Glenn Greenwald has posted a detailed analysis of the Barack Obama's recently-released statement. While giving credit to Obama for engaging this way, and allowing his site to be a forum for disagreement, Greenwald notes:
Despite that, the statement contains many dubious claims and, in a couple cases, outright misleading statements. Worse, Obama's statement only addressed the objections to the telecom immunity provisions of the bill, while ignoring the objections to the (at least) equally pernicious new warrantless eavesdropping powers the bill authorizes.
In his analysis he notes one outright falsehood:
But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility.
This is just false. The new FISA bill that Obama supports vests new categories of warrantless eavesdropping powers in the President (.pdf), and allows the Government, for the first time, to tap physically into U.S. telecommunications networks inside our country with no individual warrant requirement. To claim that this new bill creates "an independent monitor [to] watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people" is truly misleading, since the new FISA bill actually does the opposite -- it frees the Government from exactly that monitoring in all sorts of broad categories.
And he concludes his analysis with the following paragraph:
This statement has so many equivocations and vague claims as to be worthless. In a society that lives under the rule of law, government officials and corporations which break our laws are held accountable by courts of law, not by vague promises from politicians of some future "review" and "recommendation" process grounded in claims that we can trust the Leader to do the right thing, whatever he decides in his sole discretion and infinite wisdom that might be. That is no consolation for blocking courts from adjudicating whether laws were broken here, which is what the bill that Obama supports will do.
I do not believe Obama's statement will fool anyone who's been following this issue, other than those who want to be fooled. Greenwald's analysis is strengthened by the fact that most of Obama's obfuscations are not new. We have heard it all before, and were expecting him to speak out against this sort of bilge water. Instead he's giving it to us on tap, and saying, "Happy Independence Day!" without the slightest hint of irony.
I believe a letter from leading law school deans would be in order. But I'm rather afraid they may be reluctant to speak out, simply because Obama is not Bush.
Again, Greenwald's full text is here
[Update] TPM has a timeline of Obama's statements re FISA and Telco immunity here.