On the Keith Olbermann program, "Countdown," John Dean explains that he is troubled by the FISA bill. But he goes on to explain that the bill is so poorly written it could possibly leave an opening from criminal liability litigation later.
Former Nixon White House Counsel and Author of the book "Broken Government," John Dean joined Keith Olbermann on the MSNBC program "Countdown" on Friday, June 20th, 2008. I don't know if this has been diaried before, but I wanted to get this diary out to put some peoples' minds at ease in the sense that there may be a method to Obama's "madness" when it comes to the FISA bill. I found this video on YouTube. http://youtube.com/...
To start off, John Dean unequivocally states that the FISA bill is damaging to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
John Dean: "Well I think you've got to give one to the terrorists for a notch on our Fourth Amendment. They really did some damage today, uh, in this, so-called compromise. Contrary to what the speaker (Pelosi) said, it really does hurt the Constitution so, uh, it's very troubling and it's not a good day, for civil liberties particularly."
Following is a discussion that speculates on the suddenness of the cave-in from some House Democrats on the domestic spying issue. John Dean believes that certain "conservative elements" in the Democratic Party leaned on the leadership and said something to the effect of, "Listen we've got some real tough opponents from Republicans in close districts - we need this - we don't want to have this hanging over our head. Let's get it solved now before it's too late."
Olbermann then opines that Obama's position is a tad confusing given his very stern previous opposition to any telecom immunity. He then sounds the alarm that passing the bill would be somewhat of a point of no return, but John Dean gives an alternate scenario.
Keith Olbermann: "If this gets in through the Senate there's no way to get it out again, is there? I mean, the history of this nation in terms of lost civil liberties is pretty bad about restoring them."
John Dean: "Well I spent a lot of time reading that bill today and it's a very poorly drafted bill. One of the things that is not clear is whether it's not possible later to go after the telecoms for criminal liability. And that's something Obama has said during this campaign he would do - unlike prior Presidents who come in and merely give their predecessor a pass, he said, 'I won't do that.' And that might be why he's just sitting by saying, 'Well, I'm just gonna let this go through but that doesn't mean I'm gonna give the telecom a pass.' I would love it if he gets on the Senate floor and says, 'I'm keeping that option open.'
Olbermann and Dean then discuss the idea of letting the private lawsuits against the telecoms fade away and have someone like Obama or someone else go after the telecoms later on.
Keith Olbermann: In other words, let the private suits drop and get somebody in there to actually use the laws that still exist to prosecute and make the actual statement and maybe throw a few people in jail.
John Dean: Exactly. Exactly. It looks to me as I read this bill and I talk to a number of people in Washington familiar with the bill, and some who are involved in the negotiations, and they say, 'You know, we just didn't think about this issue.' So as it goes to the Senate, maybe Obama's got a shot to take a future look at this thing and not let them have the pass they think they're getting.
So let's proceed with an open mind. Obama has displayed good judgment in the past and let's not forget he is a Constitutional Law expert. Perhaps he is fully aware of the bill's shortcomings, if in fact, there are some as John Dean points out. Maybe Obama's strategy is to let this flawed bill pass and revisit this issue at a better time and to prosecute the telecoms full-throttle.