The FISA Fix and Obama’s Profile In Courage Leadership Moment

Whether by design or random chance, there is so much information, on so many and diverse subjects, flooding the politically astute citizen currently that it is hard to keep track. It seems like we are drawn from one crisis and seminal issue to another with the passing of not every day, but with the passing of every hour. And yes, they are all pretty much that important; but there are some that portend not just how we do in our lives, but who we are and what we stand for in the first place. Chief among those is the question of whether we are a nation of men freelancing in the public trough of goodwill, or a nation of laws in which men operate within the rule of law and under the edicts and guidance of our founding fathers and the Constitution they bequeathed us.

One of these issues has been at the forefront of out conscience for nearly a year now; the issue of how to improve the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) for the future we face and how to address the criminal violations of FISA we have suffered in the past. How we resolve FISA will go a long way indeed in indicating whether we are a nation of admirable laws or, alternatively, of mere opportunistic men.

The three critical parts of FISA that are the subject of the heated and protracted fight over reform are exclusivity, minimization and retroactive immunity. Simply put, exclusivity refers to the relative degree in which the resulting FISA law will control this area of the law. The original FISA statute was designed to be the

…exclusive means by which electronic surveillance … and the interception of domestic wire, oral and electronic communications may be conducted.

As Marcy Wheeler has pointed out however, the Bush Administration performed a terminally disingenuous end run around the exclusivity mandate of FISA via one of John Yoo’s made to order faux legal opinions. The exclusivity provisions must be made impervious to such sophistry and with sufficient teeth to insure future compliance by the executive branch.

Minimization is the word for the procedures the government uses to

remove and (eventually) delete any data from US persons collected incidentally in the course of surveilling someone overseas. If we could be guaranteed that minimization procedures are sound, then the whole debate over wiretapping would be easier because we could rest assured that if the NSA picked up anything on a US person it didn’t have a warrant for, it had to destroy it. That would mean that Americans could trust that they would only be wiretapped with a warrant approved (eventually, anyway) by a judge.

We live in an ever complex society served by ever more sophisticated communication means and devices. Even when our government takes it’s duties to protect the privacy and fundamental Constitutional rights of the citizenry seriously, which has certainly not been the case over the last seven plus years, it is impossible to not incidentally and accidentally collect up information that should not be so obtained. Getting minimization right means that the government will not wrongfully retain and/or use inappropriately obtained information and data.

Retroactive immunity is by far the most easily understood of the three concepts. The sole question is whether or not approximately forty lawsuits, that have already been consolidated into one general whole in the Northern District of California, for the convenience and economic efficiency of all concerned, will be dismissed in order to cover up the misdeeds and crimes of the Bush Administration and the rich multinational phone companies that conspired with them, or whether they will be allowed to legally proceed so that we may all learn the truth about what has been done in our name and accountability therefore assigned. It is really, at the root, that simple; truth and accountability or craven coverup.

The desperate push on FISA by the Bush Administration, complicit and subservient Republican Congressional leaders, and their telco partners is about to explode onto the forefront again. You are already starting to see the advance seeding by proponents seeking to seed the public with fear and alarm that if we don’t get on board with the whims and desires of the Bush Administration we will be exposed to terrorism and all die. In direct response, Professor Martin Lederman performs a beautiful technical dissection of this fraudulent scare tactic in full detail here.

No, the FISA fix is not about "listenin to al-Qaida to protect America from terrists" as George Bush et al. would have you believe. We have been doing that, and are going to continue to do that; and there is no disagreement whatsoever on that point. Rather, how we resolve FISA is what the disagreement is about, and it is a glaring symbol of what we are, and are going to be, as a country. We are either a nation of laws that protects citizens and their right to seek redress for being wronged by their government and it’s agents, or we are a nation of self serving men like George Bush and Dick Cheney that can, and do, get away with whatever illegal and immoral acts they desire.

Two men that have recognized that fact and stood resolutely and heroically from the outset are Senators Chris Dodd and Russell Feingold. Today, they remind us of what leadership truly is by way of a joint letter to the Democratic Leadership currently controlling the shape of the FISA fix process coming to a head.

As you work to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, we urge you to include key protections to safeguard the privacy of law-abiding Americans, and not to include provisions that would grant retroactive immunity to companies that allegedly cooperated in the President’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.

With respect to immunity, we are particularly concerned about a proposal recently made by Senator Bond, and want to make clear that his proposal is just as unacceptable as the immunity provision in the Senate bill, which we vigorously opposed. As we understand it, the proposal would authorize secret proceedings in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the companies’ immunity claims, but the court’s role would be limited to evaluating precisely the same question laid out in the Senate bill: whether a company received "a written request or directive from the Attorney General or the head of an element of the intelligence community … indicating that the activity was authorized by the President and determined to be lawful."

