Thursday, June 19, 2008

FISA - Compromising Citizens Rights

Here's a copy of my latest letter to Heller, Ensign and Reid. I don't know why I bother writing these letters. I doubt they read them since all I get in return is a canned letter telling me why whatever I oppose is so good for me. Here it is:

I have been greatly concerned with what has been transpiring in Washington since Mr. George W. Bush took office and especially since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. First, we got "homeland" security, the name alone reminds me of Nazi Germany which sent goosebumps up my back and neck. Next, we got the "terrorist" prison at Guantanamo Bay. People were rounded up, declared as 'enemy combatants' and imprisoned without a trial, with no access to representation, with no way to prove their innocence and were potentially tortured for information. What followed that was a discussion of what constitutes torture and whether water-boarding constitutes torture. At least now, the SCOTUS has finally weighed in on the illegal denial of habeas corpus rights to those who have been imprisoned indefinitely without recourse or trial. If they weren't terrorists before ... we've certainly done more than our fair share of making them want to commit terrorist acts against us.

But, the crowning glory of all of the civil liberties violations of the Bush Administration is now before us in the form of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) legislation. In reading the bill, I learned that this newly compromised version has a very disturbing "amnesty compromise" provision affecting the telecom industries. How apropos that it's called a 'compromise' ... because that's exactly what it will do ... it will 'compromise' the civil rights of every U.S. citizen if the 'compromised' bill is to pass.

Here's how it would work. All the U.S. Attorney General would have to do is recite a few magic words: "The President requested this eavesdropping. He did so to save us from the Terrorists and the documents I'm providing you will verify those facts are secret." Once those words have been uttered, the courts would be required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal the actions of the President or the telecoms. It would amount to full-scale, unconditional amnesty with no inquiry, and amnesty that bars Joe Blow Citizen and/or his attorney from seeing and scrutinizing why they were spied upon in the first place. Even the Judge would be barred from disclosing any information when dismissing the case.

As it's written, this bill would allow for massive, untargeted telephone surveillance of ordinary U.S. Citizens based on the whim of the President and under section 803, it would disallow any State government from investigating, regulating or imposing any sanctions on telecom providers. This kind of full-scale, unconditional amnesty, without critical public inquiry as to its legality should never become the law of the land. If you vote this into existence, it WILL become the law of the land. The U.S. President will have the power to order people to break the law, but also allow them to avoid any consequences resulting from their lawless actions.

I vehemently oppose giving George W. Bush (or any other president for that matter) ANY warrentless eavesdropping powers. No matter how scared we become of terrorists, this country should never become the Nazi Germany of the 1940's. I implore you ... please DO NOT vote in favor of passing the compromised FISA bill.

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