Tuesday, March 11, 2008



Has he earned your trust?

This morning Glenn Greenwald kicked off the latest initiative of the Blue America PAC, an attempt to hold some members of Congress accountable for their decisions (and actions) to grant the Bush Regime and their cronies retroactive immunity. To me this egregious travesty of justice spells the doom of the Rule of Law and a return to pre-French Revolution societal norms.
House Democrats are expected to unveil and possibly vote on their FISA bill this week. While they may (or may not) end up securing some additional, mild safeguards against eavesdropping abuses as compared to the Rockefeller/Cheney Senate bill, it is almost certain that they will ultimately end up granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms and gutting most of the long-standing, core protections of FISA. The recent, extraordinary revelations of just how sweeping is the administration's spying on domestic calls and emails of Americans seem to have had little effect thus far on what appears to be the inevitable course.

As this week's red-district election to Congress of anti-telecom-amnesty candidate Bill Foster demonstrates, they're not doing these things because it's politically necessary. They're doing it because more than enough Democrats believe in the virtues of telecom amnesty and warrantless eavesdropping -- just as they believe in the continued occupation of Iraq, the abolition of habeas corpus, the "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by Military Commissions Act, concealing Bush's illegal eavesdropping programs, and a long array of other radical Bush policies that now have bipartisan Congressional support.

There's absolutely no point in helping to elect Democrats like that to Congress or helping them to stay there. Yesterday, there was some celebration over the fact that Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor will be re-elected without opposition this year. That's the same Mark Pryor who voted for the Military Commissions Act, for the Protect America Act, for telecom immunity, against every Iraq redeployment measure, and scores of other similar votes. The fact that he's being re-elected with no opposition demonstrates his extremely strong political standing, i.e., that he cast these votes because they reflect what he believes. What's to celebrate about the fact that someone like that -- with that belief system -- is returning to the Senate?

Democrats are never going to change their behavior if there continues to be no price for what they're doing. If even the most pro-Bush Democrats continue to receive reflexive support from other Democrats, regardless of how fundamentally they reject the political values of those Democrats, they will continue on the same course. Why wouldn't they? And if Democrats whose political values are violated by these office holders refrain from ever working against them, solely because they have a (D) after their name, then this process will continue unabated.

We want to ask you which Bush Dog we need to focus in on first-- with an educational plan for their constituents. These 6 have been consistent Bush Regime rubber stamps across the board and each signed a letter to Nancy Pelosi supporting retroactive immunity.
John Barrow (GA)
Chris Carney (PA)
Leonard Boswell (IA)
Brad Ellsworth (IN)
Zack Space (OH)
Heath Shuler (NC)
Help us pick our winner here on our Get Even for FISA page. And if you'd like to contribute to the effort, to help us hold the winner accountable through action above and beyond railing against him on our blogs, we have a new contribution page set up for this specifically.

We want to move a little more aggressively than Senator Leahy and Congressman Conyers feel they can. The two of them sent a joint email message to their lists today, encouraging their supporters to
write letters-to-the-editor and help build grassroots support in their communities for fixing FISA the right way: protecting national security, preserving civil liberties, and denying retroactive telecom
immunity. By all means, write a letter to the editor and support what Conyers and Leahy are doing, but we think there must be much stronger action accompanying their efforts.

Yesterday Rep. John Hall (D-NY), twice endorsed by Blue America, sent an Op-Ed to all the newspapers in his district. Here is what he told his moderate suburban/exurban district-- which is about a third Republican, a third independent and a third Democratic-- about the FISA bill:
The highest priority of Members of Congress – on both sides of the aisle – is to protect our nation and to uphold our Constitution. Congress and the President must work together to come to an agreement that modernizes FISA. I remain committed to detecting, identifying and defeating terrorists and to preserving the freedoms that define America. Thus, it is disappointing that President Bush and his allies have chosen to play politics and to misrepresent the facts in the continuing debate on updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FISA was passed by Congress in 1978 in response to President Nixon's abusive use of wiretaps against his political adversaries and the press. The existing FISA law has protected American citizens both from foreign terrorism and from infringement on their Constitutional right to privacy. Intelligence agencies should have the tools to intercept cellular or fiber optic communications through switches in the US while protecting Americans' rights.

Unfortunately, President Bush is using scare tactics in an attempt to bully Congress on this issue, much like he did in the build up to the war in Iraq. He has repeatedly made statements that officials within his administration and outside experts have indicated are untrue. Since the President and his allies are likely to continue these attacks, it is important to separate myth from fact.

The President continually states that with the expiration of the Protect America Act (PAA) last month, the capability of intelligence agencies to track terrorists will be weakened. The fact is that authorizations ordered under the PAA to conduct surveillance will continue for at least six months, and in some cases for up to one year. All known terrorist organizations and targets are already included in those orders, and new targets can be added quickly. Here's the bottom line—if a terrorist was being tracked a month ago, he can still be tracked today.

