Huge Opposition to the New FISA CompromiseJune 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw
A bipartisan group of lawmakers and the Bush Administration are about to announce a compromise on the controversial telecom immunity proposal that has been holding up passage of an electronic surveillance bill. Thing is, from what’s been stated in all the initial reports, the compromise is nothing more than the original blanket immunity proposal, which was vehemently opposed and blocked by some congressional Democrats last month, just dressed in different clothes.
A New York Times editorial today summed up the compromise’s deception:
>The bill is not a compromise. The final details are being worked out, but all indications are that many of its provisions are both unnecessary and a threat to the Bill of Rights. The White House and the Congressional Republicans who support the bill have two real aims. They want to undermine the power of the courts to review the legality of domestic spying programs. And they want to give a legal shield to the telecommunications companies that broke the law by helping Mr. Bush carry out his warrantless wiretapping operation.
>Under the so-called compromise, the question of immunity would be decided by a federal district court — a concession by Mr. Bond, who originally wanted the FISA court, which meets in secret and is unsuited to the task, to decide. What is unacceptable, though, is that the district court would be instructed to decide based solely on whether the Bush administration certifies that the companies were told the spying was legal. If the aim is to allow a court hearing on the president’s spying, the lawsuits should be allowed to proceed — and the courts should be able to resolve them the way they resolve every other case. Republicans, who complain about judges making laws from the bench, should not be making judicial decisions from Capitol Hill.
Opposition to the latest supposed compromise is being led by Glen Greenwald of Salon, who has initiated a major campaign to raise money to e used against those in Congress who support it. “All the money raised will be spent exclusively on ad campaigns aimed at the short-term vulnerabilities of those in Congress responsible for delivering this indescribably tyrannical package of surveillance powers to the President and the accompanying corrupt gift to lawbreaking telecoms,” Greenwald writes. The campaign was announced about 24 hours ago, and it has already raised over $165,000.