You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘FISA’ category.


Okay, credit on this one goes to, I’m guessing, a Rosie O’Donnell reader. At any rate, this is posted on her site, and the context suggests that it came from one of her readers. I don’t ordinarily do reposts in this space, but in this case, I’m making an exception — if nothing else, maybe my mom will see the source and give it some serious consideration instead of dismissing it out of hand because I said it:

We had eight years of Bush and Cheney, Now you get mad!?

You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.

You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.

You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.

You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.  Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans…oh hell no!


I was going to write a blog post about how the Obama administration appears to be adopting the prior administration’s positions with respect to the illegal warrantless wiretapping conducted by the Bush White House, but Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com beat me to it, and as usual does a better and more thorough job of it than I would.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked. Much to my disappointment, Obama did vote for the FISA “extension” last year that expanded the government’s wiretapping ability and exhonerated the telecommunications companies that violated existing law with respect to wiretapping following 9/11. So why should it surprise me that he wants to hang on to at least some of that power that Bush seized for the executive branch?

But it does upset me. I expect better from Obama than we got from Bush. Perhaps that’s naive. Differences (and there are many) aside, Obama is a politician, just like Bush. Why would he want to give up power?

The Al-Haramain case may well be, as Greenwald says, “the only remaining case against the Government with any real chance of resulting in a judicial ruling on the legality of Bush’s NSA warrantless eavesdropping program.” From the perspective of all who care about constitutional rights, that is reason enough to want it to move forward.

So why is the Obama administration trying to shut it down?

jane doe


So apparently, the Justice Department has just released nine Bush 43 era White House legal memoranda detailing the rationale/justification for various violations of our civil rights. Yay for that transparency thing, guys! This is how our government is supposed to work.

The Huffington Post has an article about it here, and you can find copies of the actual memoranda here. I’m off to read them now, myself, and may comment on them later…

jane doe


Mr. Emanuel –

Today, you posted an article at the Huffington Post lamenting the fact that the cable news networks are covering the Democratic National Convention as if it were a sporting event. “This is Real News,” moans your headline, “Don’t Cover it Like a Sport.”

I’m sorry, but where did you get the idea that either of the party conventions are real news?

Did anything unpredictable happen? Will the convention settle anything that wasn’t settled back when the Obama camp announced that it had enough votes to secure the nomination?

No, to both.

Frankly, watching the conventions is a bit like watching a televised awards show, but with longer speeches.

Meanwhile, the Denver police are pepper spraying and using their batons on peaceful protesters. Wars rage on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush and Cheney want to start another war with Iran. The economy is in the toilet. Gas prices are so high they’ve finally done what all the screaming and yelling about global warming hasn’t been able to do so far – get Americans to drive less. High energy costs are driving up the cost of everything else, further harming the people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Political corruption is rampant. Companies like Blackwater and Halliburton are getting risk rich on our task dollars, at the cost of countless Iraqi lives, due to a war we never should have started in the first place. Our health care system is a mess. No Child Left Behind is wrecking our public schools. Our constitutional rights and any semblance of the personal privacy that was once considered our birthright as Americans are now in tatters. We seem on the verge of becoming that which we all profess to loathe – a fascist state. And nobody in the Bush administration has been impeached yet, despite numerous high crimes and misdemeanors.

To be perfectly honest, I think the cable news shows are giving the conventions about the level of respect they deserve. The only actual newsworthy event inside the Pepsi Center so far (that I’m aware of) has been Hillary’s speech, and that’s only because some of her fangirls just can’t let go and accept that she isn’t going to be the president come January 1, 2009.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that the ultimate outcome of the elections come November is vitally important.

I’m just saying that most of what’s been happening inside the Pepsi Center for the past two days isn’t.

Best wishes,

jane doe


NB: Updated at bottom of post. -jd

Hey everybody, lookit what I just found:

It appears that some Political Science professor named Marc Turetzky, of Gavilan College (in Gilroy, California, home of the always fragrant Gilroy Garlic Festival) has set up one of those “Rate My ______” sites.

There are a whole mess of these things. Rate My Picture. Rate My Life. Rate My Date. Rate My Rack. The one I’m most familiar with is RateMyProfessors.com, because hey, grad student here. This one is new, though:

It’s time to play Rate My Congressman!

It’s set up in blog format, one blog post per Representative. Visitors to the site are invited to rate their Representative in the Comments.

At least, that’s what I assume we’re supposed to do. It looks like the professor has been setting it up this weekend. He seems to be going state-by-state, with each state being it’s own blog category. As I type this, only about twenty states are up. But hey, lookee here…it appears that he’s already added all the California representatives.

And here’s our beloved House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

No one’s left a comment yet.

