FISA Wasn't Broke, It Needs No Fix

I've been opposed to all of the proposed rewrites of FISA. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We don't need a new FISA law. We need to force the President and his Administration to obey the law, not rewrite it so they can do as they please. Here are 10 mytbs about it.

As for Sen. Obama's statement today that he supports the compromise but will work with the Senate to eliminate the telecom immunity provision, my question is, how will he vote if the immunity provision stays in? It seems like he will vote for it. [More...]

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 hope he doesn't justify voting for it by promising to work to repeal that provision after he is elected President. That never works.

Remember the Feeney Amendment, that raised already draconian sentences that got tacked onto the Amber Alert bill a few years ago? The Dems voted for that too. They were afraid not to pass the Amber Alert bill. Sen. Edward Kennedy promised to lead an effort to repeal the Feeney Amendment. He and Sen. Leahy and others did in fact introduce a bill to repeal the most offensive portions. In introducing the repeal measure, he said:

It was a serious mistake for Congress to enact the Feeney Amendment over the strong objections of the Chief Justice, the Judicial Conference, the American Bar Association, the Sentencing Commission, and the overwhelming majority of
prosecutors and defense attorneys who deal with the guidelines on a daily basis. The JUDGES Act will correct this mistake and set us on the right path to achieving any necessary reforms. I urge my colleagues to support it.

It didn't get repealed. Once we give the Government power, it rarely gives it back. I'm not surprised by today's House passage of another unnecessary bill intruding on our privacy, civil liberties and Fourth Amendment rights. The writing has been on the wall for more than a year.

But I'm sure not buying as an excuse that we should pass the law now because we can remove offensive provisions, like telecom immunity later. It's not going to happen.

If Sen. Obama votes for the bill, I hope he will spare us promises of how he'll change it once elected President. So far, he's not made that promise on telecom immunity, he's only said he'll work to have it removed from the Senate Bill. If he intends to vote for the bill when that effort fails, as it will, he must acknowledge what his vote represents: A compromise. Period. Not "it's a compromise but I'll work to change it when I have more power as President." Just, "It's a compromise."

That's the problem with Obama's "no red states, no blue states, just the United States" campaign platform. By removing the differences between us, we risk giving up, not just compromising, our core values.

I want a blue President and a blue Congress, not a blended one. Some issues, like the Fourth Amendment, and make no mistake, this FISA bill is nothing but an end-run around it, are too important to compromise on.

It is wrong to erode Fourth Amendment protections under the pretense of "updating" (FISA). FISA has been updated more than 50 times.

The central purpose of FISA was to guarantee that decisions as to whom to wiretap in the name of national security were not unilaterally made by the President. We don't need to gut FISA. All we need is a separate bill that prevents warrantless electronic surveillance upon a unilateral decision by the President that it's necessary in the war on terror. The end.

Instead, we're getting a bill we don't need, one in which Congress is rewarding President Bush's disregard for the rule of law by passing a new law granting amnesty to those who were complicit in his illegal actions.

If Sen. Obama thinks that's a fair compromise, he should say so and stand on it. He won't be alone. Lots of Democrats today (unfortunately) agreed with him.

But he can't have it both ways. He can't say, I'm voting for it now but will fix it later. That's just pie in the sky.

Update: Go read Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin who explains Obama's reasoning in plain English without legalese. This bill is about so much more than telecom immunity. It completely rewrites FISA and expands the ability to conduct electronic surveillance. It's codifying what Bush wanted all along. Focus on the privacy aspects and the Fourth Amendment and your civil liberties.

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    It's hard to believe that people were so taken in (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by imhotep on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:21:02 PM EST
    by the "Change" campaign motto. We've heard plenty of comments from the progressives like Feingold about why this is a bad bill.  Obama is not taking the lead in supporting a quash.  I am not surprised.

    Allow Me To (5.00 / 6) (#23)
    by talex on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:56:24 PM EST
    get a few rants in here before I try to get substantive.

    Obama showed no spine on FISA. Big Surprise. Many of us recognized long ago this hustler had no spine.  He is but an unprincipled opportunist as he has shown the last few days. He thinks he can take people for granted now that he seemingly has the nomination. And his capitulation actions and 180's of the last few days are just the tip of the iceberg if he gets in office

    Sexism has been part and parcel of this primary season so let me turn the misogyny on it's head here and say that Obama is HALF the MAN Hillary would have been in standing up to the Right on this issue.

    Now let's get serious. ObAma says he will work to get the immunity removed. "Work"? What does that mean? Vagueness again from Obama. His words are nothing more than Obama talk.

    What will happen is the Senate will hold a vote to remove immunity and Obama will vote to remove. Of course going in he and Reid and everyone else will know the motion has no chance of passing - but it will offer a big show and cover for Obama that he tried to "work" to get it removed. BS! It won't fool one person.

    If Obama doesn't "work" in earnest to remove immunity from the bill then he does not deserve a single persons vote for President. If he can't stand up for the Constitution then who wants him? If he can't 'Unite' 39 other senators to block this bill then how in the hell is he going to 'Unite' a country? Now is the time for him to show that his talk is more than talk and show that he can put it into action. We all know that is not going to happen now, or tomorrow, or 3 years from now - it is all just pretty talk.

    Obama will do whatever it takes to progress Obama even if it means going back on his words of last year in regards to immunity. The man does not believe in the integrity of his own words. And contrary to what he says over and over again - to him - Words Don't Matter - they are just little hypnotic fillers to pacify people until they forget just how shallow he really is - until the next time.


