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These are the people with perhaps the most important voices of all on the issue. They put their professional lives and reputations on the line, one more than thirty years ago, two during this administration. They were and are in a position unique in this debate--they saw up close what the government is capable of doing in secret and against the will of the Congress and the people.

Perhaps the most famous whistleblower of all, former intelligence officer Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who in the early 1970s released the Pentagon Papers, has come out strongly against this FISA bill. He spoke with Tim Ferris of BoingBoing Gadgets about this legislation, the danger it poses, and what we should do about it.

On Tuesday [ed. note, the votes will be Wednesday], a bill will come up that changes, basically really rips apart without admitting it, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, by expanding the president's ability to overhear, without a warrant, without any judgment outside the executive branch being exercised, American citizens in the United State, thus gutting the Fourth Amendment, essentially. And also granting retroactive immunity to the telephone companies who obeyed the illegal presidential request to carry on an illegal program these last seven years....

Now the real importance of that last point, which is clearly unconstitutional and which many people, Senator Dodd and Senator Feingold and over the last year, until fairly recently Senator Barack Obama had promised to filibuster any bill that gave that immunity. And the reason for that was not a desire to punish anybody, actually, but because the civil suit possibility for people whose rights had been violated by this illegal overhearing gave the only real chance of finding out what it was that  NSA was hearing, and the FBI or CIA or whoever else was involved. Congress doesn't yet know that. In fact, if they vote for that immunity, they'll be voting immunity for acts they really don't even know what their giving. Like President Ford's pardon of former President Nixon after he resigned which was for any crimes he may have committed which Ford, in the absence of a prosecution of Nixon, didn't really know what he was pardoning.

So the same would be true here, meaning we would be giving away the only chance we have of discovering how much the government is spying on us illegally and finding out about law-abiding citizens. The people who leaked that I think did it because they knew what was happening and they felt it was wrong, it shouldn't be happening. They haven't told us yet, they haven't risked their jobs to that extent, to tell us either who exactly has been order, how many, for what purposes, and what exactly they've been overhearing and what use is made of it....

This information would enable the government to intimidate or blackmail or manipulate every member of congress, every official who might be tempted to reveal criminality, people like the ones in the NSA who knew that criminal action was--and is--going on. This law is intended to legalize it, basically, and to continue the cover up, conceal it.

You can't have a democracy with the state--the executive branch--having that kind of information, total information about every communication, every credit card, every transaction, every fax, e-mail, telephone conversation of everyone. And as far as we know, that's what's being collected now. We do need to know whether that's yet true or not, but I think it's a pretty good assumption.... You can't keep a republic, a constitutional republic with that degree of knowledge by the president, by the executive branch of all of our private affairs. You can't have it. You have something else, you have you can call it an autocracy, a dictatorship. It's the basis for tyranny, and that's what the Constitution was meant to prevent and that's what this bill would confer--unlimited power....

I have to say that no senator, Republican or Democrat, should be voting for this Senate bill. Not one. Everyone who does so is in fact, I would say, violating his or her oath to defend the Constitution. But they can do better than that.

Ellsberg, one of the more than 21,500 members of the myBarackObama group that has urged the Senator to oppose this bill, is pushing for us to do the same, to call our Senators.

Two of the Bush-era whistleblowers join in his call. Mark Klein, the retired AT&T engineer who stepped forward with the technical documents at the heart of the anti-wiretapping case against AT&T, and Babak Pasdar, who leaked information that a major telecommunications carrier provided the government with access to its entire mobile network, weigh in today.

President Bush, despite receiving all the changes he demanded, proceeded that very same month to begin eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the retooled and updated FISA law. Once caught, he tried to excuse his conduct by claiming that FISA was somehow inadequate, and he has been aggressively pushing for amnesty for the phone companies who were co-conspirators in his illegal program. This newest proposed change to FISA will provide telecom amnesty, which will ultimately protect not only the phone companies, but the president himself, by dismissing the lawsuits against the companies.

We can testify firsthand to the blatant violations, because we were the whistle blowers who exposed the egregious wrongdoing that has occurred. Our disclosures included how AT&T cooperated with the NSA to install monitoring hardware to spy on the entire Internet, and how a major telecommunications carrier allowed for federal government access to its entire mobile network - without security controls or record keeping. These security breaches represented an unprecedented expansion of government surveillance of the population....

The Senate is set to give the final approval for amnesty and expanded spying tomorrow, so this is the last chance to turn it back. We urge that amnesty be denied. What information did the telecoms share with the administration? How was this information shared? Is it continuing today? We need answers to these questions.

To this day, the American people do not know the full extent of the telecom actions in warrantless wiretapping, and if amnesty passes, we may never know. Allowing this administration and these corporations to get away with this illegal and unconstitutional behavior sets the worst type of precedent for future American generations.