How could I possibly resist?

To Professor Turetzky:

It looks like you are still setting this blog up. I don’t know if you are doing this in connection with a course you are teaching, or if this is for general public consumption, but I stumbled across your blog and really couldn’t resist.

jd

——-

When Nancy Pelosi rose to the position of Speaker of the House after the 2006 elections, a lot of people, myself included, thought that we would finally see an end to the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional actions at home and abroad.

Surely, with the Democrats now controlling the House of Representatives, we would see some real oversight, some investigation into the many, many scandals that seem to have become business as usual over the past few years.

Surely, Ms. Pelosi would use the powers granted to her by the Constitution and laws of this country to at the very least ensure that no further damage was done to our civil rights, our dignity, and our reputation among other nations.

Surely, she would guide the House of Representatives along a course that would rein in the worst abuses of the Bush administration.

Surely, you jest.

Almost immediately, she made it clear that impeachment – the most powerful tool granted to Congress to control illegal acts by the executive branch – was off the table.

The reason for doing so has never been clear to me. If ever there were a president deserving of impeachment, it would be the current Decider in Chief. His crimes against our constitution, against our laws, and against humanity are almost too numerous to itemize at this point. Failure to impeach such a man under these circumstances would itself be a failure by Congress to uphold its responsibilities under the constitution.

And yet, the president has not been impeached, despite efforts by Kucinich and others, despite widespread public outcry.

Because Speaker Pelosi declared that impeachment was off the table.

Furthermore, she has repeatedly caved in to Bush’s craven demands for yet more power, yet more authority, and has allowed yet more money to be poured into the pockets of corporations like Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater as part of his unending war on Iraq.

The Democrats have a strong majority in the House of Representatives. It is not like the Senate, where they can only be said to control the chamber because Lieberman is still caucusing with them.

It should have been relatively simple to prevent Bush from shoving through measures that were antithetical to our nation’s governing documents. Measures like the revised FISA bill that passed recently.

What was it Nancy Reagan always used to say? Just say, “No.”

And yet somehow, Pelosi did nothing, or next to nothing. And we are now faced with an even graver situation, both domestically and internationally, than we were in 2006.

And while we are rating Speaker Pelosi’s performance, let us not forget that recent weeks have brought the revelation that Speaker Pelosi was among the Democratic House leaders who were briefed on the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that have been used by Americans against others in recent years. She knew we were torturing prisoners as a matter of federal government policy, yet she did and said nothing.

To be fair to Speaker Pelosi, she has managed some good things during her tenure as House Speaker. There have been times when she and her colleagues have stood together to pass important legislation opposed by the president, or to block legislation he tried to force through.

But many of those victories seem to have been only temporary ones. The House initially held strong against the FISA expansion and telecom immunity provisions, for instance, yet when faced with repeated demands from the Bush administration, the Democrats eventually caved.

Is it fair to blame Pelosi for that? Maybe not. But I can’t help thinking that Tip O’Neill wouldn’t have let some of that crap through.

Looking around the site here, I cannot find any rating metric for rating our representatives, so I guess it is up to me as the first commenter to propose one…

Hmmm…this is actually trickier than it sounds. I have several ideas, actually, but the WordPress restrictions on HTML don’t seem to allow for inserting little icons in one’s post, which rules out a couple of my ideas. For instance, I was going to go with little pink pigs, because, well, our representatives in Washington are feeding at the public trough, and also there’s the nice Orwellian tie-in with Animal Farm.

But that’s probably overly cynical, isn’t it? After all, I’m sure there are people who want to say nice things about their representatives. I mean, not me, because I’m in Redstatesville, and my representative is a rubberstamper who votes however Bush wants him to. But surely there must be SOME people who actually like their representatives, no matter how low the approval ratings are for Congress these days, right?

How about this: we can use the symbol for dollars ($) as the rating icon. It’s perfect, because it can carry so many meanings — the tax dollars that they waste (or occasionally use wisely), the campaign contributions they receive from the lobbyists and heads of major corporations, the federal dollars they are able to direct to their home districts via earmarks, the bribes they receive…the possibilities are endless.

So, using a one ($) to five ($$$$$) scale, with five representing the best one could possibly hope for in a congressional representative and one representing pond scum:

My overall rating for Nancy Pelosi is: $$

Though to be fair, I would have given her two and one half dollar signs, if I could just figure out how to get half a dollar sign to appear.

Ah, well, maybe someone else will come up with a better rating system.

jane doe

Update: It looks like the person running the blog is moderating the comments – unmoderated was too much to hope for, wasn’t it? I thought they were unmoderated because I could see my comment after I submitted it, but I found out no one else could. So if you follow the links in this post, you won’t see my comment over there – at least not yet.