    He is for it (5.00 / 0) (#68)
    by PennProgressive on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:48:47 AM EST
    before he thinks it may help him to be  against it. I am not surprised, sad but not surprised, to see that Senator Obama does not take a stand. I want him to take a stand.  He is no longer in a primary. He is our candidate. I want him to take a stand---a firm stand--true to our core  values. But I am sure  he  will do whatever he  thinks will help him --him and not the country and then he will play political games. If he  is elected, in four years, if he thinks it will help him, he and his friends will run against the position that they are holding today. We criticize Bush for "no child left behind" but Ted Kennedy was every bit responsible for it. Now they are all against it. So in four years President Obama may say " As for the Fisa bill,I was for it before I was against it."

    Well, the convention is all that's left (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by MarkL on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:27:41 PM EST
    in terms of trying to pin Obama down.

    You are right Jeralyn....FISA never needed (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:27:49 PM EST
    fixing...gwb was bound and determined to see how far he could push the envelope.  It has been overkill...

    I think Jeralyn (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by talex on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:01:29 AM EST
    is waking up to Mr. Obama too. In fact I just quickly went to a couple of pro-Obama blogs and even the kool-aide faithful are up in arms saying that Obama has lost them with his dishonest comments today. It is a sad day for democracy thanks in part to Obama.

    some are withholding $ to his campaign already (5.00 / 0) (#97)
    by thereyougo on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 02:06:50 AM EST
    and marking "unsuscribe" to his emails. It could snow ball.

    Buyers remorse setting in.


    thereyou go- sorry but you are wrong (none / 0) (#111)
    by kenosharick on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 07:05:30 AM EST
    this will be a 1-2 day story; the MSM will barely mention it. Obama will get a pass- as always, and we contiue to lose our cvil liberties.

    kenosharick....let's hope for better than that (none / 0) (#114)
    by PssttCmere08 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 11:21:03 AM EST
    We all need to do our parts to reveal obama for what he is and what he stands for....I, too, believe buyer's remorse has begun to set in.

    Afraid so (none / 0) (#116)
    by Joseph Burns on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:00:05 PM EST
    The MSM is a telecommunication industy!! They will not cover this except as a Bush legislative victory. The story is "Dems crumble before Bush's unpopular might!" with no discussions over the substance or how it might be bad law and bad precedent that would be slapped down by a Supreme Court even marginally better than the one we have today.

    Obama is probably figuring if he puts up more than a token fight, the honeymoon will be over in the media, and that's probably right. Only thing is, it should be worth it to defend our liberty. I have been heartened by the fact that Obama is an educated man, running a successful campaign in an era of rampant anti-intellectualism. With his education, he knows D**n well where the bodies are buried in this bill.

    I wanted Senator Edwards to be in this position at this point, but till now, I've "sucked it up" and given BO my support. If it looks like McCain has a shot I may involve myself, if only for SCOTUS, but as things stand now, I'm out of the Presidential race so far as giving money and time are concerned. Funding the opponents of the DINOs who accepted this travesty is my sole objective now.


    This is not a fair (none / 0) (#64)
    by standingup on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:41:19 AM EST
    characterization of Jeralyn.  She has always said she would support the Democratic nominee but would not withhold criticism on issues where she disagrees with the nominee.  She has not viewed Obama through any rose colored glasses.  

    Of course, but the convention is a (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by MarkL on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:31:13 PM EST
    chance for other voices to be heard, if they are loud enough

    That would be great....something has got (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:35:52 PM EST
    to give and give big...

    All the representatives who spoke against (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by JavaCityPal on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:31:42 PM EST
    this bill today were very articulate and accurate in their opposition. In the end, the majority party split almost down the middle with half for and half against. The value of having a democratic majority flew straight out the window.

    I'm with Jeralyn on this purple idea. There are no checks and balances in a unity party.

    I've been trying to drive (5.00 / 3) (#43)
    by talex on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:08:07 AM EST
    that fact home for months now. Post-partisanship does nothing but empower the middle and that would be the Blue Dogs in this case who voted for the bill. Post-partisanship empowers them because that is where Obama is at. And when you combine the Blue Dogs with the Republicans that Obama seems to favor them Progressivism is dead in government. That is why there is no way in hell I could ever vote for Obama. He will weaken the Democratic Party for decades to come. Like I said yesterday the choice is to live with McCain for four years - or destroy our party for decades to come. We can't afford blowing ourselves up for decades. It's simply a short term choice or a long term choice.

    Blue Dogs (none / 0) (#106)
    by weltec2 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 05:48:35 AM EST
    Oh the Blue Dogs are always making me so mad I want to bite concrete!

    I liked what Anglachel said (5.00 / 6) (#24)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:56:53 PM EST
    This bill is about privacy rights, just as Roe was about privacy rights.  Can you trust a government to maintain Roe, if they have such little respect for privacy rights in general?

    Prediction (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by OrangeFur on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:59:11 PM EST
    There will be some half-hearted effort to remove telecom immunity, and then the bill will pass with 60+ votes.

    Will Obama be one of those? I'm not sure. He'll probably be campaigning that day.

    This is exactly the kind of vote that (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by JavaCityPal on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:05:41 AM EST
    comes with too much accountability for Obama to want to register his vote. He wouldn't come off the campaign trail for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard vote, either. He is reserving his CHANGE rights on these controversial topics.

    As POTUS Obama may not want to reliquish (5.00 / 0) (#34)
    by gram cracker on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:03:06 AM EST
    the power Bush/Cheney have usurped from congress.  He may want that power for himself.  

