We Lost Our Liberties. What’s Next?

Words cannot expressed how pissed I am right now. Infuriated, appalled, shocked, outraged, betrayed, horrified, and howling mad merely scratch the surface. The fucking spineless bastards in our House of Representatives decided today that the Fourth Amendment has to take the back seat when it comes to “security.” Utter fucking bullshit.

What’s worse, Obama turned out to be as spineless as the rest of them. He would have lost my vote if we had a viable alternative. As it is, he’s certainly lost any chance of my funding – unless he has a spectacular change of heart and filibusters this fuckery in the Senate next week. You can read his full “Fuck you” to the nation at Firedoglake.

Carolyn Fredrickson of the ACLU managed to put a small bit of the outrage I feel into words:


“It’s Christmas morning at the White House thanks to this vote. The House just wrapped up some expensive gifts for the administration and their buddies at the phone companies. Watching the House fall to scare tactics and political maneuvering is especially infuriating given the way it stood up to pressure from the president on this same issue just months ago. In March we thought the House leadership had finally grown a backbone by rejecting the Senate’s FISA bill. Now we know they will not stand up for the Constitution.

“No matter how often the opposition calls this bill a ‘compromise,’ it is not a meaningful compromise, except of our constitutional rights. The bill allows for mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all communications coming in to and out of the United States. The courts’ role is superficial at best, as the government can continue spying on our communications even after the FISA court has objected. Democratic leaders turned what should have been an easy FISA fix into the wholesale giveaway of our Fourth Amendment rights.

“More than two years after the president’s domestic spying was revealed in the pages of the New York Times, Congress’ fury and shock has dissipated to an obedient whimper. After scrambling for years to cover their tracks, the phone companies and the administration are almost there. This immunity provision will effectively destroy Americans’ chance to have their deserved day in court and will kill any possibility of learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions. The House should be ashamed of itself. The fate of the Fourth Amendment is now in the Senate’s hands. We can only hope senators will show more courage than their colleagues in the House.”

For more information, go to:
www.aclu.org/fisa


The Senate’s only going to show some courage if we force it upon them. Time to start taking action now, my darlings, unless of course you don’t mind having the Constitution used as White House toilet paper.

Contact Obama and let him know he needs to grow a fucking spine. It’s put-up or shut-up time: either he’s an agent of change or he’s business as usual. His leadership on destroying this bill is necessary in order for him to prove himself worthy of the honor of President.

Contact your Senators. Let them know they need to kill this bill.

If your Congresscritter was one of those who stood up against this travesty, thank him or her. If your Congresscritter was one of those who caved, let them know you’re not at all pleased. You can view the rollcall to find out which side of the fence yours fell on here.

Join the fight against the spineless wankers who allowed this monstrosity to be born. The problem with Washington is that there haven’t been clear consequences for this kind of behavior. We now have the ability to spank those who eviscerate our Constitutional rights. Just check out this wonderful ad that will be running soon against Steny Hoyer, sellout extraordinaire:

There’s strikethrough: $250,000 $280,000 more where that came from. There will be a lot more. Any Dem willing to sell out principles for political grandstanding deserves to get thrown out on his or her ear. It’s not enough to have Democrats in office – they must be Democrats who will actually fight for the rule of law and the best interests of the country. Money talks – make them listen to yours.

If you want to do more to get progressive candidates into office, you can contribute here at the Blue America PAC.

We only lose if we stop fighting, my darlings. Don’t quit the field.

Time to Tie Up the Phones

The vote to immunize telecoms and eviscerate our civil liberties could come as soon as noon EST today. Time to make some calls. The louder we howl, the more likely it is we’ll get heard.

Need motivation? Try Digby:


Pace Godwin, the idea that it’s a good principle to indemnify corporations from law breaking when its done at the behest of the government is getting close to the definition of fascism — the joining of corporate and government power, beyond the scope of law, in the name of national security. We should not go there.

We really shouldn’t. Here’s another motivator:


The new agreement broadens the authority to spy on people in the U.S. and provides conditional legal immunity to companies that helped the government eavesdrop after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to congressional aides in both parties.

The deal, if adopted, would bring the spy activities of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program permanently under the law. That would allow the government, in certain circumstances, to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without a specific warrant. It would also expand government spy powers to monitor communications between the U.S. and overseas to collect intelligence on topics beyond terrorism. [emphasis added]

Does this shit scare you? It terrifies me. Especially that last bit. Everybody say hello to Big Brother, and remember that in America today, torture is not only condoned, it’s encouraged.

