The Democratic Activist
(Note: in my haste to get this action alert out, I copied, pasted, and modified material from various email alerts I'd recently received, in order to get this alert up and out as quickly as possible; therefore, much of the text below was not authored by me.)
Tomorrow, 1/27/08, the Senate will vote on reauthorization of the "Protect America Act." For those of you who don't speak Orwellian, the plain English translation of the "Protect America Act" is the "Destroy America by Eviscerating the Constitution (which IS America) Act." Ostensibly an update to the FISA law, the bill rushed to the Senate floor would make the Orwellian PAA permanent U.S. law, and includes language granting retroactive immunity to telecom companies that wiretapped Americans illegally, without warrants, as required by FISA and the 4th Amendment (activity first denied by Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign but then outed much to his chagrin in December, 2005). What's worse is that any bill that grants telecoms immunity -- and codifies that warrantless wiretapping is legal -- could also grant President Bush immunity from prosecution for spying on Americans and breaking the law. As a blogger on Daily Kos succinctly framed it: "telecom immunity is Bush immunity."
To stop this assault on our right to privacy, Senator Chris Dodd has reaffirmed his promise to filibuster any Senate bill that contains retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. Senator Dodd needs our full support (see below, for what you can do to help in this critical effort to save our civil liberties).
An amendment offered by neocon collaborator Senator Diane Feinstein (D - California) would have the secret FISA court itself -- instead of a public court -- determine whether the telecoms deserve immunity. According to Feinstein's amendment, the FISA court's decision would be based on whether the telecoms had a "good faith, reasonable belief that assistance was legal."
Here's what you can do:
1. Call your two U.S. Senators – to express your fervent opposition to any provision for telecom immunity in the new FISA bill before the senate vote on telecom immunity that will likely occur the morning of Monday, 1/28/08. Urge your two senators to fully support Senator Dodd's promised filibuster of any FISA bill containing immunity provisions for criminal telecom companies that colluded with Bush in blatant and flagrant violation of the law. Don't let them give Bush and his friends in the telecom industry a "get out of jail free" card!
The easiest way to call your U.S. senators is to call the toll-free Capitol Switchboard number, and ask to speak to the office of a particular U.S. senator or congressperson (Capitol Switchboard operators can tell you who your two senators are, if you're not sure):
To find complete contact info for your senators (Washington D.C. and district office phone and fax numbers, email and web site links, etc.), click here and then enter your zip code in the field indicated for finding your elected officials.
2. Call Senator Diane Feinstein – and urge her to drop any effort to "compromise" on the question of telecom immunity in FISA. Tell her that you and millions of Americans are terribly concerned about letting crooks off the hook, that we're watching carefully what she does on this issue, and that you expect her to do the right thing and support Senator Dodd's courageous filibuster of any FISA bill containing immunity provisions.
Senator Feinstein can be contacted through the Capitol Switchboard (see above), or directly through her senate offices in Washington, D.C. and California (why not call and/or fax all her offices ... just to be sure she gets the message!):
Washington, DC office
Los Angeles office
San Francisco office
San Diego office
Phone: 619-231-9712Fax: 619-231-1108
Click here to email Senator Feinstein.
3. Send out a link to this post – to anyone and everyone you know who thinks the rule of law in America is important, and that criminals in giant corporations and in our nation's highest offices should not be allowed to place themselves above the same laws that would put you or I in jail for the rest of our lives.
When you ask Senator Feinstein to support Senator Dodd's filibuster, a staffer may respond that Senator Feinstein has introduced amendments to the bill reauthorizing FISA.
Wiretapping Americans without a warrant is illegal. And Feinstein's "good faith" amendment is totally unacceptable.
FISA is a secret court. Of the many thousands of requests for wiretaps that it has considered over the last 30 years, it has rejected a small handful -- perhaps as few as five. This is not the same as a court of law, where the public has the right to examine evidence and file their own claims. FISA courts do not provide for the protection of basic rights. And to allow the FISA courts to determine the legitimacy of telecom actions is to take this crucial decision out of the hands of the courts, therefore undermining the rule of law.
Bradley Whitford filmed a great short video for couragecampaign.org explaining the issue and asking Senator Feinstein and the rest of the U.S. senate to stand up for the Constitution.
Check it out:
Time is of the essence.
Your calls need to go out as early as possible on the morning of Monday, 1/28/08 – the senate may vote on FISA immunity provisions as early as the start of business that day.
Please ... spread the word ... far, wide, and with haste.
Then make your calls!
Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist