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Balkin:

The argument against immunity is that the telecom companies were also represented by high priced counsel and they could determine for themselves whether the program was legal. If they believed it to be legally dicey, they should have hesitated without legislative or judicial authorization. If Presidents can go to any private company and encourage them to violate the law and then get retroactive immunity for the violation, this will undermine the separation of powers. Presidents will be encouraged to violate all sorts of laws-- even laws like FISA that are carefully crafted to constrain executive action-- secure in the knowledge that they can always get Congress to clean up their mess later on. The Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act are not precedents for even more immunities; they are bad precedents that show that Congress is all too willing to immunize even the worst offenses-- including war crimes-- as soon as the President says the magic words "terrorism" and "national security."

I'm th' Preznit. I wanna git free pizza.

Gimme a damn pizza. In fact, gimme one fer everyone on mah staff.

An' if it's illegal, eff you. I'll fix it fer ya. Jest buy one of mah "indulgences," and I'll git a staffer t' write'cha a lawyer's note saying yer cool.

Also, if you've got a bank, I think you should send me a million bucks. Fer national security an' stuff.

Rockefeller'll fix it up.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:14 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We need to call (11+ / 0-)

    Clinton, Edwards, and Obama on this, in addition to Dodd.

    One of the leading Candidates could seriously separate themselves from the others and follow Dodd's strong lead on this issue.

    If they want the Progressive Vote, they should work for it.

    •  exactly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, Steve Singiser, drational

      And it's low hanging fruit.

      Showing up everyday, 'doing my job.' Also, Rudy Giuliani sux

      by taylormattd on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:19:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

      why aren't the candidates in the forefront of these issues?  I'm beginning to think the idea of a Twenty first Century war for American isn't such a far fetched idea.

      Yes, I am psychic...or was that psycho? I always forget which.

      by Farradin on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:20:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not that they will listen, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview

      Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
      United States Senate
      476 Russell Senate Office Building
      Washington, DC 20510
      Phone: (202) 224-4451

      Barack Obama
      Washington D.C. Office
      713 Hart Senate Office Building
      Washington, D.C. 20510
      (202) 224-2854

      John Edwards
      Phone: (919) 636-3131

      We can let them know we care.

      •  I made my calls (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, StephNW4Clark, oceanview

        Clinton office:
        "The Senator has not made a statement on this issue yet"
        [I left my opinion]

        Obama Office:
        "The Senator has no opinion on this issue yet"
        [I left my opinion]

        Edwards for President Office:
        [Transferred to policy answering machine]
        [I left my opinion]

        Now it's your turn to leave an opinion.

    •  Here's Obama's chance to earn some love from me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, cybersaur

      However he's gonna have to work for it. Walking in during the last five minutes of a vote and doing the right isn't going to be enough. I want to see him shout for the rooftops that he stands with average Americans, not large corporations worried about their bottom line being wrecked due to their sanctioning illegal wiretapping. I want him to say that my rights matter. I want to hear him rail that American soldiers have fought and died for our civil liberties and he will not stand to see them tossed aside like yesterday's refuge merely for the convenience of this administration or telecoms.

    •  did you recognize the irony in your comment? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybersaur, drational

      One of the leading Candidates could seriously separate themselves from the others and follow Dodd's strong lead on this issue.

      who's leading?

      I agree with you wholeheartedly that Sens Clinton and Obama should align with Dodd on this.  Too bad that they, as "leaders" of the pack haven't led on this issue.

      I'm having a Dodd day.  I think the actual leader on Democratic issues should be the frontrunner in the campaign.

      Funding the war = Killing the Troops / Privatization = Corruption / Dodd is GOOD

      by netguyct on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:45:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jack has hit the jack-pot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lorelynn

    "Terror is nothing other than justice...; it is ... the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs." M. Robespierre

    by Bartimaeus Blue on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:17:44 AM PDT

  •  Big Business is in danger of deserting the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle

    Republican party because of Bush's flat out incompetence. This is a big bid to keep 'em in the Republican fold, among other things.

  •  If ony we had some kind of mechanism... (12+ / 0-)

    for dealing with legal questions like this. I mean imagine if we developed a system that heard out dicey legal issues and was given the authority to determine who was in the right. Then we wouldn't need legal issues to be determined by acts of congress, particularly when that Congress can every once in a while wet its collective pants when the president jumps out from behind a closet and yells "Terror."

    I mean it  sounds to me like it would be so important that we could, I don't know, make it a co-equal branch of the government! But who am I kidding? That'll never happen...

    Sometimes to be silent is to lie - Miguel Unamuno

    by Historiker on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:18:18 AM PDT

  •  And, Yet.... (6+ / 0-)

    The primary reason that Republicans like Bush (and Eric Cantor, who mucked with the FISA vote yesterday) keep using the technique of intimidation via slander is because IT WORKS.