In other words, under the Bond proposal, the result of the FISA Court’s evaluation would be predetermined. Regardless of how much information it is permitted to review, what standard of review is employed, how open the proceedings are, and what role the plaintiffs’ lawyers are permitted to play, the FISA Court would be required to grant immunity. To agree to such a proposal would not represent a reasonable compromise.

As we have explained repeatedly in the past, existing law already immunizes telephone companies that respond in good faith to a government request, as long as that request meets certain clearly spelled-out statutory requirements. This carefully designed provision protects both the companies and the privacy of innocent Americans. It gives clear guidance to companies on what government requests it should comply with and what requests it should reject because the requirements of the law are not met. The courts should be permitted to apply this longstanding provision in the pending cases to determine whether the companies that allegedly participated in the program should be granted immunity.

Take a good look; read the whole letter. This is what real leadership looks like. If Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid, Rockefeller, and Reyes all had even half of the "right stuff" that Dodd and Feingold possess, we would not need to have this discussion. But, alas, they do not and, as a result, our collective backs are again against the wall on FISA. More, and higher leadership needs to occur.

Barack Obama has fought long, hard and well to win the chance and right to lead both the Democratic Party and the nation as a whole. It is time for him to so lead, and his leadership will make the difference in this fight if he is willing to take the mantle. I am not the first to call on Mr. Obama to step up to the plate. Last week, when the news first broke that HPSCI Chairman Reyes was indicating his, and his fellow Democratic House Leaders’, willingness to compromise cave and pass the Bush/Cheney FISA dream, dday at Digby’s Hullabaloo made a very eloquent plea:

I congratulate Barack Obama on his primary win and think he has the opportunity to bring forward meaningful change in America. In fact, he can start today. He can go to the well of the Senate and demand that the party he now leads not authorize new powers to spy on Americans and immunize corporations who broke the law with their illegal spying in the first place.

Barack Obama could put an end to this today if he wanted. He could tell his colleagues in the House and the Senate that they should not work so hard to codify into law what his opponent is calling for – the ability for an executive to secretly spy on Americans.

This really is identical to George Bush’s position and now the Democrats in the House are signaling their willingness to go along with it. Obama positions himself as a new kind of Democrat who wants to change Washington and has a background as a Constitutional scholar. There is no other issue which both shows the rot of the Democratic leadership and their disinclination to enforce or even recognize the Constitution than this one.

Truer words were never spoken. The time is now Mr. Obama, and you are the man. Even the Kennedys have put Mr. Obama up as a John F. Kennedyesque figure. Well, it is time for a Profile In Courage. And not just by Mr. Obama, but by all of the Democratic Leadership. The cause is just; the time is now. Limber you fingers. Oil your fax machines. Let Mr. Obama know that when he leads on this critical issue that we will not only follow, but will have his back. This is who we are; this is what we stand for. Let him know. NOW!

UPDATE II: The ground is shifting already. From The Hill:

Congressional Republicans are reviewing a Democratic proposal to break the logjam on electronic-surveillance legislation by allowing federal district courts to determine whether telephone companies seeking legal immunity received orders from the Bush administration to wiretap people’s phones.

That differs from a plan that Republicans, with support from the White House, floated right before Memorial Day that would give that authority to the secret court that operates under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In both cases, the courts would not decide whether those orders constitute a violation of the law, according to people familiar with the language. The plan was floated by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and has the support of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

“While several issues still remain, Sen. Bond believes he and Hoyer are making progress on crafting an ultimate compromise and remains hopeful that a bill to keep American families safe can be signed into law before the August expiration moves the intelligence community back to 1978,” said Shana Marchio, communications director for Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.).

Rockefeller said he is “mildly optimistic” that the plan could yield agreement, and added that the status of negotiations is “getting pretty darn good.” (Emphasis added)

The Democratic Leadership takes us for fools, and treats us accordingly. They have taken the Republican/Bush-Cheney White House dream plan and substituted the words "District Court" for "FISA Court" and run it up the flag pole to see if we will salute. Even Jello Jay Rockefeller seems like he might realize that this is pitifully weak and lame and is just hoping the citizenry is stupid enough to acquiesce. Let me repost the applicable paragraph from Senators Dodd and Feingold that addresses this latest ruse, with the only changes necessary:

In other words, under the Bond Democratic Leadership’s proposal, the result of the FISA District Court’s evaluation would be predetermined. Regardless of how much information it is permitted to review, what standard of review is employed, how open the proceedings are, and what role the plaintiffs’ lawyers are permitted to play, the FISA District Court would be required to grant immunity. To agree to such a proposal would not represent a reasonable compromise.

