• Fourth Amendment Of The United States Constitution

    "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." The recent capitualtion of the United States House of Representaives to the Bush Administrations demands for TELECOM IMMUNITY in anticipation of the United States Senate following suit shall not stand. Congress is empowered to pass laws. If they pass a bad law it needs to be repealed. This is bad law and this site seeks to have this law repealed. Please Read Carte blanche to illegally spy on Americans by Tom Burghardt
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By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2011 1:32pm
The GOP ‘voter fraud epidemic’ continues…
What do GOP superstar Ann Coulter, the head of the GOP’s California voter registration firm Mark Anthony Jacoby, and, as of yesterday, Indiana’s newly elected GOP Secretary of State Charlie White all have in common? Unlike the four-decade old community organization ACORN, each of the Republicans appear to have committed voter fraud and/or voter registration fraud.
Coulter’s well-documented acts of voter fraud and voter registration fraud took place in 2005 in Palm Beach County, FL, and were preceded by likely acts ofvoter fraud in Connecticut in 2002 and 2004 as well. Jacoby’s voter registration fraud in CA led to his 2008 arrest and subsequent guilty plea. And now White, the new chief election official in IN, the state with one of the most draconian voter suppression polling-place Photo ID restriction laws in the nation, has been charged with three counts of voter fraud (as well as additional counts of perjury, financial institution fraud, and theft), just two months after being sworn in last January, for having lied about his address when he voted in last year’s GOP primary…
The state’s top election official will face seven felony counts, including voter fraud, perjury and theft, a special prosecutor said today. 

Secretary of State Charlie White was accused of intentionally voting in the wrong precinct during the May 2010 primary, a potential felony.
White turned himself in at the Hamilton County Jail Thursday afternoon and was released after posting $10,000 bond.

White has admitted to voting in a district where he no longer lived.

In a statement released yesterday, Republican Governor Mitch Daniels said: “It would be neither credible nor appropriate for the state’s top elections official to continue to perform his duties while contesting criminal charges, some of them under the very laws the secretary of state implements.”
The Chief Election Official in the State of Indiana is an absolute scofflaw on the very legitimacy of his OWN voting behavior!


Russ Feingold Introduces JUSTICE Act: Read It

Last week, Senator Russell Feingold introduced the JUSTICE Act to the U.S. Senate for consideration. It has implications for both Section 215 of the Patriot Act (national security letters) and the FISA Amendments Act (electronic and physical search and seizure), both of which unconstitutionally permit warrantless searches of Americans, their communications and their effects. The JUSTICE Act places restrictions on these activities. Read the bill, then tell us what you think about it. Is this the silver bullet we’ve been waiting for, or is it just another disappointment?

Total Information Awareness Is Operational Under Obama!

People who care about the privacy of their papers and their persons may remember the furor that arose during the early years of the presidency of George W. Bush about the development of Total Information Awareness in the Pentagon by Iran Contra conspirator John Poindexter. The Total Information Awareness program was intended to design a super database into which the government would pull all kinds of private information, using the powers of the Patriot Act. Everything from medical records to book purchases would be taken from commercial databases and compiled, so that the government could keep files on the details of every American’s private life.

Congress acted then to end the Total Information Awareness program. So what did the Bush Administration do? They just gave it a new name, and moved it to the National Security Agency, and thus was born the program to seize information and spy without a search warrant.

New revelations by former NSA employee Russell Tice confirm earlier reports by a former employee of AT&T: The NSA was gathering ALL electronic communications into a gigantic computer database, using the Patriot Act as a justification. That electronic spying dragnet was further justified by the passage of the FISA Amendments Act.

Your telephone calls, your emails, your text messages, your credit card use, your Internet habits are all being watched by the government. Secret physical searches of homes and offices without a search warrant are also allowed under the FISA Amendments Act. Big Brother is here. Total Information Awareness is alive.

The funny thing that very few people have bothered to mention is that this search and seizure of Americans’ persons and papers is completely unconstitutional. Read the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution:

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.

Warrants are absolutely required for government searches and seizures, and the government has to be specific in applying for warrants about exactly who and where it wants the searches and seizures to apply to. The new Total Information Awareness program gives no such specification – it searches the electronic communications of the entire United States of America!

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is just a problem of the past, and that with the Bush Administration gone, the problem is solved. No, as a senator, Barack Obama voted to approve the FISA Amendments Act, and as President he is administering the program without acting to end the warrantless electronic spying at all. Barack Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, confirms that the Obama Administration’s intention is to keep the NSA Total Information Awareness program in place.

If you care about freedom, you need to act now to put pressure on Barack Obama to change course, and to put an end to the Big Brother NSA spying program being used against the American people.

Stand Up For the Constitution: DC Inaugural Demonstration, 1-20-09

1-20-09 Pro-Constitution Activist Demonstration on Inauguration Parade Route on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Web Banner.Since the FISA Amendments Act in the summer of 2008, the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution is essentially a suggestion. The prohibition on searches and seizures of you, your property and your communications used to be a mandate, but now it is just a suggestion to be followed if the President feels like it.

Is that acceptable to you? If not, consider that our next President, Barack Obama, not only voted for the FISA Amendments Act, but declared his intention to employ it as President.

Do you believe dissent is the highest form of Patriotism unless the object of dissent is a Democrat?
Do you believe that an administration must adhere to the Constitution or pay political costs… so long as the administration is a Republican one?

Or do you believe the United States Constitution applies in all seasons? Do you advocate all presidents, Democratic or Republican, should be held to account for their policy decisions?

If you find yourself in the latter camp, then please join us on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, in Washington, DC. We have secured a permit for a spot on Pennsylvania Avenue. Our purpose: to courteously, quietly but pointedly stand along the route, holding signs that ask our new president Barack Obama, as he passes us by on Pennsylvania Avenue, to fulfill his Oath of Office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Here are the details, from the Inauguration demonstration web page:

President Barack Obama:
Fulfill Your Oath
Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution

Pro-Constitution Demonstration in Washington, DC
Outside the Department of Justice
SW Corner of Pennsylvania and 9th
on the Inauguration Parade Route

January 20, 2009 (presence maintained through the day until the end of the Inaugural Parade)

Support the Constitution by exercising it! Exercise your First Amendment freedom to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievance. Ask President Barack Obama to keep his Oath of Office to “Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Demonstration web page:

Will you carry your principled activism into the Obama Era? Will you be there?

Will you spread the word?

Whatever the Results, Protest FISA

This blog seems to have gone dead. Have people moved on to the next issue? Does it matter not so much that by law a president can search through your home, your office, your car and your communications for periods of 67 days… because the law was passed in the summer and now it’s fall? Has the presidential election distracted you?

Well, heck, regardless of who is elected on November 4, you’ll have a FISA Amendments Act supporter in the White House. The organization Columbus for Peace has announced a November 5, 2008 protest at the State Capitol Building at the corner of Broad Street and High Street in Columbus, Ohio — no matter who wins the presidency. If you live in Ohio, meet there at 10 AM.

If you don’t live in Ohio, organize something similar in your neck of the woods. It’s not just time to vote. It’s time to agitate for a better world.

Obama-Bayh? Why don’t you just grind it in a little harder?

Rumors are buzzing around town that Barack Obama may choose Evan Bayh as a running mate in the 2008 presidential elections. Only a resident of Bayh’s state of Indiana would have the conservative cluelessness to call Evan Bayh a “far-left liberal Senator”. On substantive policy matters, Evan Bayh has failed to support legislation to shut down Guantanamo, sat on his hands and let legislation to counter the use of child soldiers wither on the vine, passively permitted government databases to balloon out of control without government oversight, blocked stem cell research, refused to support contraceptive distribution, sat on his hands (yet again) and passively (yet again) obstructed greenhouse gas regulation, refused to support the repeal of the Military Commissions Act, continued to support civilian-blasting cluster bombs and resisted action against loan sharks. When it comes to substantive policy, Evan Bayh is no liberal. He is a block of wood.

But there is a more fundamental basis for us to fear the choice of Evan Bayh as Vice President — the Senator has emerged in active opposition to the fundamental basis for the organization of our political system, the U.S. Constitution. Last year, Evan Bayh voted for the Protect America Act, a bill which temporarily permitted the U.S. government to spy on its citizens and search their communications without the judicial warrant that the Fourth Amendment so clearly requires. This year, Evan Bayh cheerily voted for the FISA Amendments Act, its four-year extension.

By supporting the FISA Amendments Act, Barack Obama’s turned from someone who supported the Constitution in speeches into someone who undermined the Constitution in his actions. The selection of Evan Bayh by Barack Obama as his running mate would reiterate Barack Obama’s turn to the autocratic side of politics. That would be a deeply disturbing signal to me, and I hope it does not come to pass.

Just Go Ahead and Burn the Worthless 4th Amendment

Now that the FISA Amendments Act, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution just isn’t as important as it used to be. It used to be a mandate, but now it is just a suggestion to be followed kind of, sort of, if that’s OK with you, and if no, then you know, like whatever. Yes, the Constitution has been valleygirled into irrelevance. So why not just burn it?

The wind is blowing too hard in Washington. That’s why.

FISA Amendments Act fails to prevent Knoxville church attack

In spite of the passage of a FISA amendments bill that gives the government unprecedented powers to eavesdrop on citizens,  a lone gunman who was known to the authorities was able to enter a church in Knoxville, Tennessee during a children’s production of the musical “Annie” and kill two people.

According to a police investigator’s report, the shooter

“stated that he had targeted the church because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of the major media outlets.”

Can’t little kids perform “Annie” in America without having someone shoot up the performance?  Where was homeland security?  Must we now depend on Unitarians to protect us with their bare hands?

We have given up all our rights under the fourth amendment for this idiotic FISA Amendments Act.  Now where is our safety?

Hold Congressman Arcuri Accountable for FISA Betrayal

Bit by bit, day by day, one of the most important things we can do as activists against the FISA Amendments Act is to hold accountable the members of Congress who voted for the terrible law. Especially with the Democrats who turned coat and joined the Republicans to support the legislation, it’s important that we let constituents know what their representatives have done.

Think of it as a constant, low drumbeat of pressure. Keep it up for long enough, and it may have an effect.

One member of Congress who ought to be held in special contempt by his Democratic constituents is Mike Arcuri, who has the seat in the House of Representatives for the 24th District in upstate New York.

Michael Arcuri not only voted in favor of George W. Bush’s program of government spying against Americans – he led the effort to shove the FISA Amendments Act through the House of Representatives just 24 hours after the text of the bill was made available, before most members of Congress had the chance to read it, and with just one hour of debate. Thanks to Arcuri, opponents of the legislation had less than ten minutes – total – to express their concerns with the law.

Given that the FISA Amendments Act attacks the Constitution of the United States of America, wrecking the fourth amendment and the system of checks and balances, and blatantly disobeying the prohibition on ex post facto laws, having less than 10 minutes to express objections was not enough. It was a move to willfully preserve ignorance, and Congressman Arcuri made it possible.

Advice for anti-spying activism from Frederick Douglass

It’s a hot Sunday afternoon, and no one wants to hear a long-winded political lecture in these conditions.

Let me be brief, then, and offer some advice from Frederick Douglass about what citizens must do to preserve their freedom. Douglass said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.”

At Irregular Times, we’re persisting in writing about the danger American democracy is now vulnerable to under the FISA Amendments Act, though we have to acknowledge that the popular political mood is to try to just forget about the constitutional crisis and pretend that nothing happened.

Just yesterday, we started up an online hub for information about the FISA Amendments Act. Every day, bit by bit, we need to keep on creating the materials out of which a sustained movement against the FISA Amendments Act can be constructed.

Remember what Frederick Douglass said: Endurance is the key.

Let’s keep it going.

The FISA wager I wish I had lost

A few days ago I offered to make a side wager about the Netroots Nation Convention.  Some say the convention, which was started by DailyKos and is now underway in Austin, is just the informal Democratic Party Convention.  I was betting that impeachment would be off the table and FISA would be off the table. No one took me up on that offer.

Today I see that unfortunately I was correct. The two subjects voted on by participants to be considered by the convention were (1) impeachment and (2) FISA.  In a speech to the convention today, Nancy Pelosi said going after Bush or Cheney just isn’t going to happen, but she was willing to throw Karl Rove to the wolves, by considering a–gasp!!!–contempt resolution in the House. Then she said the final blame for FISA rests on the House of Representatives.

She was next asked about the wiretapping bill, detested by many progressives. She said the House version was better than the Senate’s and blamed Senate Democrats for approving a version that “enabled the Republicans to send that bill to the House.”

