I, like I’m sure many of you did, submitted a respectful but forceful letter to the junior Senator from Missouri regarding her vote against the Dodd amendment that would have removed retroactive immunity against the telecoms for their part in President 24%’s warrantless domestic spying program.

I finally received a reply.  You won’t like it.

In part, here’s how she justified her vote:

Please keep in mind that this is a limited immunity that applies solely to the telecoms, not the government. I just don’t think we should punish these companies for their good-faith reliance on government assurances that they were assisting in a legal effort to combat terrorism. If the government violated our surveillance laws by eavesdropping without the necessary warrants, then it is the Administration – not the telecoms – that needs to be held accountable. That’s why I supported Senator Specter’s (R-PA) amendment, which would have substituted the federal government in place of telecoms as the defendant in lawsuits, allowing existing legal actions to move forward in an appropriate manner. While this measure was rejected, the underlying legislation would still allow citizens to sue the government for past violations and telecoms for future violations of the new law. As your United States Senator, I remain determined to get to the bottom of any government misconduct.

With all due respect Madame Senator, are you that clueless?  Don’t you get it?  Retroactive immunity is as much about shielding the Bush/Cheney Administration from future investigations and possible criminal actions as it is protecting the telecom industry.  Combine this with President 24%’s claim of national security and executive privilege in hiding illegal domestic spying and we’ll never know the extent to which our Constitutional liberties were violated.

Nobody has made a case that blanket immunity goes against the “good faith” Republican talking points you spout as a weak justification for your cowardly vote.  In fact, one of the arguments that the telcos won’t cooperate in the future has been proven false given how things have worked just fine since the “Protect America Act” bill lapsed.  

Just look at the news reports of the last two months and the out-of-control law enforcement efforts to suck up electronic intelligence without warrants.  Does the fact that this administration has been incompetent as evidenced by Sec Chertoff’s recent admission that illegally obtained information could have gone out to local law enforcement?  Or the “driftnet” approach to gathering domestic information?

And you want to trust these people with our civil liberties?  If you grant telco ammnesty, you close off any avenue we have left to see just how far these people have gone.  The Specter Amendment you support doesn’t do that.  We won’t rush to the ballot box to defend the phone companies so why are you so seemingly eager to do so? Have you ever asked yourself why this administration wants to keep concealed both the nature of the surveillance and the fact that it had to indemnify the companies at the outset?

Thank goodness some of your Democratic colleagues in the Senate and more importantly in the House, have the Constitution in mind as they fight not only against the actions of a highly unpopular President but against craven Democrats such as yourself.

If I wanted somebody from Missouri in the Senate who would vote like a Republican on matters most important not just to Democrats but anybody who’s concerned about the growth of unbridled executive power and rampant invasions of what privacy we have left….I would have not only voted for Jim Talent, I would have given money to his campaign.  Those are both things I did for you in 2006.  

And here we are two years later and on every important vote, not just this one but several others, you have not only failed those people who worked against great odds to get you elected in a state far more red than most people care to admit, you have failed the Constitution.

We have to ask ourselves what is worse?  Having a Republican water carrier for this administration or a feckless Democrat in his place?