    And, of course, after getting what they want, the GOP kicks Democrats in the shins anyway, saying that they are unpatriotic Osama sympathizers.

    It really IS Lucy and the football.

    "You share your young with the wolves of the nation...
    Theres nothing left til you pray for salvation"
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club "American X"

    by Steve Singiser on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:18:25 AM PDT

  •  Dem "leadership" is totally out of touch (4+ / 0-)

    This is just another example, but a shining one. It boggles my mind, truly. I cannot wait until the next congress convenes to

    get Steny Hoyer and Harry Reid out of the Democratic Leadership

    This ballot is loaded, and I'm not afraid to use it.

    by BlueGenes on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:18:38 AM PDT

    •  Perhaps they feel that if they actually got (0+ / 0-)

      "in touch" and started acting like an opposition party, their corporate donors would start to dry up.

      And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

      by MrJersey on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 05:31:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview, Steve Singiser, Farradin

    for staying on this Kagro!

    Showing up everyday, 'doing my job.' Also, Rudy Giuliani sux

    by taylormattd on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:18:47 AM PDT

  •  I'm voting for Gore - Whether he runs or not (0+ / 0-)

    I don't care anymore about how I am only helping the Republicans.  If the Democrats lose in '08, they have only themselves to blame.  I am not interested in their party and I am certainly not interested in Hillary Clinton as their corporate candidate.  If this is the best we get from them, then I am not convinced they will do any better than Bush.  
    So I'm voting for Gore.  If he's not on the ballot, I'm writing him in.  But let's get him on the ballot.  He is someone who might have a chance as a third party candidate or independent.  Gore '08

  •  The law is illegal. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, Farradin, ajbrown

    The Constitution says:

    "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

    Of course, this doesn't matter because the Constitution has been suspended by the ruling Politburo.

    Instead of a Republic, we now have torture, secret prisons, unregulated spying against Americans (they'll deny it, but we know...), etc.

    Basically, whatever Bush and the ruling thugs want goes. Until we stop them. Here's how:

    http://www.harpers.org/...

    When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

    by Rayk on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:20:15 AM PDT

    •  I'm no good at lawyering.. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, Moody Loner, sherlyle, cybersaur

      But can someone please explain where in the rule of law it says "shut the fuck up and let the Presdint do whatever the shit he wants"?

      Yoo slip that somewhere in there when we weren't looking?

      Was it Addington in the study with the candle stick?

      Is that amendment 28?

      Hello, Congress? IS ANYBODY IN THERE?!?!!

      "The reason they call it the American dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it." -George Carlin

      by Roddie Stimmings on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:25:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ex Post Facto doesn't work that way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, Old Left Good Left

      The "ex post facto" provision in the Constitution means that Congress cannot retroactively make legal conduct illegal. Doesn't prevent them from doing it the other way around.

      It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven, nor to save them from hell.

      by DanK Is Back on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:51:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So this is the one thing they're doing (0+ / 0-)

        which isn't illegal.

        When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

        by Rayk on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 11:39:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  lectlaw.com sees it differently. (0+ / 0-)

        http://www.lectlaw.com/...

        "An ex post facto law is a law passed after the occurrence of an event or action which retrospectively changes the legal consequences of the event or action."

        Looks to me like this law IS ex post facto and therefore illegal.

        When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

        by Rayk on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 12:24:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Legal consequences" (0+ / 0-)

          means punishment.  In other words, an ex post facto bill is one that makes formerly legal conduct subject to punishment.

          "This machine kills fascists"--words on Woody Guthrie's guitar

          by Old Left Good Left on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 12:30:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Legal consequences (0+ / 0-)

            in plain English, means legal consequences - positive or negative. If you want to cite something to support your "legal" definition of these words, I'm all ears...

            When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

            by Rayk on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 12:32:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Immunity is illegal (0+ / 0-)

      I'm curious, as a party to one of the lawsuits against AT&T, if retroactive immunity for the telcos passes it would end that class action suit against AT&T. Would that give me legal standing to challenge the Constitutionality of the immunity provisions based on Fourth Amendment arguments?
      Unless the Fourth Amendment is repealed, Congress simply cannot legislate warrantless spying nor can they legislate away a citizens right to challenge the de facto revocation of said Constitutional rights, right? Right?

      The greatest threat to America comes not from terrorists, but from republicans.

      by cybersaur on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 01:18:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Dems cave to Bush the same way most (0+ / 0-)

    progs will cave to Dems in 2008. Let's face it your choices are bad and not so bad. Take your pick. I'm disgusted and angry. I don't trust my leaders and there's not a fucking thing we can do about it.

    Hillary is ahead of Giuliani by only 3%, which is about the percent that Republicans will steal out of Diebold machines.

    by LandSurveyor on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:20:35 AM PDT

    •  Don't be disgusted. Do something. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo

      General strike.

      http://www.harpers.org/...