David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Dear David –

It feels a bit odd addressing you by your first name, since we have never met, nor are we ever likely to. To you, I am just another name in the somewhat disturbing Obama campaign database that Salon.com reported on yesterday. Someone you are soliciting campaign funds from, as you have before and undoubtedly will again. Still, your e-mail to me today addressed me by my first name and was signed David, just David, so we’ll go with that, shall we?

You wrote to me today to tell me the exciting news: that the Obama campaign had raised $52 million in donations during the month of June, much of it coming from, to use your words, “hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.” Money donated to your “campaign for change.”

Well, good for him, then.

Yet still, you say, it is not enough. We must give more in order to ensure victory against the Republican party. To quote you again, you say:

It’s going to take everything we’ve got to defeat John McCain and the Republican National Committee in November. And we can’t do it without your continued support.

And so you ask me yet again for $100.

I went through my records and that $100, when added to the donations I have already made to the Obama campaign over the course of the past year, would come close to paying my rent for a month here in Redstatesville, where I live.

A drop in the bucket to you. A month of shelter for me.

If you had asked me for the money before the FISA vote last week, I might have been more favorably inclined toward your request. Oh, I wouldn’t have given you $100. I can’t afford that at the moment, because, hey, grad student here. But I probably would have tossed in some money. Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five dollars, maybe.

Because I do believe that we need a change of course in this country. And I hope that, if Barack Obama is elected in November, we will be able to start making those changes, and undoing some of the damage the last eight years have brought.

But here’s the thing: I’m not happy with Senator Obama’s vote on the FISA/telecom immunity matter last week. It was an opportunity to stand up for the constitution and the rule of law. And yet somehow, the fourth amendment just kind of fell by the wayside, and Senator Obama was one of the ones who voted to allow that to happen. How is that a change for the better?

And for what? I still don’t understand what possibly could have motivated him to vote the way he did. Or perhaps, I do understand, but don’t want to believe it of him.

Can he really believe that this expansion of the power of the executive branch is warranted? That we should have no right to privacy anymore? That the telecom companies should receive immunity from suits arising out of their violations of the law – a law that was put in place to protect citizens from unwarranted intrusions by the government – without Congress so much as holding hearings to determine just what exactly was done in the name of “keeping us safe from the terrorists”?

No, I am not happy with the Senator at the moment, David.

I’m a grad student, David, so I am on a tight budget. Especially with food and fuel costs going through the roof. My discretionary income is limited. There’s only so much that I can give to political campaigns I support each month.

I would imagine many others who have contributed to the Obama campaign would say the same.

So tell me, David, why I (or they) should give those dollars to someone who didn’t stand up for the constitution, for the rights of Americans, this month?

Others did.

Hillary did. Maybe I should go to her website and give the money to her. Help her pay off some of that campaign debt.

Maybe I should give the money to Kucinich, or Dodd, or Wexler. They seem determined to at least try to stop some of the rampant corruption and decay in the executive branch.

Maybe I should give the money to the local women’s shelter for domestic violence victims, or to the Red Cross, or to some homeless vet who’s living on the streets. They all have far greater need than any politician.

But I do not think I will be giving my money to Senator Obama this month, David. I’m mad at him at the moment, and likely will continue to be for some time.

Again, I would imagine many others who have contributed to the Obama campaign would say the same.

Check back in a month or so. By then McCain or Bush will almost certainly have said or done something so appalling that I may be more inclined to pull out my debit card and send some money your way.

But right now, I’m just going to be mad for a while.

Best wishes,

jane doe


On July 5th, I posted one plausible reason why the Democratic leadership in Washington has been so reluctant to institute impeachment proceedings against a clearly corrupt White House. Basically, I suggested that they were waiting until Bush was out of office to begin any prosecutory action in order to avoid any attempts by the alleged president to pardon his minions for their criminal wrongdoing.

I’d like to retract that post, along with anything nice I may ever have said about the Democratic congressional leadership.

The always excellent Glenn Greenwald certainly shot my theory down yesterday. (Not that he was actually taking aim at it or anything. I’m sure he has far better things to do with his time than read my humble little blog.)

In his column at Salon.com (which I strongly encourage reading in full), Greenwald very neatly summarizes the evidence that in fact the principal reason for the Democrats’ inaction is that key members of the Democratic leadership (including Nancy Pelosi) were briefed early on about two of the biggest scandals to come out of this administration: the torturing of detainees in Gitmo and elsewhere, and the illegal wiretapping program that our Democratic-controlled Congress so graciously granted Bush and the telecoms immunity for last week.