Carpetbagger adds a good sharp jolt:


Shaping the law this way is madness. Proponents are characterizing this as establishing some kind of condition for retroactive immunity — the telecoms aren’t off the hook, the argument goes, because the White House would still need to show that Bush & Co. initiated the illegal surveillance. But given that the White House and the telecoms already have endorsed this “compromise,” it’s pretty safe to assume they know this is a threshold they can meet. If they didn’t have the piece of paper to show to a judge, they wouldn’t have endorsed the deal.

Laura Rozen added: “Doesn’t that actually endorse and extend to private actors the Nixonian view that if the president says it’s legal, it’s legal, regardless of what the law says and the Constitution says? Wouldn’t that set an awful precedent that an administration could get private actors to do whatever they wanted including breaking the law?”

Why, yes. Yes, it would.

Who wants the President to decide which laws to follow? Who wants the President to be able to create all the secret spying programs he wants, without oversight, knowing Congress will roll over and give it a patina of legality later on? Who wants corporations in bed with the White House to this extent? Anybody aside from the extreme right-wing nutjobs?

If you want to put a stop to this, get on the phones:

Call Barack Obama and urge him to make a public statement reiterating his opposition to telco amnesty. His opposition could kill this deal: Phone (202) 224-2854, Fax (202) 228-4260

Call Steny Hoyer and tell him this is a bad deal: Phone (202) 225-4131, Fax (202) 225-4300

Call Nancy Pelosi and urge her to pull the bill from the House schedule: Phone (202) 225-4965, Fax (202) 225-8259

Call your representative and tell them to vote no on the FISA rewrite tomorrow today.

Office of the Speaker: (202) 225-0100. Ask for the Speaker’s comment line.

Call Harry Reid and tell him to develop a backbone: (202) 224-3542

Finger too jittery to stop dialing? Ready to do more?

Here are the Blue Dogs who supported the House’s good FISA bill, the one that did not include amnesty. Call them and ask them to hold tough and vote against this bill tomorrow today:

Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, D-Iowa — Phone: (202) 225-3806, Fax: (202) 225-5608
Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark. — Phone: (202) 225-4076, Fax: (202) 225-5602
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark. — Phone: (202) 225-3772, Fax: (202) 225-1314
Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. — Phone: (202) 225-2611, Fax: (202) 226-0893
Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill. — Phone: (202) 225-3711, Fax: (202) 225-7830
Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga. — Phone: (202) 225-2823, Fax: (202) 225-3377
Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla. — Phone: (202) 225-5235, Fax: (202) 225-5615
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif. — Phone: (202) 225-6161, Fax: (202) 225-8671
Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn. — Phone: (202) 225-4714, Fax: (202) 225-1765
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah — Phone: (202) 225-3011, Fax: (202) 225-5638
Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. — Phone: (202) 225-4636, Fax: (202) 225-3284
Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La. — Phone: (202) 225-4031, Fax: (202) 226-3944
Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan. — Phone: (202) 225-2865, Fax: (202) 225-2807
Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio — Phone: (202) 225-6265, Fax: (202) 225-3394

These are the Blue Dogs who were with the Republicans on the last vote. Tell them it’s never too late to redeem themselves and vote against this bad bill:

Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla. — Phone: (202) 225-2701, Fax: (202) 225-3038
Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa. — Phone: (202) 225-3731, Fax: (202) 225-9594
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. — Phone: (202) 225-4311, Fax: (202) 226-1035
Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn. — Phone: (202) 225-6831, Fax: (202) 226-5172
Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa. — Phone: (202) 225-5546, Fax: (202) 226-0996
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. — Phone: (202) 225-6401, Fax: (202) 226-6422

We may not win, my darlings, but it won’t be for lack of fighting.

To the phones!

Update: if you can’t get through to Rep. Hoyer’s office, you can email him here. Let him know that the “compromise” he negotiated is a capitulation!

More FISA Fuckery – And a Chance to Act

I feel like we’re battling a zombie in a bad horror film – every time I think that odious FISA bill with its free pass for lawbreakers is dead, here it comes again.

If you’re just tuning in, here’s the blood and the bones: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has a wee little loophole that needs fixing. When the Act was first passed (in the wake of Watergate, after America learned just how far a President with warrantless wiretapping powers can go), technology wasn’t quite what it is today. So there’s no provision exempting foreign-to-foreign calls that route through American switches from the warrant requirement. That’s it. That’s the sum total of what needs to be fixed. A little bit o’ language needs to be bunged in there saying “No warrant needed for eavesdropping on foreign-to-foreign calls routing through American switches.” That’s it.

Now, mind you, as much as I like the idea of law, order and safety, I’m still a little chary about that exception – why the fuck should foreigners get to have the spooks listen in with impunity? Why not require oversight even when the calls are made by foreigners only? – but realistically speaking, extending a warrant requirement to all just ain’t going to happen in the current political climate. So an exemption for foreign-to-foreign calls there should be.

