Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, June 20, 2008

Then and Now

Obama on FISA, 1/28/08

"I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill. Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people - not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.
That is why I am co-sponsoring Senator Dodd's amendment to remove the immunity provision. Secrecy must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens – and set an example to the world – that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient.

A grassroots movement of Americans has pushed this issue to the forefront. You have come together across this country. You have called upon our leaders to adhere to the Constitution. You have sent a message to the halls of power that the American people will not permit the abuse of power – and demanded that we reclaim our core values by restoring the rule of law.
It's time for Washington to hear your voices, and to act. I share your commitment to this cause, and will stand with you in the fights to come. And when I am President, the American people will once again be able to trust that their government will stand for justice, and will defend the liberties that we hold so dear as vigorously as we defend our security."

Obama on FISA, 6/20/08

"Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

"That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.
"After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act.

"Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance - making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

"It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives - and the liberty - of the American people."

Added: I think we have to assume Obama didn't want to keep the bill off the floor. He said he supports the bill, after all. He said twice that the bill was needed because we face grave and legitimate threats. Then he said he will use the program wisely as president.

Then there's what Reid said--immunity will end up staying. And we'll never know why the government was so eager to get immunity, after they simply blew off outrage over the spying. Lawsuits mean discovery and discovery means phone and e-mail records. They've gone to an awful lot of trouble to ensure one thing remains hidden--who they were spying on. Who Rove was spying on.


Anonymous said...

Ah, so as long as we believe in Obama personally, it's all good. We might be heading into dangerous territory, but as long as he's in charge, we'll all be safe. You do believe in him, don't you? What, do you want those grave threats to actualize? Why don't you trust the President?

Why does this all sound so familiar...?

zeppo said...

This is just all so incomprehesible to me. What was the point of all the Dems lining up and giving the Republicans what they wanted? Didn't the Dems sort of sweep the last election? What are the motivations here? For the life of me, I can't figure it out.

Obama's statements are disturbing, to be sure. I guess I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but boy, he sure used up a lot of his "political capital" that he had going with me, personally.

Steney Hoyer ought to have his butt kicked across the parking lot for this one. Madam Pelosi as well. My jaw hit the floor when I heard her statements on this issue. Something about this bill "still respecting the Constitution" or something along those lines. Wow, it's a good thing she's such a San Francisco liberal, or else we would REALLY be in trouble.

Devious, manipulative people really give me heartburn.

Susan of Texas said...

Blognoscenti, it's like we keep hitting ourselves over the head and can't figure out why we have a headache.

Zeppo, they must want the power. Anone who wants the power of the presidency would probably want all the power he can get.

brad said...

The one possible qualifier to my disgust is this travesty doesn't immunize the telecoms from criminal charges, just the civil suits, should we end up with an aggressive AG under Obama. The chance exists we will one day say, oh, ok, but I'm not going to take much hope in what amounts to a loophole.

zeppo said...

Brad, that was the speculation by Keith Olbermann the other day. He was putting about as much stock in that proposition as you, but he did get a chuckle that it would be sort of poetic justice.

I'm just really depressed and annoyed right now. Just when I was starting to have some hope that things in this country might be turning around from the last seven years, this happens. Yanked the rug right out from under me. Boy...

Susan of Texas said...

I'm pretty sure the future will be very difficult for us, but like I said I tend to be very pessimistic. I don't want to go through upheaval and troubles, but some drastic changes are good in the long run.

If nothing chnages the surveillance state net will grow and tighten. The rich will continue to rob the poor and kill foreigners. But the changes could harm millions. But we harm millions, and must be stopped.

It goes round and round, doesn't it? I'll just have to wait and see and deal with it as it comes.