ONLY YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THIS NOW. Only the people can call the democrats on their indiscretion...
Join this group http://www.getfisaright.com/ and this one http://my.barackobama.com/page/group/SenatorObama-PleaseVoteAgainstFISA and this one http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17961184023. Now the LARGEST supporter group on Obama's website with over 20,000 members!!!
NEXT, please call Senator Herb Kohl, Senator Barack Obama, Senator Harry Reid and your senators and tell them to vote NO on this bill. The amendments are a bit more complicated, and I will address that a bit below.
Senator Russ Feingold is leading the national fight in the Senate against this and a call to thank him for his principles and courage is certainly a good idea as well.
Then go to this webpage and find out what else you can do! http://get-fisa-right.wetpaint.com/page/Today%27s+priorities?t=anon
An enormous amount of confusion and misinformation has set in on the FISA/Telecom Immunity issue. This misinformation is deliberate and needs to be debunked.
First, the Protect America Act (the act that diluted FISA last year), expired in February 2008. The original FISA act is in place currently. This means that the government CAN go in immediately and begin a warrantless search as long as they go to the FISA court within 72 hours and prove their case. This was always the case. It was the legal way to do surveillance. It is the legal way to do surveillance in an emergency situation in the first place. The problem came when Bush became the first president to have warrants on American citizens denied due to the broad nature of the requests and the lack of evidence that the warrants were, well, warranted... FISA had never denied a request in it's history until the Bush administration came with faulty reasons. The entire reason we are having this discussion is because Bush didn't want to have any oversight on his spying activities and used the American fear of terror after 911 against us.
Second, telecom immunity is is terrible. The telecoms are in court right now because they are accused of violating the rights of ordinary Americans. These Americans like you and I are not terrorists, they are like you and I. People who want and deserve their day in court. The right to know, the right to petition your government for redress and the right to privacy guaranteed in the 4th amendment cannot be allowed to The telecoms could have said no. Some did. They chose to violate the law because the Bush administration told them they would protect them. The Bush administration had no right to violate the law either and immunity retroactively for violating the law and the constitutional rights of everyday Americans will set a precedent that won't soon be resolved. POTUS is accountable to the laws and constitution of the United States as is every other citizen/corporation in this country. Allowing them all off the hook is disasterous for the future of our rights and our constitution. Let a court of law decide, not some congresspeople who are getting massive campaign checks from the telecom giants... This is WHY we have THREE branches of government accountable to each other and the people.
Third, the new FISA bill is terrible! This bill gives POTUS the right to spy on Americans with little more oversight than under the Protect America Act. Know this right now... Every email, phone call, internet website and text message YOU send, EVERY one is NOW being collected illegally and unnecessarily in a database by our government. This means that if you are having an affair, the government knows it, if you have a medical condition, the government knows it, if you send a supposedly private business related email about a secret deal, the government knows it, you send a political email, the government knows it... Your Blackberry, internet connection, cell phone and home phones are currently an open line to the FBI, CIA and whomever is in power at the time... RIGHT NOW. This is currently illegal, but the FISA bill that will be voted on tomorrow, makes it LEGAL. It tears the fourth Amendment to shreds. Don't believe me on this? Go here for a rundown of all the spying on you the government's been up to lately... (and for the guy who said the ACLU is no authority? We wouldn't know about spying, FISA, the telecoms, torture, special rendition, the PATRIOT Act abuses, the illegality of the Military Commissions Act, secret letters to librarians, etc without the ACLU... get over it!)
Fourth, don't buy that this is some compromise that's better than the other options and so we need to bite the bullet and keep our mouths shut. That's the line from the democratic nominee, and from the democratic House and Senate members who negotiated this mess and want their colleagues to vote for this bill. It's all HOGWASH.
The compromise has nothing to do with this bill that gives the White House unprecendented powers to spy on Americans and a pass on breaking the law in the first place, essentially, they couldn't have written it better themselves. The real compromise as reported by the Washington Post:
The breakthrough on the legislation came hours after the White House agreed to democratic demands for domestic spending additions to an emergency war funding bill. Taken together, the bills -- two of the last major pieces of legislation to be approved by Congress this year -- suggest that Bush still wields considerable clout on national security issues but now must acquiesce to Democratic demands on favored domestic priorities to secure victory.
The war spending bill, for example, includes $162 billion for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional $95 billion worth of domestic spending on programs such as unemployment insurance and higher-education benefits for veterans. Bush, who had threatened for months to veto the legislation, said he will sign it.
In other words, if you give us some stuff to go back and run on in the fall, we'll give away the fourth amendment to the constitution. Disgraceful.
Next year, they can get all the domestic spending they want!!! No rush now to sell out the constitution for a bunch of pork regardless of whom it helps!
Here's where it gets complicated... Three amendments (including one by our own Senator Russ Feingold) have been added that improve the unnecessary legislation to be voted on tomorrow.
All three amendments should be supported and passed, that said, even if they pass, the legislation still sucks and should be voted against.
So call Herb Kohl, ask him to vote yes on the three amendments and NO on the FISA/Immunity bill. Call Obama and ask him also!!! This is important, as the now leader of the democratic party, his vote has significant pull. Finally, call Harry Reid and ask him to stop this deal with the devil. Find your Congressperson's phone number here.
Legislation from a position of fear will always result in a disaster for the American people and the rule of law...
