Saturday :: Jan 26, 2008

FISA Battle Heats Up

by Mary

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece today about how the FISA bill, something that once would have been so easy to pass without any discussion or oversight has run into a public bandsaw as Chris Dodd decided that this issue was worth going to the mat for. As Glenn said, Chris Dodd found himself inspired by those in the country who so passionately argued that it would be wrong to sell out the Constitution by giving the telecoms immunity for spying on Americans. From Glenn's piece, here's how Chris Dodd explained his decision to stand with the Constitution when he started listening to Americans who were outraged by the assault on our Constitutional Rights.

I've promised to fight those scare tactics with all the power any one senator can muster. And I'm here today to keep that promise.

For several months now, I've listened to the building frustration over this immunity and this administration's campaign of lawlessness. I've seen it in person, in mail, online -- the passion and eloquence of citizens who are just fed up. They've inspired me more than they know.

Jay Rockafeller and Harry Reid will have to sell the Constitution out in the full light of day. As the issue becomes more public and more heated, the Presidential candidates are becoming more vocal about their opposition to the giving the telecoms full immunity for their collusion with the Bush administration when spying out the American public, although they are not yet as strong in their statements as Dodd.

The NYTimes editorial notes that the bill moving in the Senate gives Bush everything he wants:

With the help of Republican senators and the misguided chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, the White House got a bill that, once again, reduces court supervision of wiretapping. It also adds immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the illegal spying.

Mr. Bush says without amnesty, the government won’t get cooperation in the future. We don’t buy it. The real aim is to make sure the full story of the illegal wiretapping never comes out in court.

And that is the problem. Our Constitution was built on the assumption that government must explain itself. When the telecoms are required to expose what they have done, they can make the case that they were doing their patriot duty and that they cooperated because the administration made a convincing case that it was critical for national security that they conduct surveillance on Americans without any warrant. And they can make the case that the government compelled them to cooperate. But what should not happen and must not happen is for the Government to buy their silence by giving them immunity. This battle must be fought out in public or we have no more right to control our government. They will own us.

It will be interesting to see how successful the Bush administration is in making their spying on Americans a national security issue when they have to publicly acknowledge that they began working with the telecoms months before 9/11. And the telecoms are going to have an interesting time making the case that the were simply doing their patriotic duty when recently we found that for the telecoms, patriotism only matters when they are getting paid.

It's time for some dirty laundry to be exposed. And it is time for our candidates from the Senate to show some real leadership on this matter by publicly speaking out and committing to filibuster this travesty until it is dead and buried.

Mary :: 8:48 PM :: Comments (15) :: Digg It!