Thursday, October 25, 2007

No Honor Among Thieves

Whoever said there was honor among thieves never met anyone in the American Congress or for that matter the American political theater in general. It has gotten to the point where it isn’t even hidden anymore. Have we gotten so callous as a nation that we no longer have the temerity to stand up and say enough.

The latest in the long line of “Quid Pro Quo” involves the senator from West Virginia, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV and the telecommunication companies seeking immunity for giving up customer records without warrants. It seems that coincidently this year these telecommunication giants decided to make large donations to the senator’s campaign and again I am sure coincidently there is a bill before Congress on whether to grant them immunity for their crimes in the name of national security. It just so happens coincidently that the senator is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and has been working to broker a deal to get the immunity bill passed.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 — Executives at the two biggest phone companies contributed more than $42,000 in political donations to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV this year while seeking his support for legal immunity for businesses participating in National Security Agency eavesdropping.

The surge in contributions came from a Who’s Who of executives at the companies, AT&T and Verizon, starting with the chief executives and including at least 50 executives and lawyers at the two utilities, according to campaign finance reports.

The money came primarily from a fund-raiser that Verizon held for Mr. Rockefeller in March in New York and another that AT&T sponsored for him in May in San Antonio.[1]

I have a simple question. If you didn’t do anything wrong why do you need immunity? If what you did you believed to be right in the name of national security, why would you be worried now? The answer is that they knew what they were doing was wrong while they were doing it. These companies deliberately ignored the Constitution and now when their deeds are about to be exposed, they want cover. I find it hard to believe that with the hundreds of lawyers on their payrolls, no one sought to get a legal opinion on the legality of what they were doing. I don’t think so; they knew exactly what they were doing. To offer them immunity now would be tantamount to condoning their illegal activities and give silent endorsement of future illegal activities in the name of national security.

I don’t understand what we are protecting if the country we live in is not free. Are we so afraid of terrorists that we are willing to give up all rights to the Constitution to be protected from them? If we no longer adhere to the tenets of the Constitution, then are we a nation worth saving? What are we fighting for, if it is not for free speech, freedom from unlawful searches, or the right to be tried by our peers? The American public has lost sight of the larger issues at stake in this war on terror; in an effort to gain some measure of short-term security we have increased the chances for long-term tyranny.

The stage has been set for all future administrations to proceed down a similar path. Oh it may not be about Iraq or terrorists, but the enemy is not the issue. The issue is are we a democracy or are we not? The true test of democracy is not in the boom times, but when you are attacked. Do you recede into a self-imposed isolation based on fear of the unknown or do you stare the terrorists in the face and say we will not be moved. What is important is not the people, but the idea. Are we still willing to die for the idea?

The thing that kills me about the people who would take away our civil liberties is that none of them have ever been willing to die to protect the ideals of this nation. None of them were willing to defend this nation when the call came out. When given the opportunity to protect this land they find so dear, they were nowhere to be found. Yet they have the nerve to question the patriotism of those who did and we allow them to do so. Every time one of these chickenhawks talks about someone who did serve this nation there should be an outcry so loud that they would never even consider doing it again. Could you imagine Ike being elected President if it had come out that he had dodged the war? I guess if you were never willing to die for these ideas then surrendering them for you comes easy. You will never know the sacrifice or the true costs of freedom.

The senator’s office of course put out the usual denials of how the senator would never compromise his values for political cash. How no matter how much money he receives, he stands on principals. I find it interesting though that these principled men who would never compromise their votes for anyone, after receiving these contributions line up behind whatever legislation the contributor wanted. Is this all some freak cosmic alignment that causes this anomaly to happen?

Mr. Rockefeller received little in the way of contributions from AT&T or Verizon executives before this year, reporting $4,050 from 2002 through 2006. From last March to June, he collected a total of $42,850 from executives at the two companies. The increase was first reported by the online journal Wired, using data compiled by the Web site

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, a group promoting stricter campaign finance laws, said contributions like those to Mr. Rockefeller created an appearance problem that “corrode public confidence” in the political system.

We have so many examples like this of people on relevant committees receiving these contributions from people who are under their jurisdictions,” Ms. McGehee said. “It’s sad to say, but it is pretty much business as usual in Washington. And it shows why so many Americans just shake their heads over the way Washington works.”[2]

I’ll let you decide.


No comments:

HTML stat tracker