Thursday, July 10, 2008

total failure

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked: "What if Congress had responded to Watergate by immunizing the executive branch's lawbreakers and giving Richard Nixon sweeping new powers to snoop?

"Oh, wait! They just did! They just took thirty years or so to get around to it."

H.R. 6304, updating the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was passed by the Senate and awaits a pleased President Bush's signature Wednesday. The bill grants the executive branch virtually unchecked power to monitor Americans' electronic communications originating, or terminating, overseas, and immunizes from civil lawsuits the telecommunications companies that agreed to help the NSA eavesdrop on such communications without obtaining the proper warrants through the FISA court.

I promise to get back to art related posts soon, but I have been swept up in the drama of the Protect America Act/FISA over the last months and particularly the last weeks. The whole charade has depressed me deeply and is not without a dimension of fear. My support for the Obama candidacy has also been deeply compromised and the reality has set in that he is not ready for the enormous responsbilities of preisdent. There is an enormous legal cleanup job required after Bush's departure and it will take someone willing to fight tyranny. I'm not seeing it as he drifts closer and closer to the hypocrisy of the beltway elite.

I have to wonder how this will affect the online community and the alternative political narrative the web provides?

Here's how the whole day shook down:

Prior to final approval, the Senate, in the morning, rejected three separate amendments which would have improved the bill but which, the White House threatened, would have prompted a veto. With those amendments defeated, the Senate then passed the same bill passed last week by the House, which means it is that bill, in unchanged form, that will be signed into law -- just as the Bush administration demanded.

The first amendment, from Sens. Dodd, Feingold and Leahy, would have stripped from the bill the provision immunizing the telecoms. That amendment failed by a vote of 32-66, with all Republicans and 17 Democrats against (the roll call vote is here). The next amendment was offered by Sen. Arlen Specter, which would have merely required a court to determine the constitutionality of the NSA spying program and grant telecom immunity only upon a finding of constitutionality. Specter's amendment failed, 37-61 (roll call vote is here). The third amendment to fail was one sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, merely requiring that the Senate wait until the Inspector General audits of the NSA program are complete before immunizing the telecoms. The Bingaman amendment failed by a vote of 42-56 (roll call vote here). Both Obama and Clinton voted for all three failed amendments.

The Senators then voted for "cloture" on the underlying FISA bill -- the procedure that allows the Senate to overcome any filibusters -- and it passed by a vote of 72-26. Obama voted along with all Republicans for cloture. Hillary Clinton voted with 25 other Democrats against cloture (strangely, Clinton originally voted AYE on cloture, and then changed her vote to NAY; I'm trying to find out what explains that).

With cloture approved, the bill itself then proceeded to pass by a vote of 69-28 (roll call vote here), thereby immunizing telecoms and legalizing warrantless eavesdropping. Again, while Obama voted with all Republicans to pass the bill, Sen. Clinton voted against it.

Obama's vote in favor of cloture, in particular, cemented the complete betrayal of the commitment he made back in October when seeking the Democratic nomination. Back then, Obama's spokesman -- in response to demands for a clear statement of Obama's views on the spying controversy after he had previously given a vague and noncommittal statement -- issued this emphatic vow:

To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
[read on at Glenn Greenwald]
Here is David Hutchins on why Democrats caved in - The MONEY Trail

image: the 110th Congress


CAP said...

It is a black black black black black day.

But remember the whole world's watching. And no one can watch the whole world.

highlowbetween said...

hopefully the courts can fix it

CAP said...

Time to pressure Obamarama into immediately revoking the bill upon gaining office.

This should be a line in the sand.