Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's Really Happening in Georgia and Why Should We Care?

I haven't posted in a while... I'm preparing to reshape my blog into a series of "chapters" about my thoughts on the how the world really works, how we relate to that world view, and then provide some thoughts on how we can overcome what is clearly a world careening toward catastrophe.

Today, I have to reference a bit of B.L.O.G. history about Caspian Sea oil and the South Asia Basin... the largest field of untapped oil and gas in the world. By understanding the immense geo-strategic importance of Georgia, we can have a glimpse at what is the real motive behind the Russian attack and perhaps peer into what can be a potentially volatile future for the Caucus region.

Mikhail Gorbachev said not too long ago "By declaring the Caucasus, a region that is thousands of miles from the American continent, a sphere of its 'national interest,' the United States made a serious blunder."

I'm not so sure he's correct as there is no country that is militarily even close to our catastrophically mammoth military might. Interesting to note that I have mentioned our strategic interest in this region so many times I can't even count. Our entire foreign and military policy is based on securing the riches of the former Soviet Republics, and then securing pipeline routes to move the oil and gas to U.S. dominated regions... essentially cutting off the Russians from the spoils.

In my post of May 29, "What About Those Stans, and Why Should I Care?", I posted the following pipeline map that clearly points out what informed sources are saying about the Russian invasion. The Russians are exerting their influence in the Caucus region and is acting out of frustration that the U.S. has completely taken control of the region, and thus its natural resources and potential wealth.

Note the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline going right through Georgia. Now check out what Al-Jazeera has to say about its role in this conflict:

"The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline runs through Georgia, allowing the US access to oil and gas supplies not pumped through Russia to the north or Iran to the south.

'Underlying all this is a larger, more significant contest: a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West over the export of Caspian Sea oil and natural gas,' Michael Klare, the author of Resource Wars told the New American Media website.'

The belief in Western Circles is that the close relationship between the U.S. and Georgia is primarily based on this pipeline and other yet to be discovered energy projects between the big 4 oil companies and countries in this region.

No doubt this Russian adventure sent chills throughout all of the former Soviet Republics and while it sent a very clear signal that "Russia is mad as hell and isn't gonna take it anymore", its my belief that the very opposite of its objectives will happen. They will push the oil rich Stans and geo-politically well situated countries further into the U.S. sphere to gain protection and finances to protect them from Russian adventures. (Assuming they trust the U.S., clearly Georgia learned the hard way that we can't be trusted to provide them protection.) A more aggressive stance by the Russians will not help them one bit to exert influence... similarly how U.S. invasions of countries has produced as many enemies and problems for us as it has real strategic advantages.

I believe this will backfire so hard on the Russians that it almost feels as if Georgia provoked the attack in order to demonstrate that the Russians are nothing more than newly emboldened bullies that cannot be trusted. It smacked of Bush-like foreign policy that inevitably backfires and scares no one. I imagine that in some circles in Moscow this helped to signal an end to Russian weakness and impotence on foreign policy but also sent a powerful message to the nations of the world that the Russians are no more sophisticated at handling sensitive regional conflicts that would engender a greater level of trust from their neighbors or a signal of their maturity as a world power and power broker.

Candidly, this will inevitably serve to embolden NATO to move quickly at expanding their reach toward Russia to secure those vital energy corridors that Georgia sits right in the center of. The first and very powerful indication of this is the NATO brokered ceasefire and the presence of leaders from Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia at the rally celebrating the cease fire in Tbilisi. (Picture on the left.)

Some other random thoughts about this event:

-The complete and total absence of U.S. influence once the war started. A stark and chilling reminder of our declining influence diplomatically and another demonstration of the total incompetence of Condoleeza Rice... who is supposed to be an expert in Russian affairs. (Yeah sure.)

-The clear indication that this attack was planned well in advance given the size and scope of the operation and the amount of armor the Russians had lined up along the Georgian border.

-Given the size of the Russian operation, there is NO WAY the U.S. did not know that a Russian operation was in the planning with our fleet of spy satellites watching every single ant, bee and beetle that even moves within a thousand mile range of the Caucus... now viewed as a strategic bastion of the United States

-The rising influence of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and French influence over world events in general. They seem to be at the center of the action when it comes to the Middle East (particularly Iran), and its stronger relationships with important geopolitical/military powers such as Israel and China.

Watch Putin put a spin on the military action in the video below... and his veiled threats at the United States. The U.S. military has been drooling at the possibility of a heightened threat with the Russians and I can't help but think that behind the scenes we have manipulated events to enable this to happen and will no doubt continue to bait the Russians into a self-destructive set of aggressive policies that we will use to create a more "dangerous world".

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Forget This Election Nonsense, Let's Join With Al Gore

The WE folks have developed a "blogger" version of the Al Gore challenge so folks like myself can get the word out. I not only want to get the word out... I want to scream it in 600 million deaf American ears... HELLO... WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM AND NO ONE BUT AL SEEMS TO BE DOING ANYTHING OF ANY REAL CONSEQUENCE!!!

By far and away, the most critically important issue of our time and even the congress can't pass a single piece of legislation providing tax relief to people installing solar panels. Its so pathetic... you know they care nothing about us or about future generations.

I want nothing more than to see the twilight of oil in the coming decade and the corner gas station to be something we remember fondly like the milkman bring glass bottles of milk and leaving it in a steel container in my garage as a child.

10 years... its not even THAT hard. The hardest part is asking lazy slobbering stupid Americans to change their slovenly, lazy habits and accept the world is no longer theirs to plunder. I'll stop... and let Al speak... he's just as brutal... but he offers a solution. WATCH IT!! I love how they have Buffalo Springfield playing in the background... it gives that 60's revolutionary spirit that we so badly need again.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Terrific New MoveOn.org Ad

Just got this sent to me.... MoveOn.org is raising money to air this ad nationally (see below). I hope they raise enough because its wonderful in that it brings a new tone to political advertising with a tongue in cheek message that Americans love. Why? Everything is bad news today... I think the one who can present something realistically optimistic but also asks (nicely) for appropriate sacrifice will win. Candidly... I can't imagine a scenario where old man McCain (who has NEVER SENT AN EMAIL) could possibly win the presidency.

