Congress Holds Out Promise of Retroactive Immunity for Telecoms

The House surveillance bill is now complete. It does not force the government to satisfy the Fourth Amendment on surveillance of citizens and allows for a relatively weak level of review — albeit more review than President Bush will accept. It is an improvement over the current system, but there was no debate of actually using the constitutional process laid out by the Framers. The Democrats are still saying that they may give telecommunications companies retroactive immunity if they tell them more about what they did. Once again the question is why. These companies like any citizens should be responsible for their decisions and any betrayal of their customers. As usual, the House bill is stronger than the Senate bill, which will likely give immunity to the companies who are huge political contributors to Senators and their parties. What is particularly astonishing is that both houses are compromising, even in the face of the White House ordering companies and officials not to share critical information with oversight committees.