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Congress is back, and so is the fight over whether the nation's telecommunication companies--and the Bush administration--will skate on the charges of spying on American citizens without a warrant. If the Congress grants telcos the amnesty they and the administration are seeking, investigations on the scope of the illegal spying won't go forward, and we might never know the full extent of this administration's illegal activity against American citizens.

As Markos notes his column in today's The Hill, the Democrats have a choice of falling for GOP scare tactics one more time, or doing the right thing.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto gave us an idea of the kind of hyperbole we can expect when he warned, "We’re exactly three weeks away from the date when terrorists can be free to make phone calls without fear of being surveilled by U.S. intelligence agencies."

A terrific scare tactic, but dead wrong. No one thinks U.S. intelligence agencies should be denied surveillance capabilities.

The sole issue is whether outlaw telecommunications companies should be given a pass on their illegal behavior. And since President Bush has threatened to veto any FISA legislation without telco amnesty, it’s clear that he’s more concerned about Verizon’s checkbook than he is about our nation’s security.

Too bad Bush’s love is unrequited. Many FISA wiretaps were recently pulled by the supposedly heroic telcos because of the government’s failure to pay its phone bills.

The news that the telcos pulled their wiretaps because the weren't getting paid reveals two truths: the telcos aren't great patriots doing their duty for national security--they're greedy and willing to break the law if they can boost the bottom line; the Bush administration doesn't care enough about national security to pay the freaking bill for it and is using this issue as yet another bludgeon to beat up on Democrats.

Too many times we've seen the Dems capitulate at the mere threat of that bludgeon. It doesn't need to happen again, because that fear is baseless. Consider this recently release poll commissioned by the ACLU, (via Greenwald):

Majorities of voters on both sides of the political spectrum oppose key provisions in President Bush's proposal to modify foreign surveillance laws that could ensnare Americans, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The survey shows nearly two-thirds of poll respondents say the government should be required to get an individual warrant before listening in on conversations between US citizens and people abroad. Close to six in 10 people oppose an administration proposal to allow intelligence agencies to seek "blanket warrants" that would let them eavesdrop of foreigners for up to a year no additional judicial oversight required if the foreign suspect spoke to an American. And  a majority are against a plan to give legal immunity to telecommunications companies that facilitated the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping.

"Across the board, we find opposition to the administration's FISA agenda," pollster Mark Mellman said Tuesday.

Last month, we generated over half a million calls and e-mails to Senate offices in support of Senator Dodd's filibuster of telco amnesty. We need to double that number this week. We need to tell our Senators that we stand with the majority of Americans in opposition to amnesty, and they should be more afraid of us voters than of a lame duck, failing president.

Particularly, those calls need to go to our presidential candidates. Again, Greenwald has details:

The three leading recipients of telecom money for this election cycle are, unsurprisingly, the three sitting Senators running for President (with two Democratic members who are key to amnesty -- Jay Rockefeller and Rahm Emanuel -- close behind). That's how "Washington works" -- the process they are all pledging to battle and change. Needless to say, all of the viable GOP presidential candidates will be blindly supportive of whatever surveillance powers and lawbreaking immunity the President demands, but thus far, Obama and (less emphatically) Clinton have both claimed that they oppose such measures and thus pledged to support a Dodd-led filibuster.

Clinton and Obama have reiterated that opposition this week in response to Markos's inquiries. But the Senators need to do more than issue statements. They need to take a break from their campaigns and spend a few days actually on the job that they currently have--that means physically standing with Chris Dodd in support of his filibuster. You can urge them to do that with this page set up by Working Assets. Matt Browner-Hamlin has more on that campaign.

Call or e-mail the Presidential candidates. Spend a few minutes of the time you would have spent squabbling about the campaign in some diary here on sending an e-mail, making a phone call. Contact the Presidential candidates and call and e-mail your Senators. Tell them to stand with the majority of the American people who demand accountability.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:41 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They aren't going to (5+ / 0-)

    pursue the contempt citation either. It wouldn't show "bipartisan cooperation", according to Raw Story.

  •  Growl, grumble, capitulate! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, Zagatzz, Scoopster, oibme, CParis

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:43:41 AM PST

  •  whip sheet (5+ / 0-)

    Has anyone determined how many other Democrats we need to get on board?

    "Live each week like it's Shark Week." -- Tracy Jordan

    by Adam B on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:46:45 AM PST

    •  We know who the good guys are (10+ / 0-)
      * Barbara Boxer: (202) 224-3553 * Sherrod Brown: (202) 224-2315 * Russ Feingold: (202) 224-5323 * Ted Kennedy: (202) 224-4543 * Bill Nelson: (202) 224-5274 * Ron Wyden: (202) 224-5244

      They stood with Dodd last month. Bill Nelson is the most likely one we'll lose this time around, so additional pressure there would be good.

