Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Congressman Enables Bush's FISA Immunity

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states:
“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.

Congressmen Baird and Smith both ignored this Amendment and voted this morning to pass the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The FISA Amendments Act provide legal immunity to telecommunications companies who helped the federal government with a warrantless surveillance program during the Bush administration, which gathered information about the phone records of American citizens.

According to a May 11, 2006 report by USA Today, "The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime." ... 60 Minutes did a segment on Mark Klein, a veteran telecommunications technician and computer network associate at AT&T, who described a secret room he says the National Security Agency had set up on the sixth floor of an AT&T building in downtown San Francisco. Klein said his employer was colluding with the federal government to siphon a copy of billions of domestic Internet communications into that secret room, every second of every day -- and all without a warrant.

Proponents of the surveillance program say it is in response to the attacks on 9/11, they only eavesdrop on terrorists, and it’s necessary to combat terrorism. However, the Washington Post reported on Oct. 13, 2007 that former Qwest executive Joseph Nacchio said in court papers, "the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."

Qwest is the one telecommunications company who reportedly refused to cooperate with the NSA on the grounds they believed doing so would have been illegal.

Thanks to Congressmen Baird and Smith we will never have a private conversation again. They will claim that “new” exclusivity provisions in FISA mean no president will ever be able to ignore the established surveillance laws ever again. But these “new” provisions do not really differ from the old "exclusivity" provision of the old FISA law that was on the books when George W. Bush instituted his illegal programs:
[P]rocedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.

Bush’s lawyers -- people like John Yoo -- said Bush that the president had the "inherent power" to ignore the FISA provisions in the name of "national security." So Bush did it -- despite the existence of the exclusivity provisions.

I think we now can see why they have both been against the impeachment of George Bush – they have been complicit by enabling and covering up Bush’s crimes and that might come to light if there was a real impeachment inquiry.

Shame on you Congressmen!

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  • At 6:50 PM , Blogger bushtool said...

    The shame is Smith and Baird will probably be easily re-elected despite not representing the interests of the the people that vote for them.

    Somehow electability has been divorced from accountability.


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