At the center of the battle brewing in the House over the FISA reauthorization bill is telecom immunity. President Bush and his GOP cohorts have been pounding away this issue for weeks now, thinking the repetition will weaken the resolve of Democrats who have so far stood firm on not letting the phone companies off the hook for unlawfully spying on Americans.
Today, a plaintiff in one of the telco lawsuits, Peter Y. Sussman, editorialized in the Sacramento Bee about why he’s a plaintiff in the ACLU awsuit:
I and my fellow plaintiffs don’t stand to win any money through our lawsuit, much less billions of dollars, but we do hope to assure governmental accountability, to open to public scrutiny the actions of corporations and government that have teamed up to deny citizens the rights guaranteed by law.
…As a journalist working out of a home office, I communicate with many sources by telephone. I have written extensively on those most secretive of government institutions, prisons. Frequently, important revelations about the administration of prisons and the effects of our sentencing policies come to the public only because confidential informants risk their livelihoods to blow the whistle on corruption, incompetence and cruelty in these institutions. As a journalist, I can offer sources little more than the protection of confidentiality for their courage.
When you read Sussman’s story, it’s not hard to imagine how upsetting the thought of the NSA wiretapping your calls is. The ACLU and Sussman only ask that these cases are adjudicated before a judge, in a court. Not stopped in its tracks by the president and his telco-protecting cronies.