Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's Official: Congress Cares More About Protecting Felon Bush Than About You and Me

Senate Approves Telecom Immunity and New Eavesdropping Rules

Filed at 3:15 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate on Wednesday affirmed its intention to protect from civil lawsuits telecom companies that helped the government wiretap Americans without court authorization after the Sept. 11 attacks.

It turned back three amendments that were offered during final debate on a bill that overhauls the rules on secret government eavesdropping.

The votes suggest the surveillance bill will pass by an easy margin later Wednesday, and signal an end to almost a year of wrangling between the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, and Congress and the White House over the president's warrantless wiretapping program.

The House approved the surveillance overhaul last month.

The long fight on Capitol Hill has centered on one question: whether to shield from civil lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on American phone and computer lines after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, without the permission or knowledge of a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The lawsuits allege that the White House and the companies violated U.S. law by going around the FISA court to start the wiretaps. The court was created 30 years ago to prevent the government from abusing its surveillance powers for political purposes, as was done in the Vietnam War and Watergate eras. The court is meant to approve all wiretaps placed inside the U.S. for intelligence-gathering purposes. The law has been interpreted to include international e-mail records stored on servers inside the U.S.

For the rest of this breaking story, see here.

The first inaccuracy in this story is that the felonious, widespread wiretapping and surveillance (as in, for example, intercepting all of the calls and Internet activities streaming through AT&T's lines) began after 9/11. In fact it started as early as February 2001, seven months before 9/11.

Second, Obama and Chris Dodd and the others who introduced/backed amendments to try to strip the bill of immunity did so knowing that their efforts would fail and the bill would pass. Obama's claims that this bill, which he voted for, is an improvement over the existing law, the Protect America Act, is false because PAA is set to expire and the 1978 FISA bill would have then been in effect. This would have exposed not only the telecoms to the lawsuits they so richly deserve, but expose the White House to prosecution for violating FISA.

What Obama, Dodd, Feingold or any of the others who opposed this bill should have done, as Obama did promise previously to do, is filibuster the damn bill.

To those who still hold out hopes that an Obama White House will make a real difference, consider this: if Barack refuses as a Senator to stand up and do what is right and what needs to be done, then what will he do as a President when he must stand up individually and do what is right and what needs to be done. You don't need to wait and see and hope for the best. You can see what he is willing to do and what he's not willing to do right this minute.

Past, as they say, is Prologue.

The fate of the country and the fate of the planet cannot be left in the hands of men and women such as these. It is necessary that individuals take a stand and not leave matters in the hands of those who will not do what must be done. We the people must stand up and act.


Arthur84 said...

Obviously, the people "running" our government could care less about the people who "voted" for them.
Politicians, Democrat or Republican, today only care about one thing, themselves.
The most depressing issue is even those politicians who say they represent the people and change then do nothing. All these "elected" officials are all groomed from birth to become politicians, and members of the elite.
Though they say they represent the people, they actually have their own agenda in mind. As for the fact that the only way that they can reach office is to appeal to the people for their vote, supposedly.
Our only hope is that one day the people will pull the sheets down from over their eyes, so that the media and the political infrustructure can be seen for what it truly is.

Your humble student,

-Arthur Cocherell

P.S. I miss your sociology classes. I apologize for not keeping in contact more, but I've been very busy enjoying my vacation after graduating, working, and getting in better shape physically. I promise I'll try to read your blogs as often as I can.

Dennis Loo said...

Hey Arthur: So good to hear from you! (So what are Miami's prospects this year? : )

The "one day" you refer to is something that needs to happen over the protracted course of the next weeks and months if we succeed in driving this regime from office and even more importantly, succeed in changing the overall political atmosphere, so that whoever takes over will have to deal with a mass movement and an aroused public.

Arthur84 said...

Miami, ha, LOL. Yeah, not so good. Alot of sports writers have them either repeating last year's performance, or maybe winning 4-5 games. I hope they do better, I'm always depressed when they lose. So, you can understand that last year was not a very good year for me, LOL.

Yes, I agree with you 100%. The public needs to be informed of the misinformation and outright lies that our politicians and media are force feeding them.
Over the last six months to a year, talking with customers at my work, friends and family, I can sense that people are FINALLY becoming fed up with our governments lack of progress, intellect, and respect for the rest of society. (Took them long enough!)You must understand now that where I live and my family is extremely conservative. So obviously I get along with my folks swimmingly, LOL!
Anyway, even with society's frustrations with the Bush regime, the public's focus is so astray. They do not seem to be able to direct their attention at the problems at hand. In other words, they complain, but that is all. They do not do, or seem to plan on doing anything to resolve the situation.
This is where I think our focus should be. Helping the public focus and plan on resolving the issues with our government. Which I know you are trying and, again, I support what you are doing, I unfortunately just do not see alot of results. I'm not trying to be critical, just honest. Unfortunately it is difficult to get millions of people to think the same way that you do, especially when your voice is so much smaller compared to the media.
So basically my question is, how do we arouse the public, and change the political atmosphere without being looked at and thought of as a liberal conspiracy theorist?

Dennis Loo said...

The observations you make here and the questions you raise are really on the mark. There is a shift underway in public opinion, most people aren't doing anything more than complaining, people's understanding and efforts aren't aimed at resolving the situation, and the efforts to date of those trying to change that situation have not yielded the results we'd want. So how can this change? This what I've been trying to speak to and write about for some time now and what WCW has been trying to do as well.

I don't want to try to reiterate or recapitulate that which I've written quite a bit about here - see my core essays on DIN - but to try to distill this down to its core elements I think that the key contradiction is that the political leadership and opinion-leaders' actions are profoundly immoral and that they are therefore vulnerable to exposure. People need to be more deeply made aware of what's really going on and individuals (and organizations) need to step forward to fight for the moral high ground. It won't and doesn't require a huge number of people. We can probably make the shift happen with 1% of the population. But that's still 3 million. And to get there we need for smaller numbers of people in their everyday lives to impact those around them. That's what the orange ribbon worn daily campaign is designed to be a component part of. It's also what the foci on John Yoo, military recruiters, torture and the DNC are also designed to address.

What's required here is nothing less than that a new leadership come forward to replace and supplant the existing immoral and bankrupt leadership. That's a very tall order and the main reason why efforts to date haven't born the magnitude of results we need. But despite it's being a tall order, it is possible.

Arthur84 said...

Ah, I see now, thankyou. This is a situation that has no immediate compromise. It is going to take years to resolve, isn't it? That's unfortunate, but it is obviously a dire cause worth supporting. I will continue to spread the word, and hopefully open people's eyes of our government's tyranny.

Dennis Loo said...

Yes, you are right. It could take years. Hopefully that won't be the case. But the exact course of upcoming political and economic convulsions can't be predicted. We do know that the present White House is hellbent on a military attack on Iran, most probably with Israel striking first and then the U.S. coming to Israel's "defense." We do know that such an attack could prove catastrophic.

We also know that the degree to which individuals (such as yourself) and organizations are acting now and in the future to influence events may prove decisive. History tells us that the actions or inaction of individuals at critical junctures spelled the difference between horrors beyond belief and a very different and positive path.

Arthur84 said...

Iran, are they crazy? (Stupid question) How can they possibly think that our nation can afford another illegal invasion of a country almost twice the size of Iraq. The first war bankrupted and sent our economy into the largest debt it has ever been in, as well as cripple the spending power of the dollar. Now they want to wage another illegal war, with just the US and Israel. They are out of their minds. The whole White House Cabinet staff's IQ must not even sum up to 100.