The FISA ThreadSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Tue, 07/08/2008 - 19:51
Above is an amazing interview with Daniel Ellsberg, the man who released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971 (Video & blog post found here).
The FISA vote, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed until tomorrow so that Senators can attend the funeral of Jesse Helms. For more background on what is at stake, read (or listen to) an interview with Mark Klein, an AT&T Technician who in 2006 came forward with internal AT&T documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables. Snip:
[W]e were told one day in late 2002 that an NSA representative was coming to the office to speak to a certain management technician about a special job. And this turned out to be installing a secret room in the next office I was going to be in the following year. And that secret room involved a lot of spying equipment. Only this one management technician could go in there, and the regular union technicians were not allowed to go in there.
But when—in 2003 I was assigned to that office, and I got hold of the documents which were available—they’re not classified—and the documents showed what they were doing. They were basically copying the entire data stream going across critical internet cables and copying the entire data stream to this secret room, so the NSA was getting everything.
Did you get that? The government was getting everything. And the current bill will grant retroactive immunity for crimes unknown. Even Obama, who once swore he would never vote for such a bill, has done a complete about face: "The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe."
The "important surveillance tool" [Obama] is referring to is warrantless wiretapping. Here Obama unequivocally sides with the argument the Bush administration justice department has been making for years: that in the context of the "war on terror," some constitutional rights must be suspended or at least sidestepped, and key among them is warrantless state surveillance. That is a BIG DEAL.
Final passage of the bill (with the support of both presidential candidates) is all but guaranteed. And little by little, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights is dismantled before our very eyes.