      •  It strikes me ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... that one effective tool to use with Clinton and Obama is to demonstrate that success on a cloture vote is near, and that their appearance would neither be futile nor redundant.

        Some legwork by the netroots showing 30+ Dems already on board would help in that regard.

        "Live each week like it's Shark Week." -- Tracy Jordan

        by Adam B on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:03:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Add John Kerry to list (8+ / 0-)

        Just called his office and was assured he was supporting Sen. Dodd's efforts to block retroactive immunity.

      •  Summary of Congressional phone calls (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mcjoan, KLM, Pompatus, RenMin

        Boxer- Thank you for your efforts last December, please continue your support of Senator Dodd and removing Telecom Immunity from the FISA Amendment.

        Feinstein - Thank you for your increased interest in Telecom Immunity. However, your efforts do not go far enough.  Immunity must be removed entirely from SB 2248.  I can not see myself campaigning for, or electing you for an additional term if you do not remove Telecom Immunity.

        Dodd - Thank you for demonstrating to your peers what leadership looks like. Please keep up the good fight and recognize that your efforts are being noticed.

        Obama - What is your stance regarding FISA Telecom Immunity?  "Senator Obama is opposed to telecom immunity and will support a fillibuster"  Then why wasn't he on the floor with Dodd last December? What action will he take this week to assure immunity is removed from the amendment?  "Senator Obama's statement is that he opposes telecom immunity."  Is he planning on voting or will he be absent again? "I only know his statement."

        Clinton - What is your stance regarding FISA Telecom Immunity? "Senator Clinton opposes telecom immunity."  Will she be present during session to oppose the FISA amendment?  "I do not know."

        So there you have it.  Obama and Clinton will be no-shows... again.  Wonderful leadership qualities.  Four more years of the status quo.

        How do Clinton/Obama supporters justify their support of a Presidential Candidate that wont attend congress to defend our right to privacy?  Really, what is the reason?

        (-7, -4.62) I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want and get it. -Eugene V. Debs

        by Cheney on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:25:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Please bump and update this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        periodically to keep attention on FISA.

        As for updates, Harry Reid's admonishing Dodd for filibustering when there's a retreat to go to is beyond criticism.

      •  Add Bob Menedez to that list! (6+ / 0-)

        I had a letter yesterday in response to an email - fastest response I've ever gotten BTW.  He said that he will stand against granting the telecoms immunity!

        I emailed him again (and Frank Lautenberg) and told them both Reid MUST go!

        Bush told us  "shop 'til you drop!"  I told them "Filibuster 'til you drop!"

        Established 1995 -->

        by Cyber Kat on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 01:40:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why does Markos hate John Edwards? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mogolori, mattman, OLinda, Scoopster, Cheney

    Thankfully, the two leading Democratic presidential candidates are siding with Dodd.

    Markos - The Hill

    Why not the THREE leading Democratic presidential candidates are siding with Dodd?

    Or why not ALL the Democratic presidential candidates are siding with Dodd?

    Why can't we use the 140 billion to jump-start Universal Health Care? If we don't advocate for this, who will?

    by gooderservice on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:47:06 AM PST

  •  It's time the Democrats show a little... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, Cyber Kat, cybersaur, Magster, RenMin

    intestinal fortitude and do what they were elected to do. I am so tired of them acting like Arthur, King of the Britons, and his band of knights running away when percieved danger rears its ugly head.

    The Bush Administration has run roughshod over the Constitution for 8 years and it's time somebody put a stop to it.

    You'd be paranoid, too, if everybody was out to get you.

    by Ballard Mutt on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:47:28 AM PST

  •  Seperate Domestic Spying from National (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, CParis, Terminus Est, RenMin


    It's the only way to approach this!

    Data mining does not and will not stop terrorism.

    by LandSurveyor on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:47:45 AM PST

    •  And Stop industry from making bucks? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      no way...

      Greed is good. Corruption is virtue.


      Eavesdropping as a Telecom Profit Center

      During the 1980s and 90s, AT&T cleverly got out of any business except shipping commodity bits: in 1981 it (was forced to) split off its regional phone companies; in 1996 it (voluntarily) split off its equipment-making arm as Lucent Technologies; in 2000-2001 it sold off its Wireless division to raise cash. Now AT&T long-distance bit-shipping is just a division of the former SBC, renamed AT&T.