This willingness of the Democratic Leadership to belligerently betray the trust and best interests of their constituents, party and country is simply stunning. This is weak, shameless and traitorous leadership at it’s craven worst.
(h/t MadDog)

UPDATE I: Sen. Obama Phone (202) 224-2854, FAX (202) 228-4260 Courtesy of Rosalind in comments.

73 replies
  1. rosalind says:

    (sorry to go OT, but this is too much. dusty foggo, last seen pleading low funds as a reason to transfer his trial to virginia, just had his request for a five week family vacation to austria denied. man’s got a pair, i’ll give him that…)


  2. perris says:

    this is up at think progress right now and it is what I’ve been saying since day one

    Based on my experience in talking to Al Qaida members, I am persuaded that revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack on the homeland is coming; that a new generation of jihadist martyrs, motivated in part by the images from Abu Ghraib, is, as we speak, planning to kill Americans; and that nothing gleaned from the use of coercive interrogation techniques will be of any significant use in forestalling this calamitous eventuality. […]

    we not only lose information but we cause more terrorism against this nation


    this fbi agent gets it right and that’s what the democrats have to talk about

  3. MadDog says:

    EPU’d from the previous thread:

    OT – Our vaunted Democratic patriots at work. “Stoned” Hoyer” and “Jello Jay” Rockefeller consider this a FISA “compromise”, but only because neither can spell “Sellout”. From The Hill:

    Congressional Republicans are reviewing a Democratic proposal to break the logjam on electronic-surveillance legislation by allowing federal district courts to determine whether telephone companies seeking legal immunity received orders from the Bush administration to wiretap people’s phones.

    That differs from a plan that Republicans, with support from the White House, floated right before Memorial Day that would give that authority to the secret court that operates under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In both cases, the courts would not decide whether those orders constitute a violation of the law, according to people familiar with the language. The plan was floated by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and has the support of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

    GOP aides said that Republicans would likely suggest more revisions, but saw the proposal as a step in the right direction…

    Fookin’ traitors! All they can think of is pleasing the Repugs. Fookin’ traitors!

  4. Leen says:

    Thanks BMaz, I have always admired both Senator Dodd and Senator Feingold. Will call and will spread the word and encourage others to call, e-mail and encourage Senator Obama to “step up to the plate” and lead on the FISA issue.

    Sure was deeply disspaointed when Obama skipped town when they voted on the Kyl Lieberman amendment. Talk about another time that Obama needed to step up to the plate.

    Another rookie question. If as the Bush administratin has said “the enemies are within the gates”. If it is determined that a U.S. citizen is undermining Natinal Security by spying or passing on classified intelligence etc. And the Government (F.B.I) needs to wiretap and you are required to get a court order. How do the powere that be make sure that the information or the court order does not become public knowledge and effect the governments ability to bust an American citizen for say spying?

    Take Larry Franklin and the U.S. vs. Rosen case. What was the procedure that the F.B.I had to take to wiretap Franklin so that he could tape Rosen and Weissman allegedly committing espionage? These guys are all American citizens and by their actions have allegedly damaged National Security.

  5. bobschacht says:

    Thank you for a most excellent post! I especially like your clear layout of the issues of exclusivity and minimization as well as retroactive immunity. Your diary is indeed worthy of spotlighting!

    Bob in HI

  6. Mary says:

    A pictoral response to your post.

    Keep in mind, too, that with the “fix” of sending things to the FISC for review as an option, a) that court isn’t set up to hear adversary proceedings and a situationion involving civil penalties is meant to be an adversary proceeding as is a sitution involving felonies; and b) Lamberth who initially ruled to bar the program from FISC as unconstitutional is off the court and Kollar-Kotelly who did the same after him is getting ready to be off as Chief Judge soon IIRC (is it 6 year terms?) and if that’s the case, you’ll have at least one more Roberts appointment and a Roberts appointment of Chief Judge on FISC before things get there.

    • MadDog says:

      Keep in mind, too, that with the “fix” of sending things to the FISC for review as an option…

      As reported by The Hill (in my comment # 6 above), it seems the Democratic Quislings are willing to “compromise” by send things to any old Federal Court.

      No looking at whether the acts were legal. That wouldn’t do. Instead, just the same ol’ stuff of whether Junya and crew gave the Telcos a piece of paper. And of course, they did.

