A few days ago I posted information on how lawmakers are still betraying Americans by destroying the rights and liberties of every citizen. This post contains more information about the showdown going on in the Senate right now and what the fight is about.
Coincidentally, today is also the annual State of the Union (SoU) address by the president. A brief history of a couple previous SoU addresses can also be found below.
Directly below is a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union urging Senators to stand firm on FISA along with a lot more information about the ongoing battle and the importance of contacting your Senator.
ACLU Urges Senators to Stand Firm on FISA (1/25/2008)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: (202) 675-2312 or [email protected]
Washington, DC – Anticipating an important Senate vote on warrantless wiretapping on Monday, January 28, the American Civil Liberties Union released the following statement, which can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington Office of the ACLU:
“The Republican shenanigans on warrantless wiretapping are simply playing politics with fear and are unacceptable. The American people and the Democrats in the Senate are not and should not be hoodwinked into giving up vital constitutional freedoms by the Republicans’ incessant fearmongering. We urge senators to vote against cutting off debate on Monday and reject Republican efforts to force the unconstitutional Intelligence Committee bill through the Senate.
“Senators should have the opportunity to consider a wide range of important amendments, including measures on stripping retroactive immunity for telecommunications providers and provisions that would offer increased privacy protections.
“We agree with Senator Feingold when he stated that Monday’s cloture vote will be a test of whether the majority is willing to stand up to the administration and stand up for our rights.
“The truth is, the sunset of the Protect America Act is nothing to be afraid of. Surveillance is always allowable under the tried-and-true Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that’s operated for almost thirty years. Even the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has said we’re not facing a crisis.
“We urge the Senate to stand firm and not rubberstamp the administration’s warrantless wiretapping.”
A post on Daily Kos by Michelle Richardson of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office titled ‘What happened and what’s next for FISA’ expands on the information above and notes that the bigger story is that those senators concerned with the privacy rights of innocent Americans are poised to turn the tide and reclaim some modicum of control over the government surveillance bill that was given up last August before Congress went on summer. It’s time to get ready for round three.
Richardson also notes that now more than ever it is crucial that you call your senator and urge a no vote on cloture – especially if your senator is one of the twelve – Bayh, Carper, Inouye, Johnson, Landrieu, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor, Salazar – who voted with the administration on Thursday. All we need is to knock a handful of them off the administration’s bandwagon and we’ll have an opportunity to get this right.
More On The FISA Follies
The New York Times posted an article titled ‘The FISA Follies, Redux’ noting that the Senate still seems determined to help President Bush violate Americans’ civil liberties and undermine the constitutional separation of powers with the help of Majority Leader Harry Reid with the help of republican Senators and the misguided chairman of the Intelligence committee Jay Rockefeller (who is in the pocket of the Telcos who want immunity for helping Bush break the law).
The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, aka FISA — which, as noted by the article, Bush decided to ignore after 9/11 — requires a warrant to intercept telephone calls and e-mail messages between people in the United States and people abroad. FISA needed updating in order to keep up with current technology and the updated provisions were in a bill passed by Congress last August.
Bush used the usual fear and terroristic tactics, threats, lies and deceptions to get the bill passed before Congress went on summer recess. Fortunately Congress gave the bill an expiration date of February 1, 2008 since Bush managed to add the usual questionably legal measures that sharply undercut the court’s role in the oversight process — Bush hates the checks and balances system.
In the meantime the House passed a reasonable new bill that updated FISA without further jeopardizing rights and civil liberties. That’s not good enough for Bush. He’s been hellbent to weaken FISA (as well as several other laws), and the court’s supervision since taking office. So far our Senators have been more than happy to help him in his destruction of America in the past 7 years.
Mr. chairman of the Intelligence Committee Jay Rockefeller as well as several other Republican senators, with guidance from Vice President Cheney as well, put a bill together that, as usual, reduces court supervision of wiretapping and adds immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the illegal spying and surveillance tactics used by the Bush administration — including immunity for Bush himself for all of the warcrimes and every other crime committed with repeated use of terroristic tactics incited to install fear on the public to further his own personal and political gain — at the cost of every single American citizen.
