There has always been a tension between individual liberty and governmental power. National security issues are a natural fault line, given the difficulty of protecting the nation while simultaneously upholding the values of freedom and liberty. And politicians, bless their hearts, always try to find ways to consolidate their power while pretending to do so in the public interest — and not their own and that of their cronies who benefit in some way from their decisions.

They miscalculated this time regarding how many people in America are paying attention to civil liberties concerns these days. And it is our job to make certain that they learn just how badly they have misjudged this.

It is one of the many reasons we are working so hard to build incentive through our Blue America FISA actions. (You can donate here.)

Kathy G wrote a thoughtful essay about the intersection of human frailty, politicians, and the public interest, discussing Obama’s candidacy and a number of other issues. It’s worth a read and some thought on a number of levels, but this is what I want to highlight:

…If we want real change in this country, the place to look for it is not in our so-called leaders, but in ourselves….

Obama, like just about every other politician out there, is cautious, but also highly pragmatic. Like everyone else, he responds to incentives. As activists, what we need to do is to move the political center of gravity in this country to the left. To change the incentive structure so that it will be easier for him to do the right thing. This is a far sounder strategy, over both the short and the long term, than waiting for saints or messiahs to come along.

I’ll close with one of my favorite political stories. It concerns my all-time favorite president, FDR. He was meeting with a group of reformers trying to persuade him to support one of their goals. After they finished speaking, FDR said to them, "You’ve convinced me. I want to do it. Now make me do it."…

And what’s the incentive to push on FISA? McJoan details the potential:

Strategically, if immunity is removed, the bill is once again veto bait. Another stalling tactic, maybe, but one that might work to finally kill this damned thing once and for all this session. Delaying it past the Independence Day recess is the goal for now. Pushing it into the short remaining work period for the session in August would land in the middle of a packed schedule of "must pass" bills. There’s the slimmest chance that time would once again work in our favor. Granted, that outcome is not likely. Our Congress, including our nominee, seems intent, as Hunter says, "to quite so cravenly negate their own oversight duties."

It’s our job to try to stop them, and to convince our leaders that it’s the right thing to do and they’ll have our support in doing so.

The objective is to strip immunity from the bill. We need to figure out a way to make that happen before leadership caves on this altogether. Sen. Feingold’s office has put up a handy fact sheet on the problems with the bill. One way to push on this is to flood the offices of Senators with calls and FAXes telling them to do just that. If they don’t hear from you, then they won’t know you are pissed — so let’s get to work…

Toll-free numbers for Congress from Katymine:

1 (800) 828 – 0498
1 (800) 459 – 1887
1 (800) 614 – 2803
1 (866) 340 – 9281
1 (866) 338 – 1015
1 (877) 851 – 6437

Several Senators could use extra contact on this — uncommitted or wavering Democrats, leadership folks, members of the Gang of 14, and a number of wavering Republicans. Tell them no telecom immunity — period. It is well past time that respect for the rule of law and the role of Congress in the balance of powers was restored:



Bayh (202) 224-5623 (202) 228-1377
Carper (202) 224-2441 (202) 228-2190
Obama (202) 224-2854 (202) 228-4260
Inouye (202) 224-3934 (202) 224-6747
Johnson (202) 224-5842 (202) 228 5765
Landrieu (202)224-5824 (202) 224-9735
McCaskill (202) 224-6154 (202) 228-6326
Mikulski (202) 224-4654 (202) 224-8858
Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274 (202) 228-2183
Clinton (202) 224-4451 (202) 228-0282
Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551 (202) 228-0012
Pryor (202) 224-2353 (202) 228-0908
Salazar (202) 224-5852 (202) 228-5036
Specter (202) 224-4254 (202) 228-1229
Feinstein (202) 224-3841 (202) 228-3954
Webb (202) 224-4024 (202) 228-6363
Warner (202) 224-2023 (202) 224-6295
Snowe (202) 224-5344 (202) 224-1946
Collins (202) 224-2523 (202) 224-2693
Sununu (202) 224-2841 (202) 228-4131
Stevens (202) 224-3004 (202) 224-2354
Byrd (202) 224-3954 (202) 228-0002
Lincoln (202)224-4843 (202)228-1371
Reid (202) 224-3542 (202) 224-7327
Coleman (202) 224-5641 (202) 224-1152
Durbin (202) 224-2152 (202) 228-0400
Smith (202) 224-3753 (202) 228-3997
Stabenow (202) 224-4822 (202) 228-0325
Kohl (202) 224-5653 (202) 224-9787
Leahy (202) 224-4242 (202) 224-3479
Schumer (202) 224-6542 (202) 228-3027

And, for extra bonus points, here is contact information for the Democratic presidential candidate:

Sen. Barack Obama:

Phone: 312-819-2008 Toll Free: (866) 675-2008 FAX: 312-819-2088

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