I am Jon, and I will vote for the best candidate on November 4th. If it seems I disagree with Senator Obama here, if it seems that I am ‘against’ him, let me make it clear that of the two major candidates, I don’t consider McCain to be a viable choice. I may be against some of Obama’s policy, but I am not against the man.
Obama has shown an incredible ability to learn his way into better choices, better decisions, throughout this whole campaign. In energy, finance and security, his statements have become more comprehensive as the race has continued.
He seems not to be afraid of learning.
I will be voting for the best man November 4th: Barack Obama.
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Obama Releases “Statement” on HR6304
If I were Barack, I’d be worried. If I were a Barack supporter, I’d be embarrassed. I am an American, and I am disgusted. This bill, HR6304, which was passed Friday in the House, is a big thing. Naturally, mainstream media is giving it lip service. Not surprisingly, the political blog-world is going nuts over it, mostly focusing now on Barack Obama’s plans to endorse the
bill bull. I’ve been searching online to find an official statement from Obama, but I can’t find it.
What I did find I traced back to Glenn Greenwald. From what I can gather, it’s believed around the web to be the authentic words of Barack Obama, sent to Glenn as a response to a post he published last week with the title “A Letter to the Next President of the United States“. Well, at least I found something. Regular readers know I am stickler for going to the source. It bothers me that I can’t point directly at Obama and say to you: “Go here to read what he says.”
I have to wonder why Obama doesn’t have an ‘official’ statement at his website. I am simply amazed that instead, he chose to reply via email to a blog post. I don’t mean to imply that Glenn doesn’t deserve an answer to his open letter. I do mean to state that the rest of us deserve just as official an answer. We deserve to be able to go to Obama’s website and find out where he stands on important issues. I spent nearly 4 hours researching online, looking for an ‘official’ Obama statement. Obama, you have already started wasting my time.
Here is the response in its entirety (I’ve BOLDED some parts which I will address individually below):
Statement of Senator Barack Obama on FISA Compromise
“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 today 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 will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. 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.”
1. compromise legislation
This is not a compromise. It is a total caving in to what the administration asked for, and even more. All the administration wanted was immunity for the telecoms and themselves, and the ability to keep using the so-called FISA court setup under the 1978 bill. HR6304 abolishes that and says that the district court will now review the process, under the direction of the Executive Branch(The President).
By compromise, you are referring to the additional Domestic Spending which the Democrats attached to the bill FUNDING THE WAR IN IRAQ, wherein the Democrats also gave the Bushies the billions they asked for in exchange for some paltry millions of dollars, to be used as proof in the current election that the Democrats care about us. Bullshit compromise, if you ask me. If you care about us, protect us; protect the Constitution.
2. illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over
The illegality of it will be over. According to the provisions in this bill, the program of warrantless surveillance will be expanded greatly. But you’re right, the lack of a warrant will not be a legal issue any longer.
3. restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes
This is a misdirection of facts. In fact, FISA was alive and well, as were the “existing’ statutes. To imply that they are being restored, when in fact, they are not, is at best a misdirection of facts. At worst, it’s a barefaced lie. Under the existing law, all the President has to do is get a warrant. All a warrant requires is probable cause. HR6304 does away with that. There’s no requirement for anything more than a statement saying they want to do whatever it is they want to do, simply because they want to do it. No reason why required. In that manner, this bill completely destroys the existing statutes.
4. re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future
This is pure dishonesty on the senator’s part. In fact, the revisions contained in HR6304 completely abolish any judicial oversight. The provisions of the bill say that if the President says that he(she) thinks an action is needed, then the court must agree and not investigate further. The court is not even allowed to ask for an explanation of why. The court simply has to do whatever it is told.
5. grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses
Okay, Barack, here’s your chance to show America what you really are. Remember back in October of last year? You’re not elected yet, so I’m sure you haven’t developed the memory loss that comes with being in the Executive Branch. Let me quote your campaign:
“To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”
If you do this on Monday, on the floor of the Senate, you will prove to all of US that you can be trusted to follow through on what you say. You will convince us that you are not another Bush. Do otherwise, and you will prove that you are not to be trusted. Fail here and you prove that you are a liar who will say anything to us to be elected. Anything to gain power.
