ACLU Condemns FISA Compromise

As Big Tent Democrat wrote earlier, the FISA compromise is a done deal. The text of the bill is here. The AP reports here. The ACLU responds:

“This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications. The court review is mere window-dressing – all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all.”


“The Hoyer/Bush surveillance deal was clearly written with the telephone companies and internet providers at the table and for their benefit. They wanted immunity, and this bill gives it to them.

“The telecom companies simply have to produce a piece of paper we already know exists, resulting in immediate dismissal. That’s not accountability. Loopholes and judicial theater don’t do our Fourth Amendment rights justice. In the end, this is politics. This bill does nothing to keep Americans safe and is a constitutional farce.

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    Thank you, (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by pie on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:42:12 PM EST

    This bill does nothing to keep Americans safe and is a constitutional farce.

    I used to say I wanted my country back.  Now it's my party that has gone missing.

    This ACLU thing must learn its place... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Salo on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:34:29 PM EST
    ...in the grand pecking order. Or is this just a clever way to make the Democratic leadership look centrist?

    As Squeaky keeps pointiong out it's McCain or Obama now.  The left has no place to run to.

    No place to run? (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by lentinel on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:58:34 PM EST
    Saying that the left has no place to run is like saying that an abused spouse has no option but to return to the person who abused them.

    We must forge another path.

    Maybe we should pay attention to the revolutionaries who founded the republic. Maybe they were on to something.


    Amen.... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 01:44:42 PM EST
    There is always a place to turn, it's just not always a place we wanna go.

    We can stop paying taxes, we can hit the streets en masse...but we have to be willing to get locked up, that is unavoidable.


    "The left has no place to run to." (none / 0) (#16)
    by Andreas on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 01:54:59 PM EST
    Not true:

    Opponents of opportunism can support the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site.


    I think that the Democrats (none / 0) (#2)
    by madamab on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:38:40 PM EST
    simply don't want to impeach Bush for fear of losing their soon-to-be-veto-proof majority in Congress.

    If they admit that the warrantless wiretapping program is illegal and unConstitutional, they will have to impeach - and now Kucinich is starting to make noise on that front again.

    Best way to head that off at the pass is to take the warrantless wiretapping "off the table."

    Way to go, Nancy.

    Why? (none / 0) (#6)
    by A little night musing on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:44:13 PM EST
    Why do you think impeaching Bush would cost them elections? I'm sincerely not seeing this. (And I respect your opinion, so I'd like to hear it!)

    ...assuming this is not snark, as I said before, because I'm kind of humor-impaired today...


    Oh, I don't think it would... (none / 0) (#11)
    by madamab on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:53:23 PM EST
    but Pelosi appears to. (Note: This is the only link I can find right now, but I've seen it elsewhere too.)

    Also, from a historical perspective, the party that impeaches a President tends to lose Congress in the next election cycle.


    Who will defend us? (none / 0) (#3)
    by lizpolaris on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:40:42 PM EST
    Maybe Obama will display some leadership in the Senate by opposing the FISA legislation and protecting the civil rights of citizens.  Nah.

    Doesn't seem like he's going to pick it up (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Pegasus on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:42:35 PM EST
    and none of our other Senators are going to, either.  Just an awful display by the entire party, from Obama on down.

    He'll likely vote against it (if he shows up) (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:47:39 PM EST
    and maybe even support Feingold and Dodd in a cloture vote, but not exert his leverege.

    Obama and FISA (none / 0) (#10)
    by lentinel on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:53:20 PM EST
    BTD suggested that we call Barack Obama and "urge him to make a public statement reiterating his opposition to telco amnesty. His opposition could kill this deal: Phone (202) 224-2854"

    Does anyone know if he is inclined to do anything that it is now in his power to do to support civil liberties and sink this bill?

    I am still intrigued that (none / 0) (#13)
    by eric on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 01:31:00 PM EST
    this bill, by my reading anyway, only allows a grant of immunity for post-September 11 spying.

    What about the pre-September 11 spying?  Did it not happen?

    Obama's District offices (none / 0) (#14)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 01:36:19 PM EST
    His Senate office in DC is hosed, there's his offices in Illinois

    District Office- Moline:
    1911 52nd Avenue
    Moline, IL 61265
    Phone: 309-736-1217
    Fax: 309-736-1233

    District Office- Springfield:
    607 East Adams Street
    Springfield, IL 62701
    Phone: 217-492-5089
    Fax: 217-492-5099

    District Office- Chicago:
    John C. Kluczynski Federal Office Building, Suite 3900
    230 South Dearborn
    Chicago, IL 60604
    Phone: 312-886-3506
    Fax: 312-886-3514

    District Office- Marion:
    701 North Court Street
    Marion, IL 62959
    Phone: 618-997-2402
    Fax: 618-997-2850

    Feingold has a Statement out (none / 0) (#17)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 02:19:33 PM EST
    June 19, 2008

    "The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President's illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration."

    The Fourth Amendment is (none / 0) (#18)
    by eric on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 02:21:40 PM EST
    still there, though.  No law can change that.  Not even this one.  If the ACLU is correct, that, "[t]his bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans' communications," then it is, quite simply, unconstitutional.

    It seems to me that the real problem is that we don't have the confidence in the courts to strike this law down, should it be enacted.  This is why we have constitutions.  The legislature can make some terrible mistakes.  It is up to the courts to correct those mistakes.