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Friday, June 06, 2008

Are ex-telco lobbyists behind McCain's wiretap flip-flop?

The evolution of John McCain's position on warrantless wiretapping and executive power gives critics a potential one-two punch against the presumptive Republican nominee: the ability to paint him as "McSame" as President Bush and as a flip-flopper.
A McCain adviser this week
affirmed the Arizona senator's support for President Bush's ability to authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans' international communications without first receiving a warrant, which critics say violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This, after McCain himself said explicitly that the President cannot "disobey any law" to conduct warrantless surveillance.
In a letter to the conservative National Review Online, McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin underscored McCain's support for a Senate bill granting immunity to the telecommunications companies that facilitated the NSA's warrantless surveillance and declared that neither President Bush nor those companies should "apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001."
Holtz-Eakin's letter was an attempt to dial back
earlier reports that McCain might be shifting on the immunity issue. A campaign legal adviser told a conference last month that a McCain administration would subject the telecommunications companies to "real hearings to find out what actually happened, what harms actually occured." The letter emphasized that such hearings would not be necessary and insisted that McCain "do everything he can" to protect against terror threats, including invoking his constitutional authority to request surveillance assistance from the telephone and Internet companies.
While McCain's position on wiretaps and telcos is zigging this way and that, a new report also details the extent to which lobbyists who earned a living representing the very phone companies accused of breaking the law are now working for his campaign. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is leading the charge against telco immunity and representing plaintiffs in several pending lawsuits,
lays out the connections:
Link Here


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