Wait a minute. The House approved the bill first and then sent it to the Senate.  What on earth is she thinking of?  Looks to me like what happened with FISA in the Senate is on its way down the memory hole.

Then they went on to discuss the really, really important and politically momentous blogging issues, like the use of profanity on blogs.

So much for the Netroots Nation holding Democratic party leaders like Pelosi and Obama and Reid accountable for their lack of leadership on FISA.

There are days when I wish I hadn’t listed my blog as child-friendly, and this is @#&*%#! one of them.

Incoherence Reveals Childish Fear in FISA Amendments Act

The United States Senate is a place where people try to remain civil with each other on a personal level, no matter how strongly they disagree with each other politically. It was with this attitude that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate on July 9th and attempted to reconcile his opposition to the FISA Amendments Act with his support for the senators who voted for the law.

Reid’s statement was the apex of his incoherent position. Harry Reid committed to individually vote against the proposed law, but also worked to support efforts to push the anti-constitutional law through to passage. He claimed to lead the Democrats in the Senate for the sake of upholding the Constitution and protecting the freedoms of the American people, but heaped praise on Democratic senators who moved to do just the opposite.

Reid spoke in praise of Senator John Rockefeller, who had led the Democrats in the Senate who sought to approve George W. Bush’s demands in the FISA Amendments Act. Reid tried to explain what motivated Rockefeller to support the FISA Amendments Act, saying,

“I may disagree with the result of what we have on the floor today, and the outcome of what is going to happen today, but I want everyone to know that Senator Rockefeller is a man who works hard. There is no Senator who works any harder than Jay Rockefeller. He spends, with his counterpart and counterparts, Members of the Intelligence Committee, days, days each week in a place that is secure, away from the press, staff, and the rest of the Senate, in trying to figure out what is going on in the world as it relates to bad people trying to do bad things.”

“Trying to figure out what is going on in the world as it relates to bad people trying to bad things” – that is the level of coherence at which the FISA Amendments Act was developed and pushed through Congress. The politics of the attack against the Constitution are designed so that any simpleton can grasp them: The FISA Amendments Act is a law against bad people, and so if you’re against bad people, you should support the FISA Amendments Act.

The tragedy of this kind of kindergarten politics is that it remains willfully ignorant of the fundamental insight that fueled the creation of the United States of America: That often, the most dangerous “bad people” are not rogue criminals, but people who hold high positions in government, and are willing to abuse the rights of citizens in order to gain power for themselves.

The Constitution is in place to serve as a check against the ambitions of people in powerful positions in government. When Congress passes laws that undermine the Constitution, as the FISA Amendments Act does, they do not make us more secure from “bad people”. They make us more vulnerable.

Unfortunately, in the realm of kindergarten politics, the ability to follow that argument falls prey to the childish instinct of blind trust in authority figures. “Bad people” are only strangers, and big strong, powerful people are there to make us safe.

Go back to your desk and play with your fingerpaints, America. The FISA Amendments Act is passed. Don’t worry your little heads about the bad people any more.

Why FISA is unworkable: Geopolitical and Administrational reasons.

Societies that spy on their own citizens are always on the way out. If the bond of trust between governor and governed has shattered to the point that the government cannot trust its citizens without having to eavesdrop on them, or citizens can’t trust their government to administer national affairs without putting, as a Russian noble said in response to Nicholas I’s version of FISA “inspectors in [their] soup,” then something has gone horribly wrong.

Granted, in the long span of human history, this sort of thing isn’t unusual, not even in US history. For instance, FDR censored the media in WWII, Abraham Lincoln had more than a few despotic traits in the Civil War, and John Adams did the same in the time of the Quasi-War. There’s a few small differences between those eras and now, however. In Adam’s day, the US was a newborn nation with a large nationalistic minority screeching for a war that would have smashed it to bits, and was in severe danger of its life. In the Civil War, the South had attempted to form its own nation and balkanize North America, another severe threat to the US’s way of life. In WWII, the US was fighting the Germans and the Japanese, the former a foe that had it had a leadership with an actual brain in its head instead of raging ideologues, it could have smashed up all Europe and ultimately destroyed any pretense of liberty worldwide.

In Bush’s era, there is no threat to the US’s existence. The much-maligned Salafis and Wahhabis couldn’t form a group, if all of them united, the size of a US brigade, much less the sheer size of the globally-distributed US Army. They use weapons in all likelihood pilfered from a dead Russian from the Afghanistan invasion of the 1980s (and in twenty years, assuming all goes well for China (no guarantees), they’ll be using weapons taken from a dead American. What goes around, comes around.) The entire armed Salafi movements could not take and hold a city the size of Bozeman, Montana, much less a huge nation like the US.

So, an idea like this is unworkable geopolitically.

Another reason FISA fails as logic is that in a nation the size of the US, any would-be movement dedicated to the overthrow of the US government would not be always using the Internet or phone lines. Too many opportunities, too much useful terrain all across the US to hide. The government spying on phone lines fails, and even a US government souped up to the strength of the Tsars, much less the Soviet government would implode from the sheer strain of maintaining autocracy in a region the size of the US with all the different terrains and paranoia already present among certain sections of the population. It would fail on these reasons.

No to FISA. Yes to a sane, rational United States.

Does DailyKOS represent the “Netroots” on FISA?

It’s no secret that bloggers are becoming more influential. It’s also no secret that networks and newspapers are cutting back, closing their foreign desks, tightening their belts. The mainstream media even has an acronym now, MSM. The MSM is starting to cover the blogosphere as a legitimate news item.

Last night on NPR “The Netroots” was discussed in relation to whether the bloggers are going to be able to influence the Democratic candidate and pull him back from his recent policy changes that were described as “centrist”. I think we’re going to see more of this type of coverage as the date for the Dailykos’ “Netroots Nation” convention gets closer.

If this is a “nation”, I want to secede. I don’t think FISA is “centrist”. I think it’s reactionary and dangerous.

Dailykos doesn’t think so. They started supporting FISA when Obama did. I don’t personally follow Dailykos on a regular basis, I find it too tedious to sift through all the self-important fluff. But this gives some insight to what they are doing over there, also this is a sample of the arguments they use. For what it’s worth, the NPR piece considered Huffington Post to typify the blogosphere, but it’s Kos that will be in the headlines this weekend.

Another blogger here has questioned the partiality of the convention, pointing out several workshops on immigration, telecoms, military contractors and lobbyists. I don’t know what will be presented at these sessions, but I don’t see any specific session on FISA. I also see

DNC & Obama for America: The Plan – A Ground Game for 2008

DNC & Obama for America: The Tools – Online Tools for Social Networking

DNC & Obama for America: The Votes – Registering to Win

DNC & Obama for America: The Message – Talking to Your Neighbors

Organizing for Change: An Inside Look at Obama For America’s Grassroots Strategy

The Obama Moment: Bringing Networked Knowledge Into Obama’s Washington

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this will be an Obama love-fest and that the message to bloggers will be “fall in line”.

Kos and his “netroots nation” does not represent me. It does not represent the 24,122 members who signed the petition on Obama’s own website to “please lead other Democrats to get FISA right”. I am not going to shill for Obama. The Cthulhu for President campaign–“why vote for the lesser of two evils”–is looking better and better.

But it looks like the mainstream media is going to be using the Netroots Nation as publicity for the new Obama “centrist” agenda. The Netroots is being coopted by the establishment. This isn’t grassroots anymore, it’s Animal Farm and the Bolshevik revolution all over again. “Change you can believe in” has morphed into “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

So what are we gonna do about it?

We are all Terrorists Now

One million Americans are on the Terrorist Watch List.

People with sinister sounding names such as Robert Johnson, Gary Smith and John Williams are are on the no fly list.

Perhaps the solution would be to detain us all and hire Chilean Mercinaries to guard us?

Yearly Kos Convention

The buzz last weekend at the Green party convention was the upcoming Daily Kos convention July 17-20. Only it’s not called Yearly Kos anymore, this year it’s Netroots Nation. Their favorite creatures this year are Nancy Pelosi and “Obama for America”.

Hmmmm.  Austin anyone?

I think you have to make a right turn (or several right turns) to get there.

Progressives Against Obama launched

The following press release was sent out by Progressives Against Obama this morning, announcing the formation of a purely progressive opposition to Barack Obama, due to his support for the FISA Amendments Act, faith-based initiatives and other right wing causes.

It’s an important project, given that Republicans have begun accusing progressives, since Barack Obama voted for the FISA Amendments Act, of abandoning their values for the sake of political convenience. Take, for instance, what right wing blogger Right Voice had to say about Democrats and the Constitution yesterday:

“The next time the left begins talking about the “shredding of the Constitution” they would perhaps best be served by taking a good long look inside before casting their dispersions and their judgments. The only thing is that that will not happen because they aren’t interested in it. Rather, what they are interested in is making cheap political points, and playing cheap political games, believing the Constitution only applies when they want to make those points or play those games but not when it applies to anything they believe in.”

See the new line of Republican attacks? Barack Obama has made the entire progressive agenda vulnerable, by making it appear to be insincere. Progressives Against Obama proves that argument wrong. We progressives value the Constitution over politicians – even when the politicians are able to make pretty speeches.

The press release:

“When Barack Obama broke his promise to progressives, and voted for the FISA Amendments Act, it was with the assumption that progressive voters would never abandon the Obama campaign, because they had no alternative. Now a group is organizing disgruntled voters online with the purpose of proving Obama’s assumption to be wrong. Progressives Against Obama have begun to organize online at ProgressivesAgainstObama.com.

The FISA Amendments Act is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but it’s not the only betrayal of progressive values by Barack Obama. Progressives also object to:

– Obama’s eroding position on ending the American occupation of Iraq
– Obama’s plan to expand Bush’s so-called faith-based initiatives
– Obama’s use of religion as a tool for his presidential campaign
– Obama’s support for liquefied coal and other dirty “clean coal” schemes
– Obama’s advocacy for the death penalty
– Obama’s opposition to gun control
– Obama’s opposition to full marriage equality
– Obama’s use of homophobic preacher Donnie McClurkin to campaign for him
– Obama’s support for Joseph Lieberman against Ned Lamont in the 2006 Democratic primary

Some say that progressive voters should put their concerns about Barack Obama’s embrace of George W. Bush’s politics aside. They say that progressives should help elect Barack Obama, and then pressure him after the election to make sure that he does what we want.

There is an old story about a scorpion who asks a frog for a ride across a river, assuring the frog that he would never sting him, because to do so would be to kill them both. When the frog reaches the other side with the scorpion on his back, the scorpion stings him anyway, because it is in his nature.

Progressives have seen the nature of Barack Obama. They have been stung by him already, and are not willing to carry him to victory just so that they can get stung again. Obama has broken his promises, and he no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Now is the time to put serious pressure on Barack Obama. After the election, progressives will have no leverage. Now is the time to speak out, precisely because it is so inconvenient for Obama’s campaign that we do so.”

THE NATION has Joined the ACLU Lawsuit

Our Warrantless Wiretapping Lawsuit

The ACLU Joins the FISA Fight

Authors note: This is a repost from my blog Progressive World Review

Wasting no time, the ACLU has filed a law suit over the new FISA legislation.  While the primary complaints from civil libertarians are that the new law clearly violates the fourth amendment by allowing illegal, warrantless searches, as well as defying the rule of law by giving telecoms legal immunity without even knowing exactly what they’ve been up to, the ACLU has used as grounds for their suit, the fact that eavesdropping without warrants or any oversight at all, potentially violates privileged communications such as phone calls and emails between attorneys and clients,

The case was filed on behalf of a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations whose ability to perform their work – which relies on confidential communications – will be greatly compromised by the new law.

Additionally, the ACLU is calling for all proceedings pertaining to the scope or constitutionality of FISA be open to public scrutiny,

In a separate filing, the ACLU asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to ensure that any proceedings relating to the scope, meaning or constitutionality of the new law be open to the public to the extent possible. The ACLU also asked the secret court to allow it to file a brief and participate in oral arguments, to order the government to file a public version of its briefs addressing the law’s constitutionality, and to publish any judicial decision that is ultimately issued.