Suddenly, the reason for their willingness to roll over on these issues becomes clear: because any investigation in conjunction with impeachment proceedings (or any other prosecution) will inevitably reveal that these key Democrats knew what was going on, and yet said and did nothing to stop it.

Can we just impeach all of them? Now, please? Do we really have to wait until November to throw these people out of office?

jane doe


Ever since the Senate vote on the FISA POS yesterday, I’ve been trying to puzzle it out, and I still don’t get it.

Why did Barack Obama vote for the bill?

What could possibly have motivated him to vote the way he did?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m plenty ticked off at all the other Democrats who caved to pressure from either the White House or (more likely) campaign contributors associated with the telecoms. They’re all on my shit list at the moment, and the Day of Retribution shall come, when they shall be Mocked Most Thoroughly for their total lack of backbone, intestinal fortitude, and/or principles.

I write a mean poison pen letter.*

But Obama’s decision to vote in favor of the bill completely mystifies me. I really cannot come up with a single rational explanation for his decision to support this bill.

It was a foregone conclusion that, no matter how he voted on the matter, McCain (who managed not to vote on the bill) will criticize his vote during the campaign. If he voted against it, he was soft on terrorism. If he voted for it, he was flip-flopping. (And by the way, McCain: Hello? Pot? Kettle? Glass houses?) So I’m not seeing much gain there.

Some have theorized that this is part of his effort to move a bit toward the center, since he is currently being portrayed by some on the right as being the senator who is furthest to the left on the political spectrum. But aside from those of us on the left who are active in these matters, my sense is that this issue hasn’t drawn a huge amount attention from the middle-of-the-road crowd. So the way I see it, he alienated his base on the left for very little potential gain in the middle.

And boy, has he ever alienated his base. From today’s Wall Street Journal, we have this little tidbit:

Obama’s own campaign Web site has become a hotbed of debate over his support for the compromise bill, spawning four groups in which opponents of Obama’s position vastly outnumber supporters—22,957 to 38. The “Get FISA Right” group blog on MyBarackObama.com was flooded with disappointed supporters after Wednesday’s vote, with more than 60 writing in within 90 minutes of the vote.

“Christopher from Cleveland” wrote, “All those people saying that we should relax, and take it easy, since it’s only one issue, are wrong because Barack is breaking his promise to us!”

“Dan in Holland,” said he was a Michigan voter who would no longer vote for Obama, adding “I just lost an enormous amount of respect for Mr. Obama and his vote on the FISA bill and the amendment to strip telecom immunity.”

Certainly, the blogosphere is up in arms about how he voted. Promises of no further campaign contributions and refusal to vote in November abound. (But really, are these people likely not to vote? Hell, no. When it comes down to it, I think we can all agree that what we do not need is for the next four years to look like the last eight years.)

Perhaps he fears a terrorist attack will take place on US soil between now and November. If there is one, a “no” vote on this measure really could hurt him in the polls. (See my previous posts on terror management theory for why.) So that might explain it.

There’s another possibility, and it’s a disturbing one. Maybe he actually wanted the measure to pass. Maybe he wanted to have that warrantless wiretapping ability should he win the election in November.

For the record, I think that the last option is pretty unlikely. I don’t believe we’ve all misread him that badly. I don’t want to believe that.

Still, with his vote on this issue, I think he’s changed the dynamic in the race a bit. It was nice having a candidate we could get excited about, instead of feeling like we were voting for the lesser of two evils. And now, I think a lot of us are going to be asking the question, “What else is he going to change his position on?”

Hopefully, by this November, he’ll have reassured us all a bit in that regard. There’s plenty of time between now and then to convince us that he’s still the leader we saw in the primaries.

But we’re not going to forget about this. He voted to betray the constitution, just like everyone else who voted yes on that goddamn bill. He sold us out like the rest of them.

jane doe

* Hey, I’m a graduate student of limited means, living in Redstatesville, which is a drive of approximately thirteen and two-thirds cassette tapes** from Washington, D.C. (if you allow for traffic). My response options are somewhat limited. Sometimes a Strongly Worded Letter is the best I can manage.

** Some people measure travel distance in miles. I measure it in music. Though that’s becoming more difficult, because lately, on long drives, I listen to my iPod instead of cassette tapes, and that’s just not very convenient as a measure of distance, because you have to count actual songs which is kind of a pain. On the other hand, with gas prices going up the way they have, long roadtrips will soon become a thing of the past, so the methodology for calculating distances becomes kind of moot.

Comment Policy

Thoughtful comments from all viewpoints along the political spectrum are welcome. Abuse and ad hominem attacks are not, and may be deleted. Got a problem with that? Start your own damn blog.

Contact

janedoe.tcm [at] gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @janedoe_tcm
April 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930