Sunday, October 14, 2007

Separate and unequal

Glenn Greenwald opines today on the naked corruption on display in the Telecom Immunity law winding through Congress with bipartisan support. It's designed to exempt telecoms from lawsuits spawned by violations of communications laws, committed at the behest of the NSA for the White House's domestic surveillance program.
. . . these corporations are using their vast resources to give money to key lawmakers and pay huge lobbying fees to politically
well-connected former government officials
to pressure the Congress to write a new law that has no purpose other than to declare that they are immune from accountability for their lawbreaking. They're conniving, literally, to be specially exempted from the rule of law.

[. . .]

By definition, our Beltway establishment does not believe in the rule of law -- at least not for them. They are creating a completely segregated, two-track system where high Beltway officials and their corporate enablers arrogate unto themselves the power to decide when they can break the law. They are thus literally exempt from our laws, even our criminal laws, while increasingly harsh, merciless, and inflexible punishments are doled out for the poorest and least connected criminals -- who receive no consideration of any kind, let alone presidential commutations or special laws written for them by Congress retroactively rendering legal their patently criminal behavior.

The Telecom Immunity law that Congress seems well on its way to enacting is one of the most conclusive pieces of evidence yet not only that our Royal Beltway Court is corrupt and decayed at its core. It also proves that they no longer care who knows it.
This weekend, the WaPo reported allegations by former Qwest Communications CEO, Joseph P. Nacchio, that "the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal."

Per Nacchio's lawyer:
"Mr. Nacchio made inquiry as to whether a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of that request," Stern said. "When he learned that no such authority had been granted and that there was a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process, including the Special Court which had been established to handle such matters, Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act."
Granted, Nacchio is appealing convictions for insider trading, and the substance of his allegations could be suspect, but company records of the alleged Feb. 27, 2001 meeting with the NSA could easily confirm whether the NSA was working on a domestic surveillance program six months before September 11, 2001.

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