Obama and FISA

I’m disappointed with Obama’s decision to support the new FISA bill.  I have read his reasoning and understand that the way the bill is written gives immunity for civil suits and not criminal suits but I am not naive enough to believe a benevolent President Obama would go after law breaking Telecom companies with criminal law suits.  This bill has not yet made it to the Senate and who knows how it could change once it is there.  That loop hole could be closed.  Senator Obama has made several clear statements that he would not support a new FISA bill that included immunity for Telecom companies who cooperated with Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.  Ordinary Americans are being spied on through this program and the President and these companies have been getting away with it for several years.  The pending civil suits may be the only way American citizens find out the lengths this government was going to, who was being spied on, how it was determined who was to be spied upon, how our civil liberties were violated.  Glenn Greenwald has had his hair on fire over this issue for at least a week.  I dont know that I completely agree with him but he does make good points.  Go check him out.

In some way, I do understand why Obama took the stance he did.  He is a politician and has to be more moderate for the general election.  I understand his nuanced stance on this bill and the wish to put someone in place to watch this program to make sure it is not being used to gather information on ordinary Americans.  But, with the FBI now being given new powers to infiltrate and spy on Americans based on no specific criteria other than if they are Muslim, etc, (this smells of COINTELPRO) I would argue it is more dangerous now to give these powers to a President, any President this country might choose to elect.  Although my personal preference is for Obama, once someone or an organization is given such powers, it is difficult to keep in check no matter how good the intentions of the group or individual are.  Power without restraint has a way of corrupting and taking over.

Please Senator Obama, reconsider your stance.  Who knows, with the vote having been pushed back until after the 4th of July recess, with Senators Dodd and Finegold threatening a filibuster, with the continuing campaign season and upcoming election, maybe this will be pushed back further until we have a new President.  I am not naive enough to put much energy behind this but maybe we will all be surprised.

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