Friday, June 20, 2008

Democrats AND Obama Capitulate on FISA

Frankly I'm almost too disgusted and angry to even write about the Democrats, and worse, Obama's capitulation on the telecom immunity giving, privacy eviscerating, Constitution burning, and Bush protecting FISA law.

That's right, the Democratic-controlled House just passed the "compromise" FISA/telecom amnesty bill by a vote of 293-129. As expected, the Republicans supported the bill virtually in lockstep (188 - 1...that 1 being Ron Paul), while Democrats split (105-128). Nancy Pelosi spoke in favor of the bill, so the whole top layer of House Democratic leadership supported the bill. This new FISA law essentially guarantees telecommunications total immunity for their crimes, actually expands the government's ability to wiretap American citizens, and eviscerates the 4th Amendment. Bye bye 4th Amendment, you were cool while you lasted!

I'm just going to turn it over to some of the most respected defenders of the Constitution that we have in the country today for analysis. But first, here's my ode to the Fourth...which simply gave us the following rights:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Now let's take a look at the contrast between profiles in courage (actually I don't think its courageous to stand up for the Constitution, its simply right) and profiles in cowardice.

First up, Senator Russ Feingold:

The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home.

Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.”

Next up, Senator Chris Dodd:

I cannot support the so-called ‘compromise’ legislation announced today. This bill would not hold the telecommunications companies that participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program accountable for their actions. Instead, it would simply offer retroactive immunity by another name.

“As I have said time and time again, the President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecommunications companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens. I remain strongly opposed to this deeply flawed bill, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me in supporting American’s civil liberties by rejecting this measure.”

Now to Senator Barack Obama (sigh...):

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -– and the liberty –- of the American people.

Watch constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley discuss the new FISA "compromise" on Countdown.

And finally, here are some choice clips from Glenn Greenwal, the best in the business on this issue:

It's bad enough watching the likes of Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel and a disturbingly disoriented Nancy Pelosi eviscerate the Fourth Amendment, exempt their largest corporate contributors from the rule of law, and endorse the most radical aspects of the Bush lawbreaking regime. But it's downright pathetic to see them try to depict their behavior as some sort of bipartisan "compromise" whereby they won meaningful concessions...


...the GOP couldn't even wait for the ink to dry on this "compromise" before publicly -- and accurately -- boasting that they not only got everything they want, but got even more than they dreamed they would get. To The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau, GOP House Whip Roy Blunt derided the telecom amnesty provision as nothing more than a "formality" which would inevitably lead to the immediate and automatic dismissal of all lawsuits against the telecoms, while Sen. Kit Bond taunted the Democrats for giving away even more than they had to in order to get a deal: "I think the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get."

Lichtblau himself noted that "the White House immediately endorsed the proposal" and wrote that the bill "represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute."


This scandal began by revelations that the President broke the law -- committed felonies -- when spying on our calls and emails without warrants, because he believes he has the power to break the law. The scandal all but concluded yesterday, with the Democratic Congress (a) protecting the President, (b) permanently blocking the lawsuits which would have revealed what he did and would have ruled that he broke the law, and (c) legalizing the very illegal spying regime that he secretly ordered in 2001. Only in the twisted world of Washington can that be described as a "compromise."

On that note, here's how you can help urge the Senate to stand up and fight this bill. ACT Blue, along with Color for Change, and others are asking for contributions to fight this legislation through targeted advertising against Democratic capitulators.

Go here to contribute.

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