charliefootballlucy1978.jpgKarl Rove’s predictions certainly do not come true with the regularity that many a beltway bore would like to ascribe to him, but at least with some frequency he clearly telegraphs his intent. From the WSJ on August 14:

Mr. Rove also said he expects the president’s approval rating to rise again, and that conditions in Iraq will improve as the U.S. military surge continues. He said he expects Democrats to be divided this fall in the battle over warrantless wiretapping, while the budget battle — and a series of presidential vetoes — should help Republicans gain an edge on spending restraint and taxes. (emphasis mine).

After Bush bullied the Democrats into passing really horrendous FISA legislation (although there is some argument to be made that it’s what they really wanted to do anyway, they were just looking for a bit of cover), he made it quite clear that they hadn’t gone far enough. Remember what he said when he signed the damn thing?

When Congress returns in September the Intelligence committees and leaders in both parties will need to complete work on the comprehensive reforms requested by Director McConnell, including the important issue of providing meaningful liability protection to those who are alleged to have assisted our Nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Jack Balkin helpfully translated:

Apparently “allegedly helped us stay safe” is Bush Administration code for telecom companies and government officials who participated in a conspiracy to perform illegal surveillance.

Now Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, who we’re told pulled a bait-and-switch with House Democrats over the FISA legislation in the first place, says we need…drum roll please:

The issue that we did not address, which has to be addressed is the liability protection for the private sector now is proscriptive, meaning going forward. We’ve got a retroactive problem. When I went through and briefed the various senators and congressmen, the issue was alright, look, we don’t want to work that right now, it’s too hard because we want to find out about some issues of the past. So what I recommended to the administration is, ‘Let’s take that off the table for now and take it up when Congress reconvenes in September.’ . . . No, the retroactive liability protection has got to be addressed.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, McConnell has “extensive private sector connections with the very telecommunication companies for which he is now demanding immunity.” Granted, something like this is small potatoes next to the gargantuan moral and ethical transgressions perpetrated on a regular basis by members of the Bush administration, but in a rational world it would disqualify him for participation in this discussion.

Says Glenn:

McConnell’s ties to these companies are so deep and numerous that it really rises to the level of conflict of interest for him to demand — on national security grounds, no less — that they be granted full immunity from liability for past illegal acts. He is, in essence, demanding immunity for vast numbers of his former partners, clients, associates and scores of business interests in which he had, if not still has, a substantial stake. This conflict is glaring and extreme, but Democrats said nothing about it when granting prospective immunity to this industry at his insistence. Thus far, they have also said nothing in the face of McConnell’s demands that this immunity now be made retroactive as well.

We know what they’re doing to do. We know they’re going to do it because they’re tired of “various senators and congressmen” who want to “find out about some issues of the past” and they’re just not wild about that oversight thing and would really like to hamstring it whenever possible. We know that the very guy who’s asking for it has screwed the Democrats in the past, that he can’t be trusted and that he is not in a position to ethically be asking for this.

So knowing all these things, it would be great to hear the Democratic leadership get out in front of this thing and contribute one more entry to Karl Rove’s legacy of failed predictions.

Update:  Bmaz, from the comments:

The issue of telco liability is the biggest freaking red herring I have ever seen. The attempt to get immunity for the telcos is not out of any concern for the telcos. The telcos were given assurances and certifications of legality by the government. The government will owe them indemnification for any resulting liability. This is an absolutely nonsensical issue. The Bushies want to get a measure of immunity for themselves by having the propriety of the telcos upheld through an immunity grant to them, and they also want it to quash the cases that are currently in court (such as those currently being litigated in NDCA District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) so that their illegal and immoral conduct is not further exposed. Nobody should worry about the poor telcos going bankrupt or anything. This is complete and absolute BS.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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