Presidential Propaganda Machine In Overdrive
The Bush administration has a history of using lies and political propaganda, as well as the media, in any way necessary to further their illicit pursuits. Well, some things never change — lies, deceptions, fear tactics and threats are still the common theme of the administration.
Bush claims that without amnesty the government won’t get cooperation in the future. That’s a lie. The FISA battle isn’t about protecting telecoms that allowed illegal spying on American citizens — it’s about preventing the delusional dictatorial actions of a president who holds himself and his administration above the law — it’s about getting THEM off the hook for the numerous times they broke the law and to make sure the full story of the illegal wiretapping doesn’t ever come out in court.
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, who fits into the president’s administration well is also in on the act. He’s reportedly urged Congress to quickly renew a law authorizing surveillance because he’s ‘very concerned about the possibility of attacks on the United States.’
Vice President Cheney is again reportedly preaching his usual fear and war rhetoric, lobbying for passage of new FISA legislation at the Heritage Foundation — surrounded by people just like him. In his typical cold war fashion he used the threat of internal sedition as justification for ‘protecting the people.’ As noted in the article, a government that spies on its citizens, on Americans, without oversight is not a democracy; it is tyranny. Also noted is the fact that Bush and Cheney justify all kinds of horrendous big brother strategies for spying on its people and justifying abusive government power. Bush and Cheney justify it, and in their delutional logic, they call it patriotism.
Mike McConnell, Director of the Department of Homeland Security, has lied to Congress under oath a couple times and, like the president, lost his credibility a long time ago. He’s also using lies and fear tactics again.
Recently the CIA reported a story alleging that hackers had cut power. Given this administration’s past history, it’s most likely that it was just more propaganda to instill more fear in the public, since it as well as two other threats against Iran have were quickly debunked.
Coincidentally (as usual), around the same time the report appeared from the CIA, McConnell revealed that he’s planning to strip away FISA protections with a system of the complete monitoring of every American’s internet activities by the government. McConnell just happens to predict a disastrous cyber-attack on the U.S. if his plan isn’t implemented. That would be bad news for American citizens if this plan passed, but we’ll save that report for another post.
It’s now known that the CIA has used the same type of ‘secret letters‘ illegally just like the FBI did. It’s well known that the Bush administration has been spying illegally since Bush took office. You would think McConnell would try some new lies since he’s been caught lying so many times in the past, but he appears to be getting desperate to cover his illicit activities as well.
Senator Harry Reid, in his usual way of bending over for the president so he doesn’t get labeled soft on terrorism purposely set up deliberations on the FISA bill waiting for amendment in a way the version of the bill without immunity would be defeated and the bill with immunity would pass. That makes him just as guilty as Rockefeller and the other Senators who have been bought off by the administration and big business.
Time To Fight For Your Rights
Bush says he’ll veto any bill that doesn’t include the retroactive immunity as well as extensions of the current FISA law. If the current amendment expires, no harm will be done and things will go back to being just like they have been since the FISA bill passed in 1978. Bush pressured Congress this past weekend to pass his bill with immunity, and probably used his normal fearmongering and lies. If the bill expires, Bush will have no one to blame but himself.
If the bill expires, Bush will lie in his SoU speech tonight and call try to blame Congress and say they’re soft on terror. Bush has been caught more than once telling lies in his SoU speeches and he’s already been caught saying that if the bill expires, Osama Bin Laden (who is reportedly dead) will call someone over here and make plans for another attack.
It’s time for our Senators to protect American’s rights and the Constitution, or it’s time to hold them in contempt and possibly recall them. Extend the current expiring amendment to the day in January 2009 when the new president takes office. A majority of Americans oppose the telecom immunity plan, and more and more people are coming together over it. Even presidential candidates are now getting involved in the fight. Contact your Senator and make your voice heard.
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