Yes, that's right. He's never sent an email. Oy... could you imagine this clown winning?... we'd be in deep deep trouble.

I saw a funny shirt the other day. It looked like a McCain campaign shirt... had the logo and everything. But it said, McCain, 1908. Funny stuff. Enjoy the ad and then go here and donate.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

We Need Hunter S. Thompson Back, Badly

I just saw "Gonzo", the documentary of Hunter S. Thompson. It made me depressed.

There was a day in America where a journalist like him could write with a style all his own and was not afraid to print whatever he thought and whatever he felt. This type of "gonzo" journalism is non-existent today, as writers must take everything very seriously, or nothing seriously at all (other than keeping their jobs), and hold dear to their hearts a world view that incorporates the existing model of reality and assumptions, and write solely within the confines of a very tightly defined world view of how and why our world runs the way it does.

Thompson stuck his middle finger up at American civilization and said, screw you... I'm gonna find this American Dream and when I do, I'm going to kick all of your asses with it. What struck me was this lack of fear that he possessed in writing what he saw, or making it all up all along the way for his own amusement. In a powerful way, this was a metaphor for the inanity of American life as well as the American dream itself, and exposes the incomprehensible ignorance of Americans about their own system of beliefs, government and the world around them. He stuck America's nose in it and laughed all along the way.

Today, there is a blight of this kind of writing, reporting and courageousness of conviction. Who would ever be courageous enough in 2003 to get up on the Tim Russert show and say the whole gang in the White House is a bunch of lyers and thieves. He did. No one else dared. And as you watch the interview below... just think about how the prevailing view at that time is so completely different now. Think about how RIGHT HE WAS... and ignorant the rest of our society was to let the criminals take over under the phony, cynical banner of Patriotism. The criminals that run our country were exposed... oh, but only on the misdemeanors. The real crimes have yet to come out. How silly and naive America was to believe that they were ever telling the truth about anything. Isn't there anyone out there that realizes that its ALL a lie? Not just SOME THINGS?

Oh yes, Al Queda brought the buildings down, that's what they say. That's true.. they only lied about the things we can handle.. such as the secret prisons and the torture and the spying on American citizens and the lies about the intelligence and blah blah blah. But oh yes, Al Queda DEFINITELY brought those buildings down. They sure did cause that's what they told us.

When... when, will anyone realize that its all a lie? None of it is true. And when will the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson come back and help to expose this lie ONCE AGAIN to a public that has no conception of its own history and how it continues a repetitive cycle of no purpose wars (other than the obvious... money and American financial hegemony... that would be GREED).

So today, I mourn for us all as we debate the same inane stupidity of wars fought by a race of beasts known as the human race. We haven't evolved an inch since we came out of the cave. Our greedy and feckless politicians seeking only to satisfy their own egos and wallets and worst of all it is so bad, that we are now living in a society in which a private citizen (Al Gore) must get up and challenge us to save our own lives from global warming while not one elected official has done a single thing to save our society from its own destruction.

Hunter, we wish you had stayed around to help us out now. We desperately need you.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Berlin Also Hopes For Sanity in America

A picture says a thousand words. Perhaps, in this case, 200,000 words. If I asked you a year and a half ago if you thought that an American politician who may become president could summon 200,000 screaming Berliners to the Tiergarten for an historic speech... you probably would have thought I was crazy.

Now, try to imagine in your minds eye John McCain standing up there with all those thousands of screaming fans excited about what he has to say and what he stands for. C'mon, just try for a second.

Can't do it... why? Because it would never happen. Having gone to Berlin 2 years ago, I was powerfully struck by how this city, more than any other, represents the cornerstone of modern history. I need not go through all of the events in the past century that has made this so, but Berlin is a city that represented the dividing line of global tension and yet, has once again transformed itself into a world class city that respects art, history, and its place in the world in the most sober and reflective manner... more than any other place I have ever seen.

From the Holocaust Memorial to the Jewish Museum, to the rebuilding of the Reichstag... the city is reborn as a jewel of contemporary thought, art, architecture, progressive thinking and civic pride. The city has taken great pains to permanently enshrine its history, both good and bad, and provide a global symbol for what could be. For this very reason, it is every American politician's dream to give speeches in Berlin for it is in itself, the most powerful symbol of the best and worst of humanity.

This forms the backdrop of the Barak speech. Having watched it, I saw the same gentleman who has captivated millions here, and did so again over there. Yet, some if not most of our MSM, never to waste an opportunity to criticize even at the most inappropriate time, has found fault in his short 25 minute speech. Does the New York Times realize that there is a time and a place for everything when they say in their headline: "Obama, Vague on Issues, Pleases Crowd in Germany"? Or David Brooks in his Op Ed piece:

"But he has grown accustomed to putting on this sort of saccharine show for the rock concert masses, and in Berlin his act jumped the shark. His words drift far from reality, and not only when talking about the Senate Banking Committee. His Berlin Victory Column treacle would have made Niebuhr sick to his stomach.

Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney."

Does David Brooks think that a presidential candidate on tour in Germany is obligated to give a hard nose policy speech to 200,000 hopeful Germans that the United States has not transformed into the Nazi Germany of their past? Because from their vantage point, we have become dangerously close. What is this small mindedness? What did they expect to hear from him?

Any idiot knows that he was there to give more of the same type of beautifully spoken rhetorical speeches that has made him famous throughout the world because of one simple and elegant idea... he represents the best of our hopes and dreams, and the rest of the world's. Could the New York Times have simply acknowledged that the purpose of this speech was opium for the masses and nothing more.

This was not the time, nor the place for specific policy speeches and hard nose thinking. The distinct purpose of this speech was to let the Germans have a close up glimpse of the next President of the United States and hold a glimmer of hope that we are not the monsters that they have seen over the past 7 years. He succeeded. David Brooks... you're wrong and you're small minded. Just because you are growing tired of this rhetoric, does not mean that the Germans or anyone else is... particularly when the man is not yet president, and therefore appropriate to be short on specifics and long on values.