They will pass this terrible legislation, but not it cannot happen with our complicity. We'll lose, but we'll lose by putting them all on notice that we expect them to use a greater majority in Congress next year, and a Democratic presidency, to repeal this travesty and to finally reveal all that information they are working so hard now to cover up. The vote might be over tomorrow, but this issue will not go away.

Call your Senators and remind them that we'll be watching and that we'll remember. Additionally, call the 29 Senators who voted against the Senate bill the last time it came up--along with Obama and Clinton who did not vote--and tell them to vote for the Bingaman amendment, but if it does not pass to vote against final passage.

These are the 30 Senators and the potential president who can hold firm now and lead the charge to fix this next year. Holding them to their previous vote now is critical to making those improvements in the next Congress. The list is below the fold.

Akaka (D-HI)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting
Clinton (D-NY)
Obama (D-IL)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:25 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Question about immunity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    banjolele, sweeper, The Jester

    I just posted elsewhere:

    I'm wondering, who's asking for it? I don't mean the politicians that are supporting it. But I can't find even a right wing blogger that's adamant that we need telecom immunity. I don't even see too many pundits all excited over it either. So who the hell even wants it?

    "I'm trying to believe in you but this world sold its faith for parking lots and drunk sincerity." - the ataris

    by indiemcemopants on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:28:05 PM PDT

  •  I am glad to see my two senators (NJ) (8+ / 0-)

    Lautenberg and Menendez holding firm. I've already let them know my feelings on this issue. Here's to hoping they hold the line.

    If you haven't called yours yet, what are you waiting for?

    But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, than face the reality of being poor. (1776)

    by banjolele on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:28:15 PM PDT

  •  Something is deeply wrong with Senate (14+ / 0-)

    They keep producing brain damage legislation as if they are trying to bamboozle the public and sneak in all Bush demands.

    The entire program has to be investigated. This must be very far reaching and involved a lot of pork money.

    There should be an independent panel investigating this. The entire Bush administration + DOJ + House/senate are involved in breaking the constitution.  Now they are desperately hiding it.

    Even Obama plays the game. So this is even bigger than "change/hope/grassroot money"

    •  They are being held to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, truong son traveler

      someone else's standards, someone who controls a lot more than these pitiful representatives of The People could ever hope to. These senators are doing exactly what they have been told to do or else. Every single one of them has something to hide, and of they don't, their families are at risk. Do what you are told, period.

      "Oh, intercourse the penguin!" Graham Chapman

      by crose on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:47:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lots of what is done is unconstitutional, but (0+ / 0-)

      if it's not challenged in court, the culprits get away with it.  I still don't think Congress has the authority to give immunity to anyone who is violating the Constitution.  What's happening is that Congress is diminishing the importance of the fourth amendment and they're getting away with something that is clearly unconstitutional.  The FISA bill needs to be taken all the way to the Supreme Court.  The problem now is that the Supreme Court cannot be trusted to do what's right.  They've been politicized.  This is not the country it used to be.

  •  I don't see Senator Bill Nelson of FL (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daddy4mak, RenMin, sweeper

    on that list, and the last I knew he was voting in favor of FISA, too.

    If his position has changed, then I will shout for joy, but I don't believe it has.

    Anyone know for sure?


    "The first casualty when war comes is the truth." --Sen. Hiram Johnson

    by panicbean on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:33:12 PM PDT

  •  but, but, but.... (3+ / 0-)

    If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear!  

    I can hear them saying that as we protest about respect for our freedom and liberty.  

    What have we become?

    -4.63, -5.59 The Right-wing Noise Machine is SOOO much better at controlling the debate than we are.

    by Divertedone on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:34:13 PM PDT

    •  What have we become? (4+ / 0-)

      I'm not that old, but I can remember when the mere thought of the things that are happening right now in our government was frightening. We are no longer the America that I know and love.

      We've been like a frog slowly brought to a boil, refusing to leave his warm bath.

      If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves. -Carl Sagan

      by LightningMan on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:05:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We've become the Soviet Union (0+ / 0-)

        I guess Bush/Cheney miss not having it around, so they reincarnated it into post-9/11 America.

        Strip searches, spying on citizens, gulags, commodity shortages, pre-emptive strikes at small nations, abusing the military, etc.

        One day I'll wake up and Pravda will be on the front step and Bremya will be the TV news.  Oh wait, it's already happened!

        There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

        by OHeyeO on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 05:36:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  people need to understand... (20+ / 0-)

    ...this is not about what is best for US.  This is not about what is best to protect OUR rights.  This is about what the politicians THINK is the most politically safe measure for them to support.

    It doesn't matter if whistleblowers come out saying the US government is spying on democrats for political purposes.  It doesn't matter if evidence surfaces that the US government spies on political dissidents and peace groups without warrants.

    People in congress say this is all to better protect us, but it is not about OUR protection, it's about THEIR protection.  They pass the bill and they can pat themselves on the back (in front of cameras) that we will finally have peace in our lifetime. (or some such garbage).