Glenn Greenwald raised two particularly salient points that have been mostly overlooked while the discussion has focused mostly around the very important telecom immunity aspects.  First, the new law goes beyond simply legalizing Bush’s blatantly illegal spying on Americans, it actually allows for spying on Americans not even suspected of engaging in terrorists activities or any criminal behavior at all,

In the podcast, Jaffer details exactly what warrantless surveillance powers the new FISA bill vests in the President, along with the reasons they are so pernicious. He underscores the extraordinary fact that the surveillance program implemented by Congress yesterday does not merely authorize most of the President’s so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program” that gave rise to this scandal in the first place, but is actually much broader in scope even than that lawless program, because there is not even any requirement in the new FISA law that the “target” of the surveillance have any connection whatsoever to Terrorism, nor is there any requirement that the Government believe the “target” is an agent of a foreign power or terrorist organization, or even guilty of any wrongdoing at all. (emphasis original)

This is extraordinary.  The whole point of FISA in the first place was to stop the kind of abusive surveillance that we’ve discovered has already occurred.  This isn’t some kind of abstract concept we’re talking about, we know the government has engaged in unconstitutional activities in the past and FISA was enacted to prevent future occurrences.  For example, the government conducted extensive espionage operations against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wiretapping his phones and bugging his hotel rooms and this is a man that could hardly be considered a terrorist or even subversive considering we celebrate his birthday as a national holiday. 

The whole point of our system of checks and balances is that government is not to be trusted without oversight.  History is replete with examples of unchecked government power resulting in tyranny including examples from our own not too distant history.  Can anyone honestly say that the Founding Fathers would agree to this level of unchecked power?

The second point Greenwald brings up is just how disingenuous defenders of the new legislation are when they claim that this is all much ado about nothing.  The fact is; nobody knows what the real affect of this law will be because nobody knows exactly what Bush has been up to, nobody except a handful of Senators who are legally required to remain silent,

The most overlooked fact in the entire FISA debate — the aspect of it that renders incoherent the case in favor of the new FISA law or even those who dismiss its significance — is that virtually nobody knows what the spying program they’re immunizing entailed and towards what ends it was used — i.e., whether it was abused for improper purposes. Even those who acknowledge that the warrantless spying program was illegal like to assert that it was implemented for benign and proper counter-terrorism purposes (see Kevin Drum making that claim here) — but they have absolutely no idea whether that is true. None. Zero. To assert that is simply to make assertions with no basis whatsoever.

There has been no Congressional investigation into the NSA program — meaning an effort to compel the Bush administration to turn over to Congress information about who was subjected to the illegal, warrantless spying and towards what purposes. Back in March, 2006, even the Senate Intelligence Committee — the core function of which is “to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States” — voted along party lines against conducting hearings into the NSA spying program. (emphasis original)

This is the state of affairs today.  Our government is supposed to be transparent, citizens are supposed to know what’s going on or how else can they be expected to make informed decisions about who they want representing them?  Yet our political class, the so called “experts” are ready to trust the government with virtually unchecked power without having any idea of what’s really been happening.  It’s impossible to overstate just how un-American this attitude is.  This is authoritarianism at its finest, just trust the government to do the right thing and always act in our best interests with little or no checks on their power.  And it’s this same crowd that usually complains about how we’re turning into a welfare state, how we shouldn’t expect government to “take care of us,” and yet we’re supposed to allow government to peek into our most private communications and just trust them not to abuse this authority.  Simply astounding.

This is what Russ Feingold, one of the Senators that does know what Bush has been up to, had to say about FISA, (h/t Glenn Greenwald) (emphasis original)

I sit on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and I am one of the few members of this body who has been fully briefed on the warrantless wiretapping program. And, based on what I know, I can promise that if more information is declassified about the program in the future, as is likely to happen either due to the Inspector General report, the election of a new President, or simply the passage of time, members of this body will regret that we passed this legislation. I am also familiar with the collection activities that have been conducted under the Protect America Act and will continue under this bill. I invite any of my colleagues who wish to know more about those activities to come speak to me in a classified setting. Publicly, all I can say is that I have serious concerns about how those activities may have impacted the civil liberties of Americans. If we grant these new powers to the government and the effects become known to the American people, we will realize what a mistake it was, of that I am sure.

Needless to say that it’s imperative the ACLU’s efforts are not in vain.  Don’t look for anything to change if the Democrats take the oval office in the next election.  It’s the Democrats who are responsible for this travesty along with the explicit approval of the Democratic candidate for president.

–Paul Wilden

Max and the Marginalized – Free Evenings and Weekends

Filibuster Obama On Big Brother Spying

Barack Obama wouldn’t honor his promise to the American people. He promised that he would support the filibuster of any legislation that gave retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations who helped George W. Bush spy against the American people.

Well, guess what the FISA Amendments Act does – it provides retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations who helped George W. Bush spy against the American people.

Twice, Obama had the chance to join in a filibuster against the FISA Amendments Act. The first time, Obama didn’t show up at all. The second time, Obama voted against the filibuster.

Then, Senator Obama actually voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act!

Barack Obama would not keep his promise to filibuster to defend our freedom. Now it’s time for us to filibuster Obama.

Filibustering Obama means that we keep on writing about the FISA Amendments Act and Barack Obama’s role in it. Where Barack Obama expects to get praise from progressives, he will get criticism instead. We will keep this issue at the forefront of the 2008 presidential election until Obama admits his mistake and introduces a bill into the Senate to repeal the FISA Amendments Act.

Now is the time for true citizens to do what our representatives would not. Join the filibuster – start today!

The Cremation of the Constitution

I’m feeling burned. Barack Obama burned me. The Democratic Party burned me.

I could just sit here like a pile of ashes, burned, defeated.

I won’t, because the fury of betrayal is smoldering too hot to bear.

I’m going to share the heat, and turn the fire back on the politicians who supported the FISA Amendments Act.

I’m burning the Constitution in protest, because that’s what you do to honor the dead. The energy from this fire won’t die out. All the Democrats who voted for this assault upon the Constitution will feel the heat.

This is your Freedom. This is your Freedom on FISA.

This is your freedom.

This is your freedom on FISA.

Obama Begging Me To Not Vote For Him

Senator Obama,

I am genuinely disappointed that you chose to support the recent FISA bill.  I and the rest of America have been looking to Democrats, and more particularly you, for strong leadership to stand up to the fascist fear mongering of the Bush administration.  You have failed us.  You could have made a stand and your leadership could have made a difference, but instead you chose to take the politically expedient route.  You sold me and every other American out who believed you were different, and worse you abandoned the Constitution when it needed your protection the most.

This bill was no compromise, it was a cowardly capitulation to an administration that continues to lie and thumb it’s nose at congressional oversight.  So now you reward the most unpopular president in American history and the corporations that colluded with him to break the law and the nation’s trust by giving them a free pass to continue to do so.  It is no surprise that the approval rating of congress is in single digits when all we want is someone to hold this administration accountable.  You have failed miserably.

Unless I hear some strong promises to correct this appalling failure of judgment I will have no choice but to stay home come November because I see no candidate worthy of my vote here.

Super Jesus

PS: Thanks for making me look like a fool for supporting you in the primary because even Hillary voted against it!

Song Interlude

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that parchment used to make me smile.
And I thought that we had a chance
That Freedom’d get more than glance
And, maybe, we’d be happy for a while.

But July 9th made me shiver
With every vote cast on the Potomac river,
Bad news in the Congress
About them now I care less.

I can’t remember if I cried
When I saw the way our Senators lied
But something touched me deep inside
The day the parchment died.

So bye-bye, Constitution goodbye
Drove my Chevy to the Congress
But the Congress just died
And them good old boys were drinkin’ koolaide and lied
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that we spy.
“this’ll be the day that we spy.”

Did we write the Declaration of Independence?
Do you believe in freedom’s transcendence?
Only if the pundits tell you to?
Do you believe the people rule?
Or are we just a bunch of fools?
I don’t believe we are, do you?

Well I know that you’re as pissed as me
‘cause I saw you enjoying Liberty
We both are not amused
Now our country’s more than bruised!

I was just a normal working schmuck
With an impossible mortgage and a pickup truck
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the parchment died.

I started singin’,
“bye-bye, Constitution goodbye
Drove my Chevy to the Congress
But the Congress just died
And them good old boys were drinkin’ koolaide and lied
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that we spy.
“this’ll be the day that we spy.”

With appologies to Don MacLean

What You Should Say to Everyone You Know

“Did you know that we no longer have a legal right to privacy? It’s true! On July 9th The Senate passed a law already okayed by the House that Bush could not wait to sign that allows the Attorney General, without any oversight by any court or any judge to conduct warrant-less searches of your house, computer and any other property and listen in on all your calls for up to sixty seven days. All in secret!”

The Death of the Constitution

Authors note: This is a repost from my blog Progressive World Review

In an ironic twist of fate, a long time public servant was recently forced into early retirement for refusing to lower the flag to half-mast in honor of his state’s deceased senator, Jesse Helms,

This is in no way a political decision. I simply do not feel it is appropriate to honor a person whose epitaph of government service was to have voted against or blocked every civil rights issue that came before the US Congress. His doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice cost North Carolina and our Nation much that we may never regain.

What makes this ironic is, the flag should be lowered, not in deference to a racist bigot but in memoriam to our Constitution which was dealt a serious blow today.

The controversial update to FISA was passed by the Senate today in a 69 to 28 vote.  Three amendments designed to mitigate some of the worst aspects of this bill were all defeated so the bill moves, intact, to a gleeful president eager to sign it into law.

Theoretically, when it’s discovered that the president has broken the law heads roll, especially when the law in question is as serious this.  Violating FISA was not only a felony; it violated the fourth amendment to the Constitution that prohibits unwarranted search and seizure.  When a president commits this level of lawlessness, impeachment is in order, especially given that we impeached a president for lying about an extra-marital affair, something that wasn’t anybodies business to begin with and had absolutely no effect on the American people, whereas Bush’s crimes were in direct violation of the Constitution and the rule of law in general.  So what are the consequences for this egregious breach of the public trust?  The oppositional controlled Congress passes legislation that not only legalizes his actions after the fact, they provide full, retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that helped Bush violate our rights.

Is it any wonder that Congresses approval ratings are even lower than the president’s,

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

It would be bad enough if this was simply another example of cowardice from the Democratic Party, but even worse, rather than passing this legislation to avoid accusations of being weak on terrorism, it seems that they actually agree with this bill.  The Republican brand is in the toilet, voters gave control of Congress to the Democrats in protest of the Republican style of governing, Democrats recently won three special elections in districts that normally go to Republicans, all of this demonstrates rather clearly that voters are no longer buying the Republican scare tactics so why then are the Democrats so eager to capitulate to Bush?  Fear may account for a small portion but with no real price to pay, (Democrats are poised to pick up Congressional seats rather than lose them), the only logical conclusion is that many Democrats actually wanted this bill to pass.  It’s not as if the tremendous grassroots opposition to this bill went unnoticed in the Senate.  This is what Chris Dodd, one of the most strident opponents, along with Russ Feingold, of this bill, (h/t Glenn Greenwald)

Lastly, I want to thank the thousands who joined with us in this fight around the country — those who took to the blogs, gathered signatures for online petitions and created a movement behind this issue. Men and women, young and old, who stood up, spoke out and gave us the strength to carry on this fight. Not one of them had to be involved, but each choose to become involved for one reason and one reason alone: Because they love their country. They remind us that the “silent encroachments of those in power” Madison spoke of can, in fact, be heard, if only we listen.

And for all those who have pinned their hopes on Obama to bring about change to Washington, Obama has proven yet again he’s a part of the problem rather than the solution.  Obama did vote in favor of the amendment that would have stripped telecom immunity from the bill but he did so with the certainty that it was going to fail anyway.  And if he was so genuinely opposed to this why then did he vote in favor of the bill’s passage.  And even more telling, prior to the vote on the bill, Obama voted in favor of cloture thus ending all debate on the floor and shutting down the possibility of a filibuster, a filibuster he once unambiguously pledged to support.  This is from an Obama spokesperson, (h/t Glenn Greenwald) (emphasis original)

To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.

As hopeless as it may seem, now is not the time to give up the fight.  The ACLU has vowed to bring this to the courts as soon as it’s signed into law and they’re soliciting signatures for a full page ad they’re planning to take out in protest.  Additionally, money is being collected to help challenge the Democratic candidates who have been so eager to trash our Constitution.  “Now is the time for all good men [and women] to come to the aid of the party [and the Constitution]” so please help support this cause, there may be none more important.

–Paul Wilden

FISA Bill Passes As Expected

Despite a spirited effort to convince members of Congress to reject the Bush Administration’s program to strip us of our Constitutional rights the people of the United States have been betrayed. Does that mean it is time to give up?

I set up this site almost four weeks ago in anticipation of today’s actions. I was under no illusions this bill could be stopped. It is time to create the structures needed to have this bill repealed at the earliest date. An action this heinous perpetrated on all Americans by a select few with little or no attention by the Mainstream Media shall not stand.

