Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Matheson, Cannon & Pals: Torching the Fourth Amendment

House and Senate negotiations look to be headed for a straight up or down vote in the house on retroactive immunity provisions in FISA legislation. Most likely, thanks to the visionary leadership of Chris Cannon, and Jim Matheson's "Anything Else We Can Get You, Mr. President?" Blue Dog "Democrats", this vote will not go in favor of protecting our civil-liberties.

This vote will not happen for reasons of national security. This was, is, and remains completely centered around retro-active immunity for AT&T and Verizon. If this vote goes as expected, any hope that may have remained that our Constitution comes before political machinations is dissolved. From Veterans for Common Sense:

Civil liberties groups and progressive members of Congress oppose immunity because it would cut off around 40 lawsuits against the telecoms - court cases that have been the only significant source of information about the administration's surveillance activity. However, House Democratic leaders face mounting pressure to grant telecoms immunity, from the Bush administration and from members of the Blue Dog coalition - a group of conservative Democrats who often cross the aisle to vote with Republicans on legislation framed by the Bush administration as pertaining to national security.

"A capitulation on this point [legal immunity] would destroy a small flickering flame of hope by many citizens that Congress was not entirely in the pocket of lobbyists and could on this one occasion stand firm on a point of legal principle. If the companies and the White House were acting lawfully as they insist, there is nothing to fear from judicial review. If not, it is important to establish that this was an unlawful program," constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley wrote on his web site.
Take a second to thank our representatives for standing up for the Telco's instead of citizens, setting a precedent of betraying our constitution to protect the corporations who fund their campaigns.

Jim Matheson: Phone - (801) 486-1236 Fax - (801) 486-1417
Chris Cannon: Phone - (801) 569-5125 Fax - (801) 569-5126
Rob Bishop: Phone - (801) 532-3244 Fax - (801) 532-3583

Orrin Hatch: Phone - (801) 524-4380 Fax - (801) 524-4379
Bob Bennet: Phone - (801) 524-5933 Fax - (801) 524-5730

Once again, we owe them one.


  1. TPM has a good summary of the new FISA bill that will be voted on in the House on Thursday. It has no retroactive immunity, and lots of good sensible provisions on how to deal with the "state secrets" issue and to address once and for all the legality of the warrantless wiretapping Pres. Bush has conducted since BEFORE 9/11.

    I think you should ask Jim how he plans to vote on this latest bill rather than merely chastizing him for signing onto that terrible letter. Hopefully, he will have realized the error of his ways.

  2. The complicity of "blue-belly" Democrats would really be a blow to our Republic. Hopefully, some of them will come to their senses.

  3. "Retroactive immunity"? Isn't that what the wingnuts call "amnesty"? Where are all the "rule of law" people to raise heck about this?