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Hillary Clinton, A Bundle of Telecom Money….And A Strange Silence

hillary.jpgNewsweek tell us that Bush and his Merry Bunch of Wingnuts are going apeshit about Dodd’s hold on the FISA bill:

As Democrats squabble, the administration and top Republicans are moving to exploit the issue. They accuse Democrats of sacrificing national security for short-term political gain. “Al Qaeda is not going to give us a break just because we’re having an election,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who demanded last week that Dodd donate to charity any campaign money he raised as a result of his filibuster threat.

“Democrats in disarray” — yes, it’s always good for the Republicans isn’t it. Not quite clear on how getting a bunch of rich telecom executives out from underneath their lawsuits is going to make us all safe from Islamofacism, but that is in fact the hammer they will use to drive this home.

MoveOn claimed credit for the presidential candidates’ opposition to the bill. “This is a great example of progressive voters demanding boldness and principle from Democratic candidates and Democrats responding by being bold,” said spokesman Adam Green. But the maneuvering by the contenders—and the role played by MoveOn—also raised concerns among senior Democrats on Capitol Hill that presidential politics might impede efforts to reach a compromise on such a sensitive and important national-security measure. “We need to get things done on this bill,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday.

Oh yes, Senator Reid, you do. And while we’re at it, let’s discuss what the plan was — before Chris Dodd made his move.

The current FISA bill was due to sunset in February. The Democrats would make some unconvincing noise about concern for civil liberties, rule of law, yadda yadda yadda, but the only part of this bill that deals with national security — the updating of certain technology issues that allow for eavesdropping on foreign-to-foreign calls that are routed through the US — is something that everyone, even Russ Feingold, agrees needs to happen. Nobody is opposing that. A bill like that could pass tomorrow.

But George Bush won’t sign that bill. He’s made it clear he will only sign a bill that gives retroactive telecom immunity, and one can imagine that these telecom fuckers are going to be singing like a flock of canaries about those in the administration who induced them to commit these crimes if they can’t skate on their charges post haste. So they Democrats will argue up until the last minute, and then much like what happened in August, the whole “war on terror” meme will receive a serious right-wing flogging and the Democrats will cave. Or at least enough of them to get 60 votes, which should be no sweat, what with 49 Republicans + Slummy Joe + 6 Democrats on the Intelligence Committee who already gave it a Pasadena.

This isn’t some crystal ball I’m staring into, this is what we’ve been told. By Senate offices themselves. We were told we were just going to have to “live” with this eventuality. And it was all going to go quite smoothly, according to script, until Chris Dodd threw a monkey wrench into things.

Now everyone who has been soaking up all that telecom money, who needed that “war on terra” excuse for their vote, is in a bit of a bind. Is it a coincidence we haven’t heard anything convincing from Hillary Clinton, who took in $87,130 in telecom contributions in the 2006 cycle — more than anyone else currently in the Senate?  That makes Jay Rockefeller’s contributions look like abject chicken feed.

Mike McCurry and Jamie Gorelick, who both served in the previous Clinton administration, have been raking in money as telecom lobbyists, and no doubt they’ll have some s’plainin to do if Hillary joins Dodd in his filibuster (Gorelick has been providing “strategic advice” to Verizon about obtaining immunity). But if as Hillary Clinton says she accepts lobbyist money and yet it doesn’t influence her vote, wouldn’t now be a nice time to prove that’s true?   By making an unquivocal statement and bring attention to the matter, she could create a groundswell of public support that puts pressure on other Senate Democrats to respect the rule of law.

Then again, maybe that’s the problem.

You can sign the petition to Harry Reid asking him to honor Dodd’s hold here.

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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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