I'll let you make up your own mind... the speech:

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hillarious: Colbert's "Make John McCain Exciting Challenge"

The full name is of the episode is "Make John McCain More Exciting Green Screen Challenge." No doubt inspired from the now infamous "Kermit the Frog green backdrop with no makeup on I look nearly dead speech" the same night that Obama won the nomination in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans. An evening for the history books. Ahhh, the good ole days.

Anyway, Colbert has put the challenge out and the videos coming in are way too hilarious. Enjoy:

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ACLU Files Suit, and Publisheds NY Times AD

The ACLU collected 65,000 names in a few short days and place many of them in a full page ad in the NY Times. Unfortunately, they only made it to M, and my name doesn't show up :(. But the ad is great, so I thought I'd share.

First, and intro from the ACLU email blast I got this morning:

The ACLU filed a landmark lawsuit last week to stop the government from conducting surveillance under a new wiretapping law that gives the Bush administration virtually unchecked power to intercept Americans' international e-mails and telephone calls.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed by Congress and signed
by President Bush, not only legalizes the secret warrantless surveillance program the president approved in late 2001, it gives the government new spying powers, including the power to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans' international communications. And, by granting telecoms immunity, it has greatly harmed the chances of ever learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions.

Our lawsuit was filed on behalf of an impressive array of professionals -- journalists, human rights organizations and lawyers-- whose ability to perform their work will be greatly compromised by this new law.

Our clients include The Nation magazine and two of its contributing journalists, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and more.

Because of the nature of their calls and e-mails, our clients believe that their communications are likely to be monitored under the new law. Even the looming possibility of this surveillance disrupts their ability to talk with sources, locate witnesses, conduct scholarship, and engage in advocacy.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Thursday, and asks the judge to stay the implementation of the new powers, until its constitutionality is determined. It was filed on behalf of Naomi Klein, (whose recent book "Shock Doctrine" is a must read if you want to know anything about how the corporate elite governs us.) Klein stated "if the U.S. government is given unchecked surveillance power to monitor reporters' confidential sources, my ability to do this work will be seriously compromised." (Blog Wired)

The Ad: (click on it to find YOUR name)

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Wouldn't It Be Great To See Rove In Jail

Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films have launched a campaign to pressure Congress to hold Rove in contempt for not honoring the Subpoena by the House Judiciary Committee. He invoked Executive Privilege and now it will be interesting to see if they have the cojones to vote to hold him in contempt and throw him in jail.

By the way, the cellar of the Capital Building has a jail cell and they actually could lock him up there. Wouldn't that be a sight... oh we can only dream. The Democrats have proven their merit... they are weak, cowardly and greedy and won't do anything, further weakening their authority. Its a pity that Congressional Democrats have proven time and again that they are truly PATHETIC and EMBARRASSING to their constituents.

A dizzying array of new organizations are being formed to hold them accountable to the people that elected them.... check out AccountabilityNowPac and Strange Befellows to see this burgeoning movement which will be placing alternative Democrats and Republicans up for election this year and it could get real interesting to make these Democrats pay dearly for pushing forward the Bush agenda. I am rooting that they every single one of the Democrats who voted for FISA be fired by the electorate.

On a lighter note, watch Brave New Films 3 minute feature on Dear Carl Rove, American Patriot and give money or make phone calls. I'm doubtful Congress will act. But I've been wrong (I think) just once before :-).

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I've Got Them Tennessee Blues

A friend and colleague wrote this short short story last night about a famous man from Tennessee. My friend is a Republican (yes, I have a Republican friend... don't ask) and we attempt to torture each other with propaganda from both Reds and Blues to prove each other wrong. Of course, he can never truly win this battle as I believe the Democrats are as corrupt as the Republicans, they just act like they're not.

The Republicans --- they just flip us the bird and flatten another country to seize their black gold and secretly spy on us like Nixon on steroids and Crystal Meth. I digress.

My friend/colleague wrote a wonderful story about a man from Tennessee and eloquently imagines the ghosts that haunt this man. Its probably a very accurate portrayal. So, I thought I'd share. Enjoy.

Tennessee Blues

The warm night air embraces the soft Tennessee breeze as it caresses
the white silk drapes of an unlit bathroom window.
The summer moon glows, illuminating the bathroom to reveal a man in
his late 50s, unrecognizable from the stately speeches, camera flashes
and brilliant smile. He lowers his head and the weight of the world
weighs down upon his shoulders. He thinks again of the day when his
future was before him... before the Florida waves washed away his
chances for political immortality.

The magazines, newspaper articles and editorials tout his name now in
even bigger bolder letters. He can still hear the cheers from the
recent sold out lecture halls and stadiums, shouting, chanting his
name... yet the man who has known so much popularity and public
affection stares somberly in the mirror... secretly... deeply longing
for something else, something more, a relentless, unceasing incessant
desire for another name to be chanted... Mr. President

The man sighs heavily as he closes the bathroom door and walks back to
his bed...
"There is always the environment" he mutters to himself as he closes
his eyes and attempts once again to fall asleep.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Toward a Deeper Understanding Of Our Reality

In an effort to pull myself away from the distractions of day to day politics, I want to refocus my attention of theory and ideas about the challenges we face as a society and provide a range of points of view about the problems we are actually facing.

One of the theories that I espouse is that the agenda of public discourse is fed TO US... that we as bloggers, we as citizens and even we as consumers do not have control over the agenda of what is discussed nor the underlying assumptions of what is true that drives public discourse. For example, you would have to believe that there actually is a "war on terror" to have a discussion about how to "win" this war.

Yet, I firmly believe that the "war on terror" is a movie played out in the cinema of newstainment and used as a propaganda tool to make people afraid and seek help from the government to allay their fears. It works perfectly into the agenda of the bomb, plane and submarine manufacturers. No war, no bombs. War, need bombs. Real Simple Math.

I came across a paper on a site managed by a non-profit online publishing entity called "Axis of Logic". In their mission statement, they say:

Presuppositions and World View

We readily confess our own set of presuppositions: Our world view consists of ideals for world peace; democracy (i.e. self-governance by the people); self-determination of all nations (people); respect for national sovereignty; noninterference in the domestic affairs of any nation by foreign governments; fair and just economic systems; responsibility for the preservation and protection of nature and compassion for ourselves and our fellow human beings.

