(EDIT: The following is an excerpt from the Special Rules concerning Resolution HR 6304, which appears to have been drafted during an ‘emergency session‘ of the House Committee on Rules. As you can see, it appears they are not allowing objections to any of the bill’s provisions.
“All points of order against provisions of the bill are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided among and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary and the chairman and ranking minority member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and (2) one motion to recommit.”
Only a few words for an hour and then the vote. Click the link to contact your representative! Call them right now! There can be no objections allowed and still a non-passing vote. Tell your representative to vote against this resolution. The whole thing is 180 pages and they didn’t get it until last night or early this morning. Tell them they should vote against it. Call them now.)
Where the Hell Is
Obama A Real Leader
Forgive me. I am so angry I can hardly write this. The Congress of The United States Of America is planning to pass the amendments to the FISA Act of 1978 (H.R. 6304) on Friday. This is the bill that will give ATT and friends the immunity from prosecution for illegally helping the NSA spy on American citizens during the Bush reign of terror. Yeah, I’m mad about that but what really gets me ANGRY is what the bill gives us in our future. If this becomes law, it means that everything the Bushies have done will be considered legal, not because a judge said so, but because the president says so. And it will be that way from now on.
Regular readers here know that I am a card carrying, voting Republican. You know that because I’m really fed up with what passes for GOP nowadays, and I haven’t been extremely silent about it. I think the Bushies are all criminals, and I mean that literally. Since election day 2000 I have thought so, and they have never, not once, given me any reason to change my assessment. I consider the Bushie regime to be on a par with Hitler’s Nazi Germany, except the Nazis were amateurs.
Needless to say, McCain hasn’t got a chance of getting my vote. He sounds too much like Bush. He outright lies to us. Stupid lies that are just too easy to catch. Plus he’s just too connected to the big oil companies. He won’t do anything to help the people on this planet. He’ll just continue down the current disastrous path.
So I’ve been looking at Obama, since Hillary’s probably out of things now. But you know, I don’t see Obama doing ANYTHING that really matters. He’s running nothing. It doesn’t matter though. He’s a no-show in this particular arena, anyway. Someone who did get through to his campaign staff on the phone was sent a bland response saying what Barack will do AFTER he’s elected. Dude, if you don’t do something now, you have lost alot of votes. So many, in fact, that you probably won’t become president. If ever we needed a candidate to step up and show something different, it is TODAY. Where are you Barack? Are you scared to come out and play?
The convoluted logic of this bill says that it’s okay for the president to ask anyone to break the law and be immune to prosecution. All the president has to do is say he asked for the help, and that he thinks whatever he asked was lawful. According to this bill, if those 2 conditions are met, the court has absolutely no choice but to dismiss any charges pending. Furthermore, the court cannot even say WHY the case is dismissed. The court becomes pointless.
Pointless is what we have in Washington, DC lately. All you happy Democrats with your big wins last time: So What? So what, you took over the Senate. So what, you took over the House. You know, back when the Republicans controlled Congress, Bush couldn’t get this kind of crap passed. But now, with the Dems in control, he gets everything he wanted and even more. Hey, don’t take it personally. This card carrying republican helped you vote all those democrats in. I was really counting on them to take a stand against the Bushies. I guess we were all wrong. These democrats, these republicans, these people IN POWER have decided en masse that we the people have no power. They’ve decided that you and I are pointless.
Just a few comments found around the web…
Russ Feingold, US Senate
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.”
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is a member of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
You think this is just about intercepting phone calls? No, it’s not. It’s about physical searches, too. Read pages 73-77 of H.R. 6304. Come on, do it. Those pages say that a presidential administration can, without a warrant or even the prior approval of a FISA judge, engage in any physical search whatsoever so long as 1) later on, the administration files a piece of paper not asking permission but just telling a judge it has done so. As long as it 2) says — not proves, just says — that the information has to do with public safety, it can go ahead and engage in ANY physical search, ANYWHERE, WHENEVER it wants — then use the information as it sees fit, even if some judge later on says that the search was unjustified. Because under H.R. 6304, who ultimately determines whether a presidential administration’s warrantless surveillance was necessary? Yes, that’s right folks, the presidential administration itself.
earlofhuntingdon from emptywheel
Not surprisingly, while this bill frequently mentions the mantra, ”in compliance with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment”, it redefines those requirements away.
Like at p. 14, line 4, where the USG ”is not required to identify the specific facilities, places, premises, or property at which an acquisition authorized under subsection (a) will be
directed or conducted.”
Just for laughs, keep your insides in, the Fourth Amendment reads in its entirety as follows:
”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.”
Sophistry. Bi-partisan sophistry.
I did like the snark on p. 15, lines 1-5, that require the communications services provider to maintain the secrecy of its cooperation with the government and the services provided to the target. Any concern about limiting interference with services to others caused by such cooperation? Nada.
Oh, and like the Social Security drugs provision that prohibited the USG from bargaining with drugs companies over price, the USG here is to pay communications services providers the ”prevailing rate”. I wonder where the rate for assisting the government in secretly spying on Americans is listed in their product brochures? I’d just like to check that’s it’s not more than I pay for a few bars on my mobile phone.
From an article found on Salon.com
If Obama remains missing much longer, it may be necessary to issue an Amber Alert for him.
The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office:
“Congress is poised to once again pass disastrous surveillance legislation, now upping the ante with a thinly-veiled giveaway to some major campaign donors.
“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.
“The process by which this deal has come about has been as secretive as the warrantless wiretapping program it is seeking to legitimize. While members and organizations who would seek to fiercely protect the civil liberties of Americans have been denied a seat at the table, one wonders how present the powerful telecom lobby has been.
“Leadership should be leading to protect the Constitution, not bowing to pressure from Republicans, the White House, and the telecommunications companies.
“The ACLU is asking Congress, as the final minutes tick by, to stand up and do the right thing.”
Copyright  American Civil Liberties Union
Reprinted with permission of the
American Civil Liberties Union http://www.aclu.org
We The People
I am so ashamed of all of us. We let these criminals take the office way back in 2000. Then we let them do the exact same thing in 2004. We, as a nation, are being herded like cattle by these people who are supposed to be there for one reason only: to protect and uphold the Constitution, to see to it that we the people are governed honestly and for our individual and collective prosperity according to the supreme law of our land.
We can bitch all we want, but until We The People actually do something about it, this is what we’re going to get. We’re getting it because we deserve it, because we’re not standing up and saying NO! A nation that will not demand its rights deserves none. It’s the 21st century, so we don’t have to do a midnight ride or anything. All you need to do is one thing.
I am Jon. I am an American. I believe in the country I grew up in. I believe in the rights of a free people and the responsibilties that come with that freedom. Exercise your right to call your congress! Perform your duty as a free citizen of what once was, and could easily again be, the greatest nation in the history of mankind.
Call them, please. Call them, now. Be an American. Make a ruckus.