      Might be in the running for the shortest Federal Court case on record.

    • bmaz says:

      Two new judges were just appointed about three weeks ago:

      Judge Mary A. McLaughlin was appointed to the bench in 2000 by President Clinton. She was formerly an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, and a special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on terrorism during the Ruby Ridge hearings in 1995.

      Judge James B. Zagel was appointed in 1987 by President Reagan. Judge Zagel is “an intelligent, tough-minded jurist,” said the Chicago Council of Lawyers, a public interest association, in a 1991 evaluation. However, “some lawyers are concerned that he will bring a political agenda to bear in certain classes of cases.”

      As to Kollar-Kotelly, her term is up as of May 19, 2009; but I am not aware of a successor having been named yet, although it is possible.

  7. JohnLopresti says:

    Check out JBalkin’s surveillance state speech published in recent version. It seems the Democratic party will have work to do in 2009 with respect to FISA modernization. In the light of JB’s article, there seem to be an array of other organs beside the secret fisa court involved in setting the atmosphere for managing privacy.

    • strider7 says:

      Balkins remarks are very important.The fisa issues tie into the larger picture of state survielance,national intel,data mining etc and the privitisation of all forms of intel that is pointed out in Spies for hire.Since corps have alot of the same rights as private citizens the same laws that allow data mining of private citizens would also apply to corps,right?
      It seems like everything will be outside the purview of congress.International corporate wars and economic strategies that will be used as levers to manipulate lesser govs.Governments become less important all controled by the big conglomerates.
      It seemes like it all started with stuff like market analysis.Then data mining then wiretaps then intel corps and private covert slush funds to private corporate wars with private mercenary militaries and an and on we go

      • bmaz says:

        Thanks MD. I notified the EFF the second I saw your first post on the other thread; that is why it took me a few minutes to get to the update. This is just total BS; the fucking Democrats are proposing it. Simply stupifying.

        • Leen says:

          Sure makes you wonder what kind of muckey muck folks have on the Democrats who keep folding their hands. WTF…why do the Democrats keep rolling over.

          As Jonathon Turley sais on Keith Olberman’s Countdown last night “the Democrats have been passive and almost colluded with the Republicans” Worht the watch. Over at Crooks and Liars (link not working)

          Under “The impeachment of President Bush”

          Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich spent some 290 minutes on the House floor Monday, reading Articles of Impeachment against President George Bush. Not that you would notice, as there was a virtual media blackout on the story, but Keith Olbermann ran with it right out of the gate on Tuesday’s Countdown.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Pffftttt… That’s when I move to the ‘do I vote, or is it really not worth the effort because I’m damned if I intend to keep on supporting Dem kabuki’ part of the universe. If the Dems can’t root out a nest of spies and stop Cheney from using nukes…

            I realize that people here are not low information voters.
            At the same time, low info voters are already tired of BushCheney.

            I realize the Dems want to keep Dubya and Cheney in place because no better reason for voting Dem has appeared in memory. But leaving them in place just continues to make the Dems look feckless, look like they do nothing but talk, and leads to Messiah beliefs — putting hopes on candidates that simply aren’t humanly possible.

            IMOHO, for the Dems to be this cynical is really simply too much given the problems at hand. Government’s broken, and the Dems are showing us just how badly broken it really is.

            • bmaz says:

              Well, that’s kind of the thing isn’t it? The GOP has truly buggered up this country and it’s government through complete politicization and the “permanent campaign”. How the hell is what Pelosi and Hoyer are evincing any different? They refuse to do the right thing by the people, the government and the Constitution out of pure electoral and power calculation. Same coin; different side. Enabling the bad and obstructing the necessary and good; same as the Republicans. If there is a hell, they should toast in it along with those they have complicitly aided and abetted.

              • JThomason says:

                In constitutional theory the judiciary would take the long view and check these short sighted politically driven excesses, yet somehow secret courts don’t instill a lot of confidence that the traditional transparency of judicial process will function in accord with the overriding idea. I would hope LabDancer can comment on the social style a judges assigned to a secret court.

                Personally, I am finding this mix of the rhetoric or transparency, declothing imaging devices at airports, secret courts, secret executive orders and that finishing dash of pixie dust a tad bitter.