Mourn, if you will, our loss; but do it quickly for there is much to be done.

We need to start a broad educational campaign to teach Americans about what they have just had wrested from them so we can get it back. We need to press candidates about their commitment to restore the Constitution by repealing this yet unsigned law. We need to find candidates willing to stand up and oppose it and get them elected. We then need to press them to repeal this Unconstitutional law.

Teach-ins, sit-ins, films, books, articles, and dinner table discussions were all used to change people’s minds on serious issues such as the Civil Right’s Movement and the Vietnam War. Americans have been put to sleep in recent decades and this fight will not be easy. It will not be short.

Time to get started. We have much to do. Our future awaits us.

FISA passes Senate

The FISA Amendments of 2008 has passed the senate 69 to 28 with three senators not voting. Now it goes to the desk of George W. Bush for signature.

Here is the roll call vote. Hillary Clinton voted no on closure (to end debate and vote on the bill) and no on FISA. Barack Obama voted yes on closure and yes on FISA. McCain was not voting.

Here is the generic link to senate votes, including closure and amendment votes.

Time to start looking for alternatives to the senators who voted yes.

Hold Barbara Mikulski Accountable for FISA Amendments Act

Barbara Mikulski, a Democratic senator from Maryland, has announced that she is actually going to vote for the FISA Amendments Act. Mikulski will vote to help George W. Bush cover up an illegal spy operation to look at the personal, private communications of millions of Americans. Mikulski will vote to make the fourth amendment in the Bill of Rights operationally dead. Mikulski will vote to wreck the system of checks and balances that keeps America from descending into tyranny.

Senator Barbara Mikulski needs to know that this vote will not be forgotten. There are Democrats organizing right now to oppose Mikulski’s re-election to the Senate in 2010.

Senators who sell out Democratic voters for the sake of George W. Bush have no place in public office.

Free FISA calling tool-call your senators now for free

The senate is scheduled to continue consideration of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 this morning at 9:30. A vote is expected today.

There still a little time to call your senators.

For those whose long distance phone bill is maxed out, there is a free calling tool from Act Blue. They are tracking senators’ votes and will auto dial the long distance calls to the senator’s offices at no charge to you.  All you do is give them your phone number and zip code.

Last Chance to Oppose FISA Amendments Act This Morning

This morning is the last chance we have to oppose the passage of the FISA Amendments Act. The Senate is set to begin considering H.R. 6304 at 10:00 Eastern Time this morning.

What’s wrong with the FISA Amendments Act? It all comes down to this: The FISA Amendments Act gives the Attorney General the power to make unchallenged declarations of law, and to use this power to set up massive spy programs against the American people.

The FISA Amendments Act places the Attorney General in the position of an unstoppable spy master.

Are you okay with that? No? Then please call your two United States Senators and tell them you want them to vote NO on the FISA Amendments Act. Call them at (202) 224-3121 – before it’s too late!

fisa amendments act video podcast

The FISA Amendments Act in 20 Seconds

A fair number of people have been writing a lot of words about H.R. 6304 and why its passage is inadvisable. But if we wanted to sum it all up in, say, twenty seconds, what would we say?

Here’s what I’d say:

H.R. 6304 in 20 Seconds youtube video

H.R. 6304 in 20 Seconds youtube video

Call the Senate today at (202) 224-3121 and tell your Senators to vote NO on H.R. 6304.

Obama Loses Swing Voters Over FISA Amendments Act Flip Flop

Barack Obama’s plan to win over independent swing voters by supporting George W. Bush’s FISA Amendments Act has backfired dramatically, with Obama losing Republican and independent swing votes over the broken promise.

One such swing voter, who supported Ron Paul when Paul’s campaign was still active, comments over at Irregular Times, “I’m not a McCain supporter either. I’m an Independent that supports Ron Paul. With the nomination lost to McCain, I was leaning to Obama. Now…I just hope that by some miracle of God, Ron Paul somehow gets in the ballot.”

That’s just one example of the many independent voters Obama lost by supporting the FISA Amendments Act.

Obama’s essential miscalculation was this: Obama carelessly concluded that because George W. Bush is a Republican President, Republicans actually agree with his policies. Obama failed to understand that the very same Republican voters who would consider switching parties and voting for a Democratic candidate are as sick and tired of Bush as Democrats are.

When Obama supported the FISA Amendments Act, emblematic of one of Bush’s worst policies, he lost Republican and independent swing voters, because those voters don’t want another Bush. They actually wanted real change. Now they perceive Obama’s promises of change as just more cheap talk from a politician who is playing the same power game as everyone else in Washington D.C.

Support Sen. Dodd’s FISA amendment

Chris Dodd has introduced an amendment to the FISA bill that would strip retroactive immunity from the current legislation.   So far it has 9 co-sponsors (no, not Obama).

The 9 cosponsors are:

Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] – 6/26/2008
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] – 6/26/2008
Sen Reid, Harry [NV] – 6/26/2008
Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] – 6/26/2008
Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] – 6/26/2008
Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] – 6/26/2008
Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] – 6/26/2008
Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] – 6/26/2008
Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] – 6/26/2008

Senator Dodd  has asked for citizens to stand with him in cosponsoring the bill. (He also gives you the opportunity to make a contribution, but I’m not quite ready to decide who, if anyone, is deserving of my cash.)

There is a whole lot more than retroactive immunity that is wrong with the FISA legislation, but I am supporting the senator’s effort.

If you want to add your voice to Sen Dodd’s amendment, click |here|.

Flip Flop Obama Was Against Protect America Act, Now For It!

Barack Obama has done himself in with his support for the FISA Amendments Act. The problem isn’t just that the FISA Amendments Act is a badly written law, and a flagrant abuse against Americans’ constitutional rights.

The biggest problem for Obama is that his support for the FISA Amendments Act is intellectually dishonest, and logically impossible to support because it’s internally inconsistent.

Consider two statements made in yesterday’s statement by Obama trying to explain his support for the FISA Amendments Act:

First: “I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year.”

Then: “Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I’ve chosen to support the current compromise.”

When Barack Obama says in the second statement that he doesn’t want the President to lose “important surveillance tools”. You know what those “important surveillance tools” are? They’re the tools established by the Protect America Act:

– Physical searches of Americans’ homes without a search warrant or any evidence of a crime.
– Electronic eavesdropping on our telephone calls, emails and web surfing without a search warrant or other judicial supervision.
– Making the administrators of the spy programs the same people to certify the spy programs’ legality.

When Barack Obama says that he wants to keep “important surveillance tools” from expiring, he’s saying that he wants to keep the Protect America Act from expiring – but earlier in the same statement, he says that the Protect America Act is a bad law, and that’s why he voted against it in 2007!

Barack Obama was against the Protect America Act before he was for it?

That kind of sloppy thinking sunk John Kerry in 2004, and it is sinking Barack Obama in 2008.

Read the complete point by point rebuttal of Barack Obama’s new FISA Amendments Act statement.

My Fight for Democracy

This was written last year by a friend.

His name is Ron.

He gives full permission to post wherever you like.

Monday, July 2, 2007
New Declaration of Independence 2007
I think the Declaration of Independence needs to be modified to fit our current world conditions.

Declaration of Independence
[Adapted In The United States Of America July 4, 2007]

The Unanimous Declaration of the Citizens United States of America From the George W Bush Administration, Corporate Control, Shadow Government, Right Wing Main Stream Media and The Military Industrial Complex

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these States; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present President of the United States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Congress to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation With Signing Statements till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to Obey them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has Divided representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; With Voter Caging and Suppression of Votes, whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to Increase the population of these states; for that purpose
Ignoring the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and Lowering the conditions of Seeking Employment In The U.S.A, Therefore Driving Down The Wages Of The Working Class.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He Has Misled The American Citizens To Invade A Sovereign Nation To Gain Control Of Their Oil Resources At The Expense Of Taxpayer Funds And The Lives Of Our Young Men And Women In The Military.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with Corporations And The Free Press to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off FAIR trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on While Lowering Taxes On The Most Wealthy Among us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of Constitutional laws in a neighboring States, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these States:

For taking away our Freedoms, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For Hamstringing our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war Against Foreign Nations.
He has Ignored Our Citizens On Our Ravaged Gulf Coasts, Torn Down Our Educational System, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our Fellow Citizens And Citizens Of Other Nations taken captive In All Lands to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections Of Foreign Nations, and has endeavored to bring on the Civil Discourse In Iraq And The Middle East Oil Producing Nations, whose known Rule Does Not Conform With Our Democratic System.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A President, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the Leader of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our Republican brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our Disappointment With Them. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the Citizensof the United States of America, in Objection To The Current Administration Are , assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these States, solemnly publish and declare, that these united Citizens are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the George W Bush Administration, and that all political connection between them and the state of Corporate Oligarchy, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.





Response from Barack on FISA

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those of you who oppose my decision to support the FISA compromise.

This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn’t have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush’s abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration’s program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That’s why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.

But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I’ve said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility

The Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues. The (PDF)recent investigation uncovering the illegal politicization of Justice Department hiring sets a strong example of the accountability that can come from a tough and thorough IG report.

The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I’m persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe — particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I’ve chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention — once I’m sworn in as President — to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.

Now, I understand why some of you feel differently about the current bill, and I’m happy to take my lumps on this side and elsewhere. For the truth is that your organizing, your activism and your passion is an important reason why this bill is better than previous versions. No tool has been more important in focusing peoples’ attention on the abuses of executive power in this Administration than the active and sustained engagement of American citizens. That holds true — not just on wiretapping, but on a range of issues where Washington has let the American people down.

I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I’m not exempt from that. I’m certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue. But I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country. That is why we have built the largest grassroots campaign in the history of presidential politics, and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as President of the United States — a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples’ business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country’s destiny.

Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That’s ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.

So I appreciate the feedback through my.barackobama.com, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come. Together, we have a lot of work to do.



The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

What it was. What it is.

Fourth Amendment Of The United States Constitution

“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.”

Fourth Amendment Of The United States Constitution Since January 20, 2000.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures is redacted, and no Warrants shall be required to search or seize persons, houses, papers, and effects.

Legally Obtained Proof of Illegal Wiretaping Thrown Out of Court.

It used to be if a lawyer exposed evidence that made the case for the other side it was considered too bad. Evidence leads to the truth. Isn’t that the entire point of having a Justice System?

A federal judge on Wednesday tossed out a lawsuit by an Islamic organization that accused the Bush administration of illegally wiretapping its telephones without warrants.

At the heart of their lawsuit was a top secret call log that the Treasury Department accidentally turned over to Al Haramain’s lawyers, who say it shows government terrorist hunters listened to their phone conversations with foundation officials living in Saudi Arabia.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker barred the foundation from using the top secret document in the case and dismissed the lawsuit. He gave the foundation 30 days to refile its lawsuit with other evidence proving it was a surveillance target.

According to the Electronic Fronteer Foundation:

The good news is that the Court held that “FISA preempts the state secrets privilege in connection with electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes and would appear to displace the state secrets privilege for purposes of plaintiffs’ claims.” The Court rejected the expansive view of executive power promoted by the government, holding that the President’s authorities under Article II of the Constitution do not give him the power to overrule FISA.

The bad news is that “FISA nonetheless does not appear to provide plaintiffs a viable remedy unless they can show that they are ‘aggrieved persons’ within the meaning of FISA.” The Court ultimately found that Al Haramain had not provided a sufficient showing that they were “aggrieved,” but gave permission to re-file the complaint with more information.

All the United States Government needs to do to keep evidence of the United States Government doing something wrong out of court is to classify any and all evidence to be “Top Secret.”


Activist Group Against FISA Act Becoming Top Obama Group

Progressive Patriots has posted the chart below to show what’s happening on BarackObama.com. On Barack Obama’s own campaign web site, the group that opposes Obama’s support for the FISA Amendments Act is about to become the largest grassroots Obama group there is!

Group Against the FISA Amendments Act Top Obama Grassroots Group

And already this chart is out of date: There are now 12,732 members of the anti-FISA Amendments Act group!

Barack Obama is facing a full-blown revolt within his own campaign.

It’s time to admit your mistake, Mr. Obama. Keep the promise you made in February. Vote against the FISA Amendments Act.

Pressure Al Franken To Oppose the FISA Amendments Act

It has been almost two weeks now since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FISA Amendments Act. It is less than one week until the Senate votes on the proposed law. The FISA Amendments Act is one of the most important issues of the day, and a congressional candidate’s position on the FISA Amendments Act shows voters clearly what kind of representative that candidate would be.

