Among the general population, there seems to be no question over immunity for the telecoms. Either the public is unaware of the scope of the story or they believe – erroneously – that any domestic spying undertaken has actually kept us safer and not diminished our rights, or even inconvenienced us.
Knowledgeable readers have been following this since the Mark Klein, an AT&T whistleblower, broke the story broke nearly two years ago. To briefly surmise, the ENTIRE internet passes through the NSA. They grab huge chunks of it – your emails, Amazon purchases, credit card transaction, web browsing, instant messages, Facebook stalking – and then winnow it down to find what they are looking for. The presumption is that everyone could be guilty, and that we don't need probable cause to monitor communications and go on fishing expeditions.
Even worse still, much of that actionable intelligence is no longer processed and disseminated by Federal employees, who behavior is governed by law, legislation, and the threat of losing a well-paying government job, but rather outsourced to private industry, outside of Congressional oversite.
The President's call for immunity hints at the 'alleged' law breaking that industry 'might' have done in 'cooperating' with law enforcement, promising to veto legislation that does not tender complete retroactive immunity to the industry, all the way back to September 11th, 2001 (Which is interesting, since they started their efforts on 2/27/2007). He uses "complicated language" as reported by Crooks and Liars:
“When Congress returns in September the Intelligence committees and leaders in both parties will need to complete work on the comprehensive reforms requested by Director McConnell, including the important issue of providing meaningful liability protection to those who are alleged to have assisted our Nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001[.]”
It's very difficult to wrap your head around the technology and legal concepts surrounding the issue. Fortunately, Senator Chris Dodd, the first Presidential candidate willing to go to the mat over telecomm immunity, has posted this short video with Klein breaking down the issue [via EFF]:
Klein seems to think that the attempt for immunity is nothing more than a coverup...