Cop: “But my superior told me to beat the crap out of that guy.”
Linndy England: “But everyone was doing it, and my superior officer said it was OK to take pictures of the naked guy in the dog collar.”
Nazi: “I was only following orders.” (Remember the ‘Nuremberg Defense?’)
RESULTS: Loss of badge, jail time, execution by hanging.
Now, let’s take a look at what happened today in the U.S. House of Representatives.
AT&T: “But the government TOLD us to violate the Constitution, break the law, and illegally spy on American citizens without a warrant.”
Congress: “Would you identify yourself please?”
AT&T:“I’m a multi-billion dollar telecom company.”
Congress: Oh….well then that’s OK. But we’re going to have to ask you to not do that again. Alright? Well then…off you go.
Today’s FISA vote was hard to take on many levels. I know there are plenty of people in the telecom industry and in the government high fiving each other over the desecration of the Constitution, and the saving of their own skins, and it’s making me sick to my stomach. Maybe it’s because my Dad was a World War II vet, tortured in a POW camp, and found solace in the fact that criminals didn’t get off the hook by saying they were “just following orders”. Now, apparently, they do.
WHY is our Democratic congress cowering in fear of a lame duck president with a subterranean approval rating and six months left in office? And WHY couldn’t this wait until a new administration? WHY did we just have to give absolution and immunity to the telecom companies right this very minute?
Were I a conspiracy theorist, I’d wonder what the hell Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was saying when they bugged his phone.
I have no doubt that Democrats will pick up many more House and Senate seats in 2008. But if the anger and outrage of the American people (who are squarely opposed to retroactive immunity for telecoms, and actually like their Constitution) continues, we will start to see a day of reckoning in 2010. That’s the election when we will have the luxury of running better Democrats against bad incumbent Democrats. Votes like the one held today will be coming back in two years to haunt those who came down wrong….just like those votes to support the invasion of Iraq are now.
But for the time being, we have 129 members of congress, all Democrats, who did the right thing. 293 of them (including Don Young and every last Republican) did the wrong thing, and violated their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. No one took an oath to protect and defend the Executive Branch, yet that’s exactly what they did right after throwing the Constitution under the bus.
So, now this heads to the Senate where we are forced to watch it happen all over again. It’s expected to pass, and as of yet there are no rumors of filibuster. Much to my disappointment, even Barack Obama has said that he will support the compromise because it’s a lot better than the original ‘Protect America Act’. Read his statement, if you can stand it, here. For this, Atrios named him Wanker of the Day. If the shoe fits…