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Well, That Certainly is Change… Obama Completes 180 on FISA

No more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime, no more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war, no more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are, and it’s not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists.

Barack Obama, August 2007

To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.

Barack Obama Campaign Statement, October 2007

Reporter: Senator, last January, you pledged to support a filibuster of a warrantless surveillance bill if it included retroactive immunity for telecommunications…

Senator Barack Obama: Right.

Reporter: Last week, the House passed a bill that effectively gives the telecoms that immunity. You said you would support it.

Obama: [nods]

Barack Obama explaining his decision to vote for the FISA Amendments Act at a news conference after securing the Democratic Presidential nomination, June 2008

Oh, that’s Change all right, but it’s not the Change I Can Believe In.

Physical searches and seizures, telephone taps and electronic monitoring without any warrant or approval of any kind for periods of 67 days, and then even if a judge finally makes a review after 67 days and says “NO” at that point, the President can keep whatever information he’s obtained anyway? That’s the FISA Amendments Act. That’s the law, thanks to Barack Obama who voted for it.

That’s all history. Here’s where we come to current events:

Today there are victims of this American surveillance without warrants, victims who want to take their case to court. Barack Obama wants to shut them up and take away their rights. Just this week, President Barack Obama sent his lawyers to shut down a court case by Americans who were spied on without the warrant required by the Constitution of the United States of America. The Obama administration’s position? It would hurt national security for Americans’ constitutional rights to be upheld in a court of law. Violations of Americans’ constitutional rights are a “state secret” that must be kept secret for Americans’ own good.

That was the position of George W. Bush. It is the position of Barack Obama.

That’s not Change I Can Believe In. And it’s not even a Change from the Bush years. It’s a Change from the promises Barack Obama made to win the primaries, a Change he made in favor of his own presidential power.

Don’t make Barack Obama an unquestioned hero figure. Make him accountable.

Did you write a letter to the editor of the newspaper when you found out that Americans were being spied on without warrants? Did you criticize George W. Bush for his defense of it? Then be consistent: write a letter to the editor criticizing Barack Obama for his defense of it, too. Bring it to people’s attention. Ask people what they think. Ask your member of Congress what their position on the FISA Amendments Act is. Ask why not one member of the House or Senate has introduced a bill to change the law to put it back into alignment with our Constitution.

P.S. Yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected the Obama-Bush position that violations of people’s constitutional rights should remain a state secret. The courts are the last piece of the government to defend constitutional rights in this country. Watch very carefully when President Barack Obama nominates new judges to sit on the federal courts. Watch what the nominees say about the Constitution. Watch what they say about your rights.

4 comments to Well, That Certainly is Change… Obama Completes 180 on FISA

  • Tom

    Damn, i really hoped this guy would turn things around on these Constitutional/citizen rights issues, but it”s beginning to look like the same ol’ bait an’ switch between the politicians’ rhettoric and their actions routine that just stinks of vested interest group meddling or influence.
    The fact that he’s not really changed the failed Iraq policy (leaving 50,000 soldiers their FOR WHAT?) by continuing the bogus Afghanistan policy (LET THOSE PEOPLE DECIDE THEIR OWN FATE AND STAY OUT OF THEIR BUSINESS – as if we don’t have enough to worry about right here), his cave in to the banking industry, his support of the status quo on other serious issues (your informational articles on torture, etc.) is really troubling.

    If we’re hoping for Constitutional interpretation/policy changes we’re going to have to somehow influence him toward the progressive way to go. He’s got the right idea on energy (hey, it’s a start) and he has to get the country working before it completely collapses, so those were the top priorities. We had no influence on the Bush administration (maybe that was the test case for what the American sheeple will put up with). What are we to do now?

    Shit, i remember asking that same question 8 years ago!

    So here we are again?! How many signs do we need before some “critical mass” of public opinion sways “our leader” to do what he said he would do? What do we do about it so it doesn’t take another 4 years to get our country back to doing what the fucking Constitution actually says regarding our rights and privacy?!

    Yeah, “wait and see “. . .that’s worked so well for us.

  • Jim

    Yes, Tom. What are you going to do?

  • Tom

    Well, i voted for change.

    With Bush i protested wrote letters to Congresspeople, the newspaper (local), stood on the street with others holding signs and passing out literature and websites (while people driving by gave us the finger), but none of it did a goddamn thing to change anything for 8 long years.

    So now i’m writing Casey, Specter and Gerlach, making calls when important legislative agenda is being considered, etc. just like before, but now i write to Obama too (petitions, website) PLEADING with him to do the right thing by us (ie. follow the Constitution). So far we’ve won some and lost some (i still hate the obstructionist Republicans), but besides not paying taxes (which won’t help at this point because the government is already bankrupt) and armed insurrection (yeah, like some ol’ guy like me with no experience is gonna start or join a militia, and fight who?) i don’t know what else to do.

    This is what drove me crazy with Bush. i’m not putting myself through another 4 years of this tormented bullshit. i already lost my meager pension and my 401-K is toast, the market is diving and Wall Street is being bailed out by my grandchildren’s futures, i won’t be retiring any time soon even if i want to, and i still can’t afford healthcare.

    So let’s face it we can do nothing to change any of it. Yeah, sure petition your representatives and Obama, but in the end we can’t really DO anything substantial to influence these people – it’s all out of our hands.

    i’m back to where i was 8 years ago – the fucking government does NOT work for us, voting is a sham to keep us placated and the ship of state is sinking. Rearrange the goddamn deck chairs all you want, but if Obama keeps up the Bush mistakes, we’ll keep going down, economically, politically, socially and personally.

  • Jim

    Thank you for doing what you do. I agree with you that our efforts may not make a difference, but I would assert that they are the only thing at all likely to make a difference. They are infinitely more likely to make a difference than inaction.

    To paraphrase Gandhi, whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

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