So, why has Al Franken, who is running as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, not issued a statement explaining his position on the FISA Amendments Act?

Al Franken has had plenty of time to read the FISA Amendments Act. He has had lots of time to think about what the bill means. Yet, Franken has not said one single thing in the public record to inform voters in Minnesota about whether he would vote for the FISA Amendments Act if he were in the Senate. I’ve searched newspapers. I’ve searched blogs. I’ve searched Al Franken’s own campaign web site. There’s nothing but silence from Franken on the FISA Amendments Act.

Minnesota voters deserve to know where Franken stands. Would Franken defend the Bill of Rights, or would he join those spineless Democrats who have caved in to George W. Bush and vote for the FISA Amendments Act?

Call Al Franken’s senate campaign at 888-908-2008 and demand an answer.

Obama website has anti-FISA blog

Obama bloggers have created an anti-FISA group on the Senator’s own official website.

There are already more than nine thousand members.

How to Respond to Fascism


Keep singing!

Why FISA is anti-American.

In the United States, this nation prides itself on being individual, and free from government surveillance. FISA, as a bill, seems straight out of a 19th-Century despotism, a bill that would be better suited to an era of slavery and autocracy. Considering so many of FISA’s supporters pride themselves on 100% Americanism, let me ask you this, FISA lovers…

Societies have kept tight watch on their citizens in the past. Such societies include Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the German Empire, the Russian Empire, Qing-era China, Mao’s China, the Antebellum South, Revolutionary France, and Imperial Japan. Let’s review the fate of all these, shall we?

Nazi Germany-Destroyed when an industry greater than it and the USSR slammed into it from both sides.

USSR-collapsed under its own systemic rot.

German Empire-collapsed because of economic weakness.

Russian Empire-collapsed for reasons identical to the USSR

Qing-era China-collapsed because of ossification and stagnation.

Mao’s China-millions of people starving and killed.

Antebellum South-ravaged by war, turned into a Fundamentalist hellhole.

Revolutionary France-destroyed by Napoleon’s wars.

Imperial Japan-bombed to dust by conventional and nuclear weapons.

Is that what 100% Americanism has in store for us?

Creating Political Change

We need your voice on this Blog. Please sign up and start writing posts and contributing. This site is meant for everybody to participate in a discussion about how to repeal FISA.

From the Georgetown University website:

“…communication brings people together in a manner reminiscent of Athenian democracy or the old New England town meetings, where each citizen was provided with an equal right to speak.

“The ritualistic capability for expression increases the participatory nature of democracy in cyberspace while undermining old hierarchies. Individuals play a more direct role in their own governance, through “the power of citizen-to-citizen (lateral) communications” which benefit both themselves and their community:

“‘Community building power comes from the living database that the participants create and use together informally as they help each other solve problems, one to one and many to many. The web of human relationships that can grow along with the database is where the potential for cultural and political change can be found.'”

That, in a nushell is the purpose of this site. It is easy to sign up and totally free.

Step One:

Go to WordPress and get a user name. It is free and simple.

Step Two:

Send the email address you signed up with to repealfisa@gmail.com. Send a link to your own blog at this time if you want it included on the Blogroll.

Step Three:

When you are notified you are in start blogging. If you are logged in when you are added you may have to log out and then back in again to access the site.

Optional Step:

Go to your profile page and add an Avatar. Long article. It boils down to uploading an image to represent you.

If you have a blog please add this site to your links and don’t hesitate to spread the word around about this site.

You will be made an “Author” which allows you to write, post, edit and delete your own material on this site.

Our opinions and ideas count. We can not hold onto the ideals of our country too much longer if we fail to come together and flesh out solutions to problems we are facing. I urge you to join today.

Focus on FISA Amendments Act With A Lens

One more thing we can do to keep up activist energy against the FISA Amendments Act is to produce additional web sites that are focused exclusively on the issue. This Repeal FISA blog is one great example of this kind of activity. This morning, I set up another site, the first Squidoo lens focusing on the FISA Amendments Act.

Organized correctly, these sites won’t be in competition with each other. Instead, they should reinforce and amplify each other. For that reason, I make sure to link to this Repeal FISA blog from that Squidoo lens, as well as directing traffic to other anti-FISA Amendments Act sites.

The creation of multiple portals like this focuses the public’s attention much in the same way that a telescope array focuses signals from far away objects that are otherwise difficult to perceive. Creating a network that covers more ground than any single site could, signals are accumulated together, helping people to see the Big Picture.

Support Tom Allen and His Stand For the Rule of Law

It’s important that we recognize the good work of members of the U.S. House of Representatives who did the right thing, and voted against H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act. One of these responsible members of Congress is Tom Allen, who made the following statement before casting his vote:

“Neither the government nor large telecommunications corporations are above the law; everyone must be held accountable. This ‘compromise’ fails to hold either the Bush Administration or the telecommunications companies to the same standards that apply to other Americans.”

We need more people in Congress who understand what it means when they take the Oath of Office: That they’re supposed to work to uphold and defend the Constitution, not destroy it for the sake of political pandering at election time.

Representative Allen is not running for re-election to the House of Representatives. He is, however, running for election to the United States Senate, to replace incumbent Republican Susan Collins. Collins claims to be a centrist, but her legislative scorecard could not be more clear: Her right wing ranking is twice as high as her progressive ranking.

Senator Collins plans to attack the freedoms guaranteed us by the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Collins won’t stay true to the Oath of Office. She plans to vote for the FISA Amendements Act. Congressman Allen, on the other hand, has shown that he will not abandon his principles.

Let’s show our support for Tom Allen as he campaigns to represent Maine in the United States Senate.

AT&T billing site makes jokes about company’s participation in warrantless wiretapping?


Youtube Video: FISA for Dummies

This video heads a bit toward the silly in an effort to capture the attention of people who’d rather not pay attention to H.R. 6304 (the 4th-amendment-sacking bill to be voted on next week):

Irregular Times H.R. 6304

In Perpetuity

Why is the NSA’s Spying on America Before 9/11 Being Ignored?

The argument for telecom immunity is that these companies helped defend our nation after the 9/11 attacks. In all the debates and petty posturing, why isn’t the fact that these telecoms were approached before 9/11 being brought up?

Former CEO Joseph P. Nacchio says he was approached in February 2001, a full 6 months before 9/11.

Nacchio’s account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts“.

Although bush insists that telecom immunity concerns cooperation after 9/11 attacks as stated here:

“ Speaking from the White House lawn Oct. 10, Bush said Congress must grant liability protection to telephone companies being sued “only because they are believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend our nation following the 9/11 attacks.”

But is it the truth? An article published in WIRED states that the NSA program started just days into the Bush presidency.

Qwest CEO Not Alone in Alleging NSA Started Domestic Phone Record Program 7 Months Before 9/11

The project was described in the ATT sales division documents as calling for the construction of a facility to store and retain data gathered by the NSA from its domestic and foreign intelligence operations but was to be in actuality a duplicate ATT Network Operations Center for the use and possession of the NSA that would give the NSA direct, unlimited, unrestricted and unfettered access to all call information and internet and digital traffic on ATTÌs long distance network. […]

The NSA program was initially conceived at least one year prior to 2001 but had been called off; it was reinstated within 11 days of the entry into office of defendant George W. Bush.

An ATT Solutions logbook reviewed by counsel confirms the Pioneer-Groundbreaker project start date of February 1, 2001.

 In Oct 2007 Rep John Conyers wrote a letter to National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, and Ken Wainstein, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for national security.

Conyers noted that the White House is seeking civil and criminal immunity for telephone companies that did cooperate with the wiretapping program. Because of that, Conyers said, “it is crucial that Congress be fully informed of all the administration’s surveillance activities.”

Where are these arguments today?

Sample Letter to the Editor on H.R. 6304, FISA and the Constitution

Over the past two days Russell Feingold and Christopher Dodd have led a group in the Senate in setting up enough procedural roadblocks that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been forced to delay a final vote on H.R. 6304 until at least July 7.

This is good. It gives Americans opposed to H.R. 6304 enough time to spread the word about this is bill and its most pernicious aspects — not just to our Senators (many of whom have not read the bill, and who need to receive our phone calls), but also to our friends, our family, our coworkers and our neighbors, who most likely are not aware of this bill’s contents and implications. After all, the newspapers and the TV news are only covering the bill in a superficial fashion.

So yes, we need to write blog posts. But we also need to record podcasts. We need to make videos. And then… we need to go beyond the internet. We need to write the letters to the editors of our local newspapers, because those citizens most likely to call their Senators are the same citizens who read newspapers. We is me plus you. That means you need to write a letter to the editor of your newspaper today.

Here is the text of the letter I just submitted to the Columbus Dispatch, a newspaper with a circulation of more than 350,000:

To the Editor:

Now that the FISA Amendments Act (H.R. 6304) has been passed by the House of Representatives (Dispatch, 6/21), only the Senate stands in the way of this bill becoming the law of the land. In violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, H.R. 6304 permits the White House to spy on anyone’s communications or physically search anyone’s property without a warrant. Your phone calls, your bank records, your e-mails, your car, your office, your home — nothing is off limits, and the White House doesn’t need to establish any cause at all. After one week of surveillance of your phone and physical searches of your home, a judge can finally order the White House to stop — but the White House can keep whatever information it has obtained and use it anyway. Don’t believe me? Google “H.R. 6304” and read this bill yourself.

Do you trust the President with unchecked power to search your communications and your property? Do you believe the Bill of Rights is just a suggestion? If your answer to these questions is “no,” then I urge you to call Senator Sherrod Brown at (202) 224-2315 and Senator George Voinovich at (202) 224-3353. Ask them to vote NO on H.R. 6304.


James M. Cook

Please feel free to use it as a point of inspiration… but please do not cut and paste! That’s called astroturfing, and it is not only ethically problematic but also counterproductive. Using your own words, spread the word on FISA by writing a letter to the editor today.

If twenty people reading this post each write a letter to the editor, and if just ten of those letters are published, we could reach millions of people.

So get to it!

Data Strip Mining


Although the Department of Homeland Security is not in the habit of photocopying the business papers contained in a businessman’s briefcase as he enters the country it is apparently in the habit of seizing and copying the contents of electronic media including laptops, digital film and portable data storage devices.

An unwary traveler can have his entire business filing system removed for an undetermined amount of time if he makes the mistake of keeping it all on his personal laptop and passes through customs. Even if it is just the notes taken on his recent business trip the disruption to commerce and a business small or large can be enormous. Most major companies now require employees to pass through customs with a “clean” laptop to avoid these possibilities.

After reading the opinion of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding this practice I came across a few other tidbits.

In Carney, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that
evidence obtained from a warrantless search of a mobile
home should be suppressed because it was “capable of functioning
as a home.” Id. at 387-88, 393-94. The Supreme Court
refused to treat a mobile home differently from other vehicles
just because it could be used as a home. Id. at 394-95. The
two main reasons that the Court gave in support of its holding,
were: (1) that a mobile home is “readily movable,” and (2)
that “the expectation [of privacy] with respect to one’s automobile
is significantly less than that relating to one’s home or
office.” Id. at 391 (quotation marks omitted).

So if you live in a mobile home the Fourth Amendment does not apply to you.

Moreover, case law does not support a finding that a search
which occurs in an otherwise ordinary manner, is “particularly offensive” simply due to the storage capacity of theobject being searched. See California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S.
565, 576 (1991) (refusing to find that “looking inside a closed
container” when already properly searching a car was unreasonable
when the Court had previously found “destroying the
interior of an automobile” to be reasonable in Carroll v.
United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925)).

If you live in a mobile home the interior can be destroyed in a search without a warrant and it is already totally legal.

See Also Raw Story.

Dems who flipped on FISA immunity see more telecom cash

“That’s a nice looking piece of paper. What is it?”

“We call it the United States Constitution.”

“Really? Is it important?”

“Very much so, we base our laws on it and we fall back on it whenever a question comes up about the legality of a law that is passed in Congress. We members of Congress swear to uphold it when we take office. We do so because it is required by the very same Constitution:

“The Constitution specifies in Article VI, clause 3:

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

“Wow. So what was the oath you took when you became a member of Congress?”

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

“I’ll give you $8,300 for it.”


The Crypt.

Reward the Heroes of Resistance to the FISA Amendments Act

If we want to be effective in our activism in opposition to the FISA Amendments Act, then we need to think about how to influence members of Congress to vote the way that we want. Influence is created through a system of rewards and punishment. In choosing between rewards and punishment, we need to keep in mind that rewards are generally the more effective method, but they have to be communicated clearly, and associated with the behavior that we want to see repeated.