      When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

      by Rayk on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:21:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If there is something that will not happen, it is (0+ / 0-)

        a General Strike.  Americans are just not general strikers and at this point in our social and economic history, the union movement and the tool of the strike is just seen as a special interest holding their breath until they turn blue.  The Republicans, with the help of the "Nixon hard hats" and the "Reagan Democrats" have thoroughly discredited the union movement in this country, with the complicity of union members who forgot the hard won battles that allowed them to achieve a certain level of economic comfort.  Besides, General Strikes are something the French would do, and you know how we hate the French, although the new guy is seen as a Conservative.

        And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

        by MrJersey on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 05:38:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The difference is that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey

      Congressional Dems actually have power in their hands to immediately stop this. Even one senator can put a hold on this. Democratic voters have power collectively, not individually. Yes, we can muster others to follow our lead, and we have. It happened in 2006. The point of electing them was so they could use the power we vested in them to stop Bush. They are failing us.

      This ballot is loaded, and I'm not afraid to use it.

      by BlueGenes on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:24:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I assume you're saying this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview

      as someone who has already completed his/her calls to Congress on the issue?

      If so, OK.

      If not....

  •  I'm one of the few people that has empathy.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo

    ...for the corporate position...

    If the government of Dick Cheney comes in and says, "We want you to do something..." and I say no, guess what Dick says...

    "That's too bad, Mr. CEO.... you should be careful.... you might have a very bad 'accident' the next few days... oh, and we are canceling all your government accounts...  explain that to your shareholders...  and watch your step... we wouldn't want you to have an 'accident'"

    We already have seen what happened to the Quest executives after they challenged the government...

    It's scary stuff...  the fault should lie with the president... not those they strongarmed...

    Thanks,

    Mike

    •  I'm sorry. That cuts no ice (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cwaltz, MrJersey, BlueGenes

      with me.  It's an excuse for passivity in the face of terror -- what we need are laws that reward civic courage, not laws that protect collaborators.

      "Terror is nothing other than justice...; it is ... the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs." M. Robespierre

      by Bartimaeus Blue on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:22:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I understand your position. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey, BlueGenes

      The government pressed these corporations to comply with illegal spying. But, they were happy to comply. They are morally empty. They have "limited liability." The laws are what MAKE corporations evil: they are required to maximize profits, and they bear limited responsibility for their actions.

      How could an honest or moral person every run a corporation? It's very rare...

      When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

      by Rayk on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:23:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What do we want to encourage? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey

      corporations to require firm legal standing when a rogue arm of the government comes and asks them to violate our civil liberties or do we want to encourage them to cave in to the thugs because they knew that a sympathetic Congres would bail them out.

      Sorry if they are caught in the middle, but . . .

      It's good to be moderate, but only in moderation.

      by ajbrown on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:27:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BULLSHIT (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE

      The telco's weren't afraid. They were greedy--and they got their thirty pieces of silver in government contracts as soon as they betrayed us.

      There has a been a lot of Stockholm Syndrome on this site today.

    •  I don't buy it (0+ / 0-)

      not at all.

      They have money, tons of it. They have access to millions of people. There is no earthly reason they couldn't say no, show me the warrant.

      And even Quest - they should have just gone public sooner. WAY sooner. And way LOUDER.

      They might think it will be better if they keep it secret, but it never is. NEVER. Eventually everything comes out, and they look way worse, lose even more.

  •  Indulgences is right... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    ...it's not the imperial Presidency, it's a papal Presidency. (And papal not in a good way, either.)

    The underest dog is just as good as I am, and I'm just as good as the toppest dog. - Jimmie Rodgers

    by GreenCA on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:21:40 AM PDT

  •  I always though there were too many lawyers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE

    in Congress - but my god, you'd think that would at least mean they would have some collective grasp on what laws are and why they are meant to be followed

    It's good to be moderate, but only in moderation.

    by ajbrown on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:23:08 AM PDT

  •  How is this not worse than funding Contras? (0+ / 0-)

    In that case, Reagan used private funding to vioalte an express law passed by Congress to prohibit the activity.

    In this case, Bush used telecoms.

    Same thing, no?

  •  Telecom Immunity Or Bust (0+ / 0-)

    headzup.tv - daily political cartoons - mobile satire for a mobile democracy

    by headzup on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:25:40 AM PDT

  •  Telecoms have too much power (0+ / 0-)

    The fundamental problem is that telecoms have too much power. They can pretty much decide who will win a presidential election. Witness the hatchet jobs they did to Gore, Dean, and Kerry. It is very difficult to oppose them when you are completely dependent on them to shape the news that Americans hear.

    This is exactly why we need an independent media that is not controlled by corporations with vested interests or subject to government pressure.

