A contemptible editorial in Saturday's Los Angeles Times severely chastises Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for withdrawing the "telecom immunity" legislation in the face of Sen. Christopher Dodd's ongoing filibuster threat. The Times editorial team contends, rather hysterically, that Reid's delaying the bill until January "threatens to undo a bi-partisan compromise" in favor of the Senate version of the bill that countenances and forgives surely the worst violation of the 4th Amendment in our nation's history, all in order to pander to the Bush administration's insistence that those telecommunications firms which colluded with the administration's illegal surveillance activities not be held accountable to the rule of law.
Evidently the Times opinionators think that Reid needs some cheap rhetorical cover (Dodd's "talkathon") and emasculating pressure from the right-of-center to counterbalance the veritable groundswell of support Senator Dodd has received for his law-abiding heroics.
The editors meekly qualify their support for the bill ("while not ideal") but then boldly claim it is necessary "to protect Americans" because Bush won't budge and threatens to veto any version of the "FISA fix" bill that doesn't include telecom immunity.
Give me a break.
Perhaps the Times editors should reacquaint themselves with the plain language of Fourth Amendment. Let it sink in, upon their rereading, that indiscriminate and warrantless surveillance would amount to a clear violation of the people's rights:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
May I gently remind the Times editors that constitutional rights are not to be "finessed" in committee bargaining sessions, as they so recommend? At what point will these editors wake up and realize that they have actually published an editorial blithely calling for a "deal" to circumvent the rule of law?
My friends: We are living in dark times, when the Executive Branch has at key junctures simply junked the U.S. Constitution and furtively enlisted private corporations to do their illegal bidding. And now both parties want a massive cover-up and blanket immunity from lawful prosecution. And many politicians, on both sides of the aisle, have become dependent on corporate largesse and thus are willing to sell their souls (and their country) for future campaign donations. It is nothing less than a damnable circle of state-to-corporate corruption. And now a major newspaper -- members of the press who are supposed to serve as our vigilant Fourth Estate -- are simply going along with these corrupt, illegal, and rotten arrangements.
Calling for craven compromise over steadfast constitutionalism, for the ad hoc revocation of the rule of law, for the secret collusion of state and private entities against the civil liberties of groups and individuals whose legal rights were likely violated, all in order to "protect" some nebulous, undifferentiated collectivity called "Americans," reeks of -- shall we utter the proper name for it? -- fascism. I don't mean genocide. I mean the textbook, Political Science 101 definition of fascism. Perhaps the Times editors should Google it.
If the Times editors then need a few remedial lessons in political theory, American constitutionalism, and basic civics, I'm in the area and am quite willing to provide a few night classes pro bono.