Posted by Thomas Nephew on June 27th, 2008
I share Nell’s, Avedon’s, eRobin’s, Mick’s, Paul’s, Kevin’s, Glenn Greenwald’s and many others’ anger and/or disappointment re the “express train to Nixonland“ FISA capitulation by the Democratic Party and Obama.
While it’s justifiably the headliner aspect of the bill for opponents, the telcom immunity provision is only part of the problem. When you get long-time Jucidiary Committee staffers and Department of Justice veterans like James Dempsey and Marty Lederman scratching their heads and saying they’re still not quite sure what all is being authorized here — and neither is Congress — then it’s time to pull the emergency brake for that reason alone, not stoke the engine.
Given that “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”, it seems likely we’re about to approve giga-scale “vacuum cleaner” data mining of a great deal of innocent e-mail and telephone traffic on “general principles” of some unknown nature, with a resulting huge spike in ‘false positives’ like those that have affected so many air travelers since 9/11 changed everything. Those positives will result in additional “warranted” yet essentially unjustified spying — fruit of the poisonous tree, declared tasty and nutritious by congressional fiat, Fourth Amendment be damned.
Re Obama: in one way or another, many of the bloggers above “told you so” about Obama’s propensity to lean towards whatever the DC establishment consensus is — not that I think they take great pleasure in seeing their analyses confirmed. But some didn’t, and Greenwald’s scoldings notwithstanding, I have to say that I’ve seen a lot of fairly fervent primary season Obama supporters be forthright about being disappointed with Obama now: hilzoy, Paul, and Kevin among them.
For my part, while I thought I was braced for that kind of thing, I confess I’m “Charlie Brown in midair” all the same to see Obama flatly renege on this so soon after his campaign promise last fall to support no FISA bill with immunity provisions. While I’ve been quiet online, I did fire off an e-mail to some Obama delegates I know; both replied that they shared my disappointment, and would pass along my comments to the campaign. Given that I couldn’t get through to the campaign with a phone call, I suspect they’re getting the message in Chicago; whether that message bothers them or not I can’t say.
There must be some kind of way out of here; seems like we’ve been here before. Meanwhile, Nell reminds me to go down fighting — there at least needs to be an amendment offered to strip immunity from the bill. I’m off to call my Senators; don’t expect much from Mikulski, but Cardin might hold the line on this.