Candidate Statements on FISA (updated)

by: Matt Stoller

Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 00:42


I'm starting to collect candidate statements on the FISA fight in reaction to Bush's call for amnesty for the phone companies that broke the law and spied on Americans and the expansion of powers Congress is considering making permanent.
Matt Stoller :: Candidate Statements on FISA (updated)
Here's Robert Nowak, GA-08:


Nowak says "The latest demand from President Bush, that the US Congress shield telecommunication providers from liability for breaking federal law, is a real step backwards in the important mission of authorizing an effective intelligence surveillance program.  Congress not give blanket immunity for any unlawful acts, it should renew its call for increased oversight of the telecom providers that may or may not have broken federal surveillance laws."

Further, the US Congress must not budge in insisting that any surveillance program with the capability of eavesdropping on US citizens be subject to court oversight.

The Congress should insist on codifying in the statute a court order requirement for any surveillance done on American citizens.

This last August, Representative Marshall voted for a temporary bill  that allowed for expanded wiretapping and surveillance on Americans without a court order.  Allowing that regime to continue is unacceptable."

Here's Larry Kissell, NC-08:

The Fourth Amendment doesn't exclude lobbyists.

The 'right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures' means George Bush and the other Washington politicans can't grant immunity to law breakers no matter how much they give to campaigns.

Here's Darcy Burner, WA-08:

"Now President Bush wants to offer a blanket amnesty to phone companies that have broken the law. Those who violate the rights and invade the privacy of ordinary Americans should be held accountable. In this country, no one -- and certainly no corporation -- should be above the law, and that includes the president and his corporate telecom allies that have aided and abetted the Bush administration's domestic spying.

"President Bush can not be allowed to shred the very principles that make our country great. HIs call for telecom amnesty demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that we need to elect new, strong leaders to Congress who will have the courage to stand up for what is right, leaders who will be able to resist the dangerous inside-the-Beltway groupthink that seems to permeate our nation's capital."

Here's Sam Bennett, PA-15:

"The Constitution also places no one above, below or immune from the law. The House Judiciary Committee was absolutely correct today to reject President Bush's demand for blind and blanket immunity for large telecom companies who aided illegal spying.  It should be noted that not all such companies heeded the call for unchecked Presidential power, and those who resisted should be commended.  For the others, blind immunity for crimes, especially when not even yet fully documented, is an alien and disturbing idea to Americans.

"Finally, to those who imply that by opposing warrantless, illegal spying in America, Democrats somehow are aiding our enemies: I urge you to take an evening off, turn off that distracting talk radio and Fox News, and spend a quiet evening reading the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.  You may learn something new, and wonderful."

Here's Eric Massa, NY-29:

This proposal to offer amnesty for the telecommunication companies who illegally spied on Americans is just another example of the Bush administration protecting their corporate donor base. Instead of understanding and agreeing that if laws were broken companies should be held accountable, the Bush administration, like moths to a fire, has flocked to protect those who have knowingly and illegally disregarded the Constitution and violated the privacy of law abiding Americans. If the Administration had simply followed the edicts of FISA courts, they would not now find themselves defending those who have so blatantly trodden on the American Bill of Rights. George Bush's reliable rubberstamps team of Republican rubberstamps, such as my opponent Randy Kuhl, will act in lockstep unison with their boss George Bush and that is exactly why we need to build a veto proof majority in the House and Senate in 2008.

Here's John Laesch, IL-14:

While Bush clearly showed his contempt for the justice system as a whole by commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, his recent attempt to give phone companies that broke the law a "get out of jail free card" is an even more egregious example of how this president puts the wealthy friends before the rights of the individual.

Phone companies should not get off the hook for criminal behavior just because they have powerful lobbyists.  If a phone company breaks the law, it should be held accountable.

If Bush is successful in ignoring the rule of law and getting corporate criminals off the hook for spying on Americans, Congress would essentially be giving corporations unchecked authority to violate the rights of individual citizens.

Wiretapping authority is granted when law enforcement officials have probable cause and obtain a warrant.  This right is guaranteed in the form of the fourth amendment, and we call ourselves Americans because we honor the tradition of a government that respects its citizenry.