    After all he was going to vote for Roberts because he reasoned that if he was President he would want his nominees to be approved.  If I recall correctly, it was his chief of staff (former Daschle staffer) who persuaded him that would be a bad move politically.

    Heh (none / 0) (#39)
    by JavaCityPal on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:06:56 AM EST
    It may have been a bad political move for Daschle, but it appears nothing has tainted Obama's surge upward.

    Don't put generic Obama bashing comments (5.00 / 0) (#41)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:08:07 AM EST
    here. They will be deleted. This is about FISA and compromises.

    Just stating you won't vote for him or don't trust him or don't like him is not on topic, relevant or helpful to the discussion.

    This administration continues its full-scale (5.00 / 0) (#42)
    by DeborahNC on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:08:07 AM EST
    efforts to give more authority to the Executive Branch. I know that Cheney has had dreams of implementing increased executive power since the 1970s. But, something I don't quite understand  is how they think it will benefit them if they're not in power. It would only be useful to them, if the Republicans hold the presidency.

    Unless they speculate that if the Dems regain the Executive Branch, they're not likely to reduce their own power; and, of course, the Republicans know that they will ultimately regain power some time in the future.

    So, if the Republicans lose this election, but hypothetically win in 2016, they would be back in the top spot again. Why is it so important to them to get this Executive Power in place now with potentially a Democratic administration elected this year? And, what nefarious plans are they hatching for their next governmental takeover?

    I don't want to sound paranoid, but back in 1999, I wouldn't have thought it was possible for an administration to be able to do so much damage to our government (and seemingly get away with it).

    This is the trend I find maybe the most disturbing (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by Alec82 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:40:40 AM EST
    The executive branch, and those who aspire to the highest office, are gobbling this up left and right (literally and figuratively).  

     Understanding the damage of this "compromise" (I consider it capitulation) requires a full consideration, on both sides of the political aisle, of the impact of granting the executive branch the kind of power sought by the Bush administration, on this area and others.

     We're not having that national conversation yet.  We can't possibly be, because only half of the Democratic house majority fought this.  If President Clinton had attempted this after Oklahoma City I think the western Republican delegation (among others) would have been furious.  

     We keep going down this road.  The only time it didn't lead to ruin was after FDR.  And even then his actions are hard to defend.  

     This is a pathetic day for us all.



    If this type of pattern continues, we will not (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by DeborahNC on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:29:57 AM EST
    have the same type of government in the future that I had growing up (and assumed it would stay that way). It will actually change many parts of the important aspects of our government.

    And, after so many civil rights taken away, more government snooping allowed, AND the provision that Telecom companies will be granted immunity in the future (if I read that correctly), it won't take too long for the public to just think...well, that's just the way things work.

    My interpretation of the request for immunity for Telecom Companies who participate in warrantless wiretapping in the future is this: We're going to break the law again and will likely involve further assistance from these companies, so we just want to ensure they will not be prosecuted. Now that is audacity!! Actually, it's criminal-like thinking, IMO.

    I'm furious with those Democrats whose  capitulation was necessary for these damaging changes in out government to have taken place and at those who are currently willing to pass this egregious legislation.


    Arlen Specter Agrees With Jeralyn (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:08:35 AM EST
    "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," Obama said today.

    Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the most prominent Republican opponent of the compromise bill, issued a statement today calling that exclusivity provision "meaningless because that specific provision is now in [the] 1978 act." Specter said Bush just ignored existing law in starting the warrantless surveillance program.


    Obama is making a biiiiiiig mistake here. He is going to piss off his base big time.

    I hope you are correct. I'm doubtful. (5.00 / 0) (#53)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:29:41 AM EST
    Watching C-Span 2 re FISA speakers on House floor now.  

    Correct About What? (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:46:42 AM EST
    One thing, for sure, is that Specter is not to be trusted, even if what he is saying is correct. He has a habit of agreeing with the left view, and then voting along with the right in effect contradicting his own words.

    Correct Obama is pissing off his (5.00 / 0) (#77)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:59:13 AM EST
    base.  That is what I'm doubtful about.  The man has a way with words, as evidenced by today's statement on FISA.  

    I Dunno (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:03:53 AM EST
    BTD is not happy. Digby puts it well:

    I am tempted to say this is a Sistah Soljah moment, wherein Barack makes it clear to the Villagers that he is not one of the DFH's, despite all their ardent support. Nothing is more associated with us than this issue. It may even make sense on some sort of abstract level. He's obviously decided that he has to run to the right pretty hard to counteract that "most liberal Senator" label.


    I do know this: they would not have made this "compromise" and then brought this to the floor without his ok, and probably without his direction. He is the leader of the Democratic Party now, in the middle of a hotly contested presidential campaign. If he didn't come to them and say to get this thing done before the fall, then they came to him and asked his permission. That's just a fact. They aren't going to do anything he doesn't want them to do.

    So, it's not really a capitulation. It's a strategy.

    I agree w/those who stated earlier (none / 0) (#86)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:12:43 AM EST
    today it is a means for the Dem. Representatives to appear strongly against terrorism, and just in time for 4th of July patriotic weekend in the districts.  

    Or (none / 0) (#91)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:20:24 AM EST
    Even worse the closing line from digby from Balkin which Jeralyn also links to:

    Update: Jack Balkin says Obama just wants the power as president. He may be right. That would also be a good reason to keep him from having it.

