That’s Some Compromise

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Who really thinks that the White House and the telecoms would go along with this so-called “conditional immunity” that congressional Democrats have agreed to if they didn’t think they could satisfy the condition?

All they must do is provide a federal district court judge with “substantial evidence” they received a written request from the attorney general or head of an intelligence agency stating the president authorized the surveillance and determined it to be lawful, the Wall Street Journal reports.

How much clearer could they telegraph that such written requests exist?

Late Update: Or as Laura Rozen puts it:

Doesn’t that actually endorse and extend to private actors the Nixonian view that if the president says it’s legal, it’s legal, regardless of what the law says and the Constitution says? Wouldn’t that set an awful precedent that an administration could get private actors to do whatever they wanted including breaking the law?

Later Update: Paul Kiel reminds me that the Senate intel committee already knows what those written requests say:

Earlier this year, the Senate intelligence committee declared in a report that lawmakers and staff had examined the classified written communications between the executive branch and the telecoms who’d participated in the program. And all those letters “stated that the activities had been authorized by the President” and all said that the program was lawful.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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