6. thorough review by the Inspectors General
The Inspectors General are a part of the Executive Branch, reporting directly to the President. Giving the President the authority to review the President’s actions is not a real review by anyone’s standards.
7. accountability going forward
Once again, real accountability would disclose details, at least to the judges reviewing the actions. Oh, that’s right, they aren’t allowed to review anything at all unless the President says so. So I guess the President is accountable to …. the President!
8. grassroots movement of Americans
This is just bullshit. Barack, show me a grassroots movement to grant immunity to the telecoms. Barack, show me a grassroots movement to allow warrantless searches and seizures. Barack, show me a grassroots movement to allow the President to be the Supreme Authority on what is legal in this country. You, sir, are a liar.
9. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay
This sounds alarmingly similar to what GW Bush has said for the past 7 years. We have ALWAYS faced legitimate threats, the greatest of which caused our founding fathers to set up this crazy system of government… one which pits 3 different branches against each other so as to prevent one branch, one man, from attaining too much power. The most legitimate threat we face today, Mr. Obama, is from within our own government. The Executive Branch is trying to usurp all the power. As a member of the Legislative Branch, this should make you wary. Unless you really think you can win.
10. firm pledge that as President
Dude, you’ve already made a firm pledge as a Senator! Uphold the Constitution of The United States Of America! If you fail on that pledge, why should we expect you to do any better as President? Especially since you, alone, are in a position to turn this around. You don’t think so? You think you can’t fight the good fight on our behalf? You think you need to be a part of that machine to win?
You underestimate us, Mr. Obama. We are the American Republic. We are The People. If we choose you, no amount of money or might will stand in our way. All you have to do is: Be One Of Us.
11. any additional steps I deem necessary
This is not all that comforting to read. GW Bush did whatever he deemed necessary as well. Hey, doesn’t this bill give the President the power to do whatever he deems necessary anyway? Yeah, it does… whatever he wants with no fear of any real judicial review. The ‘Get Out Of Jail’ card which is called HR6304 says that all you would have to do is say you ‘deemed it necessary’ and that would be that. It’s not comforting to know that you already have decided that you WILL use this bill to do exactly what it gives the President the power to do. Anything you want.
Are you supporting Obama’s bid to become President? Why? Most likely, it’s because you’re really fed up with the way the Bushies have been running things. Maybe, like me, you think the Bushies are all criminals. Be certain of this: HR6304 will make everything they have done Perfectly Legal. And not only that, but it gives the Executive Branch, the President, the power to literally DO ANYTHING THEY WANT. This bill, once it becomes law, will completely abolish the protections from our own government that we have enjoyed for more than 2 centuries. No judge will be able to protect you. No law will supersede this one.
Don’t think that such a high-level thing will not affect you. The Executive branch includes a bunch of politicians and civil servants in Washington. It also includes all of our military. It also includes your local police force and sheriff’s department. The executive branch is that branch which ENFORCES the laws. This law gives them the power, at the top, to decide what is law. Don’t misunderstand me, I respect my local police force. I have friends in blue and friends in brown, and I respect them and am glad that they are out there trying to protect me. But they are not judges. Their bosses are not judges, and neither are their bosses all the way up to the President himself. None of them are qualified to judge, and the ones I know will tell you so themselves.
Probably the only thing that can stop this bill now is a filibuster on the floor of the Senate. Obama promised us all last year that he would do this for us, if it ever came to that. Well, it has come to that. It’s time to see what kind of people come from Illinois. He wants to lead this country. Let’s see him lead his party first. The Democrats control the Senate. Surely their selected leader, the man they want us to vote into office in November, can organize a filibuster against a bill which does so much to destroy the very foundation of our nation.
A long time ago, a man from Illinois changed the course of our future. He stood up for the values laid out plainly in our Constitution. He went against the prevailing sentiment in Washington – and our country, each individual one of us, is greater because of that. If Obama has the integrity that he’s spent millions selling to us, he will do what he said he would do and filibuster this bill. It won’t be the popular thing to do on the hill on Monday, but it will be the right thing.
I am Jon, waiting for Monday’s filibuster.