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FISA Again
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Senate Caves In – Now Its Up To Congress To Stop Bush


By James Donahue


Hidden under a smokescreen of amendments, rhetoric and general media disinterest has been a battle by the Bush Republican base to push through a revised edition of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that is a very bad piece of legislation.


This bill, which has been in debate for months, is designed to shift government spying power from the judiciary to the executive branch of our government, make it legal for the president and his staff to obtain private telephone, e-mail and other records without a court order, and worst of all, be retroactive so that illegal and unconstitutional operations already conducted in the name of “national security” are suddenly ok.


The bill is promoted by the president because he says there is a need to give telephone companies retroactive protection from lawsuits filed because of cooperation some companies already have given the government without court order. In other words, the Bush Administration and some telecommunications companies have already cooperated in breaking the Constitutional liberties of many Americans.


Now, with a backlog of some 40 lawsuits already filed, and the threat of impeachment proceedings in the air against Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and possibly other high officials because of this and other crimes, there is a rush to get a law on the books that covers everybody’s posterior.


Sadly the U.S. Senate caved in on Tuesday and passed the measure 68-29, with many Democrats crossing over to the Republican camp on this.


Now the fight has moved into the House, and because there is a deadline for action by Saturday, the heat is on.


Right on cue, Mr. Bush brought out the old fear factor when he addressed the matter earlier today. He said the FBI and CIA doesn’t have time to go before judges to get permission to tap wires and dig into communication records of American citizens because the threat of a new terrorist attack is imminent.


“Terrorists are planning new attacks on our country . . . that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison,” Bush said.


Oh really? Wasn’t it this same guy that brought us into that ugly, unbridled war against Iraq because he said that country’s now murdered dictator Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction? And wasn’t it a fact that once we invaded, our troops found that Hussein was telling the truth all the time. He had no such weapons.


But we killed Hussein anyway after he was brought before a kangaroo court established by a false front government totally controlled by U.S. interests.


Bush also warned that “if these (telecommunication) companies are subjected to lawsuits costing billions of dollars, they won’t participate, they won’t help us.”


Indeed, they would turn over communication records and even allow government wire taps if they were confronted with a court order. So what is Mr. Bush yapping about? All he needs to do is obey the law. And this law is already clearly established in the 1978 version of FISA. It does not need to be changed.


Here is yet another twist to this story for you to ponder. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has been asking for documents about the revised wiretapping program, but his requests have been denied. The reason: national security.


Our question is how can Congress be expected to make an intelligent decision on this issue when denied access to such vital information. We say phooey to Bush and all of his ideas. He has threatened to veto the bill if it comes across his desk without the retroactive clause. Let him veto it then. We are not convinced that the old 1978 act needs fixing.