Comparing the Telecoms to Nazi War Criminals

By January 27, 2008Briefly Legal, Communications

President Bush used his Saturday radio address to push for enactment of S. 2248, the FISA Amendments, to extend the federal authority to monitor overseas communications for intelligence purposes. He argued:

Congress is now considering a bipartisan bill that will allow our professionals to maintain the vital flow of intelligence on terrorist threats. It would protect the freedoms of Americans, while making sure we do not extend those same protections to terrorists overseas. It would provide liability protection to companies now facing billion-dollar lawsuits because they are believed to have assisted in efforts to defend our Nation following the 9/11 attacks.

The provisions granting retroactive immunity to the telecom companies have provoked ugliness on the left, rhetorical excesses that have now come to the Senate floor. On Friday Wednesday, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) said the following:

And so this is not a question of ‘everybody did it,’ that argument that children bring to their parents, from time to time, or that we were ordered on high – the ‘Nuremberg defense’: ‘It was those in higher positions who said we ought to do this.’ That was the defense given in 1945 at the Nuremberg trials, by the 21 defendants who claimed they were only obeying orders…given by Hitler.

In this profoundly offensive analogy, U.S. companies that assisted in the legal surveillance of terrorists who had murdered 3,000 Americans and others are the moral equivalent of Nazi war criminals.

YouTube has a clip of Senator Dodd’s remarks. His prepared comments that appear in the Congressional Record are less inflammatory, but no less objectionable.

The Senator should know better. He often draws attention to the Nuremberg trials; his father – Sen. Thomas Dodd – was the No. 2 prosecutor there. A book excerpting his father’s correspondence was published last year, “Letters from Nuremberg.” Dodd’s presidential campaign website — now in the business of retiring debt — continues to promote the book with the slogan, “Restoring America’s Standing in the World.”

The Senate continues debate on the bill Monday with a cloture vote set for 4 p.m. Let’s see if Senator Dodd modifies his comments, which as they now stand insult the many thousands of people who work for the telecommunications companies and diminish the atrocities of WWII.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION Senator Dodd has made the Nuremberg argument twice, once on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and again on Friday, Jan. 25. The Wednesday remarks — available here — are the ones in the YouTube video.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • temjrpgh says:

    The logic behind the Nuremberg defense and the defense of the telcos is the same. It wasn’t acceptable then, and it isn’t acceptable now, this was Dodd’s point. He made a comparison of logic applied, not a comparison of crimes. This was a decision at the top levels of the telcos to break the law.

  • YardBird says:

    These guys have their panties in a bunch over equipment being hooked into the system that can tap out stuff , but have no clue as to the extent or scope of what it was used for, just assuming the worst.

    Notice how they seem to forget that the very equipment they are talking about was required to be installed by the telcos under the CALEA legislation.

    But now they who directed it to be done want to make it an invasion of the ‘message body snatchers’.

    Cant wait till someone steps forward from the Dem side of the Intelligence Committee and it gets revealed that they were aware of it all along just like the little water boarding thing , that suddenly lost it’s shine.

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