The press continues to report poorly on the congressional fight with President Bush over Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or FISA) legislation. Immunity for Telecom Companies is an effort of the secretive Bush administration to hide explosive information from the public.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Co) and others have withstood enormous pressure from the Bush Administration and the Telecom Giants in order to prevent the Telecom Companies from being granted immunity from law suits. Mr. Bush has made immunity from civil prosecution for the telecoms a must-have element for revamping the nation’s surveillance laws, repeatedly saying he would veto any bill that does not exempt telecoms from lawsuits. Currently there are approximately 40 lawsuits now brought by citizens and consumer groups against companies that enabled the government to illegally eavesdrop on Americans' phone and Internet communications.

President Bush warned that the country faced terror strikes that would make September 11 "pale by comparison". This is possibly the stupidest statement of his Presidency since both sides have agreed on the details of surveillance going forward, the only item at issue is the immunity, and Bush himself will allow the act to go unrenewed if he cannot bully the congress into providing the immunity. Prior to September 11th, the government was authorized to spy in real time without warrant, but were required to get a warrant within 48 hours. This provided some oversight against misuse of the surveillance power. CBS news reports that "testimony that is part of these lawsuits suggest the National Security Agency program was put into place shortly after Mr. Bush was inaugurated, long before 9/11".

The fourth amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Wolf Blitzer-like pundits have failed to make clear the fact that providing immunity is not about saving Multinational Telecom Companies from having to pay damages. The fight is about denying American Citizens the details of the program itself. Lawsuits involve "discovery", and this President is desperately trying to conceal the details of the illegal spy program. For this reason, it is critical that we continue to provide support to those congressman who have not caved on this issue, and to lobby hard against those who have caved. Once immunity is provided, we may never know exactly what was done.

But we do know this: "Information being sought includes details about the origins of the program. The administration admitted that the sweeping domestic surveillance originated in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. As stated above and worth repeating, declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive and testimony that is part of these lawsuits suggest the National Security Agency program was put into place shortly after Mr. Bush was inaugurated, long before 9/11".

It might be appropriate to recall that President Nixon kept an "enemies list". A John Dean memo written prior to the Watergate scandal stated that "This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies".

The information currently being protected from the public domain via the request for immunity may well shed light on the deaths of almost 3000 American's on September 11th. Roughly forty percent of American citizens support a new investigation of 9/11, partly because the 911 Commission Report does not answer the relevant questions. The August 6th Presidential briefing from Condalezza Rice to the President was entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S. The great researchers into 9/11...John Judge, Peter Dale Scott, David Ray Griffen and Paul Thompson...all point to the several specific warnings that were given to the administration during the summer of 2001 by foreign intelligence services including Israel, Russia, Syria, Turkey, France and Germany. Some of these warnings came in the week immediately prior to 9//1.

Given that the surveillance began soon after Bush took office and prior to 9/11, one wonders what else was known, and just who was subject of surveillance given the fact that the government was either aware of the plot, or that they were not survelling ANY of the 19 purported hijackers. (I use the term "purported" because at least 6 of the identified hijackers are still alive, meaning we do not know the true identity of some or possibly all of the hijackers).

Two possibilities exist. The first is that Bush/Cheney were creating their own enemies list, and were not using warrantless surveillance to prevent a terrorist act. The second possibility is that they were spying on terrorists, which then would lead us to believe to a high degree of certainty that the administration was aware of the impending attack. Unlike Karl Rove's emails, the details of the knowledge have not yet been erased. In either case, this information is critical beyond description and will be hidden if immunity is granted.