In the case of the FISA Amendments Act, we need to send a clear message that members of Congress who will vote to uphold the Constitution will be rewarded. As bloggers, we can reward those members of Congress with favorable coverage. To make the linkage clear, we need to specifically praise individual members of Congress for their votes against the FISA Amendments Act.

I’ve been working on this project myself over the last week. Every day, I write about the the good members of the House of Representatives who voted against the FISA Amendments Act, including segments from their official statements on the bill that seem particularly eloquent.

Two days ago, for example, I wrote an article about Representative Tammy Baldwin and her well-crafted speech against H.R. 6304. When I searched on Google Blogsearch for more information on Congresswoman Baldwin’s stand on this legislation, however, searching for “FISA Amendments Act” and “Tammy Baldwin”, I saw that my article was one of only two blog articles that came up.

There ought to be hundreds of such articles written about what Tammy Baldwin did for America.

How must it feel for those members of the House of Representatives who did the right thing, only to be met with silence by the progressive blogosphere? They put their necks out for us, and yet we have not given them the good coverage that they deserve. Next time, will they stick their necks out again?

We all need to step up and write the simple blog articles of thanks to the members of the House of Representatives who voted NO to H.R. 6304. There is a list of these heroes in defense of the Constitution over at the Protect America – Act! web site.

You can find statements many of these members of Congress have made about the FISA Amendments Act on their congressional sites at House.gov or in the congressional record at the Library of Congress.

This is good, original source material to write about – the stuff bloggers should dream about. We don’t need to be part of the mainstream media’s echo chamber. We can write useful articles to communicate about particular members of Congress with their constituents about something specific. It’s up to us to spread this information – most people won’t hear about it in any other way.

H.R. 6304 Translated–What the FISA Compromise Really Means (cont)

Sec 107 of HR 6304 deals with physical searches for gathering foreign intelligence.  In the pre-existing law, 50 U.S.C., the procedures for FISA Court warrant applications are virtually identical for both physical searches and electronic surveillance.  Much of it is just copy and paste with a search and replace of physical search for electronic surveillance (a few other minor changes, none that I noticed were substantive.)  So pre-existing law allowed for physical searches with the same probable cause requirements as electronic surveillance.  Sec 107 makes the following changes to the existing law:

  1. Strikes a paragraph stating that the approval of the Attorney general must be included in the application to the FISA court for a physical search warrant.  It however leaves in several other references to the requirement of the Attorney General’s approval.  Sec 104 made the same changes for electronic surveillance.  It is not clear what effect, if any this has.
  2. The requirement for the inclusion of “a detailed description of the premises or property to be searched and of the information, material, or property to be seized, reproduced, or altered” in the application has had the word ‘detailed’ removed.  Again, this is analogous to the change Sec 104 made for electronic surveillance. The impact of this will be to make easier the primary thing the 4th Amendment was meant to prevent–fishing expeditions for something to charge a target with without prior probable cause. Major loser.
  3. Under pre-existing law property to be searched had to be “owned, used, possessed by, or is in transit to or from a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power;”  Sec 107 changes this to include ‘is about to be owned by’.  Not sure how this increases the search scope beyond what was already possible (‘use’, ‘possess’, and ‘in transit to or from’ are sufficiently broad that I cannot think of anything included in ‘about to be owned by’ that does fall under one of those three, particularly the third.)
  4. Makes the same change as Sec 104 by creating an opening for an executive branch official not accountable to congress to certify the application.
  5. Allows the Director of the CIA to request FISA applications (again analogous to Sec 104).

Sec 107 also alters the procedure for judges issuing a FISA court order for a physical search (pre-existing law is again nearly identical to pre-existing law for electronic surveillance).

  1. Makes a change analogous to one in Sec 105 by striking a requirement that the judge find that the president has authorized the Attorney General to make applications to the FISA court.  It is a strange change the purpose of which is not clear to me.
  2. Makes a change in the language allowing the search of property that is about to be owned by the target of the investigation, in line with the above similar change in the application law.
  3. It then (as Sec 105 did for electronic surveillance) strikes the existing rules for emergency orders of physical searches (which are nearly identical to the existing ones for electronic searches) and replaces them.  The new law is basically the same as what Sec 105 made for electronic surveillance.  If the Attorney General ‘reasonably’ believes a warrant would be awarded he may order the search before filing an application, which he has seven days (instead of the 72 hours allowed in existing law) to file with the FISA court.  As it turns out tracking2008 has a good eye, and caught something I did not catch in Sec 105 that is both there and here:  Information obtained from both physical searches and electronic surveillances without a FISA court warrant (either before or after the fact) is inadmissible as evidence before any governmental authority–except when employed to prevent imminent death or direct harm.  I caught that part, and was ok with that.  What I missed, but tracking2008 caught was the clause just underneath that which reads: “(6) The Attorney General shall assess compliance with the requirements of paragraph (5)” this means that only the Attorney General gets to decide if illegally obtained information (meaning information obtained without FISA court blessing) is misused.  This was NOT in the existing law, and is something we should be very concerned about.  It runs against the very principle of checks and balances 50 U.S.C. as a whole.  My thanks to tracking2008 for catching that in his post.

Next I will cover Sec 109 which deals with the formation of the FISA court, and Title II which is the Telecom Immunity portion of the bill.

H.R. 6304 Translated–What the FISA Compromise Really Means (cont)

Sec 105 of HR 6304 deals with a FISA Court Judge’s ruling on an application.  50 U.S.C. 1805 basically lays out the required procedure for a FISA Court judge to issue a ruling, and Sec 105 of HR 6304 amends that law.

From Sec 105 of HR 6304:

  1. Strikes a subparagraph that explicitly states that the judge must find that the president has authorized the Attorney General to approve applications for electronic surveillance.  Not sure on the impact of this really.  It clearly relates to the changes made by Sec 104 which strikes out one reference to the Attorney General’s approval being required on applications but leaves others.
  2. Strikes a requirement that a FISA Court order specify “whenever more than one electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device is to be used under the order, the authorized coverage of the devices involved and what minimization procedures shall apply to information subject to acquisition by each device.”  This relates to the change made by Sec 104 which ended the requirement that this information be included in applications in the first place.  So this change is just making the applications and the resulting orders consistent.  It is a decrease in the judicial oversight capacity of the FISA court.
  3. In consistency with Sec 104, eliminates the distinction between foreign power targets and other targets (foreign power targets had lighter information requirements).  This would apply to say surveillance of a foreign embassy, or other foreign government facilities.
  4. Rewrites the law governing emergency surveillance orders.  The short version of the new law is that if the Attorney General ‘reasonably’ determines that an application would be approved if submitted, he can order the surveillance before submitting the application.  The application must be submitted or the surveillance ended within seven days.  If the surveillance is ended before an order is issued by a judge or the application is denied, any information gathered can never be used as evidence in any governmental body (courts, congressional comittees, regulatory bodies, anything with government authority).  The only change from pre-existing law with this one is that the time limit is increased from 72 hours to 7 days.  That seems a bit long in my opinion, however the limits (basically a ban) on the use of any information gathered without the blessing of a FISA court order are kept the same.  I’m not thrilled with the time span being as long as 7 days, but I can live with it.

Sec 106 of HR 6304 makes a small change to the law governing the use of information gained from electronic surveillance:

  1. There is a section in 50 U.S.C. 1806 that contains a clause requiring the destruction of any unintentionally acquired radio communications acquired in a situation where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and both parties are in the US.  This is changed to simply read ‘communication’ rather than ‘radio communication.’  This is a good provision, and a point where existing law needed to be modernized.

The next section I’m going to cover is Sec 107 which makes amendments to the law governing physical searches.  I will hopefully get to that tonight.

Call your senators again: ask them to support the filibuster

FISA bill HR 6304 may come up for consideration in the Senate as soon as today. Senators Dodd, Feingold, Wyden, (and Boxer????) and are planning to filibuster the compromise FISA bill.

1. Call your senators again, now, even if they already oppose FISA, and ask them to support the filibuster.

2. If you have a blog, consider writing a post about it.

3. If you know of other bloggers, get the message out to them. I am thinking of some who have been posting on youtube who might have more google mojo than I do and can reach more people.

Direct Phone Numbers to All Senators Posted

All numbers of Senators in State order are up and accessable on right in sidebar.

Call the DSCC

We all regularly get requests for money from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) so I thought it would be appropriate for us to all call them and let them know that they can expect no more money and no support from us if the Senate leadership is unable to step up, find some spine, and block the FISA compromise.  Please take two minutes to call and politely express your disgust on this critical issue.

Phone the DSCC now at (202) 224-2447

The money walks if their bullshit talks.

Super J.


If FISA Passes

It has just been suggested to me that if the Senate passes FISA everyone not already registered as an independent should immediately register as one that day or the very next day they are able. It is a very simple thing that would send a clear message and put the Democrats and possibly even the Republicans on notice that we are paying attention and that they have pissed us off!

Imagine the reaction in Congress if every member got an email that simply said, “If FISA passes I am leaving the party.”

Now imagine the reaction if every member got thousands or tens of thousands of those emails.

I propose that if FISA passes that we burn our Voter Registration cards in front of the nearest Democratic Party Office or the nearest office of a member of Congress. I live in Las Vegas and will do so in front of Harry Reid’s office and i will bring the press.

Steny Hoyer: The Face of Defeat

Author’s Note:  This is a repost from my blog, Progressive World Review

In one short statement, House Majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) summed up the reason why we can’t count on the Democratic party to stand up for either the Constitution or the American people.  While Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) characterized the recent passage of FISA “a capitulation,” Hoyer has declared it a “victory”.  From the Politico,

In an interview with Politico on Monday, Hoyer called the FISA legislation a “significant victory” for the Democratic Party – one that neutralized an issue Republicans might have been able to use against Democrats in November while still, in his view, protecting the civil liberties of American citizens. (emphasis added)

This is precisely the problem that plagues the Democratic Party.  Instead of providing true leadership they insist on licking the boots of the Republicans in the hope that they won’t get beat up.  Even from a position of power they continue to let the Republicans frame the debate by allowing them to play the “security” card.  Never mind that the Republican brand is positioned somewhere lower than Enron’s and that Americans are fed up with the direction they’ve taken this country, still, the Democrats insist on doing these closed door deals that play to the Republican strength rather than stand up for America.

This was Hoyer’s reason for making this “victorious” deal,

Hoyer said that if House Democratic leaders failed to reach a FISA deal with the White House and GOP leaders, as many as “30 Blue Dogs and another 20 to 30 members” could have signed onto a Republican discharge petition calling for a floor vote on the Senate version of the FISA bill, which was even more anathema to House Democrats than what eventually passed.

Apparently it didn’t occur to Hoyer to stand up to these “Blue Dogs” and expose them for what they are, instead, Hoyer cuts a deal that is virtually indistinguishable from the Senate version he was so desperate to avoid and declares it a victory.

Hoyer said that House Democrats succeeded in dialing back some of the provisions contained in the earlier, Senate-passed version of the FISA legislation. While the Senate bill provided retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program, Hoyer noted that the House version mandates judicial review of the companies’ actions. Legal experts and congressional opponents argue that such review will ultimately be meaningless. (emphasis added)

So in fact, Hoyer won nothing, nothing except the hollow victory of taking bad legislation and calling it success.

This is exactly the kind of political maneuvering that Americans are so fed up with.  Even if conservative Democrats could have been successful in defeating an honest attempt at a FISA bill that makes sense, wouldn’t it be better to go down in glorious defeat rather than whimpering, meaningless victory?

–Paul Wilden

Call Your Senator Now

Stop FISA. Call your senator now.

The senate switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Ask for your senator by name and they will connect you.

Or you can look up your senator’s direct number |here|.

For up to the minute info on opposition to FISA, or to share information about the phone calls you make, check Electronic Frontier Foundation. They were the first to publish the text of the secret FISA amendment compromise, before it was on Thomas.

Whether or not your senator opposes FISA, you can give all the senators something to make small talk about as they see each other in the hallway, in the gym, in the cafeteria. Let’s keep their phones busy and their FAX machines out of paper.

