Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FISA Bill: Forget Immunity, There's Not One Good Thing In It

Last Friday while I was watching the whole FISA fiasco go down in the House, I was mostly focused on two pieces of the bill; Retroactive Immunity and the ridiculous "Presidential Permission Slip Tango" that requires the Judge to throw out the case and not say why.

I was mostly pissed about the secret part, because it's just plain stupid and very scary. Our system is generally built on transparency and sunshine, and secrecy is a very dark place. But something kept nagging at me which I didn't put my finger on until I read this piece by Looseheadprop over at Firedoglake.

It's stare decisis: "to stand by things decided." You know, precedents. The screcy piece of the "Permission Slip Tango" effectively abolishes stare decisis because you can't know the precedents of why cases were dismissed.

But wait! It get's worse! From David Kris at Balkanization:

"...more importantly, the pending legislation focuses only on the target’s location (or the government’s reasonable belief about his location) not his status or conduct as a terrorist or agent of a foreign power. In other words, there is no requirement that anyone – the FISA Court or the NSA – find probable cause that the target is a terrorist or a spy before (or after) commencing surveillance. " [emphasis mine]

This is flatly, out and out, can't say it enough, unconstitutional.

The Fourth Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. " [emphasis mine]
Get that? "Particularly describing" is totally out the window on this one. It's dragnet searching, specifically forbidden by the Constitution.

There is not one good godamned thing in this bill. Not one at all. And it is just wrong to say I suport this bill EXCEPT retroactive immunity.

From Glenzilla:

"Making matters worse still, what Obama did yesterday is in clear tension with an emphatic promise that he made just months ago. As the extremely pro-Obama MoveOn.org notes today, Obama's spokesman, Bill Burton, back in September, vowed that Obama would "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." MoveOn believes Obama should be held to his word and is thus conducting a campaign urging Obama to do what he promised -- support a filibuster to stop the enactment of telecom amnesty. You can email Burton here to demand that Obama comply with his commitment not just to vote against, but to filibuster, telecom amnesty:


Incidentally, Chris Dodd made an identical promise when he was running for President, prompting the support of hundreds of thousands of new contributors,
and he ought to be held to his promise as well. "

You can contact Dodd here or phone his office at (202) 224-2823.

Email Burton at the adress above. Demand that Obama reverse his position stated last Friday, that he supports the bill but without Telco Amnesty. This bill flouts the Constitution and Professor Obama knows it.

UPDATE: from mcjoan - Feingold's message to Dems on FISA:

Let's reiterate this: "Anybody who claims this is an okay bill, I really
question if they’ve even read it."

From his position on both the Intelligence and the Judiciary committees in
the Senate, I think Russ Feingold has some credibility in making that statement.

Feingold himself:

UPDATE 2: More Feingold from today's Democracy Now! broadcast:

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Feingold, will you filibuster this bill?

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: We are going to resist this bill. We are going to make sure that the procedural votes are gone through. In other words, a filibuster is requiring sixty votes to proceed to the bill, sixty votes to get cloture on the legislation. We will also—Senator Dodd and I and others will be taking some time to talk about this on the floor. We’re not just going to let it be rubberstamped.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you filibuster, though?

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: That’s what I just described. [empahsis mine]

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Barack Obama last year said that he was opposed to granting retroactive immunity to the telecoms, but he has now indicated support for the FISA deal. Your thoughts?

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: Wrong vote. Regrettable. Many Democrats will do this. We should be standing up for the Constitution. When President Obama is president, he will, I’m sure, work to fix some of this, but it’s going to be a lot easier to prevent it now than to try to fix it later. [emphasis mine]

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