    It doesn't matter what evidence exists to the contrary.  It never was, and it won't be until WE make it politically dangerous to act that way.

    Hell, people have to turn over their laptops in airports to have their data searched without a warrant and you think for one moment that they are there to serve US?

    If you can't stand the heat, don't play with matches.

    by DawnG on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:35:37 PM PDT

  •  Isn't it so funny that Daniel Ellsberg gave (15+ / 0-)

    an interview on an obscure blog about this critical issue.  The MSM is where?  The MSM is no longer relevant.  Long live alternative media!

    •  Ellsberg Has a Special Place in my Heart (3+ / 0-)

      He was arrested with Allen Ginsberg protesting a nuclear plant in Colorado in the last 70s. The 2 of them are sitting next to each other in the paddy wagon in the pictures I've seen!

      "I'm a rude dude, but I'm the real deal. Lean and mean. Cocked, locked and ready to rock; rough, tough and hard to bluff." George Carlin

      by CityLightsLover on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:42:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The MSM (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler, Shahryar, LarryO

      The MSM are part of the fascist machine taking over our Constitutional democracy.
      They hire people not because they have outstanding journalistic degrees and accomplishments, but because they look good on TV. I don't know if I'm supposed to try to glean any information from the info babes on Fox or drop trou and have a tug. Most of the talking heads on TV couldn't put a coherent thought together at all without a teleprompter. They read the words, but they have little understanding of any of the issues. They risk mental meltdown if they stray from their formula of giving equal talk time to "both sides" of a given debate. These people wouldn't know journalism if it sat on their face and farted.

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

      by cybersaur on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:11:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Primary the bastards. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfern, LightningMan, RenMin

    Housecleaning starts in 2010.

  •  mcjoan you're awesome ... thank you! (7+ / 0-)

    Please also check out the FaceBook and 50 State Strategy groups.

    Tips to JonPincus for those.

    "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." Noam Chomsky

    by LarryO on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:37:46 PM PDT

  •  Senate strategy question: (6+ / 0-)

    Why did Dodd and Feingold agree to any unanimous consent arrangement, given that the odds are stacked so badly against us?  I see that there's only so much one Senator can do against a bill in the face of support of it from nearly everyone else, but if this is the last stand for the right to not be searched without a warrant, why not go all the way?

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:38:00 PM PDT

    •  Don't Know the Answer (4+ / 0-)

      But I suspect, for all their brave talk, they're not willing to piss off their colleagues, be ostracized, etc.  In other words, they're a lot better than the others, but they're srill part of the Senate club and not willing to risk everything for any issue, even the Constitution.

      A more charitable explanation might be that last ditch resistance is futile, as there would be 60 votes to break a filibuster.

      But you raise a very interesting point on the unanimous consent issue.  As I understand it, if they don't give UC, the Republicans would have to perform an actual filibuster to prevent the amendments being passed by a simple majority.  The Republicans would be doing our work for us, filibustering their own bill and holding up FISA.  So why didn't Dodd and Feingold adopt this tactic?  Sadly, probably because none of the amendments would even get 50 votes and they know it.

      So after thinking it through, maybe you can't blame them too much -- but it would be nice to see a little more fight.  

      "At least the war on the environment is going well."

      by RenMin on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:58:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Filibusterin' is hard work! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves. -Carl Sagan

        by LightningMan on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:12:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Something that just came to me (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, RenMin

        as I was thinking about Simplify's question: what if they're caving because they just don't think this is as big an issue as we do? IOW, is it possible that they think FISA and illegal wiretaps and 4th Amd violations are just not worth spending that much time on? Is there so much to do that their special brand of triage has relegated the Constitution to back-burner status?

        They, in some ways, do have bigger fish to fry: the election (nothing happens without change in the WH), the economy, climate change, and other, even more egregious violations of the law by Bush et al (torture and illegal war)?

        If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves. -Carl Sagan

        by LightningMan on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:20:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then there's the dreaded (6+ / 0-)

          "You're shutting down Congress!" accusation.  Like impeachment, that's another tactic that Democrats are too afraid to use because of all the ruckus the 1990s Republicans caused when they did it.

          Shut 'er down, I say.  I want this Congress passing no law.  Every time they do, they just make it worse.  The best thing Congress did during the Bush years, in all seriousness, was to not pass a Social Security "fix."

          Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

          by Simplify on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:50:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There are no bigger fish than the Constitution. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Without protecting the Constitution, we are no longer a free people.

          •  Well, we aren't. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed.
               - Nancy Pelosi, June 28, 2007

            Now what?

            Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

            by Simplify on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 06:16:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're right (0+ / 0-)

            and we know it--but do they?

            I think they might look back on the somewhat sordid history of the US and the unravelling of the present and our uncertain future and say, "Hey, this is not so bad, all we need is another election or two to get things right again."

            And maybe, just maybe--THEY are right about that.

            But then, I'm an eternal optimist.

