From Glenn Greenwald at Salon:
It is absolutely false that the only unconstitutional and destructive provision of this “compromise” bill is the telecom amnesty part. It’s true that most people working to defeat the Cheney/Rockefeller bill viewed opposition to telecom amnesty as the most politically potent way to defeat the bill, but the bill’s expansion of warrantless eavesdropping powers vested in the President, and its evisceration of safeguards against abuses of those powers, is at least as long-lasting and destructive as the telecom amnesty provisions. The bill legalizes many of the warrantless eavesdropping activities George Bush secretly and illegally ordered in 2001. Those warrantless eavesdropping powers violate core Fourth Amendment protections. And Barack Obama now supports all of it, and will vote it into law. Those are just facts.
The ACLU specifically identifies the ways in which this bill destroys meaningful limits on the President’s power to spy on our international calls and emails. Sen. Russ Feingold condemned the bill on the ground that it “fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home” because “the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power.” Rep. Rush Holt — who was actually denied time to speak by bill-supporter Silvestre Reyes only to be given time by bill-opponent John Conyers — condemned the bill because it vests the power to decide who are the “bad guys” in the very people who do the spying.
Other than that being absolutely awful is it news? Well, Obama voted for it.
Note that the very first line of Obama’s statement warns us that we face what he calls “grave threats,” and that therefore, we must accept that our Leader needs more unlimited power, and the best we can do is trust that he will use it for our Good.
Making matters worse still, what Obama did yesterday is in clear tension with an emphatic promise that he made just months ago. As the extremely pro-Obama MoveOn.org notes today, Obama’s spokesman, Bill Burton, back in in September, vowedthat Obama would “support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.” MoveOn believes Obama should be held to his word and is thus conducting a campaign urging Obama to do what he promised— support a filibuster to stop the enactment of telecom amnesty. You can email Burton here to demand that Obama comply with his commitment not just to vote against, but to filibuster, telecom amnesty:
Incidentally, Chris Dodd made an identical promise when he was running for President, prompting the support of hundreds of thousands of new contributors, and he ought to be held to his promise as well.
Greenwald mentions that it is expected that we keep our mouths shut about this because we have to do everything we can to make sure Obama is elected in the fall. He also points out that that is bull shit – and that what Obama did here is actually very scary.
What scares me are the Obama supporters who are unwilling to critisize – who are unwilling to accept flaws in their candidate. Those are the people responsible for both the Evil and the Lesser of the Evil. Criticism, both from adversaries and from supporters, is a strong tool – both for the candidate and for the populace at large.
But does this critical analysis of politicians come to us through the main stream media? Of course not. Greenwald also points out herethat Keith Olbermann railed against amnesty for the telecoms one day and then praised Obama for voting for it the next day.
Obama is the lesser of the two evils. But that should not make him immune from criticism when he engages in jack-assery.
Here Obama is getting a little too chummy with the devil.