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.
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.