Monday, July 7, 2008

"Relying On The Government To Protect Your Privacy Is Like Asking A Peeping Tom To Install Your Window Blinds."

(This post's title comes from John Perry Barlow.)

Some people don't seem overly concerned with our government listening to the phone calls and reading the e-mails of U.S. citizens.

I'm not one of them.

Obama's FISA position will become much clearer after next week's vote. 

Will he side with the telecoms or with you and me?

And if it's the former, can I still vote for him?


Obama comes out against a proposed FISA bill granting retroactive immunity,October 18, 2007:

Obama: "It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and this proposal -- with an unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity -- is not the place to start."

Bill Burton issues a statement, October 24, 2007, reaffirming Obama's position and pledging to support Chris Dodd's filibuster:

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

Campaign statement, December 17, 2007, further elaborating on this point in regards to a particular upcoming Senate vote on Dodd's filibuster:

"Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and has cosponsored Senator Dodd's efforts to remove that provision from the FISA bill. Granting such immunity undermines the constitutional protections Americans trust the Congress to protect. Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same. It's not clear whether he can return for the vote, but under the Senate rules, the side trying to end a filibuster must produce 60 votes to cut off debate. Whether he is present for the vote for not, Senator Obama will not be among those voting to end the filibuster."

Obama issues another statement on the FISA bill, January 28, 2008, saying that the dichotomy between civil liberties and security is a false choice:

I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill.

Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people -- not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

That is why I am co-sponsoring Senator Dodd's amendment to remove the immunity provision. Secrecy must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens - and set an example to the world - that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient.

Obama issues a statement endorsing the bill, saying that security needs are more important than objections, June 20, 2008:

"It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -- and the liberty -- of the American people."

Obama speaks at a press conference after announcing his support of a FISA bill containing retroactive immunity, June 25, 2008 -- and says that phone company issues don't override the need for security, in blatant contradiction of his January 28 statement:

Well, the bill has changed. So, I don't think the security threats have changed. I think the security threats are similar.

My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people.

Stay tuned...

(The bill is HR 6304)


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