Last week the House of Representatives voted to overhaul the FISA program and provide for retroactive immunity for the telecom industry. This only happened because of Madam Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Chief Lieutenant House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. With friends like these, who needs enemies.
This week the Senate is scheduled to take up this issue. If the vote were held today (Tues. – 6/24/08) this latest FISA update would probably pass. This writer has called various senators urging them to reconsider this bill. Just this morning I called Senator Obama’s office urging them to table the bill. I followed up with another call to Senator Reid’s office urging the same thing.
Senator Reid should know better than to touch this latest FISA legislation with a ten-foot pole. There is no reason to even consider allowing this measure to come up for a vote. The existing FISA program is more than adequate to provide for the continued security of this nation. Wiretaps can be executed for up to 72-hours without a warrant. The FISA court is secret and provides for swift and immediate authority for critical surveillance by the government. The measure before the Senate this week is nothing more than an all-out assault on the Fourth Amendment. That assault will be made many times more deadly as the digitally-pervasive electronic communications so prevalent in our city today will allow for overwhelming intrusiveness by government into the personal lives of ordinary citizens.
More than anyone else, however, Senator Barack Obama must now take charge. He is the nominal leader of the Democratic Party. He is also a member of the United States Senate. If he is to make his mark on history this is the time to come forward and stop this outrageous onslaught on our fundamental civil liberties. This constitutes a “clear and present danger” in the most extreme form. This is tantamount to total surrender to the state and leaves the door wide open for an exponential expansion of government intrusion and control over the citizenry.
As the cartoon strip “Pogo” intoned some time ago – “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”