Monday, January 28, 2008

The Wrong FISA Bill, Again

Image credit: National Archives

This "goddamned piece of paper" needs our help again.

Yes, I've been busy with other matters lately. Sadly, Senator Harry Reid has been up to the same old nonsense. He's once again trying to push an anti-Constitutional FISA "reform" bill through the Senate. Credo has a wonderful statement that you can e-mail your Senators today if you want. Here it is in its entirety:

I'm writing today to urge you in the strongest possible terms NOT to pass any wiretapping legislation that violates our rights as expressed in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, OR gives blanket retroactive immunity to the telecom companies who helped the Bush Administration commit violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

You swore an oath upon taking your seat there in the U.S. Senate to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. The Fourth Amendment guarantees our right to be free from searches of our persons, papers and effects without a warrant based upon probable cause. But the legislation from the Intelligence Committee would allow "blanket warrants" for wiretapping -- blatantly contravening the Fourth Amendment's requirement for a warrant to "particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The rule of law is also at stake here. It's quite clear that some telecom companies helped the Bush Administration repeatedly violate the law of the land at the time, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But at least one company, quite properly, refused to do so. To grant the lawbreakers immunity after the fact would undermine the concept of equal justice for all and codify a Nixonian attitude towards the law -- "If the President does it, it must be legal."

So I ask to you take a strong stand against ANY legislation that grants retroactive immunity OR does not preserve our rights to privacy as guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment. I respectfully ask that you reply to my message as soon as possible with your views on this topic.

CREDO Letter On FISA Bill

I've written similar things before, both here and to my Senators, as have many others. If you haven't already, please call them and urge them to vote against cloture on this bill. It's the only way to stop it from passing. Chris Dodd has once again indicated his willingness to filibuster this bill, and Hillary Clinton has vowed to vote against cloture. Various folks are trying to get a statement from Barack Obama as well.

After plagiarizing that CREDO message, I'll now quote Christy Hardin Smith on how to contact your Senators:

Toll-free numbers for Congress from Katymine:

1 (800) 828 - 0498
1 (800) 459 - 1887
1 (800) 614 - 2803
1 (866) 340 - 9281
1 (866) 338 - 1015
1 (877) 851 - 6437

Every Senator needs a call, so please take the time to call or FAX yours today. Several Senators could use extra contact on this -- uncommitted Democrats, members of the Gang of 14, and a number of wavering Republicans. Tell them to vote "no" on cloture. It is well past time that respect for the rule of law and the role of Congress in the balance of powers was restored:
[Cujo359 note: The table appears after a long blank space. For some reason, tables don't work well on Blogger.]

Bayh(202) 224-5623(202) 228-1377
Carper(202) 224-2441(202) 228-2190
Obama(202) 224-2854(202) 228-4260
Inouye(202) 224-3934(202) 224-6747
Johnson(202) 224-5842(202) 228 5765
Landrieu(202)224-5824(202) 224-9735
McCaskill(202) 224-6154(202) 228-6326
Mikulski(202) 224-4654(202) 224-8858
Nelson (FL)(202) 224-5274(202) 228-2183
Clinton (202) 224-4451(202) 228-0282
Nelson (NE)(202) 224-6551(202) 228-0012
Pryor(202) 224-2353(202) 228-0908
Salazar (202) 224-5852(202) 228-5036
Specter(202) 224-4254(202) 228-1229
McCain(202) 224-2235(202) 228-2862
Graham(202) 224-5972(202) 224-3808
Warner(202) 224-2023(202) 224-6295
Snowe(202) 224-5344(202) 224-1946
Collins (202) 224-2523(202) 224-2693
Sununu(202) 224-2841(202) 228-4131
Lieberman(202) 224-4041(202) 224-9750
Byrd(202) 224-3954(202) 228-0002
Lincoln (202)224-4843(202)228-1371
Chambliss(202) 224-3521(202) 224-0103
Coleman(202) 224-5641(202) 224-1152
Dole (202) 224-6342(202) 224-1100
Smith(202) 224-3753(202) 228-3997
Stabenow (202) 224-4822(202) 228-0325
Kohl(202) 224-5653(202) 224-9787

FISA Action: Calls And FAXes Needed

I'm certainly tired of having to continually remind my representatives to do the right thing here, as I'm sure you are as well. Unfortunately, as long as our "leaders" are determined to turn this country into a police state this is what we keep having to do. In particular, they need to understand that a futile vote against the bill itself is not enough. They need to know that we expect them to vote against cloture, which means that the bill will not come to a vote.

So get on those phones and faxes, if you haven't already.

UPDATE: According to Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher, Senator Obama will also support the filibuster:

Jane Hamsher reports that -- almost certainly due to public pressure -- both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are going to be present for the vote today in order to vote for the filibuster. The vote is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST and I'll be live-blogging the events today here.

What's at stake today in the Senate's FISA filibuster vote

[link from original]

For Obama and Clinton, that's unqualified support. It's as close as either gets to a definite position. With the opposition of the party's two leading Presidential candidates, you'd think that maybe the Senate "leadership" would realize this is a bill that shouldn't see the light of day.

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