The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

Obama’s Statement on the FISA Bill

I hope this isn't an accurate metaphor for Obamas campaign

Yesterday after hearing about and reading through the FISA bill, I sent an email to Senator Obama/ his campaign. It basically said that I supported him and was very disappointed to see that he voted in favor of the bill.

I also said that though his message is of empowering the people and encouraging them to participate in the political process, his vote had the opposite affect on most that I’ve talked to. It’s one thing to be let down by the Bush Administration, but it’s something else to be let down by someone you support.

Here’s the message I received back; Obama’s statement in response to criticism for his vote:

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

After months of negotiation, the House passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act. Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I voted in the Senate three times to remove this provision so that we could seek full accountability for past offenses. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.

I, sir, am not convinced. The bill is considerably better, but taking the opportunity of just compensation for losses from American citizens is just not acceptable, no matter how much better it is than the original bill.

If a car dealer asks $2 Million for a Hyundai, I’m not going to pay $500,000 for it just because it’s a lot better than $2 Million.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bills, Congress, FISA, General Discourse, Nathan Schmitt, Senate | Leave a comment

Senate Passes Telecom Immunity Bill

Yesterday, July 9, 2008, the Senate (the House has passed it as well) passed H.R. 6304, the telecom immunity bill.

Under Title II, Section 802, the bill states that:

[…] a civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be promptly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the district court of the United States in which such action is pending[…]” [and there is a list of qualifications you can read if you click the hyperlink above]

It should be noted that the protection is only for civil actions from which citizens may seek damages; there is no protection from criminal charges being brought against parties. As far as the accountability of telecoms goes, and any other party for that matter (as defined under Title II, Section 802), there is still some degree of accountability to which these parties may be held, but it is specifically criminal.

What this means for the American people is that private citizens may not sue for damages (compensation for losses of any sort) as a result of surveillance. The offending parties may only be sued by the United States government, thereby providing no just compensation for transgressions against private citizens, and can only result in the punishment of the offending parties.

This is a very, very sad day for America as well as the United States Constitution and anyone who believes in it. Here is the text of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

“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.”

And Obama voted for it…What is happening?…I’m starting to get that feeling about Obama that I got about McCain when he flipped from a harsh critic of the Bush Admin to a supporter of them. Not that the big O is joining the ranks of the Bush Administration by any means, but his vote in favor of this bill is, in my mind, a serious transgression against the people of the United States. And that’s from an Obama supporter.

There’s another thing that’s bothering me. The bill is ridiculously sloppy. For example, Title II, Section 802, Paragraph 5 (which is one of the circumstances under which the Attorney General may dismiss a relevant case):

“(5) the person did not provide the alleged assistance.”

Excuse me? What? The Attorney General’s job is to argue cases, not to decide them.

I’m really ashamed to be an American right now.

I’d like to just leave you with this, the Presidential Oath of Office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The President regularly referrs to his oath and states that it is his job to protect the American people. I don’t know if he wasn’t paying attention when he took it or if he just forgot what it says, but he swore an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution, NOT the American people.

If we Americans don’t wake up and do something, we deserve what’s coming to us.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Bills, Congress, FISA, George W. Bush, Video | 2 Comments

Chris Dodd’s “hold”: FISAble?


Yesterday, Senator and Presidential hopeful Chris Dodd said that he intends to place a “hold” on the Senate FISA renewal bill. According to Election Central,

“[…] The Senate FISA renewal bill reportedly grants retroactive immunity to telephone companies for any role they played in the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program.”

Some see it as a political stunt, some see Dodd searching for support, some see it as a genuine act of justice, but it really seems too early to speculate at this point. Anyway, it seems like the type of judgment that doesn’t hold any real world meaning now, so why make it?

October 20, 2007 Posted by | Chris Dodd, FISA, Patriot Act | , , | Leave a comment