    "George W. Bush in the right man to lead us in the era of post-whatever horrible calamity he leads us into next." John Oliver

    by aprichard on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:26:18 AM PDT

  •  There's been quite few posts in other diaries (0+ / 0-)

    that this should be low priority and that we should not waste energy on this issue when there are more pressing issues.

    If you agree with Balkin, then what we are talking about here is the bricks and mortar of our constitutional democracy, and not just some side issue we can ignore.

  •  One would have hoped... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that the wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment would be treated with more gravity than fixing a parking ticket.  

    Of course, if a Democrat got a parking ticket fixed, Fox News would devote hours of airtime to it...

    "...the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    by Roddy McCorley on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:37:13 AM PDT

  •  Indulgences, Indeed (0+ / 0-)

    That word does put me in mind on the Vatican's practice in medieval times of selling indulgences for sin, a practice that so corrupted the Church (not that it wasn't already heading there) that it became a major part of Luther's complaint, which then led to his splitting from the Church and starting the Protestant movement, which then led to the Thirty Years' War, which then led to the (so far) permanent loss of the Vatican's political power.

    One can only imagine how far Bush's indulgences will take us this time.

    It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven, nor to save them from hell.

    by DanK Is Back on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:49:16 AM PDT

  •  F%@$ Congress (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur

    If they are going to sign off on this, I just don't know if there is any hope left for this Congress.  And I don't know what we're supposed to do.  We have a Democratic Congress that is too inept at the levers of power and the only option is a Republican Congress that can only use the levers of power to enrich the wealthy and kill the poor.

    What a fine mess we've made of America.

    "[We] cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."-Edward R. Murrow

    by electricgrendel on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 10:49:24 AM PDT

  •  This president... (0+ / 0-)

    has already asserted his right to sieze assest without judicial procedings.

    Bills of attainer are specifically forbidden in the Constitution.

    Guess that only applies to Congress, not our infallible God/Emperor.

  •  E-mail, Call, Pressure!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DelRPCV

    (sorry for posting this in multiple diaries) Okay, this issue has been important enough to me to take a break from work and e-mail 30 U.S. Senators to NOT support immunity for telecoms in the new FISA Bill.  I wrote a personalized message in the beginning about how I'm a constituent, or how they're on the Intelligence cmte., or how I've been a fan for years, etc., then wrote the following to all:

    "I read with much dismay the Washington Post article about a deal reached between Senate Democrats and Republicans to rework the FISA Bill to grant retroactive immunity for the Constitutional violations committed by several telecommunications companies at the behest of the Bush Administration through warrantless wiretapping of phone calls and possibly internet communications.
    I urge you to please do all that you can - including a filibuster if necessary - to prevent such a dangerous precedent as providing immunity to telecoms that helped the federal government spy illegally on its own people.  Please let the judicial process reach the proper determinations about what companies did what and if or how they should be punished for their participation in the destruction of our 4th Amendment liberties.  
    If we allow this now, then it is a clear signal to these companies and others now and in the future that there is no need for a conscience or legal analysis when the Federal Government asks them to help do something of questionable Constitutionality!
    Please block/filibuster this odious version of the FISA Bill to show that America cares about our Constitution and our civil liberties!

    Thank you,
    xxxxxxxxxxxx"

    PLEASE EVERYONE JOIN IN THIS EFFORT AND MAYBE WE CAN TURN THE TIDE!!!  I e-mailed all the Intel Cmte. people (Repubs too), all Pres. candidates (McCain too), all typical Constitution defenders (Feingold, Byrd, Brown), my 2 Repub Senators, and the Dem Senate leaders.

  •  Reduce secrecy (0+ / 0-)

    One of Balkin's recommendations is:

    Congress must build structures of oversight, reporting, and auditing into the new version of FISA, designing them so that if the Administration tries to avoid compliance– as it inevitably will-- this becomes easy to spot and easy to publicize.

    One of the new oversight structures should be that briefings should be to the entirety of the appropriate committees in the House and the Senate, not just to selected members of Congress.  

    What happens now is what Rockefeller did when he was told about the original NSA spying extravagance: send a CYA letter to Bush and let it go at that.

  •  Contact your senator... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kulshan

    and ask each of them to put a hold on that legislation.  

    I've contacted Boxer.  

    This legislation should not even be being considered.

    "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

    by ogre on Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 11:54:45 AM PDT

    •  How about Using the "Procedure the REpugs were (0+ / 0-)

      threatening to use. Cant remember where I saw it, but they were going to place some procedure that would have sent it BACK to the House.

      Im sure there are several ways to , behind the scenes impede its progress, let alone a filibuster.

      Where there is a Will there is a Way.

  •  In proper LOLcat syntax (0+ / 0-)

    O hai! I m ur preznit. I haz ur cojones.

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