H.R. 6304 Translated–What the FISA Compromise Really Means (cont)

Continuing the series of my previous post, analyzing the provisions of the FISA “Compromise” and what they really mean for us:

From Sec 104 of HR 6304, the section I discussed here:

This section deals with the process of obtaining warrants from the FISA court. The existing law, 50 U.S.C. 1804 states

Each application for an order approving electronic surveillance under this subchapter shall be made by a Federal officer in writing upon oath or affirmation to a judge having jurisdiction under section 1803 of this title. Each application shall require the approval of the Attorney General based upon his finding that it satisfies the criteria and requirements of such application as set forth in this subchapter. It shall include–

and then lists what is required from an application. HR6304 makes the following changes to that list

  1. The authority and approval of the Attorney General is no longer required to file an application for a warrant from the FISA court. Correction: It seems the application simply need not include the approval, but that the approval is still necessary. Exactly what is intended by this provision is not clear. The real impact of this is debatable–it is a decrease in oversight in name, but whether the Attorney General’s approval requirement held any real oversight power is debatable. My guess is that this is the John Ashcroft provision–Ashcroft refused to reauthorize the warrantless wiretapping program while being hounded at his sickbed by Alberto Gonzalez. I am purely speculating that this is the reason behind this provision, but I cannot think of any other reason for it. More importantly this doesn’t help to make Americans more safe, it just helps the President to get what he wants without troublesome cabinet members getting in his way by doing their job. A definite loser provision.
  2. Under the pre-existing law, any time multiple devices are used for a single electronic surveillance (presumably target) the coverage of the devices involved and what minimization procedures apply to information acquired by each device must be included in the application. This requirement has been struck from the law by HR 6304. This is another decrease in oversight, however this is one point where I think a reasonable case can be made in its favor due to how the law defines devices. I disagree with that argument, but it does exist.
  3. The required “ description of the nature of the information sought and the type of communications or activities to be subjected to the surveillance” need no longer be “detailed.” Again, an obvious decrease in judicial oversight. The impact of this will be to make easier the primary thing the 4th Amendment was meant to prevent–fishing expeditions for something to charge a target with without prior probable cause. Major loser.
  4. Under the pre-existing law either the National Security Advisor, or some other executive branch official in a national security related post (i.e. not the Attorney General) that required Senate confirmation had to provide certain certifications as to the veracity of the application. HR 6304 makes a change here that I may have mischaracterized in my original post. Either it makes the Deputy Director of the FBI an option for the certifying official, or it makes him someone who can designate a certifying official (the way I originally described it). I now believe it to be the former, however I’m not 100% certain on that. What is certain is that either way it gives the President the option of having a certifying official who is not accountable to the Senate. Either way, it is decreased accountability. Another major loser.
  5. Under pre-existing law “a statement of the means by which the surveillance will be effected and a statement whether physical entry is required to effect the surveillance” is required in the application. HR 6304 reduces this requirement to a summary statement. Again, decreased judicial oversight.
  6. Allows the Director of the CIA to directly submit applications to the Attorney General for review. Not a big deal, except that HR 6304 struck the clause requiring the Attorney General’s approval. So I’m not sure why this is in here. Looking back over the text, they struck the subparagraph that explicitly states that the Attorney General’s approval must be included in the application, but left the clause in the paragraph above that stating the Attorney General’s approval is required to submit an application. So the Attorney General must approve it, but there need be no documentation of it (aside from the written request by one of the officials empowered to make such requests) in the application itself? I am beginning to think they write these laws in such an opaque manner to intentionally confound us.

Lots more to come. Eventually this entire series will be cleaned up, edited, and posted on a single page for easy viewing.

Neglected Portion of H.R. 6304: Physical Searches Are Covered, Too

Do a Google News search for “h.r. 6304” and you’ll get over a thousand news articles. Add the term “physical search,” or “physical searches,” or even just “physical,” and how many news articles come up? Zero, zero, zero.

And yet there is an entire section of H.R. 6304 that has to do with authorizations for physical searches. Not electronic searches of communications. Physical searches.

Section 107 of Title IV of H.R. 6304 is entitled “Amendments for Physical Searches.” After initial text which edits currently existing law on physical searches, the following amendment is added to it:

(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the Attorney General may authorize the emergency employment of a physical search if the Attorney General—
(A) reasonably determines that an emergency situation exists with respect to the employment of a physical search to obtain foreign intelligence information before an order authorizing such physical search can with due diligence be obtained;
(B) reasonably determines that the factual basis for issuance of an order under this title to approve such physical search exists;
(C) informs, either personally or through a designee, a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the time of such authorization that the decision has been made to employ an emergency physical search; and
(D) makes an application in accordance with this title to a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as soon as practicable, but not more than 7 days after the Attorney General authorizes such physical search.

(2) If the Attorney General authorizes the emergency employment of a physical search under paragraph (1), the Attorney General shall require that the minimization procedures required by this title for the issuance of a judicial order be followed.

(3) In the absence of a judicial order approving such physical search, the physical search shall terminate when the information sought is obtained, when the application for the order is denied, or after the expiration of 7 days from the time of authorization by the Attorney General, whichever is earliest.

(4) A denial of the application made under this subsection may be reviewed as provided in section 103.

(5) In the event that such application for approval is denied, or in any other case where the physical search is terminated and no order is issued approving the physical search, no information obtained or evidence derived from such physical search shall be received in evidence or otherwise disclosed in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, office, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the United States, a State, or political subdivision thereof, and no information concerning any United States person acquired from such physical search shall subsequently be used or disclosed in any other manner by Federal officers or employees without the consent of such person, except with the approval of the Attorney General if the information indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person.

(6) The Attorney General shall assess compliance with the requirements of paragraph (5).

My understanding of this text:

1. The “notwithstanding” phrase means that this text supercedes checks and balances elsewhere in the bill.

2. If the President’s Attorney General determines there is an emergency, then government agents can engage in a physical search of anyone without a warrant, and continue that search for up to seven days.

3. After the fact, a secret FISA court judge will determine whether the warrantless physical search was actually for the purposes of collecting foreign intelligence information and whether a factual basis for the physical search occurred.

4. Regardless of whether the secret FISA court judge determines the warrantless physical search to be appropriate or not, the President’s Attorney General can use any information obtained in the search by invoking the need to protect the public from death or harm. Only the Attorney General can determine whether the Attorney General is right about this.

That’s an astounding amount of arbitrary, unchecked power concentrated in a member of the president’s cabinet. But there are no news organizations covering this aspect the bill, and no blogs either (save one). Why?

Tyranny is Tyranny

From Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States

Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.
When we look at the American Revolution this way, it was a work of genius, and the Founding Fathers deserve the awed tribute they have received over the centuries. They created the most effective system of national control devised in modern times, and showed future generations of leaders the advantages of combining paternalism with command.
Starting with Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia, by 1760, there had been eighteen uprisings aimed at overthrowing colonial governments. There had also been six black rebellions, from South Carolina to New York, and forty riots of various origins.
By this time also, there emerged, according to Jack Greene, “stable, coherent, effective and acknowledged local political and social elites.” And by the 1760s, this local leadership saw the possibility of directing much of the rebellious energy against England and her local officials. It was not a conscious conspiracy, but an accumulation of tactical responses.
After 1763, with England victorious over France in the Seven Years’ War (known in America as the French and Indian War), expelling them from North America, ambitious colonial leaders were no longer threatened by the French. They now had only two rivals left: the English and the Indians. The British, wooing the Indians, had declared Indian lands beyond the Appalachians out of bounds to whites (the Proclamation of 1763). Perhaps once the British were out of the way, the Indians could be dealt with. Again, no conscious forethought strategy by the colonial elite, hut a growing awareness as events developed.
With the French defeated, the British government could turn its attention to tightening control over the colonies. It needed revenues to pay for the war, and looked to the colonies for that. Also, the colonial trade had become more and more important to the British economy, and more profitable: it had amounted to about 500,000 pounds in 1700 but by 1770 was worth 2,800,000 pounds.
So, the American leadership was less in need of English rule, the English more in need of the colonists’ wealth. The elements were there for conflict.
The war had brought glory for the generals, death to the privates, wealth for the merchants, unemployment for the poor. There were 25,000 people living in New York (there had been 7,000 in 1720) when the French and Indian War ended. A newspaper editor wrote about the growing “Number of Beggers and wandering Poor” in the streets of the city. Letters in the papers questioned the distribution of wealth: “How often have our Streets been covered with Thousands of Barrels of Flour for trade, while our near Neighbors can hardly procure enough to make a Dumplin to satisfy hunger?”


H.R. 6304 Translated–What the FISA Compromise Really Means

I want to go through what the provisions of HR 6304 really mean, what changes they make to FISA and how this will really impact us. I did a little of this in my prior post just to illustrate a point, but here I want to go through it for its own sake, and so that people really know what their representatives have done to them.  Due to the the difficulty of doing this I will be posting a few points at a time, as I uncover them.  For today, from Sec 103 of HR 6304

  1. FISA court orders must be reported to congress now (previously not included)–no complaints here.
  2. More information is required of the Attorney Generals semiannual report to the Congressional Intelligence committees–still no complaint.  Hmm, these changes seem far too responsible, what’s the catch?
  3. The Attorney General may authorize any redactions necessary to protect national security in the reports to Congress–Oh, here’s the catch.  More detailed reports are required, but feel free to censor the information as you see fit Mr Attorney General (redaction authority only applies to the new required information in the report, information previously required may not be redacted, at least there is no mention of such authority in either 50 U.S.C 1871, or in HR 6304).  This means that Congress has more oversight of electronic surveillance–if the president feels like letting them have it.

So increased accountability at the pleasure of the president.  In other words, no increased accountability of any real import.


Sitemap Added to Google

I have added our Sitemap to Google. It will take four to six weeks for it to kick in.

That’s ok, If we Repeal FISA within the next four to six weeks then no harm done.

Any other ideas about where to promote this site please post them. If you can do it yourself, please do and then post about what you did.

Yesterday I put a little blurb in a number of comment sections of blogs with a link back to this site which is probably how most of you ended up here. I Googled “FISA” and clicked on BLOGS. There were 650,000 entries so I have a few left to get to yet so feel free to help out.

Other searches could have been, “Telecom Immunity,” “Police State,” and possibly “Idiots in Congress.”

This is what I posted. Feel free to use it or write something you like better.

“Repeal FISA is up and running. Anyone who wants to is welcome to sign up and become a Poster on it. The purpose of the blog is to organize a drive to repeal the FISA laws and all laws that pardon or give immunity from prosecution anyone who has violated the Constitution during the Bush Administration.

That is why we want everyone to be able to Post so they can start a conversation about an idea they have to make this happen.

Stop on by and check it out. By all means leave a comment and sign up to blog with us as we figure out what needs to be done to return our Fourth Amendment Rights and our rule of law.

If you have a blog already and you become a poster we will link to your site.


Are Americans too Comfortable to act?

Do Citizens of the USA really understand what is going on? Do they think this FISA thing is just some annoyance? I know one thing, Rights once taken away never return without a huge battle.

Maybe people living inside the US have it too easy, sure, they pay more than they used to for gas. Europe and the EU would give anything to pay what the US pays. US Americans will talk about gas, they will talk about how high the veggies are now. But if you mention FISA, you’ll only get blank stares and hear crickets.

I’m going to talk first hand here, I am a US citizen living abroad (Thailand). I have to be aware that EVERYTHING I say when I call my family and friends in the US is scrutinized. Every Email I send is looked at. And here is the real thing that drives me nuts. In order for me to be on this BLOG or any other place where I can comment without fear of reprisal I have to use some third-party site. I use Anonymity . We here in Thailand and Laos and much of the world can’t see some things, like Youtube without third party sites. They are blocked.

So if you are sitting comfortable in your home in America and feeling safe, just think how that can change Overnight with just a signing statement. Case in point, you just lost a lot of your rights when this FISA Bill was passed.

I encourage you all to write to your representative, Email, Snail-mail, FAX and Telephone calls to them. Let them know that their jobs are on the line and that THEY are Supposed to work for US.

America is in trouble and it won’t get fixed on its’ own.
We must act, it is our duty as citizens to organize and act to save our country from the politics of fear.

Some of my friends in California have gotten together to pay for a couple of Bill-Board ADs to put on Highway 80 against FISA. Things CAN be done, we just need the initiative. Think Liberty before it’s gone.

BB (Blgng fr Luang Prabang Loas.)

Carlin On Rights

…okay, and a little religion too.  Watch it to the end and lament the passing of a real genius of social commentary.  I’m going to really miss Carlin because he was right on the money.

Super J

Practical Online Activism Against FISA Amendments Act

Effective activism against the FISA Amendments Act won’t be accomplished through just one big action – a national protest or a call-in campaign. Rather, it’s day after day small actions accumulated that will put on the pressure necessary to undo the damage of this terrible law.

Writing for the Repeal FISA blog is an important form of activism, as the general public is very poorly informed about this legislation. However, for this great collective effort to have a strong impact, we need to follow through and promote it effectively.

