I mean, bravo, but the backroom bargaining for retroactive immunity has been going on for weeks (pdf — see the 7th paragraph, quoted below): Committee Opens Investigation into Warrantless Wiretapping [via CNet's NewsBlog]
The Committee on Energy and Commerce launched an inquiry today into the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent letters to AT&T, Verizon and Qwest, requesting that the telecommunications companies provide details on the reported efforts by government agencies to obtain information about customers’ telephone and Internet use.
“Without question, the American government must be able to protect its citizens from terrorist threats. If reports about the government surveillance program are accurate, Congress has a duty to inquire about whether such a program violates the Constitution, as well as consumer protection and privacy laws,” said Dingell. “Congress has a duty to determine what occurred and also to examine the difficult position of the phone companies who may have been asked by the government to violate the privacy of their customers without the assurance of liability protections.”
The specific inquiries can be found at the bottom of the press release
Here’s the 7th paragraph from the new WaPo article:
Although Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have said there is consensus that the companies should have some form of relief, House Democrats have voiced a reluctance even to consider retroactive immunity at least until they have an understanding of the program that the telecoms are charged with aiding. The administration has resisted subpoenas for such information.
And why, exactly, does such a shameful consensus exist? Because we’ve given up on the rule of law? Is the US going to stand for *anything* by the close of this? (See Glenn Greenwald’s related discussion; also coverage of Goldsmith’s testimony/non-testimony - pdf - yesterday)