    So what parts of the Constitution and the (5.00 / 2) (#100)
    by Grace on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 02:41:02 AM EST
    Bill of Rights do you advocate playing with?  From your link:

    So, let's sum up: Congress gives the President new powers that Obama can use. Great. (This is change we can believe in). Obama doesn't have to expend any political capital to get these new powers. Also great. Finally, Obama can score points with his base by criticizing the retroactive immunity provisions, which is less important to him going forward than the new powers. Just dandy.

    That author correctly points out:

    It should now be clear why the Obama campaign has taken the position it has taken. And given what I have just said, Obama's supporters should be pressing him less on the immunity provisions and more on the first part of the bill which completely rewrites FISA. Because, if he becomes president, he'll be the one applying and enforcing its provisions.

    Personally, I don't want the President to have more powers -- and I don't care which President it is:  Bush or Obama or McCain.  

    Enough with the power grab!  


    You Have Obviously (none / 0) (#115)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 11:27:55 AM EST
    Misread digby, no surprise in that.

    Reinforced by "the Seal." (none / 0) (#92)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:25:47 AM EST
    Specter had his own FISA fix bill (none / 0) (#80)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:03:38 AM EST
    Hahhaha (none / 0) (#82)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:04:43 AM EST
    No wonder he is yapping.

    Rep. Jane Harman, D-CA, starts out (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:31:54 AM EST
    by saying her phone and e-mail has been deluged by people saying, hold the line, protect our right of privacy.  But, she says the law is good and she'll support it, saying she has studied the bill and hopes it fulfills her constituents expectations.  

    IOW (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:49:17 AM EST
    She is saying F'you to her constituents, and rather smugly, it seems.

    Followed by the mega millionaire (none / 0) (#70)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:51:29 AM EST
    developer of car alarms, Darryl Issa, from my very own county.  Awwwk.  

    My rep... (none / 0) (#73)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:53:53 AM EST
    Doc Hastings was featured on BTD's live blog today.  I have no idea how I have maintained my sanity in this red sewer.  :)



    Where's Doc Hastings' (none / 0) (#76)
    by JavaCityPal on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:58:44 AM EST

    Eastern Washington State... (none / 0) (#89)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:16:35 AM EST
    It is right next to the District that Goldmark ran in, sorry, I don't know the number, but it includes the Columbia Basin down into the Tri-Cities.  You know, that bat-sh*t insane half of the state.  LOL



    Ah yes, the red side of the state (none / 0) (#95)
    by JavaCityPal on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:31:32 AM EST
    He's held office for a long time, though, hasn't he?

    I'm thinking longevity is the only reason I find his name familiar.


    I don't know (none / 0) (#104)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 05:05:48 AM EST
    the exact length, but one freaking day would be too long.  LOL  I don't really do local politics, because I might as well be wearing a Che shirt, and I'm a moderate Dem in most respects.  I don't think he has had a serious challenger in many a cycle, it's a job for life if he wants it, and unfortunately he probably does.

    No matter what I decide to do in the Fall with my vote, there is no way I'm going to try to sell Obama around here, I don't have a bullet proof vest handy!  LOL  If he is lucky, he'll get 30% of the vote in my district.  It is blood red around here.  :(



    I know the feeling Jackson. Truly I do! Having (none / 0) (#98)
    by DeborahNC on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 02:21:36 AM EST
    lived in NC for quite a while now, I've learned to be a bit more circumspect when entering a political discussion and resisting the urge to launch into a diatribe about my last grievances about Bush policies, etc.

    We do have our usually safe liberal havens, e.g., Chapel Hill, Raleigh, university areas, etc. where I do feel freer to plunge ahead with my usual energy when discussing politics.

    When we first moved from Chapel Hill out into Orange County, it was like entering a different world. It was difficult to make the adjustment, but now there are quite a few progressives who have migrated into these parts.

    Anyway, I've had quite a few hostile reactions to some of my comments, and I don't want to alienate my family or friends of family, so I'm more tactful now. I think!?!


    Definitely (none / 0) (#105)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 05:24:54 AM EST
    I have learned to hold my tongue around here as well.  It may be considered cowardly, but trying to change things around here would be like King Chanute trying to hold back the tide, except in my case it would be a tide of rednecks.  It's better to let them have the rope to hang themselves with.  There are liberal people obviously, and I live in a decent sized town, so it is a little better than it is in most places in my general vicinity.

    My enclaves are my many fishing holes and other areas, which I must say is the prime asset to my area.  We have some of the best lake fishing in the State.  We also have one of the most unique landscapes in the World.  I live in what are called the Channelled Scablands (prettier than it sounds btw-lol) which were formed when Ancient Lake Missoula (at the time, it was as big as one of the Great Lakes, it is called Ancient Lake Missoula because evidence of it was found in Missoula, MT.  Where that city now stands the water depth was something like a thousand feet) broke through an ice dam 10,000 years ago and emptied its contents over the area.  The result was a myriad of mesas and gorges that are still evidenced today.

    Sorry, my explanation is probably sloppy, it's 3:21 am here so for useful facts just Google Ancient Lake Missoula and perhaps you will find a more complete, coherent explanation.  LOL

    I couldn't imagine living in the South, if the politics didn't kill me, the humidity sure as Hell would.  LOL  I don't know how y'all do it.  :)



    That geographical history is quite interesting. (none / 0) (#118)
    by DeborahNC on Sun Jun 22, 2008 at 01:58:34 AM EST
    There's lots of information on the subject on teh Internets. Thanks for the info.

    North Carolina has some very scenic areas too, with lots of outdoor activities available as well. The heat and humidity can be tough to deal with during July and early August though. But, since I've lived in another Southern, well Southwestern, city, I have a different perspective on the NC humidity. It's not even close to the oppressive humidity in Houston, Texas. Now, that is humid! And, it's year round.

