Thursday, March 6, 2008


First, thanks all of you who made calls and sent emails to our elected officials in response to my appeal on Tuesday! When I wrote that appeal, I was not optimistic. But your responses encouraged me.

This morning I read a piece on Daily Kos, titled “FISA vote pushed back: are we winning?” Picking up on a CBS News report on Majority Leader Hoyer’s news conference,
Mffarow wrote that the House will not vote on an electronic surveillance bill this week, and that telcom amnesty is a major sticking point. That means we haven’t lost yet. In the CBS report this:
Although Democratic leaders insist they are working feverishly to iron out their differences, one House member—speaking on the condition of anonymity—suggested it could be a long time, if ever, before the bill was brought for a vote.

"A lot of people think the politics of doing nothing on this issue are very good for both sides of the political spectrum," they said.
Mffarow reminded us that in order to win on FISA the House needs to do nothing. No vote means no compromise, no immunity, no unfettered governmental spying on its citizens. He/she called for action again:
Call your reps, and call Hoyer, Pelosi, and Reyes.
Sign the
ACLU petition.
Support the good guys. Reward the freshmen House Dems who are doing the right thing: ActBlue FightFISA, or Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund

I was moved to call my House Representative, sign the ACLU petition, and send letters to Pelosi and Hoyer.

This afternoon
McJoan weighed in on Nancy Pelosi’s morning conference call with bloggers. Pelosi said the focus of the FISA fight should be on “exclusivity.”

In a conference call with bloggers today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made it clear that her highest priority for a surveillance bill was that it contain a so-called "exclusivity" provision -- a measure that would explicitly state that the bill would be the "exclusive means" by which the government would conduct surveillance, or in other words, the president does not have the power to ignore the law if he/she so pleases.
"Exclusivity is the issue," she said....

Pelosi says that she "absolutely" opposes retroactive immunity for the telecoms, but that she "didn't want the fight to be so focused there that we neglect exclusivity."
With a President who believes he is above the law, I understand and share Pelosi’s concern about the “exclusivity” provision. But McJoan’s response makes even more sense to me:

The problem with this reasoning is its short-sightedness. Exclusivity, the provision that states that only FISA and the criminal wiretapping statute provide the executive branch authority to wiretap, can be revisited next year with likely larger Democratic majorities in Congress and Democratic president. In fact, most of the provisions in the proposed legislation could be.

With one important exception: retroactive amnesty for the telcos.

Once granted, retroactive amnesty would be considered an acquired right. It couldn't be taken away. That toothpaste would be out of the tube forever.
I hope you won’t give up on this issue. I believe the stakes, both with retroactive immunity and exclusivity, are critical for the restoring the rule of law to this nation.

What was it Yogi Berra said? “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And it ain’t over yet. Make more calls. Send more letters. Sign the ACLU petition (link above).

- Milo

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