              • BillE says:

                Pure power calculation or CYA? I still think the Cheney admin holds a lot of cards. Mostly related to blackmail and using it for vote control. The other main feature is other than a few social issues the two sides are identical in being mostly in the pocket of the big donors. Bankruptcy “reform” lack of hedge fund regulation etc. I like that BO has cut the lobby money from his campaign and the DNC, but it is very noteworthy that to the Democratic house and senate campaign committees its full steam ahead and no big donor left behind

                • bmaz says:

                  I would tend more to political calculation than blackmail. I have never bought that far into the blackmail stuff; if it was really that widespread and true, reverse blackmail would be utilized. By that i mean said Dems could band together and threaten to out Cheney et al. There may be a little of what you describe, but I am just not buying into any wholesale effort like that.

              • phred says:

                Exactly right bmaz and great post, too! On the one hand, I am totally sympathetic to those working to remake the Democratic Party from within. On the other, I’m longing for a third choice, a little d democratic party that values the Constitution and rule of law.

                I find it completely stunning that in an election year Pelosi and her happy band of looting miscreants fail to see that behaving like Republicans is no way to win a landslide victory that the public is practically begging to give you. Morons. Conniving, duplicitous, corrupt morons.

                • bmaz says:

                  I’ll tell you another thing that really eats at me. That is, and I just watched video of Obama himself doing it yesterday, the constant Dem subservience to the Repug tax meme. Obama was responding to McCain’s blather about Dems raising taxes by saying how he was going to give big tax cuts to the middle class and poor, only get rid of the Bush cuts on the rich etc. I think that, at this point, Americans have figured out that their country is going to rot on a bullet train. Tell the people that tax cuts are done and that we might even have to raise them a few insignificant dollars for each and every individual, but that in return we are going to repair our schools, hire more teachers, start getting people health coverage, take care of our veterans, and keep honest people in their homes. People need services and they know it now; that takes revenue. Sorry, that is just the way it is. Be honest about it.

                  • phred says:

                    Yep, I agree with that, too. I have a friend who intends to vote for McCain on the basis of (and I’m not kidding here) the environment and taxes. This friend is determined to believe any damn bullshit that wanders into his email inbox no matter how patently false it might be. I’m doing my best to introduce him to the reality based community, with little success thus far. It seems to me that not only do we have to insist that our elected officials be honest, but we have to insist that the media and the public join in the effort. A lot of uphill slogging yet do all around…

            • Leen says:

              The Dems need to get out on the streets more. Have been talking to voters in the south eastern Ohio white blue collar land often “low info” (mainstream info) voters who are more often than not working two jobs for $8.oo bucks an hour and have a kid serving in Iraq (they WERE the believers). Many of these people are really PISSED OFF I mean really PISSED OFF that the Bush administration made every angle to convince them that Iraq posessed WMD’s. These people have many family members who are serving in Iraq for their third and fourth times. I have heard a great deal of talk coming out of some of these voters mouths that I am not able to repeat here. (lots of it our of 70 and 80 year old’s)

              I think the Democrats are underestimating the anger out there and how it could be used to truly crush the Republicans if only Pelosi and Reid had the chutzpah to do so.

              • JThomason says:

                I have a friend who just returned from the east coast close to a military base where she was screening for PTSD. Her comments were that a lot of soldiers feel trapped in the military and want out. I agree that Dem leadership is underestimating citizen anger.

              • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                I think the Democrats are underestimating the anger out there and how it could be used to truly crush the Republicans if only Pelosi and Reid had the chutzpah to do so.

                You probably won’t see this comment, Leen, but I see a similar dynamic.
                I recognize that with Ted Kennedy sick the Dems are down yet another Senator.
                But that doesn’t excuse the House.

                I’m fed up being told that ‘nothing can be done’.
                And yeah, I know one young (outstanding) couple who had planned on military careers and were both officers. They’re no longer in the military. Ditto one other really fine young man. And this past week, I learned of another late-20s Army officer who’s getting out after several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

                Apart from the idea that a VP can out a CIA agent and never even have to be accountable, the notion that the military is losing its young officers would tell any Congress that they needed to take some swift, comprehensive legal action to stop the derailing of US government.

                The only logical conclusion, really, is that too many Dems are complicit — or too gutless.
                Who wants to vote for ‘complicit but lying’?
                Who wants to vote for ‘gutless and feckless’?

                I want change, but enough with the Bait-and-Switch, already!!

          • bmaz says:

            I saw the Turley segment on Olbermann last night. It was almost as if he had been reading my thoughts and some of the comments of many of the folks here, eh? Turley is no radical, yet he gets it. Bruce Fein is not even remotely on the left, yet he gets it. Why is it so difficult for big media and the Congress to claim hold of?

            • Leen says:

              While far from “radical” right or left Turley and Bruce Fein jumped from the ship of the the most radical group of wing nuts on the right (wrong) our nation has ever seen.

