Monday, August 06, 2007

My Two Cents: FISA Myths Continue After New Senate Bill Passes

[This diary is cross-posted at]

First, here’s the bill

Here’s a quick list of what’s wrong with it:

1. The title of the bill (“Improving Foreign Intelligence Surveillance to Defend the Nation and the Constitution sets a new low for doublespeak). See p 1, lines 4-6. It neither gives added protection, nor protects the Constitution.
2. It legalizes illegalities of the Bush administration wiretapping activities.
3. It was unnecessary. The FISA Court was presided over by Bush enabler Laurence H. Silberman, who virtually never declined a court order.
4. The law guts FISA Court, the little protection Americans had.
5. Court orders will no longer be required (p. 2, line 19). Gonzo "may," but is not required to obtain a court order (p.3, line 5).

6. The new bill provides no oversight. Gonzo “certifies under oath” (for whatever good that has done heretofor, eg., his misstatements under oath needing correction previously).

7. Congressional or judicial over sight are eliminated. Congress is reduced to paper pushers who receive reports from Gonzales. They just wrote off their own oversight responsibilities and power.
8. Too much power vested in Bush, Gonzales and a new spy czar Bush will appoint. Bush has already stated (paraphrase) that if the guy asks for it, Bush will give him whatever he wants.
9. Don’t get me started on Gonzalez, who has politicized Justice and has used it to depress the Democratic vote through malicious prosecution, caging and other tactics.
10. Doesn’t require a subject be suspected of anything (no cause need be identified as reason for the search).
11. Is not limited to spying on suspected terrorists or those guilty of other crimes. It represents wide-spread un-targeted spying.
12. Doesn’t require specifying a specific person or place (p. 3, lines 12, 13), so spying can be on a whole class or category of people.
13. Isn’t limited to “foreigners,” though Repugs have claimed it is. See p. 7, lines 13-23; p. 8, line 19-24.
14. Grants further power to the already bloated and overly-empowered executive branch.
15. Every time he wants more power, or is in trouble via polls or via news of administration misdeeds, Bush cries wolf. Keith Olbermann has documented the amazing coincidence that every time Bush rails about danger, either his popularity has dropped or there is news of administration misdeeds.
16. The legislation is at least partly to soothe and compensate communications companies for the use of their services and facilities and indemnify them against litigation.

17. Everyone knows there is a greater than zero chance of a terrorist strike. And we know the threat has increased due to his waging a war of preference rather than need. He didn’t prevent 9-11. He was asleep on the job even after it happened. He didn’t take warnings seriously, even bumping the job of anti-Terrorism Czar off the cabinet. He waged a war against a country having nothing to do with 9-11.
18. The question is what kind of a nation we are and will be. How do we best balance security needs while retaining our character and courage? Do we do what needs to be done without giving away the store? Do we act like cowards, or do we stand tough, but courageously, against those who’d try to make us cower and change what America is/was.
19. The bill eliminates one of the main counts in the impeachment resolution by legitimizing Bush’s illegal behavior.
20. This isn’t about keeping us safe. As others have noted here at RK, it’s about amassing a massive data base so it can be used/merged with the clandestine TIA to track non-Bush-true-believers block, by block and house-by-house. TIA (Total Information awareness was supposed to be dropped. It wasn’t. It was renamed and morphed.
21. Responding to and reinforcing a bully-leader is the wrong way to deal with a president who now has zero accountability.
22. Finally, True or False, Bush gave OBL what he wanted on 9-11? ANSWER: True: He pulled our forces out of Saudi Arabia. So, Bush caved to terrorists and Dems, Libertarians, and Greens who want to defend the Constitution are called cowards by apologists of George. Guess what? The relabeling game ends -- if we stop folding when the name-calling happens.

I don't care what they know (or think they know), or whom they defer to. Our leaders should not use fear-fanning to change the character of this country, undermine its Constitution, and demean our country and its citizens.

There has been much talk of who is “logical” or “rational” and who is not. This is irrelevant. How is one not to feel impassioned about losing another bit of our country.

Our president can go ape in his language, rhetoric, behavior, and demands and we are all supposed to just sit here hero-worshiping those we admire, but who have so gravely disappointed us. Oh, yes, and carry on electing more of said people we admire now and who will disappoint once they are sworn in.

Our elected representatives are not perfect. And the extent to which they approach it (perfection) is not measured by how often they agree with me. However, if all Americans read the bill, they would know they were had with this legislation. So it is bogus to suggest I am just asking to have things "my way." Additionally, we must believe our representatives have really done their jobs in this instance via evidence. Blind fealty on our parts won’t do. We must stay actively engaged, including with them, issue by issue and day by day.

Finally, those who have heretofore displayed great courage (and rightly earned our grateful praise) are not exempt now. Just as John Kerry shouldn't have tried to rest on leadership of previous decades, neither should any others of our once fearless leaders, however we respect and admire them. The Constitution must be protected each and every day they are in office. The doublespeak title of this sham bill does not absolve them of that charge. They owe us that much.