The Enemy

We identify "Corporate Global Empire" as our common foe and the enemy of the people. We believe that all current, viable political parties in the U.S. are in service to the empire and do not represent the people. We are not to be identified as "Democrats", "Republicans", "Capitalists", "Communists" or "Socialists", "Progressives" or with any label that can be reduced to a religion, organization or any other "ism". We offer no such target for attack by the enemies of the truth.

For those of you who have read what I have to say, you can immediately see areas of agreement here... so I have great interest in what they do and the papers they publish. One paper I came across that I wish to share is from Jason Miller. Jason is associate editor of Cyrano's Journal Online... a Marxist leaning website that talks much about the antiquated "class struggle". While I found Cyrano not to be my style, I nevertheless found Jason's paper posted on Axis of Logic to be compelling, brutally truthful and perhaps a bit harsh... but sincerely passionate and mostly right... if not a bit simplistic.

The paper is entitled "The Toddler King's Insufferable Reign Is Doomed". The thesis is that we are essentially psychologically managed by TELEVISION and have become a selfish, childish and self-righteous bunch that will see its own demise... or as he states "But there are some pretty long odds against enough of us shedding our grotesquely malformed psyches and evolving beyond our state of infantilization before the American Way of Life collapses under the weight of its own excrement or is eradicated by its hordes of victims."

Obviously, this is opinion... but its the facts that he presents that I find compelling and wish to share. Again, they are tainted...and distinctly anti-Israel (which makes me somewhat uncomfortable), but the purpose of my summer postings is to examine a range of points of view and present them in an objective manner and then discuss them on their own merits. I will plagiarize his facts and allow them to speak for themselves:

If you don’t know the stats, you’ve been somnambulating, but here are a few:

1. We are 5% of the population and siphon off 30% of the world’s goodies, while 35,000 people starve to death each day.

2. We, the land of the free, exercise a higher degree of social control than even those “tyrants” in China and Russia. We have the world’s largest prison population, many of whom are non-violent drug offenders. And then there’s our clever way of imposing our agenda in Latin America via the “War on Drugs…..”

3. We lost about 500,000 people in WWII while Russia lost over 20 million yet we arrogantly boast that WE “defeated fascism.” And that’s not to mention the fact that many of our beloved capitalists, including members of the Bush dynasty, supported Hitler until they faced potential criminal prosecution.

4. We have staged coups and incursions the world over (our interventions are far too numerous to document in this dispatch, but visit this site to familiarize yourself with the reach of our malevolent imperialist tentacles.

5. Ironically, we justify our trillion dollar a year military budget by waging wars against nations with phantom weapons of mass destruction–while we are the only nation to have deployed such weapons. Ask Japan about the devastating impact.

6. We pour billions of dollars into the support of those miserable Zionist squatters in Palestine because a very small percentage of our population (which has very deep pockets, a strangle-hold on mass media, and a juggernaut lobbying organization) has many of us brain-washed into believing “poor little Israel” is fighting for its very existence—when the reality is that it has a more formidable military than all of its alleged threats combined and has ruthlessly brutalized the Palestinians like the terrorist state that it is.

7. We slaughtered over two million Vietnamese in an attempt to keep the world safe for capitalism and are poised to consider putting one of the perpetrators in the White House.

8. We have murdered untold millions of Iraqis since the Gulf War via invasion, brutal economic sanctions, fomenting civil war and chaos, illegal occupation, and destruction of infrastructure. And neither of the performers in the theater of the absurd we call a “presidential election” has promised to bring an immediate end to this moral and legal abomination. If we enforced the Nuremberg Laws that WE crafted, all responsible would be hanged, including whoever replaces Bush and perpetuates this genocide.

And that is just a brief and very incomplete summary of the evil that we openly or tacitly support simply by being Americans, even if our role is very banal or pedestrian. As cogs in a murderous machine built on stolen land and primarily with the blood, sweat and tears of slaves and poor immigrants, we all bear a degree of responsibility for the atrocities we commit. Even those who choose to remain and fight the system from within are still buttressing the American Way to some extent.

I left in his commentary on the "facts" to provide color and help you gain more insight into his world view. I don't disagree with a single point he makes... I suppose I don't see evil in everything that's there... I see it as a reality that must change, but not something that can be judged by a higher power that we must pay for in "karma".

That said... his article had a profound effect on me in that I agree with much of what he believes, its the tone and manner that I find a bit dramatic and... perhaps... not helpful. If I go around calling people names, I'll simply turn them away. I prefer to show reality through fact, comment on it from my perspective, and then use my sense of ethics and morality to find solutions rather than screaming that we are infants. We simply ARE the result of a coming together of many forces and perhaps need to wake up to these forces to bring about positive change.

But I appreciate Jason's perspective... because I firmly believe that extremes move the middle... and ultimately its the middle that everyone seeks as we search for balance in our lives and our perspectives on reality. To read Jason's full paper, go

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Because Freedom Can't Wait For The Next President

Thanks to the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation, we the people of these United States have one last opportunity to stop the government from spying on us without redress. This is a short post today to provide you with information about the suits and links to follow their progress.

The ACLU suit is summarized on http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/faachallenge.html and go here for a conversation with Glenn Greenwalk and Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T (Hepting v. AT&T) which may now be voided thanks to Congress, and describe their strategy post FISA signing here. Because I'm feeling patriotic today, I thought I would end this entry by providing the logo of the National Security Agency who has a SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF EAGLE on it. Oh, and that "key" that it's clutching in its talons (its prey of course)... that's the key to your front door and phone and Internet and financial information. Now, say after me... I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the National Security State.... with liberty and justice for all. I forget, am I supposed to say "amen" at the end?

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Friday, July 11, 2008

FISA Signed, Feeling Blue, But Still Red With Anger

The last two days have been simply an amazing whirlwind of political debate, netroots action and a groundswell of anger over the FISA bill. The FISA bill as you can see has been taking my attention... but watching the dynamics of the FISA breakaway community on MYBO has been captivating.

After a couple of days, the rhetoric and anger has settled into kind of a muted sense of lost hope and despair as progressives and people who REALLY CARE about constitutional issues seem to be settling into a "OK, there's not much I can do about this now, I'm going to send my money elsewhere and just vote for Obama".