The President also claims that intelligence efforts are impeded by a requirement to obtain a warrant in a FISA court. The fact is that a FISA court order can be obtained up to three days AFTER intelligence collection has already begun. In the 30 year history of the FISA courts, the government has asked for over 23,000 warrants, and only five have been denied. Obtaining a warrant from a FISA court when there is concern that an American will be overheard during collection of evidence is clearly not a high hurdle.

Last November, the House passed a strong, balanced FISA bill, and I supported it. However, it was opposed by President Bush and his Republican allies in the Senate and did not become law. I will not support any FISA legislation that lets the executive branch alone decide who is a terrorist suspect and to forego judicial warrants altogether. This would completely undermine the system of checks and balances that is the bedrock of our Constitution. I also will not support a FISA bill that gives legal immunity to telecom companies who cooperated with the Bush Administration's efforts to overstep its authority.

The debate over FISA is extremely important and President Bush will not make America stronger or safer by attempting to stampede Congress into accepting a severely flawed bill. I will work quickly with my colleagues and the President to pass a strong bill that protects our nation and our civil liberties, and I will never let my family or yours be put at risk.

Martin Heinrich, the progressive candidate for the New Mexico congressional seat being abandoned by Heather Wilson, has written about retroactive immunity at DWT in the past in a guest post. Yesterday the extreme right-wing maniac the Republicans plan on running against him, Darren White (the 2004 Bush/Cheney Campaign Chair) attacked Martin for his strong and principled stand against retroactive immunity. In a typical right wing fundraising missive, White lies about Martin's stance, tries to use Blue Dogs as a wedge and calls all of us "extreme left-wing groups." White:
My likely Democrat opponent... is opposed to the Terrorist Surveillance Program and has used the issue to drum up support for his candidacy among extreme left-wing groups. He believes that we should not immediately intercept calls from known terrorists and has even gone so far as to attack middle-of-the-road Democrats who support this bipartisan bill. I believe his position on the Terrorist Surveillance Program clearly demonstrates that his views are out-of-step with common-sense New Mexico values.

Martin is a progressive leader and a real champion of the values that draw us to a progressive world view. He doesn't back down. Here's how he answered White and the Republicans:

"...I stand with the American people who say fear mongering is not acceptable. Not acceptable from George Bush, not acceptable from Karl Rove and not acceptable from Darren White. I agree with Bill Richardson that we can keep our country safe without resorting to unconstitutional, warrantless wiretaps. I support a strong FISA that authorizes our intelligence community to intercept the communications of foreign terrorists, not American citizens minding their own business."

That's how you respond to a budding little fascist turd.

So, again, please help us pick the worst Bush Dog and please help us finance a campaign to hip the winner's constituents about how he votes.

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At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howie, I know that you and Jane and Glenn have discussed these bad Dems in the past, but if you're asking us to vote, please put up links to posts about these guys, so we can make an educated vote.

Thanks! PeterB

At 10:26 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Peter, good idea. And I'll work on a post for tomorrow that does just that. Meanwhile, look at the voting records of these 6 and how they rank among their fellow members of Congress. The number on the left is where they rank in terms of congressmembers voting on substantive, disputed matters, which is reflected in their scores (on the right). A score of 90 and above would generally indicate a progressive. A score in the 80s and 70s would be a moderate. Below the 50s and we're looking at actual reactionaries and Republican-lite, fake-Dems.
220- Space Zachary T. (D-OH) -40.52
222- Carney, Christopher P. (D-PA) -38.56 
224- Shuler, Heath (D-NC) -35.71
226- Ellsworth, Brad (D-IN) -31.82 
227- Lampson, Nick (D-TX) -31.33 
230- Barrow, John (D-GA) -28-76

At 1:13 PM, Blogger woid said...

How can anybody choose only one "worst" from this list? It's pretty much a photo finish.

Maybe we should also take into consideration which one is most likely to be swayed by a pushback in his district. Thoughts?

[first posted at Digby's]

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Zack Space should be number one on the list if for no other reason than I went to college(Kenyon)with him and was his fraternity brother (Beta Theta Pi -- we were a year apart) and have been increasingly mortified by our affiliation with one another with every vote he casts. He's a disgrace to the party, a disgrace to Old Kenyon and the memory of Philander Chase and a disgrace to the Spirit of Wooglin-on-Chautauqua.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger tofubo said...

and we're still stuck w/bean, oh whell, maybe someone will run as a write-in

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little information can be found on some of them at:


At 8:20 PM, Blogger Gort said...

I disagree with Carney on the FISA Bill and other things but he has been solid on economic issues. Take a look at the 2 Republican's running in the PA 10th CD. Do you really want one of them in Congress?

I live in the district and we were handed a gift in the last election. I don't want to give it back.


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