Posted by Thomas Nephew on 5th October 2010
The following is a proposed email pitch to “Get FISA Right” supporters.
[UPDATE: a collaborative draft based on this is underway at Get FISA Right's "wetpaint" site.]
Senator Russ Feingold — the Senate’s champion of civil liberties and the rule of law — is facing a tough reelection campaign in Wisconsin. Recent polling results suggest the election hangs in the balance; some recent polls have Feingold behind, but Russ is optimistic, citing internal polls showing a dead heat. His opponent Ron Johnson’s chief strength is that he’s a plastics millionaire who can bankroll his own campaign juggernaut. Politically, well… in Jim Hightower’s words, “if [Johnson] were any dumber, we’d have to water him.”
As a supporter of getting FISA right again, and of repealing the PATRIOT Act, we probably don’t have to tell you Russ Feingold is our best ally in the Senate. National security / human rights advocates have had to develop separate scenarios for the post-election period, depending on whether or not he stays in. One has told me: “Even if Democrats hold the Senate, if Russ Feingold is not among them, the dynamic (and the White House, internalizing the message that “civil liberties don’t sell”) will tack demonstrably to the right.”
It’s absolutely critical we help him out as much as we can. So we’ve set up a fundraising page — Get FISA Right With Russ Feingold – where “Get FISA Right” supporters (and anyone else) can contribute to his campaign.
What has Russ done for us, for civil liberties, for the America we want? You name it, he’s fought for it — often having to “wage war with my own leadership …to get that opportunity.”
- Russ Feingold was the only senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act, presciently warning, “I am also very troubled by the broad expansion of government power under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. [...] ….the government can apparently go on a fishing expedition and collect information on virtually anyone. All it has to allege in order to get an order for these records from the court is that the information is sought for an investigation of international terrorism or clandestine intelligence gathering. That’s it. …”
- Senator Feingold’s principled stand against the PATRIOT Act gained him allies in the effort to block the Military Commissions Act in 2006. Speaking in opposition, Feingold said : “Under this legislation, some individuals, at the designation of the executive branch alone, could be picked up, even in the United States, and held indefinitely without trial and without any access whatsoever to the courts. …why would we turn our back on hundreds of years of history and our nation’s commitment to liberty — particularly when there is no good reason to do so?”
- Senator Feingold has worked with President Obama when he can, but has called Obama to account when he must. Feingold produced recommendations doubling as a scorecard for evaluating Obama’s performance on the rule of law in his first hundred days in office. The senator was among the first to criticize the Obama administration’s overuse of state secrets privileges — giving the Obama administration “Grade: D | Status: Troubling”
- And of course, Senator Feingold was at the forefront in fighting against the FISA Amendment Act ratifying lawbreaking by the Bush administration, joining Senator Dodd in proposing an amendment to keep the telecom companies on the hook for assisting illegal surveillance. Feingold:“…even as the administration sought and obtained broad new authorities to collect communications of Americans, the administration refused to even consider when it might be violating the Constitution. If the administration can’t assure us that they respect the Constitution, Congress needs to step in.”
In an era of lockstep Republicans and pusillanimous Democrats, Senator Feingold stands out as one of the few politicians on Capitol Hill to stand up for what’s right, no matter who disagrees with him.
Thank you in advance!
Thomas Nephew for “Get FISA Right”.