            If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves. -Carl Sagan

            by LightningMan on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 11:01:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  If/When this FISA legislation passes, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    will it be possible to undo it in the next congress and pursue an investigation to its logical conclusion?

    "Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Albert Einstein

    by Citizen Earth on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:39:10 PM PDT

    •  That seems like a pipe dream (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler, RenMin

      It passed the House with a 2/3rds majority, and will probably pass the Senate by some similar margin. Obama said he supports it.

      "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

      by jfern on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:51:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Even if it passes, the investigations will go on. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alkatt, user1000

      Furthermore, the pre 9/11 spying is not, NOT , NOT immune to civil litigation and even the spying covered under immunity, which occured between 9/11/01 and 1/27/01 has to meet several requirements, the satisfaction of which is determined by individual courts.

      Maybe, just maybe, that would be the strategy Obama et. al. have seen in this compromise.

      Not to interrupt the daily FISA bashing around these parts.

  •  There is NO justification for this bill (6+ / 0-)

    None.  No one can justify it.

    Obama is a huge disappointment.  How could a man who prides himself on being a constitutional law professor possibly rationalize voting for this legislation?

    I could have been so enthusiastic about him if only he'd shown some leadership rather than cowardice.

    "At least the war on the environment is going well."

    by RenMin on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:40:54 PM PDT

  •  bless your ears and fingers! (2+ / 0-)

    i have done my part; my fingers are crossed; i'm biting my lip; i'm also looking over my shoulder...

    I AM living in interesting times.

    by greenbird on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:40:55 PM PDT

  •  40 lawsuits for pre 9/11 spying NOT immune (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose, The Jester

    But the large controversy about the current FISA bill has been its granting of retroactive immunity for U.S. Telecom companies against civil (not criminal) lawsuits. The controversy is heightened with the fact that Senator Obama said he would oppose retroactive immunity against illegal activities and that he currently supports the current FISA Amendment, admitting that he feels it is a necessary compromise. The left side of the blogosphere, including many here at Democratic Underground, have seemed zealous in their attacks on Obama for this. But let's consider what the law truly states.

    The full text of the Amendment can be found here (PDF format):

    First, it does grant retroactive immunity for telecoms. Title II of the Amendment modifies Title VIII of FISA to include immunity for telecom companies against civil actions if the telecom company acted in a certified manner. The obvious question that follows is, what certification is required? Sec. 802 of the Amendment answers this question (starting on page 88 of the PDF document linked above). There are 5 protective clauses that allow a telecom to avoid defending against a civil action, as listed below (I'll list out of order to cover the easy ones first):

    1. Providing assistance to the NSA was authorized by a court order (FISA court) (which the pre-911 doesn't qualify)
    1. The monitoring occurred between Sept. 11, 2001 and Jan 17, 2007 (which the pre-911 spying didn't)
    1. The company didn't provide the assistance (not true for AT&T or Verizon in this case)
    1. This one's tricky, as it pulls in language from the PAA. Here is the text it pulls in from PAA, section 105B(e)

    `(e) With respect to an authorization of an acquisition under section 105B, the Director of National Intelligence and Attorney General may direct a person to--

    `(1) immediately provide the Government with all information, facilities, and assistance necessary to accomplish the acquisition in such a manner as will protect the secrecy of the acquisition and produce a minimum of interference with the services that such person is providing to the target; and

    `(2) maintain under security procedures approved by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence any records concerning the acquisition or the aid furnished that such person wishes to maintain.

    This means the Director of NI and the AG must authorize the spying and the telecoms in question must have such an order in writing. The funny thing about this, is that there was no such thing as the Director of National Intelligence before 9/11. That branch of government was formed in April of 2005. (this clause does not apply to telecoms spying before 9/11)

    And finally, protective clause 2:

    1. This clause refers to a section of the current FISA bill that allows individuals (or telecoms) to hand over requested information if the AG certifies it as an emergency and there are grounds for a court order. Under the original FISA, this meant that the AG had up to 3 days to file for the court order or the evidence was invalid. The current amendment extends that to a week given the load on the FISA court. It doesn't matter, as the protection against a civil suit would require that the AG certified it in writing then and had applied for the court order.

    Now, I'm not a lawyer, so I'll leave the final interpretation up to the lawmakers and the courts. However, it seems pretty clear to me that the immunity against civil action, granted by this Amendment that has stirred up so much controversy is pretty narrowly defined. The aiding telecoms must have a court order or a get-out-of-lawsuit-free card with severely limited circumstances that can be reviewed by the court presiding over one of these pending 40 civil cases. The FISA bill does not protect companies (or government officials for that matter) against criminal abuse of the FISA law, and it seem pretty clear from kpete's post this morning, that the pre-911 solidly falls in that category.

    Obama called it a bill that he would not author but reluctantly agrees to out of necessary compromise. However, the compromise seems in line with Obama's original pledge. No retroactive immunity for telecoms who engaged in illegal spying.