Of course it can’t be that simple. This is Washington, under the Bush Regime, we’re talking about.

Bush took it upon himself to create a gargantuan, very illegal warrantless wiretapping program after September 11th. Now he wants that program made legal, and he wants immunity for all his good buddies, the telecom giants, who overstepped their authority, shat on the law, and spied on American citizens at his behest.

I work for one of those telecom giants. I can tell you that of all the things they need, immunity from the consequences of their own illegal actions isn’t one of them.

The House Dems finally showed some backbone, and shot down the Senate’s yellow-bellied attempt to insert immunity language into the current FISA bill. However, like a zombie in a bad horror film, the damned thing keeps rising from the dead. Glenn Greenwald reports:

It is now definitively clear that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is the driving force behind a bill — written by GOP Sen. Kit Bond — to vest the President with vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers and to vest lawbreaking telecoms with amnesty. Even as his office dishonestly denies that he is doing so, still more reports yesterday — this one from the NYT and this one from Roll Call (sub req’d) — confirm that a so-called “compromise” is being spearheaded by Hoyer and the House Democratic leadership. The ACLU and EFF are holding a joint call tomorrow to denounce Hoyer’s “compromise” as nothing more than disguised guaranteed immunity for telecoms and, further, because “the proposed deal could be used to authorize dragnet surveillance of Americans’ communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

As a result, there is a major new campaign beginning today aimed at Hoyer and a handful of other key members of Congress who enable telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping. In order to raise as much money as possible for this campaign — far more than the $85,000 raised (and still being spent) in Chris Carney’s district as a result of his support for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty — we are working to create an alliance with numerous organizations and factions across the ideological spectrum which oppose civil liberties erosions, as well as with as many blogs as possible (modeled vaguely after the ideologically diverse alliance that has arisen in Britain in opposition to the sprawling and lawless surveillance state there).

And even though that coalition has had a mere day to start forming, even though there’s no shape to it yet, they’ve managed to raise $144,750 by 4:15 a.m. Pacific. That’s huge. That tells me there are a lot of very fed-up people who are ready to brawl.

I, like Glenn Greenwald, will have further updates as the coalition of the more-than-willing comes together to defeat this FISA monstrosity. And in a few moments, after I’ve had a smoke and fetched my trusty credit card, you’ll see this amount go right the fuck up, because, my darlings, I have fucking had it with these slimy bastards who think they can get away with carving out a whole separate law for corporations. What they are saying is this: If you and I and a mom-and-pop shop break the law, we’re burnt toast. If AT&T, Verizon and Comcast do it, it’s patriotic.

Bull fucking shit.

While I smoke and fetch plastic, you can amuse yourself with some history of the FISA fuckery here, here, and here. Especially consider that last: why are Dems so eager to cave now when they succeeded so spectacularly at defying Bush without political penalty just a few months ago? Have some lobbyists been whispering sweet nothings into select ears? It can’t possibly be because they fear a public backlash – the public isn’t willing and eager to have Bush & Buddies listening in on their private calls.

What fucktards.

***

Right. Back. And the total now is: $145,020 as of 4:38 am Pacific.

Do you want to get in on the fun? You know you do. First off, here’s a little something you can do even if you don’t have funds: Tell your members of Congress to reject a sham immunity “compromise.” The ACLU has a letter all ready to go for you.

And here’s Act Blue’s page for donations:


Accountability is one of the most important foundations of democracy. It is time we start holding our elected representatives responsible for rubber stamping the most grievous aspects of the Bush Regime’s agenda. Surely the plans for retroactive immunity for Bush cronies inside his regime and for cronies in the telecom corporations who broke the law by spying on American citizens without warrants, is outrageous and needs to be brought before the bar of Justice. All the money raised on this page will go to fund accountability for congressmembers supporting retroactive immunity and warrantless wiretaps. You can read more about the campaign here, here and here.

After Dick Gephart betrayed the majority of House Democrats and plotted with Bush, Cheney and some Blue Dogs to thwart the will of the majority and rubber stamp Bush’s decision to attack and occupy Iraq, he was forced out of his role as Democratic Leader. Steny Hoyer deserves the exact same fate.


Yes, he does. And everyone who’s willing to compromise the Fourth Amendment and flush American civil rights and values down the toilet deserves the same. If you’ve got a bit o’ cash to spare, drop it in Act Blue’s kitty and let them go to town.

We’ve been used, abused, and lied to long enough. Take a stand. No amnesty for lawbreakers. No warrantless wiretapping powers for Bush. Protect your Constitution and your rights.

Kill this zombie for good.

$145,270 and counting… We’re coming for you.