              Jonathon Turley’s response to Kucinich’s reading of articles of Impeachment demonstrates that even some Republicans have the integrity to acknowledge Congressman Kuchinich is one example of a LIVE MAN WALKING.

              Please Call Congressman Kucinich let him know you noticed his continuing efforts to bring some sanity to this ongoing madness.

              Congressman Kucinich

              Live man walking and talking

      • PetePierce says:

        It’s a sad state of affairs when an acclaimed terrorism reporter for the Times becomes a next to worthless shill for this administration’s lies.

        And Glenn nails Eric Lichtblau whose coverage of FISA has been close to that of Fox news, and way below the Times’ standards.

        NYT circulates fear-mongering claims on FISA debate

        Shades of Judy Miller!

  8. wavpeac says:

    I am pissed. Everyone on dkos was excited about olberman because supposedly he was going to talk about impeachment. But instead it was a pretty negative view of impeachment. Gone was “the right thing to do” and instead it seemed to be bunch of negativity about why it won’t succeed. Are there more hopeful reads of this??

    Yes, Turley kicked butt, but Howard was a wet noodle. The problem with these analysts telling us what is going to happen is that it has made america lazier. We don’t have to work to get the truth, we just have to sit back, let them make self fulfilling prophecy and gum it up at work like we heard it on the tube and no one has to think for themselves. And god forbid if you discuss a position not presented on the tubes!! “well, I heard Howard Finemen say this impeachment wouldn’t go any further than a shelf.”

    GEESH. This is being spoon fed to americans. Tomorrow at the water cooler everyone will be talking about how impeachment will fail. How the american people don’t have the will for it.(excuse me not EVERYONE because Olberman was the ONLY one covering the issue.) What a crock of shit.

    Sorry. I just don’t understand what the hell is more important that protecting our constitution. And while americans are gambling on the stock market, gambling on their health by smoking, drinking and eating themselves into bliss, no one is willing to take a risk for the constitution of the United States of America!!!

    I will call Obama in the morning. I hope he is the leader we need. There are many americans who would support impeachment. Course t.v land just told them it’s impossible.


    My Irish is up, but my indian can’t drink. I guess I’ll go watch a movie. Have a night cap for me all.

  9. bmaz says:

    Pelosi, Hoyer, Reyes, Reid, and Jello Jay must have gagged down some Viagra before attempting to do this to us. Each and every one of them need the treatment that Al Wynn got from Donna Edwards.

    • Peterr says:

      I wonder how Teddy Kennedy is feeling these days. Perhaps some of the MA readers here might want to give his office a call, to see if he might be willing to “encourage” Obama to step up at the Profile in Courage moment.

  10. Peterr says:

    This willingness of the Democratic Leadership to belligerently betray the trust and best interests of their constituents, party and country is simply stunning. This is weak, shameless and traitorous leadership at it’s craven worst.

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you . . .

    How Kit “Trust Me” Bond can claim to come from the same state as Harry “Show Me” Truman is beyond me.

    I know it won’t do any good, but I think I may give Bond’s office a call in the morning. Actually, it will do some good — my conscience will feel much better, though I’m sure it won’t shift Bond’s actions at being Bush’s waterboy any.

  11. PJEvans says:

    Spineless wimps.
    Told both my senators to againstit, unless they really want George and Dick to read all our mail and listen to all our phonecalls.

    Also clicked through on the blogad: McSame will be sending you some money. (But boy, did they get it on the wrong blog!)

  12. Loo Hoo. says:

    Apart from everything that is inherently wrong with spying on Americans, we simply cannot afford this.

  13. strider7 says:

    What is really mind numbing is how all this is treated so casually.That issues of this magnitude are decided by a few congrssional corporate whores that will affect the US and probably the world for eternity.The entire country should be allowed to weigh in on this decision openly.Truly a profilies in courage moment.I truly believe that the american people can make an honest evaluation of this if it is presented honestly and accurately.
    It pretty much comes down to weather we want a government that is effective or just the illusion of one.

    • Minnesotachuck says:

      OT: I know this is an especially serious thread, even for EW.FDL, but every now and then some comic relief is in order. So, while we’re on the topic of “numbing” I offer this YouTube link my daughter sent me this morning, and that I’ve been chuckling about every time I thought of it ever since:…

      Nighty Night, all!

    • bmaz says:

      One must assume that Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are all in favor of this war to be with Iran in light of Pelosi’s reaffirmation today that there is no basis for impeachment, including the last war we were led into on the wings of fraud and lies, and that even discussing impeachment interferes with their legislative “work”. If they were not already in the same boat of disgust and depravity as Bush and Cheney, today’s news and performance about seals the deal for me.