    •  Read the comments in the thread (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, RenMin

      The commentary above is wrong.

      •  Please be more specific, because that's not (0+ / 0-)

        what I read.  

      •  So? Where's the argument? And you got a rec. (0+ / 0-)

        too.  So, how is it "wrong."  And btw, the "commentary" was mostly the text of the bill itself.  I'm observing this is a major problem with FISA.  As soon as someone points out that maybe, just maybe, we don't have to be quite as pissed off about it as we are, someone comes along, says "you're wrong," offering no argument, then storms off, with support.

        Maybe we need to wait for the entire sky to fall before we can discuss what we're actually dealing with here, I don't know.  

    •  All you need to know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is in this section:

      Obama called it a bill that he would not author but reluctantly agrees to out of necessary compromise. However, the compromise seems in line with Obama's original pledge. No retroactive immunity for telecoms who engaged in illegal spying.

      When what Obama actually said was that he would work to strip the immunity provisions. Not that he was satisfied with how immunity was being addressed.

      That post is merely bending over backwards to feel good about FISA. Self-delusion in action.

      •  Please point out where it was wrong. It's not (0+ / 0-)

        that hard to understand.  The bill says the immunity only holds for spying that occurred between 9/11/01 and 1/27/07.  Additionally, the telecoms are going to have to produce certifications that the pre 9/11 lawsuits won't have.  

        Of course he wanted to strip all the immunity.  What I'm trying to point out, and it really isn't that far you have to bend...just turn your head a tiny little that the lawsuits that are presently being litigated in civil court will not be immune, meaning that Bush will be exposed for what he's done pre 9/11:  

        The Spying Started BEFORE September 11 - That's The Whole POINT
        Posted by kpete in General Discussion
        Sat Jul 05th 2008, 11:42 PM
        The Spying Started BEFORE September 11 - That's The Whole POINT
        Posted July 5, 2008 | 10:45 PM (EST)

        Dave Johnson

        In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the White House directed telecommunications carriers to cooperate with its efforts to bolster intelligence gathering and surveillance -- the administration's effort to do a better job of "connecting the dots" to prevent terrorist attacks.

        No, it started a few weeks after Bush took office - a time when the Bush administration was ignoring the terrorist threat. So it was about something else, and was a high enough priority to plan out during the transition. (Can you say "political spying?")

        One telecom company, Qwest, refused because it was flat-out illegal. The Bush administration punished them, blocked federal contracts, and in an early indicator of what was to come from the politicized Bush Justice Department, they prosecuted Qwest's CEO on trumped-up charges.

        The combination of the telecoms letting Bush illegally spy on us BEFORE September 11, and the politicized Bush Justice Department punishing the company that refused - refused because it was illegal - is the reason so many of us are so adamant that Democrats should not be passing a law giving these companies immunity. The President can't spy on people without warrants, and the telecoms knew that. They knew it was illegal to spy on us without warrants but they went along with it. Why? Why didn't they ask the Bush administration to just get warrants? And why would Democrats vote to let them off the hook?


    •  Compromise "not" CAVE IN OBAMA (0+ / 0-)

    From the perspective of one who has litigated against major corporations many times, I can tell you that the higher ups are usually covered by plausible deniability and extensive rehersal, the workers who input the data, shred the documents and otherwise have to implement the nefarious conduct have the key to the truth.

    Being able to question them, review records, and find out what has been going on is what cracks cases, and in this case, I would not be surprised to learn that S**T is going on that members of the misnamed Intelligence  Committee have no clue of - in fact, I would not be surprised if the only people in the loop are the Chimp, the Dick and Addington.

    The issue isn't whether AT&T might get what with what to them amounts to a speeding ticket if found liable - its the stinkin cesspool that may (or may not) lurk underneath - but Rockheadfeller would get it only if someone planted a FIOS implant in his telecom sell out head.

    The great Telecon of 2008 is something we must abate.

    Get up out of your chairs, and proudly proclaim, I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more...Howard Beale in Network, 1976

    by ExElephant on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:50:45 PM PDT

  •  Watching Jello Jay Lie Has Turned My Stomach (6+ / 0-)

    Once upon a time I had some respect for him but over the last yr. that has all faded away. Today he lies are so blatant it's wonder someone doesn't just lose their temper and flatout call him on it. For a moment I though Specter was going to go after him when Jay accused Arlen of not caring about the nations security. Arlen could barely contain himself and he's one of the bad guys.

    President Theodore Roosevelt,"No man can take part in the torture of a human being without having his own moral nature permanently lowered."

    by SmileySam on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 03:56:52 PM PDT

  •  So, are we supposed to ignore this... (14+ / 0-) as not to "rock the boat" for Senator Obama?

    I read Mr. Ellsberg's statements on what this FISA bill means to somebody who was a White House target pre-FISA, and how it un-does what was put in place after the excesses of the Nixon administration showed how far the executive branch can push the envelope if left unrestrained.

