With money from the telecoms, the Bush administration will be getting their way today as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation seems to be set for passage. Below you’ll see Rachael Maddow discussing the latest with Jonathon Turley, law professor at George Washington University.
I have talked about the FISA bill on a number of occasions (here, here and here). There is no reason for the Democrats to pass this legislation, except perhaps the fear of being labeled. Democrats need to stop with the fear and stand up for the Fourthth Amendment.
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.
Finally, I must add that I am very disappointed in Senator Barack Obama’s “centrist” position on this bill. He is not standing up for principles. Instead, he is stooping to political maneuvering by taking a position that really will not upset either side in the debate too much. I had expected more. I expected a different type of politician. But it looks like I have the same old type of politician just packaged a little differently. I’m disappointed in Democrats in general, but specifically in Obama. There is no principle that can’t be bent or run over if there is some perception of a political advantage.
In case you missed it, Jonathan Turley mentioned the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. v. Bush case. There is an excellent article in Salon.com about this case –
On July 3, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court in California made a ruling particularly worthy of the nation’s attention. In Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. v. Bush, a key case in the epic battle over warrantless spying inside the United States, Judge Walker ruled, effectively, that President George W. Bush is a felon.
Judge Walker held that the president lacks the authority to disregard the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA — which means Bush’s warrantless electronic surveillance program was illegal. Whether Bush will ultimately be held accountable for violating federal law with the program remains unclear. Bush administration lawyers have fought vigorously — at times using brazen, logic-defying tactics — to prevent that from happening. The court battle will continue to play out as Congress continues to battle over recasting FISA and possibly granting immunity to telecom companies involved in the illegal surveillance. (more… )
Update: As usual, Glenn Greenwald is all over this story. He continues to write intelligently and forcefully on FISA.
Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan noted the post I wrote this weekend regarding why telecom immunity is so destructive and corrupt. But Sullivan then wrote: “In the period after 9/11 in question, I do not find these cardinal sins. Venial maybe.” Had this surveillance lawbreaking been confined to the weeks or even months after the 9/11 attack, that might be true. Even EFF’s lead counsel, Cindy Cohn, said that had the illegal spying occurred only during that time period, it’s unlikely that even they would have objected and sued.
But the reality is that the Government and the telecoms broke the law, not for weeks or months, but for years — well into 2007. They continued to do so even after the New York Times exposed what they were doing. They could have brought their spying activities into a legal framework at any time, but chose instead to spy on Americans in exactly the way our laws criminalize. Manifestly, then, national security had nothing to do with why they did it. The Bush administration chose to do so because they wanted to eavesdrop without oversight and to establish that neither Congress nor the courts can limit what the President does, and telecoms did not want to jeopardize the massive government surveillance contracts they have by refusing. (more… )