    The two areas have very few similarities, geograhically or culturally. But politically, they are definitely both Red States, but I think that Texas is a bit more Republican. There are some  pockets of NC that are unquestionably "very Red," but I think Texas is more Republican overall. Even Houston, which is a large metropolitan area, invariably goes Republican.

    You deal with it when you're there at the time, as you know.


    But He Is A Republican (none / 0) (#78)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:00:24 AM EST
    What did you expect?

    Setting aside the immunity issue (5.00 / 2) (#109)
    by mmc9431 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:30:50 AM EST
    This bill, as well as the Patriot Act, assumes a level of trust that the government will not abuse the power. To me, anyone who blindly trusts government is a fool. By taking the courts out of the equation, where are the checks and balances? And where will we be when a future "John Yoo" interprets it and expands it further? If you give an inch, more than likeky they will take a mile.

    Re: FISA wasn't broke (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by fafnir on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 10:38:06 AM EST
    From the post:
    That's the problem with Obama's "no red states, no blue states, just the United States" campaign platform. By removing the differences between us, we risk giving up, not just compromising, our core values.

    This is the fundamental problem with Obama's agenda. Partisian-blind politics is troubling, because it ignores the reality of differing world views, particularly views about the role of government at home an abroad. The ascension of Obamaism weakens the Democratic label identity with progressive worldviews. Furthermore, Democrats in the Legislature have become enablers of the conservative agenda. The reward for their efforts is the fulfillment of the conservative worldview as mainstream.

    could you clarify your specific objections please? (2.00 / 2) (#4)
    by tben on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:28:27 PM EST
    Sorry, its a little hard sometimes to pick out the specific objectionable proposals from all the characterizations of them.

    I understand that immunity for the telecoms is a major objection for lots of people.

    Leaving that aside for just a moment though - are there other specific proposals that are terrible, or bad, or are there some that are good, even though maybe not necessary? What would your opinion of the bill be if immunity were not part of it? I see you probably think it unnecessary - but would it be really bad? Would it "gut" FISA? How?

    put FISA in our search box (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:34:44 PM EST
    And you will find more than 100 posts specifically detailing FISA, our objections to rewrites and what's wrong with the rewrites. The ACLU also has great information. I can't reprint 6 years of blog posts on FISA to answer your question in a few paragraphs.

    thanks anyway (1.00 / 3) (#11)
    by tben on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:36:51 PM EST
    I was looking for a bullet point or two, but, whatever...

    Go and read... (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Jackson Hunter on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:45:37 PM EST
    Glen Greenwald then, outside of Jeralyn he is the point man on this issue and has been blogging about it the last two days.  We're talking about the 4th Amendment here, there are no bullet points that are easily repeated.  

    A little hint for you, you can still support Obama and not like particular stances/votes.  If Hilary votes for this garbage no one (I hope) here will give her a pass (I sure won't), we will be just as critical of her as we are of him.  Even the DK crowd are outraged over this, that has to tell you something.  I honestly don't mean this as a dig, I hope that you don't take it that way.



    I am not talking about Obama (none / 0) (#18)
    by tben on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:49:55 PM EST
    Let me ask you Jackson. If immunity were removed from the bill, would you support its passage, would you not care one way or the other, or would you still object strongly to its passage? And if the latter, is there a one sentence characterization of the objectionable provision?

    My objection... (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by kredwyn on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:58:45 PM EST
    The POTUS claim that we have to know who the terrorists are calling in the US opens up huge questions.

    FISA is very specific with regards to wiretapping. Without the due process of a FISA warrant, the Feds cannot tap US citizens. POTUS wants to tweek that...has made moves to that end...with the call for a necessary expediency that's already covered under FISA.

    Revising FISA, complete with the telecom immunity, is part of that set of moves. And it allows the telecom industry to tap anyone without providing citizens with any sort of recourse against 4th Amendment violations.


    whoa, is that really true (none / 0) (#44)
    by tben on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:08:27 AM EST
    that this bill has provisions that "allows the telecom industry to tap anyone without providing citizens with any sort of recourse against 4th Amendment violations."

    What do you mean? The telecoms can tap me without a warrant?


    Where have you been? (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by kredwyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:12:13 AM EST

    Welcome to December 2005/January 2006:

    In a letter to Mr. Specter on Sunday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who is also on the committee, said the panel should also explore "significant concern about the legality of the program even at the very highest levels of the Department of Justice."

    The New York Times reported Sunday that James B. Comey, then deputy attorney general, refused to sign on to the recertification of the program in March 2004.

    That prompted two of Mr. Bush's most senior aides - Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel and now the attorney general - to make an emergency hospital visit to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to try to persuade him to give his authorization, as required by White House procedures for the program.

    Officials with knowledge of the events said that Mr. Ashcroft also appeared reluctant to sign on to the continued use of the program, and that the Justice Department's concerns appear to have led in part to the suspension of the program for several months. After a secret audit, new protocols were put in place at the N.S.A. to better determine how the agency established the targets of its eavesdropping operations, officials have said.

    if in the wake of 9/11 (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:37:17 AM EST
    the telecom company wiretapped you or gave protected information to the Govt about you in response to a request from an intelligence agency rather than a FISA court order or warrant -- i.e. if it was done under Bush's warrantless NSA spying program -- then provided they have a letter from the agency or AG saying the request is lawful or authorized by Bush, they are home free. Regardless of whether the statement in the letter was true.