Additionally, it appears to me that the folks at Obama headquarters looked at the sheer disaster facing them and decided to go with a sort of kind and gentle approach that sounded something like this: "OK everyone, now that you have had a chance to cool down, let's just be reasonable. He is still the same man we love and care about and he's going to revisit this once he gets into office... the bill does not do THAT MUCH harm so lets all just hold hands again and get him elected."

After nearly 25,000 people joined the Get It Right Group on MyBo, the news media started to catch wind of this. The group... in which I am a member, is the largest group on MYBO, formed a new website, http://www.getfisaright.com/, started a FISA activist wiki, started a very large Facebook group and began urging members to donate to the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Bluesky.org.

Will Mitchell, the rep for the group hand delivered a letter to the Senator that reads:

We ask that you back up your words with action by addressing your constituents on the floor of the Senate with the same oratorical power you used in Philadelphia to lay out your vision of a 'More Perfect Union.' The American people have just as much right to know of the dangerous precedent this Congress would be setting by granting retroactive immunity to those who "may have violated the law" and allowing spying on law-abiding citizens .... We ask you to reconsider your current position on the bill as a whole and strongly oppose a bill about which you said, "I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power."

In your statement you also wrote, "In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited." We agree.

We appreciate your willingness to continue the discussion. We represent a large and vocal part of the movement you have nurtured and that has nurtured you during this campaign season, and include many of your most active and ardent supporters. As you have said time and again Senator, "we are the ones we have been waiting for," and we are here, working to bring about real change in Washington. We have grown to over 20,000 strong in the space of just a few days.
I also want to provide you with a taste of the debate going on in the group listserv... its one of the most profound netroots flash movements I have ever seen. The amazing thing is that the very tools that the campaign created to get Senator Obama the nomination could be the same that could ruin his chances if he keeps veering off course and breaking promises. Its a truly delicate situation... these are the folks that walked districts, organized grass roots, rang door bells, called caucus delegates... you just don't take these people for granted.

The internet has given new life to the progressive movement and they are now MAD AS HELL AND NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE. I would suggest that the Senator from Illinois tread lightly and not take these folks for granted again. Here is snapshot of my inbox: (click on it to enlarge)

This may die down, but on its face, this was one of the most intense couple of days I've seen in the land of politics... and while I was burning mad about "the betrayal" of the 4th Amendment, I now feel somewhat encouraged by the response of so many people to this. It could have gone unnoticed were it not for a newly politiced public. From one of the hero's of the debate, Senator Chris Dodd:

A Heavy Heart

Yesterday was a sad day for the United States Senate.

It is my hope that the courts will undo the damage done to the Constitution.

But let us stand tall, knowing that by working together we were able to make wiretapping and retroactive immunity part of the national discourse these last number of months.

We came together - all of you, Senator Feingold, bloggers like Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald, organizations like the EFF and ACLU, and untold hundreds of thousands of Americans who simply wanted to make sure that this one, last insult did not happen with ease.

I’m sorry we weren’t successful.

I just hope I’m lucky enough to have you by my side in the next fight, whatever that may be.

Thanks for all you’ve done.

Chris Dodd

Thank you Senator and thanks to Senator Feingold as well. We do have some that we can count on perhaps, but this is an issue that's going to have to go to the courts.

I was told today by one of my readers that they like the videos. So I'll end with a video. Note the particularly disturbing idea of WHY The Real News believes the Democrats approved this bill: to give them cover in the event of a terrorist attack between now and the election. Essentially, they can't be BLAMED for not doing anything to stop it. I can't even comment its so despicable and cowardly if its actually true. Now we know who really frames the debate in this country for now and forever... the NeoCons. I am rendered speechless. Enjoy and weep for us.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

23,965 and Counting On the O'bama Internal Insurgency

That's the number so far. By 5 times, the largest group on MYBO. Its a sad state of affairs all around... but the interesting thing is that they created a very effective social networking site and then when the candidate betrays his Progressive base... no less on a CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE... the issue that Progressives hold most dear... then your community will become your own worst enemy. Articles abound throughout the media and blogosphere about this phenomenon and I frankly find it more than fascinating to watch. I'll reprint a copy of my listserv inbox later to show the level of anger being directed at the presumed nominee for the Democratic party. It could change now.

One of the things I find most interesting is a move by the MYBO FISA group to organize and begin contacting delegates and registering their feelings. This will hit at the heart of the presumed nominee and if delegates start to bail... all hell could break loose unless Obama somehow, someway, stops the bleeding. I am now going to reprint a letter that one MYBO FISA member posted to the group. Its a letter she wrote to her delegate who happens to be in the district (I believe) where the convention is being held.

To Mari, the CD15 delegate to DENVER:)


After today's vote in the Senate approving the passage of the FISA bill, wherein Senator Obama voted in its favor, I am withdrawing from the campaign.
Many times on the campaign trail I've been asked "why should I vote for Obama?" And I've answered, "because Senator Obama will bring us back our Constitution that has been shredded by the Bush administration. I have spent most of today in tears, and have spent many more days discussing this issue with other Obama supporters. There are 30,000 of us, represented by the largest group on mybo, in shock over Senator Obama's decision: Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right.

When I called the Chicago Obama headquarters today I actually reached and spoke with two live aides. Admittedly, during the first conversation, I cried, but made my message loud and clear and coherent.

Barack was given a second chance to live up to his promise to uphold the Constitution today on the Senate floor. He failed to provide either an explanation to his supporters for his support of the FISA bill,or to to vote against it. Oddly, Senator Clinton, for whatever reason, voted against it.

Mari, you, as our elected delegate, represent the constituents and, as such, are required to listen to the voice of the people, even when we are dissenting.

A time line of Senator Obama's stand on the FISA bill, which strips our constitutional rights, follows. His most recent statement of July 3 contradicts all previous promises.

My letter to Senator Obama follows:

Dear Senator Obama,

Your decision today to support the FISA bill has nullified my belief in you and your campaign for change and hope.

