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Why Do You Need Immunity If You Haven't Broken the Law?

By       Message Cenk Uygur       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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The Bush administration is desperately trying to get immunity for the telecom companies inserted into the next wiretapping bill. But let me ask a simple question - why would the telecom companies need immunity if they didn't break the law?

I'm not trying to be clever here. I'm asking a literal question. Isn't this an obvious admission that the administration did ask the large telecommunication companies to break the law for them? And if they did, why on God's green earth should we give them immunity without investigating what they did? In fact, shouldn't somebody be looking into doing the opposite - enforcing the law?

Has enforcing US law become so quaint and obsolete that when someone pretty much admits they broke the law and asks in essence for a preemptive pardon, no one looks into it? Do we have a Justice Department anymore? Isn't it comical that these guys ran on the "rule of law" and restoring dignity back into the White House?

Here's another ironic twist. We are all supposed to go along with warrantless wiretapping because "you don't have anything to worry about if you haven't done anything wrong." If I had a nickel for every time a conservative said that to me, I'd have at least $37.50. So, let me throw it back at them: If the telecom companies didn't do anything wrong, they don't have anything to worry about. Right? So, why would they need immunity from US law?

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And, of course, in yet another ironic twist, it turns out the only person prosecuted so far is the one man who did not go along with the illegal wiretapping program, Joe Nacchio, the CEO of Qwest. He thought the program was

inappropriate and illegal.

So, what did he get for trying to protect his customers? The government took away hundreds of million of dollars in federal contracts and then prosecuted him for relying on those contracts they had promised. This is a sick world where justice is turned on its head. Is anyone going to do anything about this?

So, now we come to the familiar territory where we discuss what the Democrats might do. I'll skip the usual rant on how little they have done so far to stand up for law and order and get to what's next.

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer(D-MD) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) have both said they won't even consider giving immunity unless they see what it is they would be giving immunity for. This seems like the bare, bare minimum, but it's a very good first step. Credit where credit is due. They're doing the right thing here. Who in their right mind would give blanket immunity when they have no idea what they are giving immunity for or what purpose it would serve?

Second, how about we don't give immunity for breaking the law? How about we prosecute it instead?

There were top level people inside the Justice Department and the CIA who quit over how illegal the warrantless wiretapping, the torture memos and the detainee detention programs were and are. They are all described as hardliners or conservative stalwarts. How about we ask these people why they think these programs are so illegal? How about we listen to them and change the programs back so that they are legal again instead of encouraging further law breaking? I know, very radical.

President Bush has threatened to veto any bill that doesn't have an immunity clause. I'm sorry I couldn't hear you, Mr. 29%. Why would anyone listen to the most unpopular president of all time?

If he vetoes the bill, we go back to the old FISA law and he is responsible for not fixing the foreign-to-foreign loophole which the Democrats are more than happy to fix. I'm going to ask the Democrats for once to put the blame where it belongs - on the president - rather than take it on themselves for no reason.

Send him a bill that fixes the real problem and if he vetoes it, then say he is endangering national security, which he would be. And God forbid, if anything were to happen between the time he vetoed the bill and the time he accepts the new law, it's on his head. Is he willing to take that kind of gamble with the American people's security?

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Cenk Uygur is host of The Young Turks, the first ever live, daily web television talk show. The Young Turks are on XM Satellite Radio 8-9PM ET (XM 167, America Left) and on Sirius Left 146. The Young Turks is one of the Top 100 You Tube Partners, with over 18 million views a month on (more...)

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