On Wednesday Zach Wamp called into WGOW to give the Republican party line on telecom immunity. His main points were that immunity from lawsuits were needed for the President to keep us safe. And he stated the President's program of warrantless wiretapping had no troubling features about it. I beg to differ.
You see in our system of jurisprudence the telecoms will help if they receive a warrant, in this case a FISA warrant. At which point they are legally protected. After all they are just complying with a government warrant and doing their duty. What is a FISA warrant you ask? FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It was passed to prevent abuses of the intelligence community that occurred during Watergate era. It set up a pool of judges with security clearances to examine surveillance requests dealing with national security. FISA makes allowances for special emergencies such as the need for a wiretap Friday night by allowing the Executive Branch to get FISA warrant 72 hours after the fact. That's right. The President can legally order surveillance on a Friday evening and get the warrant on a Monday morning through a FISA court. So the question is why is George W. Bush doing an end run around the FISA court system to engage in warrantless wire tapping?
Zach Wamp stated there was nothing to be concerned about the President’s warrantless program. If that is the case why did FISA Judge James Robertson resign in protest just days after the NSA program was announced? If that is the case why on March 28, 2006 did five other former FISA judges testify before a Senate committee to express their concerns over this issue?
Judge Harold A. Baker, a sitting federal judge in Illinois who served on the intelligence court until 2005, said the president was bound by the law "like everyone else." If a law like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is duly enacted by Congress and considered constitutional, Judge Baker said, "the president ignores it at the president's peril."
So why is Republican party pushing for court immunity for the telecom companies in these warrantless wiretapping cases? Because the Republicans know that the law was broken. They understand that if these court cases go forward and these companies are deposed in court, we will get a better picture of what this administration has done. We will finally find out just why the President could not go through FISA, a court system set up to prevent Watergate style abuses. We will understand why this surveillance program could not pass the legal muster. And that could be political embarrassing for the Republican party.
Let's shine a little light on this subject After all Zach, if the Bush administration hasn't done anything wrong what is it afraid of?
R. W. Young
Hamilton County Green Party
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Mr. Young represents the liberal point of view (just like the national Democrats) on the subject of protecting the country from terrorists. He believes that trial lawyers can protect us better than the CIA or the military. I believe the trial lawyers don't care for truth or evidence of laws broken, they care for the dollars they can make by blackmailing the phone companies into settling for doing the right thing. That is why the Dem leaders have receive some of their largest contributions from trial lawyers. They know that if they allow this bill to be voted on even some of the reasonable Democrats will vote with Rep Wamp.
Thus the actions of the Dems along with other liberals like Mr. Young are allowing killers to plan a little easier. I noticed Mr. Young does not address the issue of warrants taking days by using the FISA courts. It takes days for a judge to make a decision while a call take minutes or even faster over the Internet. We know that many attempted attacks have been stopped and we have the story of trying to rescue three American soldiers and it took a couple of days to get a warrant to listen in on the kidnapers.
We should have learned the lesson on 9/11 but many liberals see Bush as a greater evil rather than those who would blow up our families by using a retarded child. These butchers are not Americans and that is who the administration wants to listen to not a Green Party chairman in Chattanooga.
I continue to be amazed how some continue to blur the subject of security for the nation with other issues but that is why I continue to point out that the Dem leaders cannot be trusted with the security of this country.
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Mr. Young represents the sentiments of the country. Mr. Caldwell represents the minority view. I suspect Mr. Caldwell claims otherwise.
It is a sham to say the Republicans have a better record on national security. Where is Osama bin Laden? What national interest does Iraq protect? Was Al Queda in Iraq before we invaded? The Republicans took their eye off the real enemy to enrich themselves with Iraqi oil.
It is worth pointing out that Greenspan is willing to tell the truth. If the administration has 72 hours to apply for a warrant, then Mr. Caldwell doesn't have an argument.
What are you really afraid of? Like Mr. Young argues the Republicans and their party have been exposed to the truth and they cannot wash the blood off their hands.
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Mr. Caldwell’s response to Mr. Young's concerns on the constitutional abuses of FISA and other Bush regime activities flies in the face of the Constitution and the rule of law, not to mention reality.
Mr. Caldwell would have us believe that only foreign known terrorists are the target of illegal wiretaps and other forms of spying. He would also have us believe that the military, CIA and FBI can keep us safer if we are not burdened by the Constitution and domestic and international laws. Most successful fascist regimes in the world have also relied on their military and secret agencies to subvert the rights and security of their citizens while playing the fear card as good government is replaced by military rule and a unitary executive/dictatorial leader.