My passion is gone; it has vanished having seen your behavior in the face of putting action where your mouth is. Today, you had the opportunity to speak out as a scholar of Constitutional law to uphold our Constitution, but did not. Today you had the opportunity to vote to uphold our Constitution but did not. Yet you are in fact, under oath to do so.

Senator Obama, If you do remain the candidate after the Convention, which I now believe will be a disputed and brokered convention, I will still vote for you, but only with the diminished enthusiasm of a "lesser of two evils" vote. I am appalled by your unwillingness to speak up on the Senate floor yesterday or today against this egregious piece of legislation. For whatever reason, Senator Clinton changed her mind and opposed the FISA legislation, unlike you. Supporting FISA was not necessary to win over the conservative vote; it only makes you look disingenuous in the eyes of the nation.

Please return all donations I have made to your campaign. I will give this money, and more as I can afford, to Senator Feingold's effort to support our Constitution.

What do I tell my 87 year old parents who were long time Clinton supporters who I've passionately converted to your campaign? They have too much class and compassion to say to me: "I told you so".By the way, Ralph Nader has posted "I told you so" to the mybo blog.

Since I began campaigning for you in January, I had put aside most of my efforts for my small business, and intended to do so until you were elected. Now I've now changed my mind. You are not who I thought you were. You are not the candidate who promised to support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.

I have donated countless hours to your campaign; this can't be replaced. I have entreated hours of aid from my 12 year old son for your campaign; this can't be replaced. My passion has been felt by all those I'm around; from my neighbors to the grocery store to the gas station and to hours on the campaign trail.
This too is irreplaceable.

I am heartbroken.

Good luck to you, Senator.

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Jonathan Turley on Keith Olbermann about FISA

Jonathan Turley is a professor of law at the George Washington University Law school where he holds the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law. He has a long history of interesting cases such as Terry Schiavo and suing the government on behalf of sick workers from none other than Area 51.

He says it as well as it can be said about what happened yesterday and then I'll move along to other topics. I will say that watching the FISA group ListServ email system light up last night was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life and I will be writing on that in great detail as I believe a new movement is emerging among progressive Americans to throw the entire Democratic Senate and House out of office. They'll need replacements and I am willing to bet that new Democrats who respect the constitution will send many of them packing. Here is Jonathan Turley:

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Chaos on MyBarakObama.com

To view the thousands of justifiably angry people on his website is a something to behold. I believe the number of dissenters is near 22,000 and the anger just seems to rise by the minute.

This was pure betrayal on his part. It is an inconceivable blunder that could take the wind out of the sails of this campaign. I just got off the phone with a lovely woman named Karen who was an organizer for Obama in Berkeley, California and she called me out of the blue... a total stranger because she was so upset she needed someone to talk to. I had blogged on the website to tell him that he had lost my vote and I felt there was no excuse for him voting for this bill. There is and never will be any good reason to vote away the protections guaranteed to us in the Bill Of Rights. Particularly when he had said so many times that he was against it and going to filibuster it.

Anyway, now my attention shifts to the ACLU. They are seizing this and filing suit the moment Bush signs it into law. I donated and now want to let you know that you can help them. They will be running full page ads in major newspapers with thousands of names of Americans who demand their rights. Here is the text of their call to action:

Dear Friend,

Cowed by the Bush administration's pre-election scare tactics, the Senate passed privacy-stealing FISA legislation undermining your Fourth Amendment rights.

It's outrageous, unconstitutional and un-American. That's why the ACLU is prepared to challenge this law the moment George Bush signs it -- and you can rest assured, they'll be meeting our lawyers in court.

The ACLU's lawsuit will send a powerful message to those in Congress who played it safe when they had the opportunity to defend the Constitution.

In addition, the ACLU will be taking out a full-page ad in a major national newspaper announcing their lawsuit and expressing outrage at this abandonment of our Constitutional principles. Their goal is to run an ad containing the names of tens of thousands of Americans who believe in the Constitution and want Congress to hear us loud and clear: next time, stand up for our rights.

You can sign your name to the ACLU's ad by visiting:


I signed, and I hope you do too.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Washington Post Ad This Morning About FISA

Still standing on my FISA soapbox, I'm providing a copy of the ad placed in the Washington Post this morning by Blue America and Colorofchange.org PACs. I'm enclosing the ad because it provides needed specific "soundbites" about the truth behind the cover of this bill that permanently changes the game of federally authorized spying. You can click on it to enlarge and read, and I encourage you to read Glen Greenwald's piece in Salon where he provided the downloadable pdf of the ad.

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McClatchey Newspapers Gets It Right, Again

As an addendum to my angry post of last night, I feel compelled to share more about WHY I, and so many other Americans, are in a state of shock and boiling anger over the FISA bill which will be voted into law today.

There is but one newspaper company that has had it right all along since the 9/11 scam and its McClatchey. They also have watched the elite trade away our rights for greater control and done so while a sleeping nation of ill informed and poorly educated "consumers" allows them to do it... believing incorrectly that they'll be "safer". (Hint: You cannot trade away your freedom to gain greater safety. History has taught us this time and again that the exact opposite is true.)

Pick up a copy of Naomi Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine" if you want to see how easy it is to fool people into thinking that giving up their rights will make them safer. If it weren't true, it would make for great comedy.

From Joseph Galloway of McClatchey Newspapers:

Early next week (TODAY) the U.S. Senate will vote on an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with a few small amendments intended to immunize telecommunications corporations that assisted our government in the warrantless and illegal wiretapping it has grown to love.

That such a gutting of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution even made it out of committee is yet another stain on the gutless and seemingly powerless Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

That a majority on both sides of the aisle — not least of them the presumptive nominees for president of both political parties — intend to vote for such a violation of Americans' right to privacy and of the sanctity of their personal communications is a stunning surrender to those who want us to live in fear forever.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Then Galloway puts this bill and the congress and our shameful recent history into perfect historical context:

We have done incalculably more and greater damage to ourselves since September 11, 2001, than a thousand bin Ladens and ten thousand al Qaida recruits could ever have done to us.

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." Now it would seem that we have no one to fear but ourselves and our leaders.

The questions I pose are these:

How can even one senator on either side of the aisle in good conscience vote in favor of this law that does nothing to enhance our security and everything to diminish our rights as a free people?