      What profit centers are left in shipping commodity bits? The United States Government spends 44 billion dollars a year on its spy agencies. It’s very plausible that the NSA is willing to pay $100 million or more for a phone/internet company to install a secret room where the NSA can spy on all the communications that pass through. A lawsuit by the EFF alleges such a room, and its existence was implicitly confirmed by the Director of National Intelligence in an interview with the El Paso Times. We know the NSA spends at least $200 million a year on information-technology outsourcing and some of this goes to phone companies such as Verizon.

      Therefore, if it’s true that AT&T has such a secret room, then it may be simply that this is the only way AT&T knows how to make money off of shipping bits: it sells to the government all the information that passes through. Furthermore, economics tells us that in a commodity market, if one vendor is able to lower its price below cost, then other vendors must follow unless they also are able to make up the difference somehow. That is, there will be substantial economic pressure on all the other telecoms to accept the government’s money in exchange for access to everybody’s mail, Google searches, and phone calls.

      The incentives here get pretty interesting. Government benefits by undermining providers’ credibility, as that lowers the price government has to pay for surveillance. Providers who are cooperating with the government want to undermine their fellow providers’ credibility, thereby making customers less likely to buy from surveillance-resisting providers. Providers who claim, truthfully or not, to be be refusing surveillance want to pick fights with the government, making it look less likely that they’re cooperating with the government on surveillance.

      If government wants to use surveillance, why doesn’t it require providers to cooperate? That’s a political question that deserves a post of its own.

    •  The funny thing is that Homeland Security (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      was supposed to bring about greater coordination between some sixteen federal agencies. Instead it seems the chaos is greater than it was five years ago.  Despite having captured bin Laden's second in command 38 times so far and netting various small fish, has any of this herculean effort really produced any tangible results in preventing another 9/11? It appears this administration has strained mightily in bringing forth a gnat.

  •  Could this be the time (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, countrycat, RenMin

    Clinton and Obama finally earn some grudging respect from those anti-Clinton and anti-Obama on this site?

    Let's frickin hope so.

    Guil: So there you are. Ros: Stark raving sane. - T. Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

    by eco d on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:48:04 AM PST

    •  could be (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RichM, mattman, oibme, cybersaur, eco d

      They'll have to earn it.

      And I'll cheer for them if they do.  But still vote for Edwards.

      Still, it's better when all our candidates speak with one voice on issues like this.

      Yes. There ARE progressive Democrats in Alabama. Visit with us at Left in Alabama

      by countrycat on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:59:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yup! Let's See Them Leave (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cream City, CParis, eco d

      the campaign trail and get their butts back there and do their damn jobs.

      Hope ya don't mind if I don't hold my breath, tho.

      It would really make a difference how I view Clinton and Obama.

      You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

      by mattman on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:06:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For me, it is especially important for Obama (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to do so.  He has missed too many votes -- almost 40 percent of the votes last year, for a "very poor" rating in terms of attendance.  (Far worse than other Senatorial candidates on the campaign trail, too.)

        So in terms of his "progressive" record, it makes me wonder if it is built on only those votes he did get back to D.C. for, so as to look better by missing others?  I have yet to find a ranking that is comprehensive that way.

        I do not want another president who gets away all the time from all that harrrrd worrrk.

        "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." -- Carly Simon

        by Cream City on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:05:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let's look on the bright side! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cream City

          If Obama doesn't show up, we won't be hearing that professor of Constitutional Law argument any more.

          What's the point of teaching what you don't defend?

          [x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

          by lambertstrether on Thu Jan 24, 2008 at 03:56:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yup. A chance to earn my vote in November. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cream City

      Democratic Candidate for US Senate (Wisconsin 2012)
      Court certified Marijuana Expert

      by ben masel on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:13:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd contact my senators but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, AAbshier, mijita

    I have the Bush-enabling Inhofe and Coburn (lucky me). Talk about wasting one's time.

    I will, however, email the candidates.

  •  Senator Reid, please just tell us your price (23+ / 0-)

    If we could know how much money he, and other Senators like Feinstein, want in order to do something regarding any given law, the least they could do is tell us an exact dollar price to buy his vote.

    Then we can maybe fundraise. But is it fair to leave us completely out of the bidding?

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:49:02 AM PST

  •  Never a shortage of people in DC (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, mattman, mollyd, RenMin

    ...willing to pay their corporate masters for colluding to undermine the Constitution. Corporations are analogous to the British Crown in 1775.

  •  wouldn't a show of spine ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, mattman, countrycat, cybersaur

    Make a real statement?  Wouldn't Obama or Hillary make some real news and show some guts and solidarity for the right thing, if one or both of them would forego another rally or staged photo-op, to stand on the Senate floor and speak out against this bullshit?  Given the lack of spine in this Congress, such an act would stand out and be worth a hundred campaign stops, IMHO.  And by the way ... I'm not holding my breath.  Caution above all!

