• 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 If they pass a bad law it needs to be repealed. This is bad law and this site seeks to have this law repealed.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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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?