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Glenzilla vs. Olbermann: John Dean Weighs In

There’s quite a flame war going on between Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann over Obama’s support for the FISA bill. Glenn criticized Olbermann for making a fierce anti-telecom immunity statement only a short time ago, then turning around and praising the new bill.

Olbermann goes on Daily Kos and defends himself by quoting John Dean:

John said his reading of the revised FISA statute suggested it was so poorly constructed (or maybe so sublimely constructed) that it clearly did not preclude future criminal prosecution of the telecoms – it only stopped civil suits.

I have repeated his observation each night since. Maybe I didn’t sell my conviction of its conclusiveness. I think John Dean is worth 25 Glenn Greenwalds (maybe 26 Keith Olbermanns).

But I contacted John Dean, and I don’t think he’s saying what Olbermann thinks he’s saying:

I said that when I read the bill, and talked to the folks at the ACLU who had been following it, that it was not clear. I raised it when appearing on Countdown with the hope that someone might figure it out. But that is the nature of this badly drafted bill that it is not clear what it does and does not do, and the drafters are not saying.

But even if the bill is unclear there is no question the Bush Administration is not going to do anything to the telecoms, so the question is whether a future DOJ could — and here there is case law protecting the telecoms. But there may be language buried in the bill that protects them as well but it can only be found by reading the bill with a half dozen other laws which I have not yet done.

I made no declarative statements rather I only raised questions that jumped at me when reading the 114 page monster.


[T]o give Obama a pass on his support for such a heinous bill — one which Dean himself describes as a grave assault on the Constitution — based on this imagined secret plan for the Good that Obama is harboring is to illustrate exactly the sort of blind faith in political leaders that is so dangerous. That’s been the Right’s mentality to excuse every last thing Bush does….No political leader deserves that sort of blind faith — not Bush and not Obama. That’s how a small child thinks about his Daddy, not how a citizen should think about a political leader.

It’s also interesting to note that the tools created to help organize Obama supporters against his opponents are now being used to organize themselves to communicate with him. There’s a new group on "" called "Senator Obama — Please Vote Against FISA."

Stop by and tell the Senator that you’ll be voting for him in November and hoping that in the meantime, he does the right thing.

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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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