    Hillary: the GOP's Only Hope

    by Tuffie on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:50:06 AM PST

  •  This is the fight (6+ / 0-)

    and if Dodd gets some support, as he did last time, I think it's winnable.

  •  And not only can the Dems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, mattman

    tie this into the whole telecom debacle, but what about W wanting to cut funding for state/local terrorism efforts?  Why isn't our side shouting from the rooftops that he can't be trusted with national security policy in any way, shape, or form, period?

    The Dems can modernize FISA (without immunity) and make lots of other principled points at the same time-- why do Dem leaders seem to feel that's too much to ask?

    •  Because they have no plan (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RichM, mattman, Silverleaf

      The Dems in the Senate do not have a plan of what they want to enact.

      Instead, they sit and react.  They play defense.  They almost never go on offense in any concerted, unified manner.

      Whether that's because of poor leadership or a simple inability to get the Dem caucus to coalesce behind a unified agenda is another story.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:05:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Time to call Feinstein again (6+ / 0-)

    God knows how on earth to keep her on the blue side of this issue.  

    I'm not going to be sorry when she retires and that's the truth.

    the third eye does not weep. it knows.

    by mijita on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:53:35 AM PST

  •  The Recently Announce credibility Gap (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, mattman, RenMin

    Needs to Be tied back to Fratto FISA Claims

    Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

    by JML9999 on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:54:35 AM PST

  •  This is so important (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, mattman, lizah, cybersaur, bonesy, eco d

    Everyone needs to contact their Senators, plus Clinton and Obama, now.

    We cannot let Bush and his Democratic enablers (Reid, Rockefeller, et al) get away with this.  

  •  easy list of reasons for email, phone call (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcjoan, mattman, lizah, RenMin

    Sen. feingold has provided a list of reasons why this immunity, which has never happened before, is not needed now.

    so, when you email, or call, please check out his list of myth v. reality. Those reasons, as well as the money issue mcjoan discusses, provide ample reasons for opposing.

  •  Let's get some Dem accountability, too... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, mattman, bonesy once again, the insiders' club folds:

    "I left the meeting that I just had in the Cabinet Room with the leadership in the House and the Senate with a very positive feeling," Bush said Wednesday. "All of us understand that we need to work together..."

    The brat gets his way because oh, goodness me, we can't risk another tantrum, now can we?

  •  I can't see them . . . (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, cybersaur, JeffW, RenMin, ryan81

    . . . taking a break with things so hot on the campaign right now.

    They need to take a break from their campaigns and spend a few days actually on the job that they currently have--that means physically standing with Chris Dodd in support of his filibuster.

    But I think the point is that they don't have to.  Standing up for filibuster and campaigning can be seen as one and the same thing.  

    What I'm really looking for is for one of them to step out in front of the issue and make opposing immunity and all it stands for part and parcel of their campaign.

    The one who does it first gets my Feb. 5 vote even if it wasn't the one I thought I would vote for at first.

    Some advice: Travel lightly.

    by dbratl on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 09:59:43 AM PST

  •  Let's keep it clean! Now, come out boxing! (0+ / 0-)

  •  VP Cheney according to AP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, JeffW

    telling Congress to toughen up this bill and make it permanent.
    OOOH I'm so scared of Cheney, see me shaking.

    Congress best stand up to this bully and any other threats this administration makes.

    *a hundred years from now, the future may be different because I was important in the life of a child*

    by bonesy on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:02:23 AM PST

  •  So wrong, on so many levels (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bonesy, RenMin

    Remember when China was holding Americans (and their plane) and Bush was being bellicose (putting the hostages in jeopardy in order to pump up his tough guy image), or when Valerie Plame was 'outed' as retrobution for her husband telling the truth. Whenever this Admin has a choice to do right by the country or damage the coutry while pumping themselves up, they always make the wrong choice. If they really wanted to find out what terrorists were saying - they wouldn't be so public about it. They probably could have worked out a private backroom FISA fix, but they can't resist the opportunity to call Democrats weak (I don't usually care for backroom deals, but I would trust Russ Feingold to negotiate for me). Like morphing Max Cleland into OBL and then calling for civility it's ALL politics for them ALL the time (even down to which states get coastal protection (FL) and which don't (CA).

    There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS. Mahatma Gandhi

    by Sacramento Dem on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:03:03 AM PST

  •  They'll cave... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattman, Pompatus, TracieLynn, oibme

    They can't even 'Find Time' to vote on contempt charges for Rove and Myers.  They are to busy in an oral sex daisy-chain over a 'stimulus' package.  It's kinda cute how we all think we have a voice in this.