    Retroactive immunity pertains to the past. This is a cleansing of Bush's illegal wiretapping and other electronic surveillance demands. It will result in all the lawsuits filed so far being tossed.


    Yes... (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:01:22 AM EST
    The old FISA court was fine.  Look, I'm no lawyer, and even if I was, like I said there is no easy mantra to rally around.

    My take of this Bill is that the Executive can basically wiretap anyone and everyone without any specific reasons except for "National Security" for as long as he/she wants without having to answer to anyone at anytime.  The old FISA Court let the Government tap people for 72 hours before they had to go to Court to justify the tap.  (That Court is the FISA Court, which historically approved 99.999999% of the taps brought before them.  It's basically a rubber stamp in practice, but not in theory.  But now that rubber stamp has been handed to the President.  If they wanted to extend the 3 days to a week or something, I wouldn't object, but this gives the President unfettered power.  It is Monarchical, and it is garbage IMHO.

    I think that's a fair synopsis, if it is not, anyone can feel free to correct me as I'm no lawyer as noted above.  You should really follow Jeralyn's suggestion or my own and really study up on this Tben, this is a really serious issue.

    I hope I've helped you.



    well, I guarantee you that I would (2.00 / 0) (#48)
    by tben on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:16:55 AM EST
    be 100% with you in opposing this to the death if that is an accurate characterization.

    Is it really though - does this bill allow that "the Executive can basically wiretap anyone and everyone without any specific reasons except for "National Security" for as long as he/she wants without having to answer to anyone at anytime."

    I agree that would be of profoudn seriousness, but I kinda have the feeling that your characterization is a bit extreme. Would we really get half the Dems to vote for what you describe?


    the emergency exception (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:27:08 AM EST
    to the FISA warrant requirement is 3 days. This bill makes it 7 days that they can conduct electronic surveillance of you without a warrant. The NY Times reports tonight:

    The deal, expanding the government's powers to spy on terrorism suspects in some major respects, would strengthen the ability of intelligence officials to eavesdrop on foreign targets. It would also allow them to conduct emergency wiretaps without court orders on American targets for a week if it is determined that important national security information would otherwise be lost. If approved by the Senate, as appears likely, the agreement would be the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years.

    Section 107 of the newly passed bill contains exceptions to warrants for physical searches in "emergency situations."

    It allows the government to continue surveillance programs during the appeals process even if the application is denied by the court.


    Thank you (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by tben on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:30:05 AM EST
    thats all I was asking for...
    sounds pretty bad to me...

    It may be... (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:38:12 AM EST
    that I overstated, that it only applies to calls between the US and Foreign Countries, as another poster stated.  (To be blunt, I don't trust that is the only interpretation, I have a feeling that they do only domestic stuff as well, color me skeptical.)  They cast a wide net, so that would include every call made to and from a Foreign Country.  ALL CALLS.

    And yes, the Dems are usually a cowardly bunch.  The Senate voted to condemn MoveOn, one of our most successful organizations on the Left (before they chose sides) over the whole "General Betray-us" ad (which was a perfectly legitimate ad) and Reid et al let it come to vote while they had the Majority and it passed with 65+ votes.  Remember there are a lot of "Blue Dogs" in the House, who are DINO's.  Plus, the House members come up for Elections every two years, so they are afraid of the Swift Boats coming at them this year.

    My one sentence phrase:

    The Executive needs oversight, it is one of the three Branches of the Federal Government, one Branch should not be unanswerable to the other two.

    Again, I'm trying, but you really need to study experts on this issue.  I will say this, the chance of being killed by a terrorist is so small, I think the whole thing is overwrought.  We only lose if we let them change who we are by submitting to the fear that they are trying to instill.  And Bush asked for these wiretaps before 9/11, not afterwards.  So terrorism is just an excuse.

    My thoughts.



    you are not paying attention (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:02:54 AM EST
    My objections and those of many others go far beyond immunity for the telecoms. It's about the Fourth Amendment and electronic surveillance. Pleas, do some homework.

    The bill should be opposed on constitutional grounds not just because of the immunity.


    i am paying attention (none / 0) (#47)
    by tben on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:13:40 AM EST
    That was my specific question in fact.

    Leaving immunity aside, are there one or two realy egregious provisions, that can be referred to in one phrase or one sentence, to let me know what your objections are.

    Its an innocent question - 95% of the angry objections I have heard toady are about immunity, but I know that people who study this seriously seem to have deeper objections.

    And its hard for me to pick through the general statements (its about the 4th amendment) to specifics - like Chapter X would allow such and such to happen at that is terrible...


    The immunity thing... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by kredwyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:23:05 AM EST
    Is just the most recent bit of it.

    I have been adamantly opposed to it on the basic 4th Amendment violation factor since I first heard about the earlier wiretapping program that Comey and Ahscroft couldn't/wouldn't sign off on with Card and Gonzales in the room.


    questions questions.... (none / 0) (#62)
    by kelsweet on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:39:11 AM EST
    I am wondering if perhaps you are doing a paper or something? and don't want to do your homework? The questions are sorta probing for opinion and not for facts. I don't mean to sound mean, just saying.

    The various attempts (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by kredwyn on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:40:16 PM EST
    to revise FISA and encroach on the 4th Amendment have been going on for years.

    I'd suggest that you check out what the ACLU has had to say. Also, Sen. Feingold has been incredibly outspoken on this. Heck, even Chris Dodd has threatened to filibuster earlier attempts.

    There's a lot out there...including vid of the guy in charge of the NSA trying to suggest that a whole chunk of the 4th Amendment didn't exist.