    I have heard hardcore Obama supporters suddenly dismissing such concerns as being "childish", apparently because of the fact that these concerns run counter to Senator Obama's position on this god-awful FISA bill. The fact is, after the excesses of the Bush administration over the past two terms have far eclipsed even those of the Nixon administration, it would seem to be the duty of any presidential candidate claiming to be anything but a champion of BushCo policies to strongly oppose this bill, and any other bill which provides cover for the Bush administration's legally-questionable antics.

    This is too goddamned important to just blow off simply because the Democratic presidential candidate refuses to oppose this bill to any significant degree. And Daniel Ellsberg illustrates exactly why this is.

    •  Worshipers turn a blind eye to too much (4+ / 0-)

      For all of Obamas speeches about him expecting the public to call him on certain issues and keep him "accountable", when people actually try they are blownoff. We have lived that way for too long now.

      As much as I wish Obama was someone I could trust when he asks us to, I can't. His coming out for this Bill after seeing how his "base" is so against it has poisoned that well for a long time. Up until this point I had given him the benefit of the doubt because a) he isn't Hillary, b) because Edwards dropped out, and c)he hadn't lied to me yet.

      I'm now forced to vote for Obama as the lesser of 2 evils, something I hate. We should be able to for the best qualitys, not for who will do the least amount of harm.

      President Theodore Roosevelt,"No man can take part in the torture of a human being without having his own moral nature permanently lowered."

      by SmileySam on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:17:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be fair, I think Obama will be a very good... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler


        But yeah, those of us who support him have to be willing to bluntly call him out when he fucks up something major. To do any less would be to be little more than the Democratic equivalent of the Bush cult.

        And this FISA mess is a perfect example of something he needs to be leading on standing up against. Daniel Ellsberg's perspective on what this bill does is exactly why. The last time a president went rogue before this BushCo bunch, it was necessary to pass laws to limit the executive branch's power to go after private citizens, and this FISA bill has the effect of removing those safeguards at a time when yet another president and his cronies have gotten it into their damned fool heads to start trying to go after American citizens in a way that skirts around the law.

        If ever there was a time to NOT gut FISA, it's now.

        Obama needed to take a strong position against this if he wanted to be perceived as much more than a slicker version of the same old same old. Again, I think he'll be a good president, but he could have been a much better one if he'd not put political triangulation over principle.

      •  So you don't agree to disagree? (0+ / 0-)

        "For all of Obamas speeches about him expecting the public to call him on certain issues and keep him "accountable", when people actually try they are blownoff. We have lived that way for too long now."

        By blown off, you mean he respectfully disagreed. Something you can't seem to do.


        •  By "blown off"... (0+ / 0-)

          ...I think most people who oppose Obama's FISA stance mean "he sold out the Constitution."

          This isn't some obscure little farm bill we're talking about here. It's not some weird little far-left pet issue along the lines of "Free and legal pot for one and all."

          This is our elected representatives hacking away at the 4th Amendment for the sake of political expediency, and in some cases out of a desire to cover up a corrupt presidential administration's deeds.

          If you're going to put words in people's mouths, at least try and put vaguely accurate ones in there.

      •  Worshippers = Rush Limbaugh speak (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karma for All

        Don't support GOP memes

  •  The FISA issue proves a couple things: (6+ / 0-)
    1.  There is no difference between the left and right.  The leadership is united by corruption.
    1.  Americans rely on the MSM to spell out to them when they are being fucked.
    1.  Americans are generally passive and need to be told what action to take to protest abuses.

    So, it looks like our work is cut out for us.

  •  Mark Klein (8+ / 0-)

    Mark Klein wasinterviewed yesterday on Democracy Now.  This is all you need to know:

    MARK KLEIN: Well, the Democratic Party and the Congress, in general, has been unfriendly to me for the last two years of my efforts. As I say, I’ve been trying to bring my information forward for about two years now. Even after the Congress went Democratic, they turned their back on me, except for a couple of individuals, like Senator Dodd was friendly and a couple of congressmen. No committee of Congress would invite me to testify; it’s never happened. My attorney sent letters, which were never answered. And they never—and they voted not to investigate. So it’s been clear for some time that Congress wants to help the President cover this up, and they were just looking for a way to do it.

    I think you can take Schumer off that list of anti-FISA.

    Mr. Cheney, tear down this wall!

    by Badmoon on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:07:02 PM PDT

  •  Don't we need 40 senators to stop this thing? (0+ / 0-)

    It's the constitution, stupid

    by CTMET on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:21:02 PM PDT

    •  It may take years to get them there-- (0+ / 0-)

      or to create enough political heat to turn some votes--but that is the task we face.

      We'll see what happens tomorrow, and after the election.

      Habeas Corpus:See Hamilton quoting Blackstone in The Federalist Papers, number 84.

      by Ignacio Magaloni on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:31:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We need 60 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to vote for the Bingaman amendment, or 51 to vote for Dodd/Feingold. That would get us a Bush veto and we'd have to start over. It's already gotten past cloture.