How can both men who seek to become our next president cast such a vote when both should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder declaring that they would govern by our consent and with our approval, not by wielding the coercive and corrosive and corrupt powers that King George III and his latter-day namesake from Texas thought are theirs by divine right?

Unfortunately, I think I know the answers to his questions. (And, I think most truly informed Americans know the answer and wonder what has to happen to make it change; but don't dare speak that truth out loud for fear of their jobs and even their lives.) The congress has conveniently ignored the constitution long before 9/11 (to its own detriment) and will continue to do so. Why? Because there is a much greater power that runs this country than the voters... and they call the shots.

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FISA, and the End Of The Fourth Amendment

FISA... its a four letter word... it mean the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Or in slang, The United States Constitution is no loner intACT. The Democrats are to blame for this shameful day that will live in history as a key date in what could be the last vestige of protection of our privacy. And THE DEMOCRATS will go down in history for negotiating away the protections afforded to us by the constitution.

I am attaching the bill. Most people won't read or care... but if there is just one of you who will see this bill pass tomorrow... it could be YOU that is being under surveillance and you will have no legal protection against your so called democratically elected government. Its a day that all Americans should hang their head in shame.

Funny... this is authored by a Rockefeller. Strange coincidence. Obama said he would filibuster this... he's not going to. It will pass tomorrow and the Bush legacy of spying on Americans with impunity will continue unabated.

Note the amendments... these were added by those very few and brave Senators who wish to protect our rights and privacy by making the telecoms liable for handing over all of our personal communications for years. But these will not pass, and they will gain immunity... signaling to businesses and future governments that they can do the very same thing and gain immunity from breaking the law.

For some color commentary on the debate to end our rights in the Senate, read the ACLU blog as it explains the feelings of complete and utter despair by the civil rights movement about this bill: http://blog.aclu.org/category/government-spying/

From the Democratic Policy Committee of Congress

H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008

Summary and Background

Last summer, the Bush Administration came to Congress seeking emergency changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to address a gap that had arisen in our intelligence collection capabilities, according to administration officials. Democrats support giving the Intelligence Community the tools it needs to protect the nation from terrorism. However, many Democrats opposed the rushed legislation that ultimately resulted from the Administration's push, the Protect America Act of 2007 (PAA). Before passage, Democrats succeeded in adding a six-month sunset to ensure the PAA would serve as only a temporary measure to address the intelligence gap while Congress considered longer-term amendments to the statute.

Over the past year, Senate and House Democrats have worked with their Republican counterparts, the Administration, the intelligence community, and privacy advocates to develop proposals for amendments to FISA that would give the intelligence community the flexibility it needs to safeguard our nation, while also providing strong protections for civil liberties.

On June 19, Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), announced that a FISA amendments deal had been reached. On June 25, the Senate voted to proceed with consideration of that legislation, H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

The bill would:

Provide the Intelligence Community the tools it needs to target non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States;

Increase the role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in reviewing and approving targeting and minimization procedures, ensure that traditional FISA warrant rules still apply for purely domestic communications, require the government to establish guidelines to protect Americans against reverse targeting, and require FISA Court orders prior to surveillance or physical searches of U.S. persons abroad;

Grant the telecommunication companies immunity from civil liability, provided a federal district court determines that the Attorney General's certification that immunity applies is supported by substantial evidence;

Provide Court review of procedures before surveillance begins unless there are exigent circumstances, in which case they must seek approval from the FISA Court within seven days.

Require the Inspectors General of key agencies to conduct a retroactive review of the President's surveillance program and authorize them to investigate and audit surveillance authorized in this bill, require that additional data on surveillance be submitted to the Congress in semi-annual reports, and sunset the bill in four and a half years.

Major Provisions

Title I - Foreign Intelligence Surveillance

Additional Procedures Regarding Certain Persons Outside the United States. (Section 101).

Definition of electronic surveillance (Section 701). The bill would reestablish the original definition of "electronic surveillance" in FISA and add a construction paragraph to ensure that new procedures may be used notwithstanding the definition of electronic surveillance.

Procedures for targeting certain persons outside of the United States other than United States persons (Section 702).

Authorization. H.R. 6304 would grant the Attorney General (AG) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) the authority to target persons reasonably believed to be outside of the United States for the purpose of collecting intelligence for a period of up to one year from the effective date of the authorization.

Limitations. H.R. 6304 includes specific limitations and prohibitions regarding the collection of information on American citizens. The bill states that an acquisition: 1) may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States; 2) may not intentionally target a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States if the purpose of such acquisition is to target a particular, known person reasonably believed to be in the United States; 3) may not intentionally target a United States person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States; 4) may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States; and 5) shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The bill would require the AG to adopt guidelines to ensure that the government does not engage in any of this prohibited conduct and obtains individual court orders when required.

Acquisition. H.R. 6304 provides for the involvement of the FISA Court in approving procedures for targeting foreigners outside of the U.S. that could involve U.S. persons (as outlined in the targeting and minimization procedures below). The legislation would require the court to approve targeting and minimization before collection begins unless the DNI and AG determine that exigent circumstances exist. Should the DNI and AG make this determination of exigent circumstances that intelligence important to U.S. national security may be lost or not timely acquired, an acquisition would be authorized to proceed prior to a court order. The AG and DNI would be required to submit procedures within seven days and the court would be required to make a determination within 30 days. The bill would require that all relevant minimization and reverse targeting guidelines would apply during this period.

Targeting procedures. H.R. 6304 would require the AG, in consultation with the DNI, to adopt targeting procedures that are designed to ensure that any acquisition is limited to targeting persons reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States and prevent the acquisition of purely domestic communications. It also would require the AG and DNI to submit these targeting procedures to the FISA Court for review and approval.

Minimization procedures. H.R. 6304 would require the AG, in consultation with the DNI, to adopt minimization procedures used to address any incidental acquisition, retention or dissemination of U.S. person information, in order to protect the privacy of any Americans who might be in contact with a foreign target. The bill requires that these procedures be approved by the FISA Court.

Judicial review of certifications and procedures. H.R. 6304 would require prior FISA Court review of minimization and targeting procedures, as specified above, and require that judicial review of procedures be completed within 30 days.

