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According to Alexander Bolton's article in The Hill, right-wing and freshman congressional Democrats "are growing skittish," and that House Speaker Nancy "impeachment is off the table" Pelosi (D-CA), "has stepped back from the FISA talks and let Hoyer spearhead House talks with the Senate and executive branch." Translation: give the White House what it wants.
And what the White House wants is the ability--and legal cover--to spy at will.
As AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein revealed in 2006, NSA gained access to "massive amounts" of internet data after the company allowed the spy agency to hook into its network in San Francisco and other cities. The retired technician described how the NSA created a system that vacuumed up internet and phone-call data with AT&T executives as the agency's willing accomplices.
Despite administration claims that its so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program" is aimed solely at overseas terrorists, Klein demonstrated that a vast proportion of the data swept up by AT&T and forwarded to NSA was purely domestic. Klein told The Washington Post,
Since taking control of both house of Congress in 2006, the Democrats--like their Republican "adversaries"--have refused to hold hearings on domestic spying nor have they sought to expose the scope of the illegal NSA program. Lost in the shuffle, are the obvious--and growing--dangers posed by these intrusive programs.
In a time of systemic crisis for the capitalist system as a whole, the massive intelligence being gathered by the Bush regime, and by future administrations--Democratic or Republican, take your pick--will be deployed as tools for wholesale repression under conditions of growing class polarization, economic crisis and mass opposition to war.
Telecom immunity? "There's nothing to see here, move along."