    I actually was just at the ACLU (none / 0) (#15)
    by tben on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:45:09 PM EST
    (an organization I love dearly), following the link J provided, and I was very disappointed. Thats what I was referring to when I mentioned picking out specific points from general characterizations. Their "myths" and "facts" feature was just general explanatory characterizations, not specifics.

    No doubt I could find specifics there if I spent the time, but I was hoping someone could just list a few of the really objectionable things in the bill besides immunity. If there are any others that are really bad.


    No doubt you can do the research (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kredwyn on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:49:28 PM EST
    and find what it is that you're looking for.

    IIRC there were several diaries over at DKos discussing FISA (I think I even wrote one). But that was before the primaries and the insanity. mcjoan's been writing about it for a very very long time.

    Google is your friend.


    Sorry I must not be making myself clear (none / 0) (#20)
    by tben on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:53:32 PM EST
    I am not asking what is in the bill. I am asking what the people aroudn here object to in the bill, besides immunity.

    To quote the link above (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by Cream City on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:58:41 PM EST
    "The administration is asking for greater authority to wiretap without warrants. . . .

    "President Bush wants Congress to make significant changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would allow warrantless spying on calls and communications between Americans and their friends and relatives overseas."

    I want warrants.  I want a judge approving any such invasive tactics by my government -- because, based on horrible cases already, you could be next, TBen.

    Short enough and to the point for you?


    Because you don't see anything (5.00 / 0) (#21)
    by JavaCityPal on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:55:31 PM EST
    objectionable yourself, or because you want to argue with people over the points they try to make?

    Did you watch the House procedings today? It's available on the C-Span web site.


    because I want to know (1.00 / 1) (#26)
    by tben on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:57:40 PM EST
    what people, especially one in particular who I have read for years and respect, think about the issue.
    What a concept...

    Where have you been... (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by kredwyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:05:42 AM EST
    When it was announced that the admin had been engaging in domestic wiretapping, my father was standing in his living room shaking his head and saying..."that's a clear case of high crimes and misdemeanors."

    That was what? 2005?

    Here's a wiki link to get you started.


    I am asking what (2.00 / 0) (#51)
    by tben on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:25:49 AM EST
    is in THIS BILL.

    It's not just about THIS bill (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by kredwyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:33:32 AM EST
    It's about the whole kit and kaboodle of bills, executive orders, counter-bills, and sidewinder attempts to enlarge the umbrella of wiretapping capabilities and denying citizens due process for recourse should they get caught up in the network of complete and total crap.

    This bill is one of many that have come through.

    And believe me...when the GOP crows over a major win on this, it's bloody effin' serious.


    Tben you are done (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:30:59 AM EST
    You've dominated this thread and you are playing with the commenters. You aren't stupid. You know how to read. Stop playing games. Further comments asking the obvious or what you can find at the NY Times, Wash Post or AP or looking up the bill yourself our searching our archives will be deleted.

    Please, the rest of you, ignore him.


    ok good night (none / 0) (#61)
    by tben on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:38:51 AM EST
    I tell you, sincerely, that I respect your opinion on these matters, and would love to know just a couple of specific points in the bill that YOU find objectionable, beyond immunity. Thats not something I can find in the NYT - I was looking for your opinion. And I get troll-rated, and accused of chattering and playing.

    Wow. Whatever. Good night.


    Sorry Jeralyn... (none / 0) (#65)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:46:00 AM EST
    I shouldn't have engaged him, I think he was being purposefully dense on this issue.  I had no idea that it was actually extended from three to seven days, I guess I have a mind of a capitulator without realizing it.  :(




    Here It Is (none / 0) (#57)
    by squeaky on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:33:17 AM EST
    now you are chattering (5.00 / 4) (#38)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:06:11 AM EST
    follow the links. There are more than 100 posts here, on Greenwald, the ACLU, Daily Kos, Firedoglake, Empty Wheel and every other liberal blogger.

    Go read Balkanization too. Or today's ACLU press releases.


    Allowing wiretaps without authorization (none / 0) (#67)
    by Grace on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:48:19 AM EST
    reminds me of something I read about the old Soviet Union -- they had people sitting in closets listening in on every conversation in the building.

    I wish I could remember where I read that...  It was in someone's memoirs.    

    Maybe... (none / 0) (#71)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:51:54 AM EST
    that famous Russian dissident whose  name is Alexander Sol-something.  (I know the name, but can not come close to spelling it, sorry.)



    Solzhenitsyn (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:57:20 AM EST
    when I was in the former Soviet Union on a legal study tour, we had to stay in In Tourist hotels.  On each floor, there was a babuska attending a samovar of tea.  All of us were convinced she was the eyes and ears of the government.  

    Thanks oculus! (none / 0) (#79)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:02:29 AM EST
    when I was in Shanghai (none / 0) (#83)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:06:48 AM EST
    I was blogging a lot and one night my internet connection went out so I called the front desk. This was at the St. Regis, a very expensive hotel. Within minutes, there was a knock on my door and four Asian men dressed alike in black suits with skinny ties came in and grabbed my computer and took it out in the hall. They came back about 10 minutes later and said everything was fine. My internet connection was okay after that.

    Did they work for the Government? I have no idea, but afterwards, I thought it a possibility.


    I would say... (none / 0) (#87)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:12:45 AM EST
    distinct possibility, that doesn't sound like a normal IT team to me, but I've never been to Shanghai, so I guess I can't be sure.