  •  Tell our candidates to be there in D.C. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the debate and vote, those who are Senators.  

    No more missed votes.  And their participation in the debate will bring more media attention to it.

    "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." -- Carly Simon

    by Cream City on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:06:21 AM PST

  •  What happens next? (0+ / 0-)

    I don't see how we can win this fight in the long run.    If Reid wants to pass immunity in the Senate, we will be very hard pressed to stop him.  He can throw some clout around and get the 11 Democratic senators needed to stop a filibuster.  What happens after that occurs?  I think we should fight to slow or stop this bill, but if it does get passed, what is next?

    The House bill does not contain immunity.  There will be a conference committee made, and a negotiation between the Senate and the House.  From my understanding, if the Senate wins the negotiation over immunity, the bill will be referred back to the House, where a vote will have to pass the floor of the House.  Immunity was already denied in the House, so is there a chance that it will not pass again?  Is what I have written incorrect?

  •  G. Greenwald, FDL, others (11+ / 0-)

    are suggesting we push on John Edwards, since he's in a great position to lead on this (and pick up/solidify support for his prez. bid). Here was my short and sweet e-mail to him (

    Dear Senator Edwards:

    I am writing to urge you to use your unique position to stand up and oppose telecom immunity in the upcoming FISA Bill. As you no doubt know, telecom amnesty will shield our nation's largest companies and our own government and president from any accountability for illegally wiretapping U.S. citizens. This provision represents a profound breakdown in the rule of law by allowing the well-connected to literally purchase a get-out-of-jail-free card and by allowing our president to get away with unconstitutional and possibly criminal behavior.

    You have stood strong in rejecting lobbyist contributions and in demanding top tobottom change in this government. Now's your chance to walk the walk and lead on a core constitutional and democratic issue.

    Please, take it.

    This issue should take precedence with us right now. It's important.

    "People hate Bush and hate this war. It's that simple, and it's been true for quite some time" - Atrios

    by atrexler on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:07:34 AM PST

  •  What I am waiting to see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is leadership.

    Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid are afraid of appearing weak, soft on terror. What passes for wisdom in Washington circles is that in order to appear strong and forceful they need to cave to pant-peeing Republicans and their all-time worst President.

    Let me see if I've got this right...

    Caving in and joining in on the pant-peeing terror is strong.

    Standing your ground in defense of The Constitution is weak.

    Fear is strong. Standing your ground is weak. Uh....

    I don't know if Sen. Edwards is the right person to lead the way back to Washington to join Sen. Dodd (and Sen. Feingold I believe) in defending the Constitution or not. I think that whichever of the three Senators shows the courage it will apparently take to lead the way will be the right one. For me the logic is pretty simple.

    If you want to be a leader... show leadership.

    If you want to prove to me that you can lead the nation... lead the nation.



  •  Just Sent This Email to Claire McCaskill (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcjoan, mattman, TracieLynn


    Lawyers are "locusts" on this issue -- remember what you told me?  Please, do all you can to stop FISA and telecom immunity.

    In fact, Obama may listen to you on this.  Ask him to prove that the money he takes from telecoms is not muzzling him on this issue.  If he stays away from this vote, it will be like voting "Present" in the Illinois Senate.

    Please, Claire, do what you know is right on this.


    Last month I ran into her at National Airport and she told me that Attorney General Muckasey had called the lawyers suing the telecoms over the illegal wiretapping "locusts".  He may have gotten his insect wrong, but his meaning was clear as was his contempt for law, courts, and the constitution.

  •  Sadly... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Practically everyone I have struck up conversation about this has no idea what I'm talking about.

    This is one of those issues where mainstream detachment severely enhances the crisis.


    ...Operation Rota is Closed... New Blog Coming Soon With Pictures!...

    by nowheredesign on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:15:29 AM PST

    •  Olberman needs to feature this issue (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybersaur, nowheredesign

      At least that way a few more "mainstream" types might see it.

    •  Yes thats why its important for (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybersaur, nowheredesign, RenMin

      Obama and Clinton to go back to Washington and support Dodd on this issue. They are getting national media coverage because of the election and by making a public stand against retroactive immunity they can bring it to the attention of more people.

      Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that.

      by ryan81 on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:57:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They don't wanna do that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... because doing so would annoy the big-money corporate sponsors that fund political campaigns.  And - hey, let's have a singalong!

        "The Telecom's connected to the ... TV!
        The TV's connected to the... newspaper!
        The newspaper's connected to the ... magazine!
        The magazine's connected to the ... radio!
        The radio's connected to the ... anonymous e'mail propaganda network!
        Now HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD...."

