Friday, February 15, 2008

House Leaves Surveillance Law to Expire + Olbermann Special Comment! + John Conyers

Before I get to the fantastic news coming from the House (yes, you heard me correctly), watch another Keith Olbermann Special Comment manifesto on Bush and the FISA bill again.

A few of my favorite passages:

If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business — come out and say it!

There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend.

You’re a fascist — get them to print you a t-shirt with “fascist” on it!

What else is this but fascism?

Did you see Mark Klein on this newscast last November?

Mark Klein was the AT&T Whistleblower, the one who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all AT&T circuits — everything — carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your web browsing into a secure room, room number 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.

Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some spy — a spy both patriotic and telepathic — might able to divine had been sent or spoken by — or to — a terrorist.



As Senator Kennedy reminded us in December:

“The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity. No immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he’s willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.”


We will not fear any longer.

We will not fear the international terrorists — we will thwart them.

We will not fear the recognition of the manipulation of our yearning for safety — we will call it what it is: terrorism.

We will not fear identifying the vulgar hypocrites in our government — we will name them.
And we will not fear George W. Bush.

Nor will we fear because George W. Bush wants us to fear.

Watch it here.

And also watch John Conyers on the House floor tell it like it is...

House Leaves Surveillance Law to Expire, New York Times

If you felt a tremor in the force yesterday that's because Democrats in the House stood up to White House fearmongering on the "Protect America Act" and its inclusion of retroactive immunity for telecom companies! That's right, as I posted early yesterday, the Democrats essentially had three choices, give Bush what he wants (which is everything), wait and try to pass their version of the bill again (that doesn't include retroactive immunity), or just let the constitution smashing piece of legislation expire.

The Democrats actually went with perhaps the politically riskiest, but certainly best option of all: let it expire! Remember, the Bush administration's arguments for passing the law in the first place were "based on partial, calculated leaks of secret court rulings. If the Republicans want the Protect America Act so badly, force them to negotiate on that separately from retroactive immunity--the issues really aren't linked."

The New York Times reports the rather heartening, and even surprising developments:

The House broke for a week’s recess Thursday without renewing terrorist surveillance authority demanded by President Bush, leading him to warn of risky intelligence gaps while Democrats accused him of reckless fear mongering.


“The president knows full well that he has all the authority he needs to protect the American people,” said Ms. Pelosi, who then referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s admonition about fearing only fear itself. “President Bush tells the American people that he has nothing to offer but fear, and I’m afraid that his fear-mongering of this bill is not constructive.”

The decision by the House Democratic leadership to let the law lapse is the greatest challenge to Mr. Bush on a major national security issue since the Democrats took control of Congress last year.


The main sticking point is a provision in the Senate bill that provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that, at the Bush administration’s request, cooperated in providing private data after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Many House Democrats oppose that immunity.

Surveillance efforts will not cease when the law lapses. Administration intelligence officials said agencies would be able to continue eavesdropping on targets that have already been approved for a year after the initial authorization. But they said any new targets would have to go through the more burdensome standards in place before last August, which would require that they establish probable cause that an international target is connected to a terrorist group.

It appears we'll have a few weeks before this issue comes up again to really pressure House members - and Senators for that matter - to put the people, the constitution, and our right to privacy above the need to protect big business from crimes against their customers.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

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