Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How Will Clinton and Obama Vote on ...

Congress is considering legislation that would modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make the illegal interceptions the NSA has been making since 9/11 legal and immunize the phone companies against civil liability for turning over to the government phone records in direct violation of federal law.

Has either Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama said how she or he will vote?

They have a problem. Lots of people, including both me and, I presume, many liberal Democrats, are unhappy about legislation designed to protect companies from the consequences of deliberately breaking the law. Liberal Democrats are likely to be particularly unhappy about doing it to benefit phone companies, prototypical examples of big, hence presumptively evil, corporations. And liberal Democrats aren't all that enthusiastic about the War on Terror. Voting in favor of the legislation in its present form, instead of supporting Senator Dodd in his attempt to force the removal of that provision from the legislation will, I expect, cost votes in the Democratic primaries.

But it isn't enough to get nominated; the candidates also want to get elected. Liberal Democrats will vote for the party's nominee, whichever it is; they have nowhere else to go. To win the election, the Democratic candidate has to get votes from people in the center. Presumably that's why both candidates, and the Democratic congress, are unwilling to come out clearly against the Iraq War.

Voting to block legislation which, its supporters will claim, is designed to protect patriotic American companies from having to pay massive damages for helping fight terrorism, may be a bit risky. It will be interesting to see what the candidates do.

On a slight tangent ... . I recently found out that the named plaintiffs in the class action suit against the telephone companies include both one of my colleagues and my ex-Congressman.

5 Comments:

At 7:41 AM, January 29, 2008, OpenID dximgr said...

DF says: "To win the election, the Democratic candidate has to get votes from people in the center. Presumably that's why both candidates, and the Democratic congress, are unwilling to come out clearly against the Iraq War."

I'm not sure I see this as a reasonable rationale. I thought polls indicated over 65% of the American public are against the Iraq War now.

 
At 8:04 AM, January 29, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Risky? Don't think so. Nobody likes the telcos and conservatives are, if anything, more paranoid about government snooping than liberals.

 
At 6:35 PM, January 29, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Presumably that's why both candidates, and the Democratic congress, are unwilling to come out clearly against the Iraq War."

Obama has come out pretty clearly against the war. He's said he would pull out all American troops if he's elected, and not leave any U.S. bases in Iraq. What more do you want from him?

 
At 2:51 AM, February 02, 2008, Anonymous markm said...

IMO, a business or other private citizen that complies with an information request from government investigators without examining it too closely should be immunized - but the government agents and their bosses who misuse their powers should be going to prison. And you know what the chances of that happening are...

 
At 11:48 AM, February 02, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

"IMO, a business or other private citizen that complies with an information request from government investigators without examining it too closely should be immunized"

When the business in question is on the scale of the phone company, I think we can take it for granted that they knew complying with the request was against the law--they have lawyers to check that sort of thing.

I agree that the government agents should also be liable, although I don't know if they are covered by the actual law in question. But I'm not holding my breath.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home