        Seriously, they know that if they oppose something desired by the corporate masters, they'll receive the Silent Treatment like John Edwards, or worse.  The only way they'll do something unpopular with the corporate telecom/media junta that supplies the lobbyist funding and controls the "mainstream" media coverage is if they have no other choice.

    •  It needs a better name than FISA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That just does not convey what it is about.

      Call it the pro-telephone company vote.  That ought to rile a lot of folks.

      "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." -- Carly Simon

      by Cream City on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:59:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I want a vote before the Feb 5th Primary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cream City

    I want to see how the candidates who are in the Senate will vote on this and whether they will stand up for the people as opposed to the corporations.

    It won't happen because I believe Reid is trying to avoid having this fight in advance of the primaries, but gee it sure would be nice to see something more than a statement - maybe a some real action that could provide some proof of their muster.

  •  Bush was wiretapping political opponents. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pompatus, DanK Is Back, RenMin

    That is all they have to say.  They dont even need proof, just say they cant reveal the sources. They could couch it with "We have reason to believe . . . ".  It reframes the entire issue, and is probably true anyway.

    •  Laura and the twins can be burying bodies in (0+ / 0-)

      the Lincoln bedroom and no one could touch them as any evidence would simply be marked as "Executive Privilege"

    •  Bush wiretaps were successful (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yep, you read that right.

      Oh, I don't mean that they uncovered any terrorist plots, or anything like that.  (Indulgent chuckle.)  I mean the real purpose.

      The Constitutional restrictions on "search and seizure" of American citizens' communications have been effectively shredded.  The precedent for ignoring such restrictions at the whim of an imperial executive has been established.  The government can now effectively spy on its political opponents, or the business rivals of its important campaign contributors and business allies, whenever it feels like it, with no judicial oversight.

      That's why there wasn't any need for the FBI to actually pay the bills for continuing this "vital" surveillance.  The real purpose has been accomplished, rendering the Potemkin justification of "terrorist investigations" unnecessary.

      And Chris Dodd seems to the the only guy in Washington who gives a damn about it.

  •  Putting Pressure on the Presidential Candidates (0+ / 0-)

    OK, Hillary and Obama are getting a lot of money from the telcos, along with McCain (
    McCain, John (R), $176,800
    Clinton, Hillary (D)$106,300
    Obama, Barack (D)$87,236
    Do we need to let the wingnuts know that Hillary and Obama are keeping quiet on FISA because of the money? Once the right gets involved, the MSM will pick up the story.  Then Hillary and Obama have a chance to respond in the same way Edwards did when the issue of money from trial lawyers was raised.  He didn't change the subject, he addressed it.:

    CLINTON: Well, John, trial lawyers have given you millions and millions of dollars. So...

    EDWARDS: And what they expect from me is they expect me to stand up for democracy, for the right to jury trial, for the right for little people to be heard in the courtroom. And that is exactly what I stand up for.
    That is not the same thing. That is not the same thing as corporate lobbyists who are in there every single day lobbying against the interests of middle-class Americans. And I think we need a president who can stand up.
    We have a difference about this. You're entitled to your view. But we have a real difference about it.

    The point being, yes they get money from telcos, but that doesn't mean they have to agree with eveything the telcos want.

    What I keep wondering, is what constituency loves their telephone company?  Taking telcos to task would find little opposition from most Americans.

  •  With apologies to MasterCard... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lizah, DanK Is Back

    Warentless wiretaps: illegal.
    Big Tel profiting from spying: immoral.
    Having the program stopped because they didn't have the money to pay the freaking bill: PRICELESS.

    There are some things Governments can't buy.

    For everything else, there's taxes.

    The nation can be made to produce a far higher standard of living for the masses of the people if only government is intelligent and energetic... (FDR, '37)

    by ShawnGBR on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:29:30 AM PST

  •  It is all about Obama's unity that gives them a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    reason to cave.

    Nice work Obama.


    "It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush"

    by gotalife on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:30:10 AM PST

  •  5 words: (8+ / 0-)

    Chris Dodd for majority leader.

    "democracy is the most revolutionary idea in the world" ~Tony Benn

    by surfbird007 on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:31:06 AM PST

  •  One thing (0+ / 0-)

    Why would passage of immunity for the telecoms "prevent investigations from going forward"? Surely the main criminals are those in government who instigated the illegal spying, not the technicians who may have set up the apparatus.

    Is it that the telcos can't be subpoenaed for information unless they are being criminally investigated themselves?

    Or, are two drives being made here, one for the spying program, and the other old favorite of tilting against Ma Bell?

    •  From what i understand (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      from a previous diary is that the retroactive immunity awarded to the telecoms would also give Bush immunity. I don't have the time to look up the link to that story  sorry but it was on the fp.

      Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that.

      by ryan81 on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:01:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Civil action is our only hope (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lambertstrether, jmknapp

      Why would passage of immunity for the telecoms "prevent investigations from going forward"?

      The government can have cases dismissed under the "State Secrets" law.
      The Bush regime will claim "executive privilege" on everything.
      Civil action against the telcos will bring to light criminal activities as legal documents become public. Immunizing the telcos from such civil suits effectively ends the hope of any illegal activity being unearthed. Retroactive immunity is a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for all involved.

      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

      by cybersaur on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:54:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  sent the letter below to my Senator (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcjoan, KLM, OLinda, cybersaur

    Senator Durbin:

    As a long time supporter I expect you to do everything in your power to avoid approving a FISA bill that gives telecommunications companies immunity from suit and prosecution for the law breaking they undertook on behalf of President Bush.  First, the law breaking was unnecessary given how the FISA law at the time operated.  Second, if you grant immunity, we no longer are a nation of laws because you have granted the President the ability to tell Americans which laws are to be obeyed and which laws he can direct Americans to break.  It is quite simple.  If Democrats in the Senate cannot stand up for this proposition, what will you stand up for?  And by the time you stand up, will it be too late?  

    You can stop this bill.  Please do so if it grants immunity to telecommunications companies which broke the law.

  •  LMFAO..why would this stick? (0+ / 0-)

    when the thousands of other felonies committed by bush and his administration have gone both unnoticed and unpunished and in some cases the  WMD’s ,War Mongering Dirtbags ,.aka MSM, have applauded these voracious criminals for the heinous crimes they commit.
    Don’t get me wrong it is good to discuss the small percentage of criminal actions that come to light in the most criminally corrupt cabal ever to usurp power, but in bushes AmeriKa a bush will never be punished...  

    We will never forget the crimes and atrocities committed by the Bush administration!

    by Freedom Loving American on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:36:52 AM PST

  •  Not just fear, but lack of concern (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenMin, ryan81

    If the past year (and I'd argue the 6 years prior to it) show anything, it's that Dems are not just afraid of the RWNM, but don't really care that much about matters of principle. Because if they did, they'd find a way to overcome this fear. Principled people always do. So it's political fear, combined with lack of concern for such issues, that is why Dems have not stood for them time and time again (and if I hear "we don't have the votes" one more time, I swear I'll just lose it, so insulting to our intelligence is such a lie).

    And when you're dealing with such cowardly and unprincipled people, there's only one way to motivate them, which is to counter one fear with another one. Their fear of the right's alleged ability to turn voters against them if they stand up for the constitution should be countered by another fear that we need to implant in them, which is the fear that if they don't stand up for it, we will turn on them, by putting out petitions, running ads, supporting primary challengers, etc., intended to target Dems who cave on this and similar issues.

    Counter one fear with an even bigger one.

    I just changed my sig line because some bozo asked me to.

    by kovie on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:36:59 AM PST

  •  My email to Edwards (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KLM, OLinda, TracieLynn, cybersaur

    Just sent.  (Here's the address:

    Dear Mr. Edwards:

    This is a golden opportunity for you to take the lead over your rivals.  Make this an issue, embarrass them into doing the right thing and standing up to Telecom immunity and in support of Senator Dodd's filibuster.

    This presents a golden political opportunity, but even more important, is the right thing to do to protect the Constitution.

  •  Called Senator Durbin's Office (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KLM, AAbshier, OLinda, RenMin

    Staff said...The Senator is against any bill that allows for retroactive immunity....
    I asked why Durbin didn't support the filibuster vote in December...staff said there were other votes that they needed to get to before recess.

    There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it - always." - Gandhi

    by Rachel Griffiths on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:43:02 AM PST

  •  1/2 done! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Used the Working Assets form to send the email to McCain, Obama and Clinton. I'm at work but will eventually email and maybe call my Senators today. Salazar and Allard! Ha!

  •  It's always about the money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That bit about the Telcos involved in the warrantless wiretapping stopping because they weren't being paid says it all.

    Financial gain trumps security everytime - even if the security apparatus is illegal.

  •  amnesty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    saralee, Kentucky Kid, RenMin

    when you call your rep ask whether or not he/she supports amnesty.  when the staffer starts talking about opposing amnesty for illiegal immigrants ask if they have the same position for illegal wiretaps.  note the stammering

  •  Contact the field offices of the campaigns! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lambertstrether, cybersaur, ryan81

    I've been thinking about other and more creative ways we can go about getting our voices heard.  I think GG's initiative to contact the national campaigns for the presidential candidates is a good one, and I intend to do so.