      Those amendments aren't going to pass, so now it's about keeping the core 30 or 31 together to continue to pressure them to fix it next year.

      "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." - John Adams.

      by Joan McCarter on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:32:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a done deal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We're not going to get the votes next year. We lost. The 4th amendment lost. Bush won. I honestly don't see much of a difference between the 2 parties.

        "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

        by jfern on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 05:18:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My senators have shown (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    over and over, inequivocably, that they support the gutting of the 4th Amendment completely and totally. They are without remorse, shame or ethics. They are Senators Mike Enzi and John Barasso of Wyoming, and they are completely under the influence of the Dark Side. It's kind of funny, because although local rumor has always had it that Barasso is gay, he remains cloaked in the blanket of security and knows that his second life won't be questioned, at least under the present dictator. The rest of us aren't so lucky. Our secrets are without any protection.

    "Oh, intercourse the penguin!" Graham Chapman

    by crose on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 04:36:47 PM PDT

  •  It goes a lot further than the telecoms (5+ / 0-)

    At a recent conference featureing Babak Pasdar and Eric Lichtblau on domestic surveillance I spoke about my experience with domestic surveillance as a federal employee and homeland security specialist.

    In 2004, I attended government training (required of everyone in our agency) that labeled peaceful activist groups like Greenpeace as "terrorists" and put them in the same category as Al Qaeda.  They urged employees to spy on environmentalists, animals welfare groups, and even the occasional pie thrower, at their homes, their offices and on the internet. We were given software and tools to check into their backgrounds, criminal records and credit histories. We received no training regarding privacy laws or protecting the information we might accumulate.

    Afterward, I complained to a supervisor that the training was likely illegal and potentially could interfere with legitimate investigations, the agency sent out a memo that employees were to use the snooping software on our home computers, not at work. But, they never addressed my original concern.

    If you're guessing this occured at an intelligence agency, you're wrong. It was the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    •  GAH!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Deep Harm

      I mean this whole post is appalling but this really caught my eye:

      [T]he agency sent out a memo that employees were to use the snooping software on our home computers, not at work.

      Was that mistyped? You meant that you were instructed to use it at work and never at home, right? 'Cause otherwise they were washing their hands of liability  - plain and simple.

      Time flies, whether you're having fun or not.

      by Kimberley on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 05:10:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is how corrupted our government has become. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have lost all respect and have nothing but hate for Bush and the people who followed his policies.

      They are sick, evil greedy monsters and I hope the gods take them down hard.

  •  Russ Feingold on Rachel Maddow now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He called this FISA bill a massive sell-out by the Democrats and he can't understand why.

    He is still supporting Obama, and hopes that a president Obama will revisit the issue, but of course "the immunity Genie will be out of the bottle" by then..

    Thanks Nancy. Thanks Harry. Thanks Jello Jay. I hope you enjoy your big fat telcom contributions now that you are trashing constitution...

  •  One issue voters? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alkatt, The Jester, CS in AZ

    Like the NRA which refusess any compromise whatsoever no matter how sensible? They also speak about defending their constitutional rights to the point of prying weapons from their "cold dead hands". Fun folks.

    How about the anti-abortion crowd. There so pleasant to have a reasonable discussion with, right? And they always respectfully agree to disagree, right?

    I guess I am not fond of any kind of absolutism, zealotry. The people who are absolutely sure of their views -- you either agree with them or you are evil/stupid.

    Some of the comments fearmongering about the end of the Republic sound like that. Never mind that US history is replete with government overreach and then self-correction. The great FDR imprisoned Japanese Americans, yet we don't repudiate his saving the free world from Nazis or his New Deal.

    All or nothing is for fanatics.

    Is what I'm asking for too subtle, too mature for politics in America? To push for steady progress, to take our victories when we can, but not give in to cynicism, hatred or nihilism? I hope not.

    I think we have to be better people to have a better country.

    •  Wow. A voice of reason! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Cool. Thanks!

    •  Oh, man, you completely win. (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you.

      Obama/Clinton 2008. The likeliest ticket to win that won't happen, but it was nice to think about while it lasted.

      by alkatt on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 05:37:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So, should we substitute GWB for FDR here? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Jester

      The great FDR imprisoned Japanese Americans, yet we don't repudiate his saving the free world from Nazis or his New Deal.

      Bush/Cheney doing something doesn't make me feel as secure as FDR doing it. FDR cared about this country and its people. Bush/Cheney are self-centered greedy tyrants.

      There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

      by OHeyeO on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 06:02:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

        I was talking about Democrats.

        Bush has not accomplished a single good thing to make up for his extremely corrupt and abusive regime.

        •  I'm talking about the next four months (0+ / 0-)

          The reaction is based on Bush/Cheney playing, as you say, "all or nothing" for the last 7.5 years. If you think the spying that's been done under this cover is only on suspected terrorists, you're a fool.

