As we noted yesterday, there are clear signs that whatever surveillance bill emerges from the House-Senate negotiations, it will more than likely contain immunity for the telecoms for their participation in the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. But Bush is not a man to settle. He wants more. Here he is speaking yesterday before a gathering of the state’s attorneys general:
Now the question is, should these lawsuits be allowed to proceed, or should any company that may have helped save American lives be thanked for performing a patriotic service; should those who stepped forward to say we’re going to help defend America have to go to the courthouse to defend themselves, or should the Congress and the President say thank you for doing your patriotic duty? I believe we ought to say thank you.
Now, as The Washington Post reports this morning, the bill negotiations are ongoing. So it’s not entirely clear what will emerge. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the Post reports, has been polling the Dem caucus on the immunity issue, with “the liberal camp” content with doing nothing (keeping the old FISA law) and “the moderate wing” pushing for retroactive immunity.
But it’s not clear if Hoyer has yet gauged support for this new telecom thanking provision. Perhaps it would come as a completely separate bill (the Thanks for Protecting America Act?), or perhaps all the lawmakers could just go down onto the steps of the Capitol and blow kisses. You never know what novel arrangement could emerge from the bill negotiations.