Retroactive Immunity

A House of Good Guys?

(writer’s comment: i know it’s slightly political, but try to think of it as a post about technology being used for illegal purposes, kind of like hackers or something…)

This past week the House of Representatives declined to offer immunity to the large telecoms who illegally handed over their customers’ data to the White House. At the risk of sounding naive, I didn’t think they would have the guts to do it. Maybe they are counting on the Senate’s and Bush’s promises to kill the bill. Below are some reactions:


“They [Democrats] know, they know the risks they are taking on behalf of the American people and they don’t care … and that’s what bothers me most,” said Republican Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico on Friday.”

A joint statement from the Department of Justice and the office of the director of national intelligence said that based on initial reports, “We are concerned that the proposal would not provide the intelligence community the critical tools needed to protect the country.”

“Exposing the private sector to continued litigation for assisting in efforts to defend the country understandably makes the private sector much more reluctant to cooperate. Without their cooperation, our efforts to protect the country cannot succeed,” it said.

Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, warned Wednesday that the House proposal “would, in essence, shut us down”


House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers took a different angle.

“We are not going to cave into a retroactive immunity situation,” the Michigan Democrat said. “There’s no law school example in our memory that gives retroactive immunity for something you don’t know what you are giving it for. It just doesn’t work in the real world or on the Hill either.”



I am Jon, and to me, retroactive immunity sounds like a disease.