          Bush/Cheney and company have 180+ more days in power and giving in to them on illegal spying/cover-up right now doesn't seem an intelligent path to me at this point. They have absolutely no morals. There's still an election to be won and this helps McCain IMO. If he wins instead of Obama, I don't see any "fix" coming on this.

          I guess we'll know who is correct about this on November 5.

          There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

          by OHeyeO on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 06:51:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Why is this ONE ISSUE anything?... (0+ / 0-)

      Obama and the senate are not voting to double the price of oil to $300/barrel. They aren't voting to further undermine the mortgage situation. They aren't voting to make offshore oil drilling legal. They aren't voting to make electric car technology illegal. They aren't voting to give blanket amnesty to all illegal immigrants.

      We would each be debating just as strongly the good/bad of such measures.

      They aren't even voting to make Bush High Mighty Emperor of the Universe.... oops, actually almost.

      At this moment, the one critical item in front of us is this one issue, and it is not just some $250 million bridge to nowhere nonsense, it is a serious fundamental element of the very meaning of our nation. Undermining the protections afforded by the 4th amendment, and reinforcing in the minds of the scum of the earth (republicans mostly) that thier felonies were O'TAY, Buckwheat.

      This matter is so serious, I have no doubt the Founding Fathers would consider DEADLY FORCE authorized, if nessecary.

      Thank god we have a second amendment that assures if things get THAT out of hand, we have a fallback position.... unlike Zimbabwe or Kenya, or any one of dozens of other disasters caused by executive power grabs and meglomaniac's in charge.

      As I've said before, an alternative form of protest would be to declare "Freedom Day" and every single law abiding adult go out and buy a firearm... given our economic situation, I recommend a $99 shotgun from the local gigantostore... you can return it later. Just to send that message, to the ATF, FBI, etc., that tens of MILLIONs of citizens just bought a gun.... They'd shit thier pants.

      •  Another "symbolic" issue then (0+ / 0-)

        I'm tired of symbolic fights, like flag burning or flag pins or whatever. They are useless, and only interesting to zealots and ideologues.

        Real problems exist outside of DC, like health care, global warming, lead in toys, iraq and afghanistan.

        I think your talk of threatening violence is ridiculous. You also miss the historical context of executive overreach. It happens again and again, but is ultimately corrected. Alien Seditions Act, Lincoln suspending habeus corpus, and of course FDR interning Japanese Americans. Nothing happening today is as bad as FDR's imprisoning of thousands of innocent Americans.

        Realistic strategies to win and promote civil liberties are needed. I'm glad that some people here are focusing on the real, practical and possible not pie-in-the-sky.

  •  Let's be perfectly clear (0+ / 0-)

    I made my mistakes, but in all my years of public life, I have never profited from public service. I've earned every cent. And in all of my years in public life I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.
    Richard M. Nixon (1913 - 1994),

    just imagine if retoractive immunity had been granted to Tricky dick, before any investigations or hearings, well, that is exactly where we are today. Except Bush and dickless do not "welcome" any kind of examination, and we already know they're crooks!

    I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
    Unknown, Often attributed to Abraham Lincoln

  •  If Obama doesn't do what he said and vote against (0+ / 0-)

    immunity for the telecoms, then, he is not upholding the Constitution as he swore to do when he was sworn in as a Senator.  I will not vote for him, in that case, because there is no real difference between him and McSame.

    I will write in General Wesley Clark as my Presidential pick.  I do not care if McSame wins because Obama will be no different in my eyes.

    If we do not have a President who values the Constitution above politics and money, Our Country is doomed.

  •  It is NOT too late.. Wesley Clark for President.. (0+ / 0-)

    The convention can choose Wesley Clark. We could all scare the shit out of Obama over this, simply by calling for the super delegates at the convention to support Wesley Clark for President.

    Neither Obama nor Clinton have the delegates required to be nominated. The decision IS in  the hands of the superdelegates.

    This is precisely HOW we ended up with FDR... remember that guy, wow was he a great president. In 1932 none of the candidates had the delegates required. So the party leadership settled on a COMPROMISE candidate that all sides could agree on and who would make a formidable candidate.... the former Gov of NY Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    There was no way FDR could win the democratic primary battle, just as Wesley Clark has proven unable to. But both men are without a question capable of a LANDSLIDE victory in the general election.

    And in my heart, I know the results for the nation would be ultimately as successful.

    As has been coined, the "GREATER DEPRESSION" is on the verge of unfolding, and the nation cannot afford anymore vasilating simps leading the government.

  •  Thank you mcjoan, thank you so much. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    you give me hope - hope for this whole nation. nobody seems to realize how critical FAA is. Nobody understands, least of all our democrats, that this is an inflection point, and, as if in a dream that I have had before, unreality passes again before my very eyes as a deja vu - all over again.

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -Thomas Jefferson

    by ezdidit on Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 07:35:20 PM PDT

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