Assessments and reviews. H.R. 6304 would require that the AG and DNI assess compliance with targeting and minimization procedures semiannually, and submit each assessment to the FISA court and congressional intelligence and judiciary committees.

Electronic surveillance of United States persons outside the United States (Section 703). H.R. 6304 would require the FISA Court to make an individual determination of probable cause before a U.S. person outside the United States may be targeted for electronic surveillance. It specifies that each court order would valid for no longer than 90 days.

Foreign intelligence collection on United States persons outside the United States (Section 704). H.R. 6304 would require the FISA Court to make an individual determination of probable cause before a U.S. person overseas may be targeted for any foreign intelligence collection. This court order also would be valid for no longer than 90 days.

Provisions included in Sections 703 and 704 are intended to ensure that Americans traveling or working abroad are entitled to the same protections from surveillance and search that they would have if located in the United States.

Congressional Oversight (Section 707). H.R. 6304 includes a provision that would require the AG to submit a semiannual report to congressional intelligence committees and the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and House of Representatives regarding compliance and noncompliance with the provisions of section 702. The bill also provides that the report must include the number of applications made, granted, modified, denied, as well as emergency acquisitions authorized by the AG under Sections 703 and 704.

Exclusivity (Section 102). H.R. 6304 restates the 1978 FISA exclusivity provision and strengthens language to ensure that domestic electronic surveillance can be done using only FISA, criminal wiretap statues, or future statutes that expressly authorize electronic surveillance. This provision effectively prevents the use of Authorizations for Use of Military Force as the statutory basis for circumventing FISA. The bill also provides that criminal and civil penalties can be imposed for any electronic surveillance that is not conducted in accordance with FISA or specifically listed criminal intercept laws.

Submittal to Congress of certain court orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (Section 103). H.R. 6304 would require the Attorney General to submit in its semiannual reports to congressional Intelligence and Judiciary committees a copy of any decision, order, or opinion issued by the FISA Court or FISA Court of Review that provide a significant construction or interpretation of any provision of this Act and any pleadings, applications, or memoranda of law associated with this decision, order, or opinion, no later than 45 days after its issuance as well as those issued during the five-year period ending on the date of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and not previously submitted in a report.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (Section 110). H.R. 6304 would amend FISA to allow foreign intelligence collection against proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The bill would narrow the definition of WMD to ensure that only weapons capable of causing serious bodily injury to a significant number of persons are included.

Title II - Protections for Electronic Communication Service Providers

Procedures for implementing statutory defenses under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (Section 202). H.R. 6304 would amend FISA to permit civil liability protection for electronic communication service providers who participated in the President's post-9/11 surveillance program, provided the district court finds that the Attorney General's certification that liability protection should apply is supported by "substantial evidence." The certification must include a showing that the companies' cooperation was in connection with a program authorized between September 11, 2001 and January 17, 2007, and designed to detect or prevent a terrorist attack, and the company received a written request or directive from the Attorney General or the head of an element of the Intelligence Community that indicated the program was authorized by the President and determined to be lawful. In making the "substantial evidence" determination, the district court will have the opportunity, in camera and ex parte if necessary, to examine these highly classified communications between the Administration and the companies.

H.R. 6304 would also amend FISA to provide a mechanism for the court to assess whether individuals who assisted the government pursuant to court order, statutory certifications, or Protect America Act directives should be entitled to immunity, even if those orders, certifications or directives are classified.

H.R. 6304 would further require that plaintiffs and defendants have the opportunity to file public briefs on legal issues and that the court include in any public order a description of the legal standards that govern the order.

NOTE: The immunity provision of the Act does not apply to any actions against the government for any alleged injuries caused by government officials, nor does the immunity provision involve any statement by the Congress on the legality or illegality of the President's program.

Title III - Review of Previous Actions

Inspector General review (Section 301). H.R. 6304 would require the Inspectors General of the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, and the Department of Defense to complete a comprehensive review of the President's surveillance program within one year and submit an unclassified report to Congress, with a classified annex, if necessary. This review would provide comprehensive facts about the program to Congress and the public.

Title IV - Other Provisions

Repeals (Section 403). H.R. 6304 would repeal the Protect America Act of 2007 (PAA). Existing orders, authorizations, and directives under the PAA, however, would remain in effect until their expiration.

H.R. 6304 would sunset on December 31, 2012, to allow the next administration to evaluate how the new authorities are carried out and to ensure that abuses do not occur before authorities are further extended.

Legislative History

In August 2007, Congress passed the Protect America Act of 2007 (PAA), which provided temporary amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 while Congress considered longer-term amendments. Congress spent the next several months negotiating a bill in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. On October 26, 2007, SSCI favorably reported S. 2248, the FISA Amendments Act of 2007, by a vote of 13 to 2. On November 15, 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported the measure with an amendment in the nature of a substitute by a vote of 10 to 9. This vote was ratified the following day.

After an agreement was reached to return to the bill during the second session of the 110th Congress, the Senate resumed consideration of S. 2248, with the Judiciary Committee's substitute as the pending amendment on January 23, 2008. The substitute was later tabled. On February 12, the Senate passed the bill and incorporated its text in H.R. 3773, the House version of the FISA Amendments Act, entitled the Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007, as an amendment.

Since that time, House and Senate leaders have sought to negotiate compromise legislation. On June 19, Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), announced that a deal had been reached. On June 20, the House passed H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 on a vote of 293 to 129. On June 25, the Senate agreed to the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the legislation on a 80 to 15 vote.

Statement of Administration Policy

On June 19, the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence submitted a letter of support for H.R. 6304 to Speaker of the House Pelosi.

Possible Amendments

Amendments are expected to H.R. 6304, including:

An amendment to strike Title II;

A substitute amendment that includes Titles I, III, and IV, but does not include Title II;

An amendment to stay all pending cases against the telecommunications companies and delay the effective date of Title II until 90 days after Congress receives the Inspectors General report regarding the President's surveillance program; and

An amendment to require the district court to make a determination as to whether the telecommunication companies' participation in the President's surveillance program was constitutional.

As it becomes available, the DPC will distribute additional information on amendments.

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