      • MadDog says:

        I’ve come to the conclusion that Pelosi/Hoyer/Reid/Rockefeller in fact want nothing more than to ensure that the powers usurped by Junya and Deadeye are kept whole and intact for future Administrations.

        The Unitary Executive may have had its paternity from Deadeye, but Nancy insists on her maternity rights to keep the offspring.

        These are folks who live in a different country than the one you and I reside in, with different laws, different rights and a power structure that has nothing but total disdain for the great unwashed.

        We are sheep being led to the slaughter because the rulers must have their fill of lamb chops and woolen coats.

        Baaaaaa, humbug!

      • selise says:

        the games that were played last year by speaker pelosi wrt iran warmongering convinced me that our dem congressional leadership were not as they were representing themselves to be.

        hugh has a nice summary of iran legislation in his item 280.

        • Leen says:

          Jonathon Turley ripped into Pelosi last night on Olberman’s Countdown. They have the segment linked over at Crooks and Liars(can not link from this computer). It is the post focuse on Congressman Kucinich articles of Impeachment reading.

          Turley rips it up.

        • darclay says:

          So how is the leadership chosen? Maybe we should all write our critters and demand they repace polosi and reid?

  14. yonodeler says:

    We’re fortunate that experts in information technology, privacy, and law are speaking up. I wish more Members of Congress were reading what they are saying.

    We’re getting conceptually hoodwinked in a big way, I think, as to when collected data becomes personal information. We’re being lulled into believing that we’re not personally the subject of a paper and/or electronic dossier unless we’ve known to have been, or are reasonably or in good-faith error suspected to be involved in, crime or terror. Well, for most of us, a dossier is not needed; we can be electronically assembled in moments (the time needed grows shorter and shorter) from information stored in several places. Must person-specific data kept discretely, rather than fully assembled, be defined as personal before it is pulled together to identify and describe the individual in all known significant particulars? I think so, but it would be inconvenient to agencies administering current and under-development surveillance and data aggregation programs, to the contractors under those programs, and to cooperating businesses, to define discretely maintained, potentially useful person-specific data as anything more than odd pieces of information that are not part of a person.

    DHS has a major role in coordinating all the parts in the all-crimes, all-catastrophes readiness mega-project.

    Nondisclosure of the dimensions of what has already been done, and what is currently being done, in domestic surveillance and in collection of personal information makes adequately informed decision-making impossible.

  15. MarieRoget says:

    Another call to arms on FISA? Ok, just sent fax to Obama. Faxes to follow after coffee to Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid, Rockefeller, and Reyes. I’m sure you don’t mind if I’m including a copy of this excellent post, bmaz.

    • skdadl says:

      Commented and recommended, drational — great post. We just have to keep repeating ourselves.

      If I may be allowed a further O/T: Does anyone here have anything pithy to say about John Bellinger? He made an appearance before Delahunt’s foreign affairs subcommittee yesterday that just has me boiling. He called Arar’s rendition a “myth,” muddied the waters by rabbitting on about the time and trouble the admin takes to get “assurances” from home countries when they send detainees home (a very important subject, but irrelevant — disingenuously so — to Arar’s case), and then waved Arar’s whole story off as an immigration matter.

      Delahunt is wonderful on this topic, truly wonderful, but I wish someone had been there to read back quotes from Justice O’Connor’s report that counter fuzzy claims Bellinger made. We do know bits and pieces of what was going on from the American side, and it’s clear that this was not just an INS decision, even if the full truth is — how can I put this? — obstructed?

  16. MarieRoget says:

    FYI: Phone & Fax #s for

    Nancy Pelosi- Phone (202) 225-4965
    Fax Number (202) 225-8259

    Steny Hoyer- Phone (202) 225-4131
    Fax (202) 225-4300

    Harry Reid- Phone: (202) 224-3542
    Fax: (202) 224-7327

    Jay Rockefeller- (202) 224-6472
    (202) 224-7665 Main Fax

    Silvestre Reyes- Phone: (202) 225-4831
    Fax: (202) 225-2016

  17. wavpeac says:

    Well I made my call and asked for Obama to defend the constitution and our privacy laws by preventing retroactive immunity from becoming a reality. I said I did not believe there was any more important issue that having him with his considerable political power, defend our constitution RIGHT NOW!!

  18. BoxTurtle says:

    I faxed everybody on Marie’s list. Not going to waste my time at my rep’s office. Hobson is GOP, retiring, in favor of total secret immunity and might not even be answering his phone.

