Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Obama: Wrong on FISA

Maybe it's a question of his being so close he can taste it.

Maybe a recent Bloomberg poll showing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama with a double-digit lead over the hapless Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), has Team Obama assuming the defensive posture of Team Italia (inside soccer joke).

In any case, and no matter what bland excuses Obama comes up with about "the threats we face," his decision to support the bipartisan "compromise" on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is unacceptable at best and disappointing at worse.

More so is Obama's backsliding on an earlier promise to filibuster any measure providing immunity for the telephone companies that caved before the Bush administration's warrant-less requests to access peoples' private stuff.

highwayscribery called Obama's headquarters yesterday to detail the financial support, numerous blog posts, and insults endured by this otherwise cynical enterprise in the HOPE there would be PROGRESS through him.

The lady who answered was articulate and on top of the issue. She informed that the senator was a constitutional law professor and that, given how the measure had not cleared the Senate, he would be "looking for legislative solutions to some of the problems with the bill," or some other mealy-mouthed hoo-ha.

the scribe responded that Obama was no longer a constitutional law professor nor a legislative plumber, but the STANDARD BEARER OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY and that we (Democrats) don't go in for government spying without warrants; nor are we crazy about spying with the warrants, since the judges in these cases usually golf with the overzealous prosecutors who see a terrorist under the seat of anybody who opposes government policies.

We don't care what Rep. Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say, the compromise is a sop to a (p)resident with nothing to do and no political power other than the veto pen.

The American people don't have to take this crap anymore. These guys are done. Bush can't steamroll the Democrats the way he could in 2003 and for Obama to try and play the, "we're just as tough on national security" card by not standing up for a core party principle makes one wonder...

...are civil rights really at the core of the Democratic Party's principles?

As Jeff Greenwald at "Salon" has noted in a series of excellent posts on this sellout, the FISA compromise gives a lame-duck administration everything it wants, while the Democratic leadership runs around claiming some kind of victory, because now there's a law that permits the executive to do what it had been doing illegally over the past few years.

The bill sucks, but don't take highwayscribery's word for it. Read this assessment by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

They list a number of flaws in this boner (H.R. 6304), but we'll highlight two favorites (for lack of a better word):

1. According to the ACLU, the legislation, "trivializes court review by explicitly permitting the government to continue surveillance programs even if the application is denied by the court;"

For those of you who aren't political bloggers, here's a translation: After a court tells the government they can't sift through your cybersurfing destinations, they can go ahead and do it anyway.

2. The bill permits "mass, untargeted surveillance of all communications" coming in and going out of the country "without any finding of wrongdoing."

It's that last phrase that really gets the scribe's goat: "without any finding of wrongdoing."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that a Chinese Muslim guy held in Guantanamo Bay for SIX YEARS without being charged had a right to appeal his detention.

The defendant, Huzaifa Parhat, is of the Uighur Muslim minority who was caught in Afghanistan while fleeing persecution from our biggest business partner and loan shark.

Parhat is still designated an "enemy combatant," although the U.S. military no longer considers him a "significant threat," or the possessor of any valuable intelligence (a department in which they are sorely lacking).

David Cole, constitutional law professor at Georgetown University, said, "And here is somebody that the military has been holding onto for six years and the federal court now says he shouldn't have been held in the first place. Absent this independent judicial review, he might have been sitting in there for another 10 to 15 years."

Maybe the constitutional law professor from University of Chicago needs to have a chat with the constitutional law professor from Georgetown, because fighting terrorists is all well and good, as long as you know they're terrorists and not using the label to silence people you don't care for.

Barack Obama didn't become presumptive Democratic nominee by being a poor politician and he's not about to start being one now.

That's a tired old Democratic trick.

The girl manning the campaign's phones pointed out that "the senator is still opposed to the immunity for telecom companies contained in the bill."

But as the blogger at "Balkinization" noted, a President Obama (tasting it!) won't mind having all those sweeping powers.

On the other hand, he could give a hoot about the telecom company part, which is getting all the play and drives his base crazy, because of their weariness with the corporation's privileged position in American life.

So he's against it without breaking a sweat.

We're still crazy about Barack Obama at highwayscribery. We don't expect the senator as president to forward our anarcho-syndicalist views in sweeping legislation, but we'd like to advance them without being snooped on and labeled terrorists.

We don't expect to always agree with him, because we're ready for a president who governs for both halves of the country and unites us.

But like, which has supported him wholeheartedly, we expect the change he is promising us, and now is as good a time as any to signal the reigning-in of an overzealous security state that treats dissent as a crime.

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