There’s a lot of concern about the FISA bill, being voted on today. It’s been blocked a number of times until now.
The bill amends FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act from the Nixon administration, to give the telecoms retroactive immunity against warrantless wiretapping of American citizens — as ordered by the Bush administration. In a greater sense, the bill gives the executive branch, the president, the right to spy on American citizens without cause.
In a very real sense, FISA is the end of the American right to privacy, a kind of nullification of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. As Ron Paul points out in The Revolution, this is exactly what the framers of the Constitution warned us against. He quotes from Thomas Jefferson:
“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”
For more information, Tim Ferriss has an excellent article on FISA and an interview with Daniel Ellsberg. In particular, note Ellsberg’s discussion regarding how Obama has weakened his stance on the FISA issue.
Likewise, see Olbermann’s message to Obama.
(Bright spot from Olbermann’s message: While FISA “immunizes” telecoms and others from civil suits, it may not block criminal prosecution. If true, this will get very, very ugly.)
What can be done today? Make an 11th hour call to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. From Democracy for America:
Call Senator Reid right now and demand he pull the FISA “compromise” bill which will lead to retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies who spied on Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Washington DC: 202-224-3542
If the DC number is busy – Try reaching his district offices:
Reno Office: 775-686-5750
Vegas Office: 702-388-5020
Additional resources are on Tim’s site, and elsewhere via Google, however the above will probably have the most impact on this important day.