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FISA: Getting Priorities Straight

Rep. Rush Holt on the importance of upholding civil liberties and the rule of law while we protect our national security.  And why the two concepts ought not be mutually exclusive.  The House is currently debating a potential 21-day extension of the FISA law to allow for more debate on C-Span1.  (H.R. 5349)

We live in some sort of tumbled-up universe at the moment, don’t we?  Where all things football have more importance than all things rule of law within the halls of Congress.  Bread and circuses and screw the Constitution, I suppose.  Via BalloonJuice:

There is a very real and perverse possibility that the NFL will face tougher sanctions for spying on practice squads and covering it up than the telecoms and this President will face for spying on the citizenry and lying about it.

Good to know we have those priorities in line, isn’t it?  Especially with the Clemens fiasco in town as well.  Pardon me if I’m feeling less than cheery about any of this.  And yet, we still have work to do.

It isn’t over.  We are pushing members of the House to stand firm against telecom immunity — please take a little time to sign the petition here.  Have you called your Representative today? 

The ACLU is asking its membership to call their member of the House.  You can find contact information for the House here.  Talking points are:

1. Vote NO on any spying bill with telecom immunity. Lawsuits must be allowed to proceed or we’ll never know the truth about what laws were broken and how many Americans rights were violated.

2. Vote NO on any spying that allows the government to spy on Americans without getting a warrant. America doesn’t need a bill that needlessly expands the President’s ability to spy on innocent Americans without a warrant.

3. Don’t let the Senate or President Bush steamroll the House of Representatives. Any bill to regulate spying on Americans must respect the Constitution and must not let phone companies off the hook for warrantless spying.

As Scott Horton says today:

If things proceed on the course now set by the Bush Administration and its shortsighted collaborators, and the national surveillance state is achieved in short order, then future generations looking back and tracing the destruction of the grand design of our Constitution may settle on yesterday, February 12, 2008, as the date of the decisive breach. It hardly got a mention in the media, obsessed as it was with reports on the primary elections, the use of drugs in sporting events, and that unfailing topic, the weather. Yesterday the Senate voted down the resolution offered by Senator Dodd to block retroactive immunity for the telecoms and it voted for a measure which guts the Constitution’s ban on warrantless searches by extending blanket authority to the Executive to snoop on the nation’s citizens in a wide variety of circumstances, subject to no independent checks. On the key vote, the Republicans in the Senate continued to function in lock-step, as they have on almost all significant issues for the last seven years, while the Democrats fragmented. Their vote summed up everything that’s wrong with Washington politics today.

I am not content to let things just stand. And I doubt that many of you are, either.  Let’s get to work…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com