Make you phone calls NOW, TODAY.
Speak now or forever be listened to....
Of course, Keith and I agree again...
Read the letter written by Senator's Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold to their colleagues.
More on the three Amendments from the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF):
The schedule for the Senate's return on July 8 allows for three amendments to be introduced to the FISA Amendments Act, which in its current form would grant immunity from the law to phone companies who engaged in illegal spying. One amendment, from Senators Dodd and Leahy, would strip immunity from the bill altogether. A second, from Senator Specter [PDF], would would allow the court to deny immunity if it found that the government's surveillance activities were unconstitutional.More from the ACLU:
EFF is particularly optimistic about the third, an amendment introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman [PDF] of New Mexico and co-sponsored by Senators Specter and Casey, a sensible and bi-partisan proposal that could be a game-changer. continued...
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 is an unconstitutional bill that would significantly modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It grants sweeping new monitoring powers to the government with little court oversight, and ensures the dismissal of all pending cases against telecommunication companies.
The FISA Amendments Act was passed by the House of Representatives in June. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation on Tuesday, July 8. Senators should be urged to vote against this unconstitutional bill.
The FISA Amendments Act:
· Gives the president broad new powers to spy on innocent Americans’ phone calls and emails – even when they have no connection to terrorism. It legalizes mass, untargeted and unwarranted spying on our international phone calls and emails.
· Restricts judicial oversight of the surveillance program. The FISA court will not know who, what or where will actually be monitored, and the government can continue a spying program even after it has been denied by the court.
· Provides retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies for their role in the president’s domestic spying program. The test in the bill is not whether government certifications sent to the companies were actually legal – only whether they were issued.
· After years of empty promises to rein in the president’s warrantless wiretapping program, Congress is now poised not only to make much of that program legal, but give him even greater powers to spy on our communications.
· The FISA Amendments Act is a wholesale giveaway of our Fourth Amendment rights. Every call or email coming in to or out of the U.S. could be tapped – including the calls and emails of innocent Americans – with minimal to no court oversight.
· For the past seven years, the telecoms illegally helped the administration spy on our phone calls and emails. If these legitimate consumer cases are thrown out, Americans may never learn the truth about what the companies and the government did with our private communications.
· While congressional leaders are trying to paint this as a “compromise” bill, the truth is, it’s a colossal failure of leadership. The only things that have been compromised are the Constitution and the rule of law. No president should have unchecked power.
· The Senate should either fix the unconstitutional legislation or vote it down. While the ACLU supports efforts of Senators Feingold and Dodd to strip out the immunity provision, the final vote is the most critical. Our senators should vote “no” on passage unless significant improvements are made to protect Americans’ rights and ensure the telecoms are held accountable for their illegal activity.
MYTH: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has not kept up with the technology revolution we have experienced over the past 30 years.FACT: There isabsolutely no new technology that evades the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Besides, the FISA has been updated more than 50 times since being enacted in the '70s; it was updated as recently as last year.
MYTH: Retroactive immunity for telecoms is essential because the intelligence community requires the willing cooperation of the private sector in order to conduct surveillance operations. FACT: Lawful surveillance under FISA is accomplished through court orders that compel the cooperation of telecommunications companies. Telecommunications companies that comply with lawful orders or Attorney General certifications under FISA are protected against liability arising from that cooperation. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has testified that the telecom companies that cooperated with the NSA’s post-9/11 surveillance programs received certifications, which would mean they already have immunity – unless of course those certifications are clearly illegal. Telecom immunity would only protect companies that illegally assisted the government. Private sector companies should not be encouraged to cooperate with illegal government requests.
MYTH: Telecoms will not cooperate with future intelligence efforts if they don’t receive immunity.FACT: FISA orders and Protect America Act (PAA) directives are compulsory. Telecoms must comply with lawful orders. Telecoms only had discretion when they decided to cooperate with illegal government requests. They should be held responsible for breaking the law. No one should be above the law.
MYTH: When the PAA expires vital foreign intelligence surveillance programs will cease, and the government will not be able to conduct surveillance against new threats. FACT: Any surveillance programs authorized under the PAA are in effect for an entire year, regardless of whether the PAA itself expires. The emergence of “new” targets for surveillance will not be a problem because the PAA authorized entire programs of surveillance, which are not limited to individual targets. If the government wants to wiretap individuals that for some reason do not fit under an authorized PAA program they can either apply for an order from the FISA Court or conduct the surveillance outside the United States.
MYTH: FISA is not an effective tool for protecting the national security.FACT: During the Cold War FISA protected America from the threat of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union. FISA is a robust and nimble tool that gives the government significant powers to wiretap suspected terrorists while protecting the rights of innocent Americans by requiring judicial oversight. In an emergency, FISA allows the government to start the surveillance before requesting court permission. While McConnell falsely credited the PAA, it was surveillance conducted under FISA that helped the German government interdict a terrorist plot in Germany last year.
MYTH: Congress knows all it needs to know about the government’s warrantless surveillance programs. FACT: Administration officials have repeatedly hinted about “other” intelligence programs. The NSA warrantless surveillance program may only be the tip of the iceberg. Congress needs to know about all illegal government surveillance programs before it considers giving the government more surveillance powers. Only a few Members of Congress have seen the documents relating to the terrorist surveillance program and Congress should not legislate in the dark.
This is a non-sponsored post.