Here's Donna Edwards, MD-04:

"Congress must not give in to the President on the issue of immunity for telecommunications companies who have violated the law," continued Ms. Edwards.  "These companies and their powerful lobbyists have given generous contributions to members of Congress including Congressman Wynn.  They must be held accountable.  These companies had a choice and some chose to break the law and violate our civil liberties.  No amount of money or influence should prevent the companies and their senior decision makers from being held accountable if they broke the law.  Corporations cannot be allowed to break the law under the thinly veiled guise of 'national security' and walk away without penalty."

Here's Dan Grant, TX-10.

"I spent the past decade helping Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and other trouble spots around the world try to strengthen their law enforcements systems and constitutional protections.  Little did I think my own government would violate those very rights by offering amnesty to telecommunications firms back home.

"My opponent Mike McCaul, whose family owns Clear Channel Communications, bears a special responsibility not to rubberstamp the Bush-Cheney administration's attempt to let his and other big telecom firms break the law.  Is he representing Central Texas or his family's monopoly?  His failure to speak out on this outrageous attempt to let unreasonable search and seizure go unchecked provides the answer - Mike McCaul is the Congressman from Clear Channel."

And Tom Allen, Maine-Senate:

"There is no question that the Bush Administration is responsible for an unprecedented and widespread infringement upon basic civil liberties.  It is equally disturbing to know that phone companies took part in this. Just as we must hold Bush and his Administration accountable, we cannot let private sector businesses off the hook for breaking the law."

Here's Dan Maffei, NY-25:

If the Bush Administration had read the constitution the first time, we wouldn't find ourselves having this debate.  Granting amnesty to these companies would set a precedent that would allow others to arbitrarily ignore the constitution.  No one should be above the law in America.

Here's Jon Powers, NY-26:

"Growing up in Western New York, one of the first lessons I was taught was that each of us has to take responsibility for our actions. As a social studies teacher, I came to understand this principle in the broader context of our democracy. We are, first and foremost, a nation of laws. Each of us should be treated equally under the law, and no one should be given special treatment. The founding fathers designed the courts as the proper place to weigh one's actions under the law, not the White House. I trust that the courts, which have ensured the rights and liberty of all Americans for over 200 years, are more than able to continue providing the wisdom and protections that keep us free."

Here's Jared Polis, CO-02:

"Phone companies should not get off the hook for criminal behavior just because they have powerful lobbyists. Phone companies should be held accountable like any other entity," stated Polis.

"In terms of wiretapping authority, we trust our law enforcement agencies, but only with oversight and limits. When a government can eavesdrop without oversight, the temptation is too great to abuse that power. Our founders believed that our government be able to spy on citizens only when they show a court that there's probable cause to believe that a citizen did something wrong. They guaranteed us this right in the form of the fourth amendment, and as Americans we must be ever vigilant to protect our privacy and rights."

There are additional statements from Tom Perriello (VA-05) and Steve Novick (OR-Sen).


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We need to send these people to DC .. (0.00 / 0)
they get it a lot more than the Beltway crowd

This is really good stuff, Matt (4.00 / 1)
Nice to hear simple yet elegant wisdom and conviction rather than "complex" establishmentarian sophistry and ignorance. I'm happy to have contributed in Q3 to 3/5 of these folks; I'll make it 5/5 in Q4.

I wonder if we should take Sam's advice and send copies of the Constitution to Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel, and Nancy Pelosi, amongst others.


That is a campaign (0.00 / 0)
If everyone printed off a PDF of the constitution and physicaly mailed it to them on the same day.

We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join MoveOn.org and fight for progressive change.  

[ Parent ]
Anything (0.00 / 0)
from Mark Pera?

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

not yet (0.00 / 0)
It's coming, I'm sure.

[ Parent ]
Steve Novick (OR-Sen) (0.00 / 0)
From Steve Novick, OR-Sen:
"Americans want us to fight terrorists with the strongest tools available, but they do not want to sacrifice our liberties in the name of security," said Novick. "The direction currently being taken by Congressional Democrats, particularly in the Senate, threatens to make permanent several powers granted on a temporary basis in August and even extend them further to make the telecommunications industry unaccountable for any violations of privacy or other civil liberties. I strongly urge them to rethink this approach." [...]

"As we have found over the past few years, without accountability all too many of telecommunication giants are more than willing to jump into bed with the Bush administration, secretly giving unfettered access to our personal information with no oversight or even the ability of citizens to challenge the practices in court," said Novick. "We always want our intelligence agencies using the best techniques to defeat our enemies, but the Constitution protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures, and we must not allow those protections to be sacrificed in our efforts to defeat terrorists."



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