Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today’s Coverup of Surveillance Crimes and New Effort to Hold Dems Accountable

What can one say? It's a sad day for the Constitution, a typical one for the Republican Party, and a deeply dissapointing one for the Democrats. Yes, FISA passed today by a vote of 69 - 28 (more on this tomorrow).

To set the stage, and properly frame the issue of FISA, telecom immunity, and illegal wiretapping, watch Senator Russ Feingold give a blistering speech on the FISA sham on the Senate Floor...may the 4th Amendment rest in peace:

Watch Feingold here.

Now let's move right to Glenn Greenwald's piece on today's events in the Senate:

It was also as clear a violation of the Fourth Amendment as can be. For the Government to invade our communications with no probable cause showing to a court is exactly what the Founders prohibited as clearly as the English language permitted.

But today, the Democratic-led Congress — with the support of both John McCain and Barack Obama... — will cover-up those crimes. Law Professor and Fourth Amendment expert Jonathan Turley was on MSNBC’s Countdown with Rachel Maddow last night and gave as succinct an explanation for what Democrats — not the Bush administration, but Democrats — will do today.

Watch him here.

...what is most appalling here beyond the bill itself are the pure falsehoods being spewed to the public about what Congress is doing — and those falsehoods are largely being spewed not by Republicans. Republicans are gleefully admitting, even boasting, that this bill gives them everything Bush and Cheney wanted and more, and includes only minor changes from the Rockefeller/Cheney Senate bill passed last February (which Obama, seeking the Democratic Party nomination, made a point of opposing).Rather, the insultingly false claims about this bill — it brings the FISA court back into eavesdropping! it actually improves civil liberties!


It’s been quite disturbing to watch them turn on a dime — completely reverse everything they claimed to believe — the minute Obama issued his statement saying that he would support this bill. They actually have the audacity to say that this bill — a bill which Bush, Cheney and the entire GOP eagerly support, while virtually every civil libertarian vehemently opposes — will increase the civil liberties that Americans enjoy, as though Dick Cheney, Mike McConnell and “Kit” Bond decided that it was urgently important to pass a new bill to restrict presidential spying and enhance our civil liberties.


John Nichols of The Nation — one of the most pro-Obama media organs in the country — pointed out yesterday that Obama won the critical Wisconsin primary in large part by holding himself out to Democratic voters there — for whom civil liberties is a vital issue — as a steadfast ally of Feingold on these issues:


Yet, now that he is the presumptive nominee, Obama is standing not with Feingold, but with Bush and the special interests Obama once denounced. He says he’ll vote for a White House-backed FISA rewrite — which is likely to be taken up by the Senate this week — in opposition to the position taken by civil liberties groups, legal scholars on the left and right and, of course, Russ Feingold.


These are just facts — facts about Barack Obama, the FISA bill he supports and which the Democratic Congress will approve today. Recall that James Comey testified last year that what he and other DOJ officials learned in 2004 about Bush’s spying activities for the several years prior was so extreme, so unconscionable, so patently illegal that they all — including even John Ashcroft — threatened to resign en masse unless it stopped immediately. We still have no idea what those spying activities were. We know, though, that even the right-wing DOJ ideologues who approved of the illegal “Terrorist Surveillance Programs” that we know about found those activities indisputably illegal and wrong. But Barack Obama and the Democratic-led Congress will today enact a bill to immunize all of that, to protect the lawbreakers who were responsible.


UPDATE: The Dodd-Feingold amendment to remove telecom immunity from the bill just failed by a vote of 32-66. I was mistaken about Obama’s not showing up to vote (that was the case, as I understood it, when the vote was scheduled for yesterday). He is in the Senate and, as he said he would, just voted (along with Hillary Clinton) in favor of the amendment to remove telecom immunity from the bill.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

So what's next is the first question I would ask? Well, here's a little article I found regarding one way to punish those that sold out the Constitution:

Online Movement Aims to Punish Democrats Who Support Bush Wiretap Bill

Online activists from the right and the left announced an unprecedented campaign Tuesday to hold Democratic lawmakers accountable for caving in to the Bush administration on domestic spying.

A group of high-profile progressive bloggers and libertarian Republicans are rolling out a new political action committee called Accountability Now to channel widespread anger over pending legislation that would legalize much of the president's warrantless electronic surveillance of Americans, and grant retroactive legal immunity to telephone companies that cooperated with the spying when it was still illegal.


Progressive author and lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who writes for, and blogger Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, are spearheading the effort. They've hired the political media consultants behind a historic Ron Paul online fundraising drive to organize a similar "moneybomb," set to go off Aug. 8.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

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