The House of Representatives is stopping a surveillance bill in its tracks after the Senate passed it with flying colors. This has in turn angered House Republican leadership enough to actually walk out mid-session for not voting on the bill that was supposed to replace the temporary Protect America Act.
But in light of it all, here’s one of the key points that is holding the vote up. The Senate bill granted immunity retroactive to the telecommunications companies that were involved and to be involved in any domestic spying. And as you may know, in all technicality, this is illegal as of current due to privacy laws that does not allow the government to spy on its citizens. In granting immunity to such businesses while does increase national security, also increases the chance of tipping a system of checks and balances and gives a means to corrupt actions.
Just take a look at the recent fiasco with Blackwater in Iraq. It seems that they are under a lot more scrutiny due to certain actions because American security contractors in Iraq are not under the “same” rules as the military. In essence, immunity seems to open the door to all sorts of bad behavior.
Is this something that we as Americans are willing to chance? Truthfully, from my perspective, I’m more for a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I know that the NSA is more than likely capturing information regardless. It’s a world where information is power, and if no one else proves that…. Google does. But this type of cloak and dagger stuff should never see the light of day. As a citizen, I want to be oblivious to the techniques used to protect the country and never should it interfere. In bringing domestic surveillance to the table, you turn the whole “protection” into a nasty thing that no one on either side of the table will like or love.
The RESTORE Act was passed back in October of 2007 for the House, which excluded the telecommunications immunity. But the executive branch has fired back saying that it’s too cumbersome and that the House could be jeopardizing “the security of our citizens.”
Telecommunication corporations shouldn’t be granted immunity no more so than civilian contractors in Iraq should be. If they were, then there needs to be severe oversight so that someone would be held accountable if things went south. The key point here is that instead of holding people accountable for their actions, the accountability is being thrown out the window. And therein lies the problem. What a headache, eh?