Before Bush's "enemies" list, we had Nixon's and McCarthey's. In 2006 alone, over 60% of the FBI's 50,000 security letters issued targeted American citizens. Most of the 200,000 FBI security letters issued between 2003 to 2006 targeted innocent citizens. It is well documented, that Quakers, peace activists, community activists on issues from environmental concerns to social justice issues and the ACLU were among those targeted by unconstitutional First Amendment abuses by those in power.
Does it make us safer that Grannies For Peace or the Quakers have been tapped, infiltrated, and their rights violated? If Osama had come in and demanded an end to our constitutional protections, the Caldwells of the U.S. would be up in arms. When it is their political party leading the way to fascism, they applaud, but would be appalled if they made the enemies list of a liberal or green government.
Millions of everyday American citizens have been caught up in these "intelligence" driftnets since Bush authorized his illegal wiretaps. This administration, not any Bin Laden, bankrupted the U.S. for a war based on lies and a misdirected need for vengeance. We alone have become the greatest recruiters of militant terrorism in the world because of our loss of focus and misguided actions after 9/11.
With a current administration that routinely violates the rule of law and the public trust with its illegal spying, torture, end of due process and Habeas Corpus, renditions, secret courts, secret gulags, and enemies lists, it would seem more important now than ever to fight to return our Constitutional protections. No external threat can destroy American democracy or any democracy, faster than a corrupt domestic regime. The 935 lies that led to the Iraq oil war and occupation, the illegal wiretaps since 1991, repeated violations of the Geneva Conventions and the other numerous abuses of law and citizens rights should serve as fair warning that we can easily lose this precious, fleeting democracy far easier and faster from fear, than from strength.
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According to Mr. Caldwell the only "Constitutionalists" in the country are the liberal Democrats and trial lawyers. I don't know that I agree with him on that issue.
It also sounds like Mr. Caldwell would really enjoy living under the rule of the Soviets. The KGB used the very same tactics and arguments to spy on all their citizens. I read a quote a few years ago by a historian who claimed that the next world war would be between the Communist's and the ex-Communists.
After listening to the President, Zach, and Mr. Caldwell it’s very apparent what these guys are wanting to do to our Constitutional Republic. I think they want to turn this country into a totalitarian regime.
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A few points of clarification are in order after reading Mr. Caldwell's remarks on telecom immunity and FISA.
FISA warrants can be awarded retroactively. Mr. Caldwell describes "the issue of warrants taking days" to acquire. He is partially correct. Surveillance warrants can take several days to be retroactively granted.
Of the 30+ lawsuits against telecom companies on this issue, most are being filed by civil liberties organizations such as the ACLU. Questioning the political motivations of the ACLU, et al. is fair game; accusing their lawyers of "raking it in" is absurd. Ironically, the current House bill contains a provision that gives the courts authorization to review the "classified content" in a particular case. This provision would negate many of the pro-immunity arguments in terms of ensuring strong national security and maintaining the integrity of classified material.
Despite the current absence of retroactive immunity, telecom companies are still cooperating with the government on this very important issue. Thus far, telecoms were instructed by the White House that the questionable activities were in fact, legal. Meanwhile, both Congress and the courts have been denied access to any of the information obtained during this time period. Whether you like it or not, the legislative and judicial branches are responsible for checking the executive branch. Rep. Wamp may have forgotten this very important component of his responsibilities. Democratic Representatives have not.
The telecom provision applies to domestic surveillance. This issue has no bearing on the kidnapping in Iraq or its unfortunate conclusion. I'm not sure how Mr. Caldwell made that connection.
National security is not a Republican issue. Nor is it a Democratic issue. It is an American issue. Personally, I expect all of our representatives in government regardless of political alignment to aggressively pursue our security interests. At the same time, a balance must be struck between protecting citizens from attacks as well as protecting citizens from the government's overreach. Mr. Caldwell writes, "the Dem leaders cannot be trusted with the security of this country." I find that assertion to be fraught with hyperbole - especially in light of FISA and the ongoing 'immunity' debate. The President has threatened to veto three versions of the Protect America Act because they have not included retroactive immunity for telecom companies. Meanwhile, foreign surveillance continues in this country (hello NSA) with the help of telecom companies just as it did before FISA expired.
With three veto threats on his belt and more to come, it makes one wonder who is really playing politics with FISA: the President or Democrats in the House?