Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Senator, get FISA right

Sorry for being offline, finally finally got the computer sorted and online. Anyway, if you are like me and have been deeply disappointed by Obama's position on the new FISA bill and telecom immunity from civil suits, you can pressure him via his campaign website

If you want to take further steps try these.

  • Contact Barack Obama's Senate office and do the same.
  • Use Cause Caller to contact both the Senate and Campaign Offices
    • As an alternative to the above options, you can use the Cause Caller website to help you contact the Senator and his campaign by phone
    • Click here for the Cause Caller page. The page provides a script of suggestions for things to mention on the phone, and an auto dialer for the campaign and senate offices.
    • In your own (calm, coherent) words, tell them what you think. See here for suggestions on how to say it.

  • New! Use Blue America's Whip Count Call Tool to call your senators in support of an amendment to strip telecom immunity from the FISA bill.
    • Click here so they can connect you to your senator. (If they connect you directly, the call is free.)
    • The page has suggestions for things to say in support of the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment.
    • You can help track support for the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment.
    • In your own (calm, coherent) words, tell them what you think. See here for suggestions on how to say it.

The Fourth amendment is at stake and with it a free society. This is a very dangerous and slippery slope towards opaque government and abuses that history reveals all too clearly.

From Glen Greenwald:

Just to get a flavor for how fundamental a reversal is Obama's FISA position, here is what Obama said back in February when accepting Chris Dodd's endorsement:

We know it's time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd's candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish.

The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I've been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens -- and set an example to the world -- that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America –- no one is above the law.

Here is what he said back in January:
Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people -- not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed. . . .

A grassroots movement of Americans has pushed this issue to the forefront. You have come together across this country. You have called upon our leaders to adhere to the Constitution. You have sent a message to the halls of power that the American people will not permit the abuse of power -- and demanded that we reclaim our core values by restoring the rule of law.

It's time for Washington to hear your voices, and to act. I share your commitment to this cause, and will stand with you in the fights to come.

And obviously, his vow last October to "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies" can't be reconciled with his vow to "support" such a bill now.

The issue is not -- as one extremely confused Obama-cheering blogger put it -- that Obama has done "something contrary to what conventional wisdom as dictated by a small coterie of prominent bloggers agrees with," nor is it -- as an equally confused, Obama-cheering Ed Kilgore put it -- that Obama is "stray[ing] from Democratic Party orthodoxy or from strict down-the-line partisanship" by "expressing heretical thoughts on FISA" (incidentally, it's amazing how the rule of law, the Fourth Amendment and accountability for Bush lawbreaking have now -- in service of defending Obama -- all been instantaneously reduced to nothing more than quirky, self-absorbed, petty blogger "dictates," and Obama's disregarding of those core political values is a bold demonstration that he won't be held hostage to anyone's narrow partisan demands).

The issue is that Obama has repeatedly, over the course of the last year, made emphatic commitments and clear statements about his core political values that are completely irreconcilable with his support for the FISA bill. It's possible to recognize that someone is just a "politician" and still trust that they're telling you essentially the truth about what they think and what they'll do.

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