One easy thing to get the ball rolling is to use social promotion sites to help like-minded activists, and people who are politically receptive to find the Repeal FISA blog.

It’s elementary, I know, but important to remember. I’ve just submitted this site to StumbleUpon.com, and I plan to add my StumbleUpon thumbs up to all the blogs written by the people contributing here.

We can Digg each other’s articles. We can submit them to activist sites like Care2 as well. You all know the sites. Now, let’s use them for this important cause.

It’s the wisdom of beginning this collective site in the first place: Individually, we won’t be heard over the mainstream media’s misinformation. Together, we can make a stir.

FISA: Protecting Everyone Except The American People

This is from Olbermann from the first time the FISA bills were being amended…but you wouldn’t be able to tell given that the arguments are all the same today.

Please call your Senators today while your calls are still untapped and you can still make a difference.

A Plan of Action

I came up with the idea for this site Saturday Morning after fuming about the vote in the House of Representatives on June 20 to support President Bush’s desire to rid our Nation of Constitutional protections.

We are off to a good start, but we have a lot to do and a lot to talk about. The purpose of this site is to give everyone a meeting place to voice their opinions, come up with ideas about how to repeal FISA and to drum up support for our cause.

I would like to put forth some notions about how we might go about this.

I propose we operate on a consensual basis. There are many reasons for this the first being that I do not believe in hierarchies. I am not in charge here other than my role as site administrator. We are in charge. What we agree to do collectively as far as the site is concerned will be implemented. The second reason is that our common goals can be better achieved if our actions truly reflect our common desires on how to achieve them. This is not to say that we can’t act in smaller consensual subgroups to take on a task. In fact the most efficient groups will probably be the smallest and most committed.

To that end I expect people to voice their opinion about what we should and could do to take effective action by becoming members of the blogging team. All you have to do is ask, everyone is invited.

People who agree with a posted idea should comment on it and start to form a group that will attempt to carry it out. It is up to those people who want to see an idea come to fruition to get it done.

To that end I have a few suggestions:

One: Talk about the action you want to be involved in with the people you are working with and come up with ideas.

Two: Plan the action. Figure out what is needed, who is responsible for doing what, and any other necessary details. If what you are doing is going to involves talking to the press you need to know the do’s and don’ts about that; which we can get into later. If you are going to have contact with the press you must try your best to pick the members of your group who are the most articulate and name them as your press spokespeople. If you are not on this list and are approached by a reporter just say, “You should talk to Sam or Julie. They have all the information.”

Three: Do the action, whatever it is. Whether it is leafleting, highway blogging, Civil Disobedience, going directly to your elected representative or whatever. If you don’t do this; steps one and two are meaningless. Don’t tell everybody you are going to do something unless you are.

Four: Evaluate the action. Go over what went right what went wrong and learn from mistakes and successes.

Five: Return to step one and repeat.

It is doing these small things over and over again that will help us get better and better and attract more support.

To help people who wish to work together get in contact and keep their privacy I will be happy to forward requests for emails. Just send a request to repealfisa@gmail.com

Call Your Senators, Stop The FISA Amendment!

The fourth amendment shredding bill that just flew through the House is going to be voted now in the Senate and will be voted on this week.  PLEASE STOP THIS BILL. Call your Senators right now (using this handy phone list) and let them know that you are vocal, you vote, and you’re against this bill.

Then call Senator Obama  at (202) 224-2854.  If we can convince him to change his indefensable position on this bill his leadership could help stop this law from going through.

Super J.


FISA: The Compromise That Wasn’t

When the Democrats passed an update to FISA they called it a “compromise”, claiming they had won important concessions and that while the bill wasn’t perfect, it was better than it could have been.  It’s funny how Republicans didn’t see it quite the same way.  This is what Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) had to say,

“I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,”

And Democrat Russ Feingold apparently agrees, calling the deal “a capitulation” by his fellow Democrats.

It’s hard to disagree with either of them given that Bush won essentially everything he wanted, warrantless eavesdropping on Americans and retroactive immunity for the telecoms that have assisted Bush in his illegal activities.  Democrats are claiming that because FISA is now the “exclusive” means for the executive branch to conduct warrantless surveillance and that telecoms will only be provided immunity if the president appointed attorney general asserts that the president’s request for cooperation was legal, are important concessions. 

Both of these concessions constitute extremely serious breaches to the Constitution and the rule of law.  This is not just some abstract legal concept nor is it hyperbolic to say this is the exactly the kind of tyranny our forefathers were trying to prevent.  Providing immunity to lawbreakers because the president said it was okay is virtually the same as the president writing his own laws.  And infringing the privacy of Americans without judicial oversight is in direct violation of the fourth amendment.  And that FISA happens to be the “exclusive” means for the president to do so is hardly comforting.

–Paul Wilden

HR 6304 – A Bill to Abolish the 4th Amendment


Remember Those Who Stood With Us

You have got to love that line, “1776 was pre-9/11.”

For The Record

Barack Obama’s Intellectual Dishonesty

This is a repeat of a post over at my blog Speak Softly, Carry A Candle: A Skeptic’s Perspective.

Well, this week the heavyweight title goes to Obama, for his absurd and insulting stance on the FISA Betrayal bill that the House just passed. I decided to hunt down some past statements of Obama’s such as this and this.

“I have consistently opposed this Administration’s efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was on the Iraq war, or on its power grab to curb our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and this proposal — with an unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity — is not the place to start.”

“To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

The second is from Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. Now Obama says

Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.


It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.”

Of course, what he is ignoring, and seems to be hoping you will ignore is this, the actual content of the bill itself. Of course, because this is an amendment act, you cannot tell what it does from its own text, it is really just a list of proofreading changes to the 50 U.S.C. 1804 (the FISA law). Comparing the section on court orders yields the following laundry list of changes to the FISA court procedure for obtaining permission of electronic surveillance:

  • The Attorney General’s approval is no longer needed.
  • When multiple surveillance devices are used their individual and collective scope, capabilities and efforts to prevent the capture of inappropriate information need no longer be listed.
  • A less than detailed description of the nature of the information sought and the types of activities that will be under surveillance (i.e. instead of having to specify e-mail they can now say just computer communications, or some other broad term that covers multiple communication methods in one warrant)
  • Certifications provided by administration officials not confirmed by the Senate (previously the relevant official had to hold a post that required Senate approval, this cuts Congress even further out of the loop).
  • Only a summary of the method of surveillance, rather than an actual statement.

and the list goes on. The fact is, unravelling exactly what this bill does is more than a bit tedious, and I would not be the least bit surprised to find that most of those who voted in favor of it did not bother to comprehend it, and just blindly followed their caucus leaders. From just the part of the section dealing with the FISA warrant process that I deciphered though, there is a clear intent to weaken the provisions of FISA, by cutting out of the loop all officials with any accountability to Congress, leaving only the president’s cronies in the process, and by decreasing across the board the amount of information supplied to the FISA court.

Apparently this is what Barack Obama means by oversight and accountability–decreased accountability, and decreased oversight.

So for this, Barack Obama wins the Intellectual Dishonesty of the Week Award.

Law School Plans to Prosecute Bush


A conference to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover . 



“This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred,” said convener Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the school. “It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth.”

“We must try to hold Bush administration leaders accountable in courts of justice,” Velvel said. “And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war-criminals in the 1940s.”

Velvel said past practice has been to allow U.S. officials responsible for war crimes in Viet Nam and elsewhere to enjoy immunity from prosecution upon leaving office. “President Johnson retired to his Texas ranch and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was named to head the World Bank; Richard Nixon retired to San Clemente and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was allowed to grow richer and richer,” Velvel said.

He noted in the years since the prosecution and punishment of German and Japanese leaders after World War Two those nation’s leaders changed their countries’ aggressor cultures. One cannot discount contributory cause and effect here, he said.

“For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders,” Velvel said.

The conference will take up such issues as the nature of domestic and international crimes committed; which high-level Bush officials, including Federal judges and Members of Congress, are chargeable with war crimes; which foreign and domestic tribunals can be used to prosecute them; and the setting up of an umbrella coordinating committee with representatives of legal groups concerned about the war crimes such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, ACLU,  among others.

The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover was established in 1988 to provide an affordable, quality legal education to minorities, immigrants and students from low-income households that might otherwise be denied the opportunity to obtain a legal education and practice law. Its founder, Dean Velvel, has been honored by the National Law Journal and cited in various publications for his contributions to the reform of legal education.

Comedian George Carlin dies in Los Angeles at 71

Telecom Immunity Not So Popular

Obama FISA Test: FAIL!

Per Obama’s quotes on the FISA ‘compromise’ on TPM, he says these amendments are “a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act.”  He states that “the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over.”  Obama then even has the nerve to say that this bill makes “it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people.”

Someone let me know if there was another FISA bill that was passed today because Barack apparently isn’t talking about the same bill I read about today.  The one I read about gave telecommunication companies immunity from any laws they might have broken, but of course we will never find out what those might have been once this immunity is granted.

The bill I read about allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications with no court oversight on the who, what and why of the spying.  Worse yet, in the unlikely event that the court would deny an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless.

A court review without power is no court review at all.

So Obama says “I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.”

Well shit, I feel safer already.  Shame you don’t have the constitutional fortitude to block this Fourth Amendment shredding machine while you still have the chance.  If you had any leadership skills you would rally the Democrats to ram this bill back up the President’s and the Republican party’s collective ass so the Democrats could introduce truly useful FISA reforms in a few months.  I thought you were different but now I see you’re no better than all the other spineless Democratic cowards in the House and Senate.

Change?  I don’t see any change here.  All I see is another Democrat willing to capitulate on his principles in the name of expediency.  Whether he is a coward or simply calculating makes no difference at the end of the day, either way the Constitution is compromised and none of us are any safer.


Super J.

The Gospel of Super Jesus

Suggestion Box (Brainstorming Session)

This site is supposed to be our site. If you are reading this i am talking to you!

This is a place where we will discuss strategies and tactics to achieve our collective goals to reinstitute the rule of law in our country. If we sit back and wait for the politicians to do it it will never happen. Why? Because they can’t and they won’t do it without us. There are too many powerfull groups fighting them all the way and they know it. They can’t even get started until they have our strong support to do so. We all have an uphill battle and the sooner we get started the sooner we can start things moving in the right direction.

So my question to you is this: What can we do to get this ball rolling? What do we need to do to make this effort a success?

There are no wrong answers at this point. All suggestions no matter how outlandish or conservative should be posted here for all to consider. Please do not criticize other people’s suggestions. We can analyze options at another time. For now just have at it!

Fourth Amendment Of The United States Constitution

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.

The recent capitualtion of the United States House of Representaives to the Bush Administrations demands for TELECOM IMMUNITY in anticipation of the United States Senate following suit shall not stand.


Congress is empowered to pass laws. If they pass a bad law it needs to be repealed. This is bad law and this site seeks to have this law repealed.


Please Read  Carte blanche to illegally spy on Americans by Tom Burghardt


The US Senate must vote NO on the FISA compromise

Petition Your GovernmentThe new FISA bill is part of a continuing campaign of collusion between Congress and the Bush administration, immunizing not only the telecommunications companies, but the administration and any members of Congress, on either side of the aisle, that may have been involved in illegal wiretaps.  This is unconstitutional and potentially criminal.

The new ‘compromise’ FISA Bill (PDF) was just made public, which, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports, ‘contains blanket immunity for telecoms that helped the NSA break the law and spy on millions of ordinary Americans. The Senate debates this new bill next week.  Previously Obama had stated that he would support Chris Dodds filibuster of any FISA bill containing immunity for telecoms.  Now he has stated that he would support the “compromise” bill.    “Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program,” Obama said in a statement hours after the House approved the legislation 293-129.

Sorry, but careful monitoring isn’t good enough.  Defeating this bill or amending it to exclude immunity is the only way to protect our already eviscerated Constitution.

Contact your Senator immediately and flood the phone lines to voice your opposition to this bill. 

 In particular, contact Senator Obama and tell him you expect him to keep his word to Senators Feingold and Dodd.  Call and write often.  He can be reached at these numbers:

Washington D.C. Office
(202) 224-2854
(202) 228-4260 fax
(202 228-1404 TDD
Email our office

Chicago Office
(312) 886-3506
(312) 886-3514 fax
Toll free: (866) 445-2520
(for IL residents only)

Springfield Office
(217) 492-5089
(217) 492-5099 fax

Marion Office
618- 997-2402
618- 997-2850 fax

Moline Office
(309)736-1233 fax