    No, not the babushki, (none / 0) (#96)
    by Valhalla on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:57:41 AM EST
    they were just there to enforce discipline.  The Soviets bugged the lights.  At least in the foreigner populated hotels where I stayed one summer during college.

    And they listened to all the phone calls, domestic and international.  When I was there during college, my mail occasionally came already opened too.

    It wasn't so bad because we knew we'd be watched and listened to, since we were from the US, plus we also knew we'd be able to leave.  But all 300 million of us can't leave the U.S.  It's pretty sad that this last FISA 'fix' isn't so far off.


    I had a friend who went there on (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by Grace on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 02:54:32 AM EST
    a business trip in the early 1980s.  He was really excited to go back then.  I remember him telling me that he stayed at one of the best hotels but he had to share the bathroom with another room.  

    If the USA goes to Soviet style bugging, wouldn't this be a step back, not a step forward?  (Dumb, dumb, dumb question -- I know.)  ;-)


    Isn't it interesting that the speakers (none / 0) (#72)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 12:53:47 AM EST
    against the FISA bill include many African American Representatives.  

    Well... (none / 0) (#84)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:08:53 AM EST
    "I'll take African American distrust of Police powers for 1,000, Alex."  (snark)

    Not trying to make light, and I think it is a legit answer, but it's been a crappy day, I'm just trying to inject some levity instead of a fatal dose of heroin, which is sounding pretty good about now.  ;)



    Then the only African American Senator (none / 0) (#85)
    by Cream City on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:11:52 AM EST
    would seem to not be in line with them on this, hmmm?

    He is assuming their support and that (none / 0) (#88)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:14:11 AM EST
    of their constituents.  

    Jeralyn, of course you're absolutely correct (none / 0) (#90)
    by prittfumes on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:18:31 AM EST
    that FISA does not need "fixing". How about a scenario where there's a major terrorist attack in the U.S. and Bush blames the "Democrat" Congress for denying him the tools that could have prevented it? McCain would be a shoo-in. Could this explain the Dems' caving? I hope this is not too far off-topic.

    Well... (none / 0) (#93)
    by Jackson Hunter on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 01:29:57 AM EST
    it's either your scenario or it's that they actually believe that the Govt. should have these type of powers.  Either answer absolutely sickens me to no end.



    Great, so Balkin says: (none / 0) (#99)
    by makana44 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 02:40:00 AM EST
    Most Americans don't realize that the FISA compromise comes in two parts. The first part greatly alters FISA by expanding the executive's ability to wiretap and engage in much broader searches of communications than were permissible under the law before.


    Perhaps it gives a bit too much power to the executive. But (Obama) plans to be the executive...

    and he's not worried because...

    if he becomes president, he'll be the one applying and enforcing its provisions.

    But what if he doesn't become president? Then McCain will be applying and enforcing its provisions. This is Fourth Amendment Russian roulette, with the gun pointing at us. But honestly, would you want to have to trust either one of them?

    I was actually a bit confused (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by nycstray on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 03:10:40 AM EST
    and I think it's because they were calling it a compromise. I would read it and it sounded to me like we we giving them more power to do what we didn't want them to do. So I thought I was missing something. . . .

    I still haven't figured out how they call this a compromise*.

    * yes, I do know many don't, but that's the story they're feeding us.


    you missed nothing (none / 0) (#107)
    by weltec2 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:12:47 AM EST
    No, I don't think you missed anything. Calling it a compromise makes it sound prettier, that's all. Look at Balkins's article. They're just feeding us a story. I don't think we need to demonize Obama for this. But at the same time -- and a point that many have made here already -- Obama should not be given the power to determine how this law should be handled... after he becomes president. This unnecessary law should be stopped in the Senate... the whole law.

    The Problem (none / 0) (#108)
    by glennmcgahee on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:17:14 AM EST
    with the telecom immunity is that the pending lawsuits will become void. Those lawsuits were the ONLY way that we were ever to learn just how far reaching this thing went and just how many people (Americans) were caught up in this eavesdropping dragnet. But just like Al Gore's mgnificent speech on the erosion of our civil liberties by the Bush Administration, this will get overlooked by the corporate media who depend on the advertizing dollars of the same companies. In the end,its not just about the spying powers, but its also about protectionism of these companies from any financial hits. Bottom line- follow the money. The donations from these corporations are important to the politics of both parties and that wins over what is right. As for Obama, most people at home do not even understand what FISA means, we should just call it the "Government Spying Bill".

    Again (none / 0) (#110)
    by mmc9431 on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:36:23 AM EST
    Just as with the torture issue, the Bush administration has succeeded in pushing through CYA legislation. I expect we'll be seeing more of this before Jan 2009. Between laws, executive orders, and shredders they'll be as clean as the driven snow by then.

    Tubbs-Jones (none / 0) (#112)
    by Munibond on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 08:09:16 AM EST
    She voted against.  BTW, she is taking plenty of hits from her base for support of Clinton, and her FISA position will likely not improve her standing with Pelosi and others in the democratic leadership.  I hope people will remember to give Stephanie some love this fall and in 2010.

    Thanks, Jeralyn (none / 0) (#117)
    by A little night musing on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 09:15:34 PM EST
    I've been saying that there is no need for this bill, and it's nice to have the case laid out so neatly as in the "10 myths" you've linked. {I'm catching up reading this on Saturday night.)

    Cliff Notes On FISA (none / 0) (#119)
    by squeaky on Sun Jun 22, 2008 at 11:52:26 AM EST
    And the arguments for modernization over at Balkanization:

    A Guide to the New FISA Bill, Part I

    via War & Piece

    email seems to be the only real justification for updating the program.