Obama aide: give immunity to telecoms Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, March 08, 2008
I only bring this up because it again points to a seemingly well-run campaign machine suddenly suffering a number of self-inflicted "inconsistent message" wounds.
First Goolsbee and the NAFTA gaff. Then Rice and the "not prepared for the 3am call" line. Yesterday Samantha Powers not only calls Hillary Clinton a "monster", but more importantly, hedges Obama's Iraq plan by saying he obviously wouldn't be bound by any promises he makes as a candidate concerning the war.
Brennan: There is this great debate over whether or not the telecom companies should in fact be given immunity for their agreement to provide support and cooperate with the government after 9/11. I do believe strongly that they should be granted that immunity, because they were told to do so by the appropriate authorities that were operating in a legal context, and so I think that's important. And I know people are concerned about that, but I do believe that's the right thing to do. I do believe the Senate version of the FISA bill addresses the issues appropriately. [Director of National Intelligence] Mike McConnell, I think, did a very good job trying to articulate the distinctions between the old FISA law, the FISA understanding under the Protect America Act, and then the House and Senate versions.
Whether you agree or disagree with Brennan's point, the problem with his statement is that his boss, Barack Obama, has consistently opposed the concept of immunity:
“I have consistently opposed this Administration's efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was on the Iraq war, or on its power grab to curb our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and this proposal — with an unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity — is not the place to start.”
So, you say, this sounds like a policy disagreement between an advisor and a candidate. Yes, indeed it does. But it also will be used, in light of the Powers hedge and the NAFTA assurance as another sign of inconsistency between what Obama says and what he really means. Of course his vote against the FISA bill is a powerful argument that he does indeed believe what he says in this case, but when lumped in with all the other misfires lately, it simply adds to the growing impression of a rookie in over his head and a not-ready-for-primetime staff.
There's no question the Clinton campaign will use this at some point, it is only a matter of when and how. And, like the story below, it has already been filed away in Republican opo research.
Between Clinton and Obama and the charges and counter-charges, Reps have to be seeing a target rich environment developing for the general election.