    But I think it would also be useful for us to contact the field offices of the campaigns, and let their field directors know that having their candidates stand for the Constitution on the Senate floor is good politics, too.  If enough of us start contacting state offices, maybe the field directors will get the message, and send that news upstream to the national staff.  A "bottom up" message may have more power than our individual letters/emails/phone calls to the national campaign offices.

    I know the Obama campaign has addresses and phone numbers for their field offices on their website; hopefully Edwards and HRC do too.  I would add those to your contact lists.  Better yet, if you're near a field office (or working in one) try to talk to the field director and to the volunteers.  

    Alton IL  

    The Alton Weekly Inquirer! News roundup with snark, every Friday morning on Daily Kos.

    by AAbshier on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 10:57:11 AM PST

  •  Gravel has the same Floor Priveleges as Edwards. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just left messages suggesting he camp out on the Senate floor, to put more pressure on.

    Democratic Candidate for US Senate (Wisconsin 2012)
    Court certified Marijuana Expert

    by ben masel on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:21:33 AM PST

  •  Any more former Senators we can recruit? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cream City

    McGovern seems obvious.

    Democratic Candidate for US Senate (Wisconsin 2012)
    Court certified Marijuana Expert

    by ben masel on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:22:43 AM PST

  •  Call for Chuck Rosenthal! (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe we can call in Harris County prosecuter Chuck of "execute them all" fame!  He'll set up the telecons for indightment, then quash the indightment and burn the e-mails documenting his pay off for doing it. And he'll tell off color and race oriented stories while he's at it. Hmmm, a model for a republican Congressman nominee!

  •  The deal is preset between Reid and Pelosi (4+ / 0-)

    If Reid pulls this off and gets his immunity bill passed, Pelosi is already on board to pass the same bill as the House version.

    In response to this I donated $50 to Cindy Sheehan's campaign.  Sure, Sheehan wont win and would be bad in other ways compared to Pelosi BUT...I want Sheehan in there to force Pelosi to defend the indefensible.  I want Pelosi to have to try to dance around her violations of the Constitution.  I want Pelosi to explain, in detail, why the 4th Amendment is quaint and outdated.  Why the 5th Amendment is quaint and outdated (if they can spy on your every communication without probable cause and a warrant, then they can use your words against you to drum up a criminal conviction - they take away your right NOT to incriminate yourself by their illegal spying).

    Pelosi must go.  Reid must GO.  They are unfit to serve in the Congress and they are unfit to be citizens of the United States.  

    "Events are in the saddle and ride mankind." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Terminus Est on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:29:58 AM PST

  •  I've notified the 30 people... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcjoan, KLM

    ...on my e-mail list to call their Senators and have called Boxer and (uggh) Feinstein myself.

  •  Feinstein Getting Lots of Calls AGAINST Immunity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcjoan, lambertstrether

    I just spoke to a staffer at Feinstein's DC office to urge the senator to work with Dodd and block telecom immunity. The staffer said they were getting lots of calls (he wouldn't say exactly how many) and they were ALL against the immunity provision.

    (I also called Boxer's office, but she uses voice mail, which doesn't respond to questions.)

    It is not the business of the state to help its citizens get into heaven nor to save them from hell.

    by DanK Is Back on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 11:52:27 AM PST

  •  I emailed (0+ / 0-)

    Durbin, Obama and Emanuel ... for all the good it will do.  But there it is.

  •  I'll be damned - Norm Coleman's response (MN-R) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lizah, Nulwee, RenMin

    So I emailed him, not expecting a response, here it is in it's entirety (other than my personal info)


    -----Original Message-----
    From: "WebServer Reserved UID" <>
    Sent: 1/23/2008 1:19:21 PM
    To: "" <>

    <MSG>RE:  FISA

    Under NO circumstances should amnesty be given to the telecoms.  Retroactive forgiveness for
    perceived patriotism just got dropped kicked when telecoms cut off taps because of non-payment
    of bills by the government.

    To make myself clear:  NO AMNESTY for telecoms for what was probably illegal actions.  Even
    Quest got it right.  They CHOSE to break the law.


    •  GOP Pain spot (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Thats my senator, dident think he had a spine so I ignored him in my efforts. But this shows an area we can attack from. Everyone who reads this post, if they have a hopeless gop senator, don't give up hope! Call them and attack from this side of the question, why give them Amnesty if they dissed us?


      by Wide open spaces on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 02:21:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I also sent to Amy (0+ / 0-)

        I just got the bounceback thanks for your input message so far.

        I just get SO angry at this one.

        Franken dissed me early on by not replying to messages sent in volunteering - I'm taking a clos look at Ciresi, but Normie has to go.  He's a sleeze artist in my mind.  And ditching Ramstad will provide some fun!

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