Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Items of Interest

-- Here's John Dickerson at Slate looking at two rallies, one for Obama, one for Clinton at the same High School gym on two successive days ... H/T to TPM

-- Diarist 'Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse' put up a remarkable diary, Telecom Immunity Gives Bush Immunity. It's lengthy but worth the time. It's nice when the legal types "peel the onion" in plain English.

My judicial clerkship with state supremes taught me that arguments are a little like onions: Sometimes you need to peel away the surface claims to uncover the real issues.

Bush argues that retroactive immunity is imperative to protect the telecoms from financial ruin from lawsuits and to avoid unfairly punishing patriotic telecoms which cooperated after receiving assurances of lawfulness. Neither of these grounds is presently an issue facing the telecoms. The law already immunizes telecoms and if financial ruin becomes an issue, there are remedies which have been used in the past which do not involve retroactive immunity. In fact, there is no political or legislative precedent for retroactive immunity under these circumstances.

If the telecoms do not actually need immunity at this time to address issues that presently do not exist, what is Bush's real motive for pushing retroactive immunity now? The answer lies in what may happen to Bush if the telecoms are not provided immunity now: The courts may review evidence showing that Bush acted illegally. Telecom immunity would provide grounds to dismiss the lawsuits to prevent the disclosure of this evidence. However, if the telecom immunity clause only provided immunity to telecoms, then Bush would not be protected from other forums --- like independent media, prosecutors and Congress --- that could investigate his domestic surveillance programs.

Coincidentally, the telecom immunity clause is structured to also provide retroactive immunity to Bush.

-- I disagreed with a post (actually the title of the post) that Booman put up last week but I have to say in all fairness that he's a little closer with this one:

          The Blogosphere and the Obama Surge

-- I can't say I've monitored reports about the relationship between the media and the military all that closely but I ran across this article yesterday. I found Sec. Gates' comment in it quite interesting.

“The press is not the enemy,” Mr. Gates tells military audiences, including at the service academies, “and to treat it as such is self-defeating.”


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