Burner's also got a piece over at Open Left, "Retroactive Immunity: Frustration and Disappointment.
If folks aren't up on this issue, "retroactive immunity" holds that American telecom companies cannot be sued for constitutional violations for allowing the Bush administration access to their communications infrastructures. The Wall Street Journal put it this way last year:
For centuries, the common law presumption has been that private parties should have legal immunity if they comply with such requests. In the absence of evidence that the government's request is illegal, private actors should be given the benefit of the doubt for cooperating.So, basically, Burner advocates punishing corporations who've acted out of a sense of duty to nation for assisting the administration's alleged "illegal" wiretapping intelligence efforts.
Imagine a society in which everyone refused such requests for fear of being sued: No airplane passenger would dare point out suspicious behavior by another passenger, and no subway rider would speak up about a suspicious package. In the case of these wiretaps, the help of the telecom companies is crucial because electronic surveillance isn't any longer a matter of merely pulling microwaves from the sky as the feds could do during the Cold War. We now live in a world of packet switching and fiber-optic cable, where terrorist calls and emails go through telecom switching networks ... [congressional] immunity provision is critical to gaining this telecom access.
For Burner and her allies, the constitutional issues are actually peripheral to the ideological ones. The Democrats want to move to a system "domestic law-enforcement" in handling the terror threat to the United States (indeed, most of the hardened left discount any notion of a terror threat whatsoever).
Note something else about this campaign spot: Burner's focus on "telecom immunity" doesn't even rate among the top "issues of interest" this election season. As Gallup reports, "Fuel Prices Now Clearly Americans’ No. 2 Concern" (behind the economy), and Pew Research indicates, "Gas Prices Dominate the Public's Economic News Agenda."
The inordinate hard-left attention to legalistic anti-administration, antiwar issues is reflective of the postmodern mindset that's captured the imagination of the Democratic Party base. Most Americans are worried about putting gas in the tank, not wiretaps on their phones.
(Recall that Burner's the primary sponsor of the antiwar left/netroot's withdrawal plan, a proposal that's tantamount to an ignominious abdication of American responsibility to the future of the Iraqi people).