Published on
by
The Progressive

Obama's FISA Betrayal

by
Matthew Rothschild

Barack Obama's rightward sprint is nowhere more obvious than in his betrayal on the FISA bill.

This bill allows the President to grab all incoming and outgoing international communications without a warrant.

The ACLU says it represents "an unprecedented extension of governmental surveillance over Americans."

Obama, sounding on Friday a lot like Bush, said: "Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay."

Here's what Bush said the same day as Obama: The bill "allows our intelligence professionals to quickly and effectively monitor the plans of terrorists abroad, while protecting the liberties of Americans here at home."

But it doesn't protect our liberties, and Obama ought to know that.

Obama said it "firmly reestablishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance."

But the ACLU notes that the bill "permits only minimal court oversight. The FISA Court only reviews general procedures for targeting and minimizing the use of information that is collected. The court may not know who, what, or where will actually be tapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment."

What's more, in the incredibly rare instances where the FISA Court denies a warrant to the President, under the new bill the President can go ahead and do the wiretapping anyway while the appeals process continues, a process that the ACLU says can take two months.

Russ Feingold calls the idea that this is a good compromise "a farce" and "political cover."

Says Feingold: "Anybody who claims this is an OK bill, I really question if they've even read it."

Has Obama?

If not, that's a problem.

And if he has, and still approves of it, that's an even bigger one.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Copyright 2008 The Progressive Magazine

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