hiatt and friends have of America whereby our most powerful Beltway officials and our most lobbyist-protected corporations can break laws with total impunity. No matter how many times Rockefeller and Cheney scream “9/11” and “Terrorists!,” the most basic principles of “the rule of law” demand that telecoms and Bush officials — like everyone else — be held accountable when they break the law.
Rockefeller has disgraced himself utterly.