    Boxturtle (The GOP might not retain this district. *fingers crossed*)

  19. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Not necessarily OT for FISA: has anyone here heard about a bill from Sen Pryor of AK to address spyware…?

    From CSPAN June 11: Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) has introduced S. 1625, the Counter Spy Act, a bill authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to pursue spyware cases. He chairs a hearing of the Senate Commerce Cmte. on spyware.

    Not necessarily FISA, but not unrelated… anyone following this item?

  20. Mary says:

    36 – that is a great diary drational. Black humor backed by facts and delivered up on a razor’s edge.

    • kspena says:

      Scottie is still quite conflicted and struggling with his narratives. What I’m hearing is an abundance of the word “we” and less of the word “they”….a work in progress… He needs also to hear a little lecture on the banality of evil…It doesn’t appear with horns and a tail; it is rather imbedded in the ‘common sense’ of the practices of everyday life…

      • Leen says:

        If I hear Scottie make any more excuses for the this bag of lying warmongers I am going to…

        How many times can Scottie say “it (the creation, cherrry picking and dessimination of false pre-war intelligence) WAS NOT DELIBERATE. They (the Bush administration) were just caught up in the campaign culture that I had been caught up in” hogwash?

    • Leen says:

      Chris Matthews had Amy on several times a few years ago. I want more of Amy in the Mainstream.

  21. PetePierce says:

    I’d just like to have a moment of silence for Dusty Foggo, the CIA officer of Randy Cunningham fame, who was crimped in getting his passport back for a little European vacation with his family for five weeks. His lawyers had previously argued to transfer his case to Virginia, from the S.D. California because Foggo couldn’t afford to travel there for the trial (whoops!).

    European exchange rates could not be higher now.

    Judge Refuses Dusty Five Weeks in Europe



    • Leen says:

      That Judge gives us the gift of hope.

      Too broke to stand trial and then found the money in the coffers to go to Europe. These folks have no shame.

  22. darclay says:

    I’ve had several clients that were taken aback that MSM had said nothing about the articles of impeachment.

  23. LS says:

    I assume some of you heard McC on Democracy Now this morning. If you didn’t, here’s the rush transcript…there is more where he talks about the war, etc., but here’s what is up on the website so far:…..hite_house

    “So that’s where I’d come to the conclusion that, yes, I was knowingly misled by Karl, I was knowingly misled by Scooter Libby, as well—two colleagues, one I had known since my days in Texas. And I took them at their word, and I shouldn’t have.

    AMY GOODMAN: You said that he lied to you—Karl Rove.


    AMY GOODMAN: Do you believe he committed a crime?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: I don’t know. And he wasn’t charged with a crime, so I would hesitate to even go down that road. But what he did was wrong. Whether or not he knew she was a covert official or not and how he learned that, it was still wrong to have her name and have her identity publicly revealed to reporters. It should have never happened.”

  24. Leen says:

    the other group of folks that I have been spending time with are a group of WWII/Teamster crew of men (my father is ill) and they are also WAY PISSED OFF with first off the warmongering Bush administration but with the seemingly neutered Democrats not willing to take a solid stand on many issues. Not only spending a great deal of time with these honorable hard working group of gents but talking with lots of older folks in nursing homes and assisted living facilities (looked at 12 different facilities this winter looking for my father and mother). I love talking to everyone I can what ever situation I put or find myself in and I am telling you there are lots of PISSED OFF voters in these places. The Democrats need to tap into this anger and frustration. Obama has!

  25. yonodeler says:

    If Obama is elected, the transition to his administration will be much more difficult than it would have been had appropriate, duty-mandated accountability measures been taken. Imagine the difficulties that will face new appointees trying to set up operations in federal agencies immediately after the free-ranging Bush administration.

  26. JohnLopresti says:

    Speaking of information control, check out this link to the ever courteous Sen. Feinstein’s being squelched by Reid based on a Republican from MS’s demand that Reid interrupt and immediately cancel the hearing Feinstein was leading in Sen Judiciary Committee on June 10.

    I was emailing SenFeinstein to request a transcript of that hearing which had taken place outside of my schedule’s availability to listen live, yet, in the process found ThinkProgress’ excerpt of the proceedings, wherein Whitehouse shrugs and Feinstein gavels the proceeding to a halt. I guess it will be an exceedingly brief transcript, at that.

    This was the hearing at which Glenn Fine appeared, “Coercive Interrogation Techniques: Do They Work, Are They Reliable, and What Did the FBI Know About Them?”.

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