Obama recently issued a statement that the "compromise" FISA bill had to be passed to ensure our safety, despite the fact that it included immunity for telecoms. Telco immunity has been opposed by a majority of Americans in national polls since January.
But Obama's spokesman, Bill Burton, back in September, vowed that Obama would "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." So we need to know how Obama suddenly would condone retroactive lawbreaking. You can email Mr. Burton here to ask that Obama keep his commitment firm against telecom amnesty:
Also be sure to let your Member of Congress know you're watching how they voted. My Congressman, Eliot "Lieberman Lite" Engel again stuck his wagon to George Bush on this one, all but begging to be unseated in November. See how Congress voted here.
Here's what I wrote to Obama's spokesman:
Dear Mr. Burton,
I have been a strong Obama supporter so far. I am an active political blogger and I cannot fathom or stomach that Mr. Obama just gave immunity to telecoms.I agree with the many Constitutional scholars including Johnathan Turley who saw existing FISA laws sufficient to ensure the safety of Americans. The eavesdropping done as part of Bush's NSA program should be adjudicated in the courts, who have ruled the program illegal already.
The Democratic cave-in we just saw has angered and energized large swaths of the blogosphere. The most reprehensible part is that it signals Democratic weakness and fear: even with the law and Constitution on their side, the Democratic leadership has endorsed these crimes instead of prosecuting them. In doing so, they become complicit themselves and this is not missed on the public.
There is no doubt that Obama's quest for the White House will result in a dramatic showdown with the former administration. I can understand why Obama wants to delay this, but eventually "Mr. Change" will need to define what change actually means. Mr. Obama should not be fearful in taking an aggressive stand against lawbreaking by the Bush administration.
I feel Obama's ethics-reform stances are the basis for his support by Americans who strongly disapprove of President Bush, but disapprove of the current Congress even more. It smells like fear, Mr. Burton. I would appreciate a response for OpEd News.
UPDATE: It has been correctly brought out that Obama's statement did specify he'd support a filibuster of telco immunity. This statement was made in the context of Sen. Chris Dodd's good work on the issue last fall.
Strategy-wise, I'd say Obama was choosing not to proactively assemble the filibuster himself for this "line item" because it would distract from his larger 50-state campaign itinerary, become a lightning rod for criticism on an issue many voters do not fully comprehend, and perhaps make him seem un-presidential in doing a "Senators" work at this point.
There must be an eventual showdown between Bush's years of Constitutional violations and an incoming Obama administration. This means Obama should already be ruminating about an Attorney General and an articulated position on impeachment, the mother of all investigations to rule them all and bind them.
Avoiding this is to Obama's benefit for now, but the spineless Democrats are not making it easy as Bush tries to walk off with the store. So many have hammered Obama on the telco immunity issue and as we were waiting to see if the problem could be mitigated, we see this from today's Politico:
Senate Democratic aides said that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) may introduce an amendment striking the provision, though it appears highly unlikely the amendment would get the 60-votes necessary to pass.
A cloture vote on the housing bill is set for Tuesday morning, while Senate Democratic aides said the FISA vote could come as early as Wednesday.