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ACLU: Clinton and Obama Must Keep Promise to Stop FISA Amendments Act

In a conference call held with national news organizations yesterday, ACLU Legislative Office Director Caroline Frederickson was asked the following question by Ken Strickland of NBC News:

What have your conversations been, if any, with the Democratic presidential candidates regarding their positions? Will they be standing firm with Dodd and Feingold in their opposition to this?

The ACLU’s Frederickson replied:

We have had ongoing discussions with all of the presidential campaigns, not just the Democrats. We’ve had just a little bit more welcome reception from the Democrats. We are absolutely expecting them to stand with Senator Dodd. I think just because he’s no longer in the presidential race doesn’t mean their promise to oppose Telecom immunity goes away. We are trying to make sure that they know we are watching, that their commitments are not forgotten. They haven’t changed their positions, and I think it will be unfortunate for them if they don’t show up for the debate and the vote when it gets to that in the Senate, because the race is too close for that to go unnoticed. We certainly will notice it and we will share what we notice with people who care, who tend to be very active in primaries.

To what commitments is the ACLU’s Caroline Frederickson referring? Senator Hillary Clinton made the following commitment on October 23, 2007:

I don’t trust the Bush Administration with our civil rights and liberties. So I’m going to study it very hard. As matters stand now, I could not support it and I would support a filibuster absent additional information coming forward that would convince me differently.

No additional information has come forward. This is the same FISA Amendments Act Clinton confronted on October 23, 2007. Senator Hillary Clinton has committed to support a filibuster of the FISA Amendments Act. Senator Hillary Clinton failed to do so when a filibuster was mounted in December of 2007. Will Senator Clinton keep her commitment now? Or is campaigning for her own personal advantage more important than protecting and defending the Constitution?

Senator Barack Obama’s staff made the following commitment, also in October of 2007:

Senator Obama has serious concerns about many provisions in this bill, especially the provision on giving retroactive immunity to the telephone companies. He is hopeful that this bill can be improved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it.

Senator Barack Obama failed to keep his commitment when Senator Chris Dodd filibuster was mounted in December of 2007. While Senator Dodd abandoned his campaign for the day to stop the FISA Amendments Act in its tracks, Senator Obama spent the day talking his talk to adoring crowds in Iowa about how to change things and about why he is such a special, super-changey person. But Senator Obama didn’t support a change that mattered when he had the chance. Senator Obama failed to keep his promise in December. Will Senator Obama keep his commitment now? Or is talking about change more important to him than actually accomplishing change?

Barack Obama Website Graphic: The Great Need of the HourBarack Obama’s website features a graphic on the front page with the title, “The Great Need of the Hour.” The subtitle asks you to fulfill the Great Need by watching Barack Obama give a speech. Nowhere on the main page of Barack Obama’s website is the FISA Amendments Act mentioned. Nowhere is the threat to our constitution from the bill mentioned in his long list of issue priorities. This is the Constitution’s Great Hour of Need, Senator Obama. Will you be there? Or will you be talking about maybe doing something later, when you get a better job than that of Senator?

The FISA Amendments Act is set to be brought to the floor of the Senate tomorrow. You can bet we’ll be watching to see whether Senator Clinton and Senator Obama do as they promised and show up to stop the bill with a filibuster, or stick with their December decision to talk instead of act.

Call Senators Obama and Clinton and urge them to do the right thing.

Senator Clinton’s DC Office Phone: (202) 224-4451
Senator Obama’s DC Office Phone: (202) 224-2854

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