1/24/08

Get Out Your Webcams For FISA

OpenLeft, and particularly Tim Tagaris posting over there, have been providing some excellent coverage on Senator Chris Dodd's patriotic efforts to stand up to any efforts of giving immunity to the criminals that have illegally spied on Americans.
Well played, ACLU. Majority Leader Reid might not have felt a sufficient amount of heat as Americans with computers (the netroots) attempt to intervene on FISA, but I can promise you that articles like this in hometown papers get staffs and Senators to pay attention.

Reid in hot seat over backing of spying bill

Sen. Harry Reid angered liberals in his party last month as he sought to shield telecom companies from liability for their role in the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

As the Senate debates the surveillance issue this week, the criticism of Reid shows that his role is putting him at odds with his party's base.

Kudos to the ACLU for their efforts to attack this odious legislation on another PR front! As another point of attack, "Stop the Spying!" wants you to get out your webcam and participate in a PFAW video effort to get your message out:
Shoot a Video Today!
  • Fire up your video cameras and webcams.
  • In 60 seconds or less, give your city and state and tell your members of Congress why you want them to oppose telecom immunity.
  • Read the Terms of Video Submission, and send your video clips to fisa@pfaw.org, or use the file-sending site YouSendIt to upload your video to the web -- no registration required. YouSendIt will then send your video to us.
  • PFAW and partner organizations will send your videos to key decision-makers in Congress, especially those who may be able to use activist video testimonials in hearings or other procedures.
You make the video, and PFAW will do whatever they can to distribute to the powers that be and to the wankers that are fighting against your freedom!

Stop The Spying has some other suggestions on actions you can take to make your voice heard in the FISA debate.

Stop the Spying!
Get this banner for your Blog or website!

BooMan at The Booman Tribune provides a roundup of other sites that are covering this topic:
Here are some links on FISA.

Emptywheel
Kagro X
mcjoan
Glenn Greenwald
digby
Jane Hamsher

These are the patriots that should be representing you in Congress instead of the bought and paid for corporate shills that we have there now.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation is addressing the FISA issue as well and has some relevant info posted on their Deeplinks Blog:

With Congress back in session this week and the Presidential season in full swing, the fight to prevent the Bush administration from granting immuniy to the telecoms for illegal spying is heating up once again. Activists and bloggers alike are keeping the heat on.

First, Credo Mobile (formerly Working Assets) urged its members to write to Senators Clinton, Obama and McCain, the three presidential candidates who are still in the Senate and who have said they'd oppose immunity.

The results were tremendous: 67,000 emails were sent to the Senators.

Keep up the pressure on all fronts! This is not a battle that we can afford to lose.



[update] The Liberal Journal provides insight into one VP's seriously twisted view on the topic:
Dick Cheney doesn't rear his ugly head often, but when he does it's always on a topic of critical importance to the Bush agenda. Today, Dick came out "firing" on FISA:

Vice President Dick Cheney prodded Congress on Wednesday to extend and broaden an expiring surveillance law, saying "fighting the war on terror is a long-term enterprise" that should not come with an expiration date.

"This cause is bigger than the quarrels of party and the agendas of politicians," Cheney said. "And if we in Washington, all of us, can only see our way clear to work together, then the outcome should not be in doubt."

Administration allies in Congress not only want the expiring law made permanent but amended to give telephone companies and other communications providers immunity from being sued for helping the government eavesdropping and other intelligence-gathering efforts.

Cheney said such providers "face dozens of lawsuits."

"The intelligence community doesn't have the facilities to carry out the kind of international surveillance needed to defend this country since 9-11. In some situations, there is no alternative to seeking assistance from the private sector. This is entirely appropriate," Cheney said.

Cheney's comments can be summed up as: Don't sue companies that help us expand Big Brother, which will be around forever because the War on Terra is never ending.
Of note concerning this issue: It has nothing to do with lawsuits and everything to do with covering the asses of the politicians that have acted criminally by illegally spying on Americans. Don't let them switch the topic to something as piddly as minor lawsuits that will cost telcoms a minuscule slice of their profits:

The Bush team argue impending financial doom for the telecom industry should lawsuits be permitted to continue. However, at this time, the financial impact is speculative (pdf file) with a market that “seems unconcerned” about the lawsuits filed against telecoms:

For example, when the complaint in Hepting v. AT&T Corp. was filed and when AT&T’s motion to dismiss the suit was denied, AT&T’s stock price remained essentially unaffected. The entirety of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s regulatory system requiring public filings and disclosures is premised on the idea that, when the relevant information is available publicly, the market is the most effective indicator of the value of a corporation. That the stock price of AT&T was unaffected by the suit indicates the market’s determination that the company’s financial footing remains sound, despite the potential liability.

Moreover, telecommunications carriers have survived enormous payouts in class action suits in the past. For example, in September of this year, Sprint received preliminary approval from the court for a $30 million class-action settlement. And in 1994, AT&T agreed to pay a $100 million settlement. Just as they have for the other risks incumbent in their business, telecommunications carriers have liability insurance to protect them in the event of an adverse civil judgment. And if, at some point in the future, a series of judgments comes to present a threat of widespread bankruptcy in the telecommunications industry, the government may take action at that time. But any preemptive liability shield is premature and unneeded.

Thus, should the telecom lawsuits proceed and if damages are awarded by the courts and if the damages are not covered by telecom liability insurance, and if Congress then determines that a bailout is needed for the industry, then Congress has the authority to legislate funding to the industry, thus preserving the plaintiffs’ right to a judicial remedy and the public’s right to a transparent government. As Sen. Feingold notes:

If the companies engaged in such widespread illegal conduct that the damages would be enormous, Congress can intervene to limit the damages. That’s a far more appropriate response than simply giving the companies a free pass for any illegal conduct.

Moreover, if the concern is financial liability, why is the immunity so broad that “cases will be dismissed even if they do not seek money damages but only declaratory and injunctive relief.”
The lawsuit distraction is just that... A distraction from the real issue of the bush illegally spying on Americans. And remember that it is not just the infered "Liberal base of the Democratic party" that is against immunity for these criminals... It is the majority of Americans:
Today the ACLU's Caroline Fredrickson was quoted in The New York Times about Democrats' apparent willingness to capitulate to the administration with the new FISA bill:
"If Senator Reid wanted to win, he would have put the judiciary vote on the floor first,” Caroline Frederickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “It seems as if he wants to lose.”
A recent poll found that 57 percent of Americans oppose amnesty for telecoms. If you agree, there's still time to sign our FISA petition, which we'll deliver to Senator Harry Reid tomorrow.

Those of us in the left are not alone on this issue...

2 comments:

Fade said...

"get out your webcams" It's odd, but the only thing saving people from the police state are the cameras of the common citizens.

The only way to fight big brother is with little brother.

Connecticut Man1 said...

The other good thing about using Webcams to make a statement is that it puts a real face to the words. It is no longer just some anonymous complaint, but a real person with real concerns...