FISA: Running Orrin Hatch Out of D.C. on a Rail

At one point in time I was of the opinion that telecommunications companies were being forced to cooperate with the government in the immoral and unconstitutional Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and therefore they should be given immunity from lawsuits against their activities. I changed my mind, however, when I found out that the telecommunications companies actually enjoy the financial benefit that accrues from this "compulsion". I hope that Orrin Hatch, for his support of such corruption, will be dispatched to the pasture in the next available election.

Update: Proof that the phone-database gathering so essential to finding the culprits behind 9/11 actually began several months earlier.

Update 12/26: It's getting worse: using your body as an identification card.

It is interesting that Congress doesn't give a rat's backside about protecting the United States from enemies at our gates, yet they demand the right to eavesdrop on the lot of us already inside, buttressed by their specious claims that they are only spying on the bad guys. Orrin Hatch is the new-and-improved FISA's (and George W. Bush's) cheerleader in chief. A couple of days ago he was at his finest as to geriatric contortions in support of a robbery of your Constitutional rights. Here is his "logic"
When companies are asked to assist the intelligence community based on a program authorized by the President and based on assurances from the highest levels of government that the program has been determined to be lawful, they should be able to rely on those representations.
Like hell it's lawful! It's rather the brigandage of an Executive Branch run amok that the hopefully soon-to-be-former Senator Hatch is beholden to (and I wish I knew why).

With easily discerned sanctimony, Hatch claims fond appreciation for those telecommunication companies who helped our country after the attacks of 9/11.
My admiration and respect for the companies who did their part to defend Americans is well known. As I’ve said in the past, any company who assisted us following the attacks of 9/11 deserves a round of applause and a helping hand, not a slap in the face and a kick to the gut.
Well, what about helping to protect us before 9/11? They were helping someone, as you'll see below. I guess though, that the primary responsibility to protect America would have been the responsibility of government, so let's beef up a law so we can spy on anyone at any time, right? Hey, that oughta work!!

There were signs galore that we were about to be attacked on the eve of 9/11, yet Orrin Hatch won't talk about that. Instead of chastising those in government who didn't pay attention, he lavishes praises on those who supposedly helped us after the fact. Helped us in what way? By kowtowing to the Establishment line that the only way to protect America is to make us all slaves?

Hatch continues:
The identities of any company who assisted the government following the attacks of September 11th are highly classified. While there have been numerous allegations, they are nothing more than accusations.

If the identities of the companies are revealed and officially confirmed through litigation, they will face irreversible harm...
"Highly classified"? Of course they are, because if they weren't, we'd find out just how much the telecommunications companies enjoy being "forced" by the government to hand over their records.

It turns out that the telecommunication companies didn't have to have their arms twisted very hard after all.
Executive Branch intelligence agencies and the nation's largest telecommunications companies have been working for many years in almost complete secrecy, with no oversight and no recognition of legal limits, to spy on Americans, first in the name of the War on Drugs, and then in the name of the War on Terror. These warrantless wiretaps are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires that any searches be conducted only upon issuance of a warrant under conditions of probable cause.

Despite the blatant illegality of their actions, both the federal government and the telecommunications companies (which reap tidy profits from the associated government contracts) want to see the present situation continue. To ensure the future co-operation of the telecom companies, federal politicians want to grant them amnesty in order to protect them from any lawsuits resulting from their illegal activities.
Salon.com gives us a background on pre-9/11 spying of this nature:
There are several vital points raised by the new revelations in The New York Times that "the N.S.A.'s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before" and includes both pre-9/11 efforts to tap without warrants into the nation's domestic communications network as well as the collection of vast telephone records of American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The Executive Branch and the largest telecommunications companies work in virtually complete secrecy -- with no oversight and no notion of legal limits -- to spy on Americans, on our own soil, at will.

More than anything else, what these revelations highlight -- yet again -- is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government's ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens and to maintain vast dossiers on those activities.
...and then explains just how incestuous the relationship is between FedGov and the telcos.
The Federal Government has its hands dug deeply into the entire ostensibly "private" telecommunications infrastructure and, in return, the nation's telecoms are recipients of enormous amounts of revenues by virtue of turning themselves into branches of the Federal Government.

There simply is no separation between these corporations and the military and intelligence agencies of the Federal Government. They meet and plan and agree so frequently, and at such high levels, that they practically form a consortium.
Surely Orrin Hatch knows this.

It's been quite some time--1980-something??--since I voted for Orrin Hatch. If you have recently been a victim of the indiscretion of helping to elect him, I hope his obsequious pandering to the Establishment will encourage you to vote otherwise when his current term comes to a close.

May it be his last.

Update: Does it make a difference if the telcos were working hand-in-glove with the Federal government to spy on us before 9/11 ever happened? Well..they were.

Update 12/26: As if they couldn't spy on everything already...now the FBI is compiling a gigantic database that very likely has your biometric data on it. It's interesting that the federal government allows and even encourages security crises (9/11, illegal immigration), apparently so that they can have a pretext to spy on you even more than they already are. That's government for you.



Comments

  1. I apologize profusely for the only vote I ever cast for Orrin (in 2000) - at least I assume I voted for him because I don't remember voting for Scott Howell. I was disappointed that Hatch got through the Republican primaries unscathed in 2006 (where did you go Steve Urquhart) - let's make sure that doesn't happen again in 2012.

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  2. Qwest told the illegal domestic surveillance people that the company would not participate in breaking the law. That puts the other telecoms on the spot, because they said yes.

    What to do? Congress should not do anything. The horrendous Protect America Act expires in February. Then we can go back to the original FISA, which is consistent with the 4th Amendment.

    Bush can't veto a law that Congress doesn't pass.

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  3. David,

    Steve Urquhart would make a great Hatch replacement. It's too bad that we've got nearly 5 years to wait.

    Richard,

    Thanks for the excellent point about Qwest. The following is from the slate article I quoted:

    In mid-October, numerous documents were made publicly available in the strange criminal prosecution of former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, who refused to comply with several government requests to enable warrantless spying, after which he was prosecuted. Those documents detailed the unbelievably extensive and secret cooperation between the federal government and large telecoms in creating domestic spying programs.


    Of course if Hatch finds out he'll claim that we need to arrest everyone in the Mountain West because, since Qwest won't help, we can't find out who the terrorists are.

    ;-)

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  4. "The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either."
    --Benjamin Franklin

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  5. Very well put, and very apropos in this case.

    I think all Orrin Hatch wants is fame and to be liked by the establishment wonks.

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