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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

Your OCWM dollars at work: More politics

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

UPDATE: SENATE PASSES FISA REAUTHORIZATION, 69-28, TELCOS OFF THE HOOK

The United Church of Christ's own in-house political action committee is spending your OCWM dollars campaigning against today's FISA reauthorization. From the Justice and Peace Action Network:
Today, the Senate takes up FISA reauthorization. The bill passed by the House and now under consideration in the Senate would legalize much of the wiretapping of the current administration over the past seven years, and would provide immunity from prosecution for telecommunications companies that have provided personal information on citizens to the government for the purpose of warrantless wiretapping. This is an opportunity to take a stand for checks and balances in government by supporting judicial review for governmental spying, and by supporting fair and equal treatment under the law by holding telecom companies accountable for their involvement in illegal wiretapping activities of our government.
What does this have to do with the United Church of Christ you ask? While you could make up a few a reasons, no rationalization is given on the web site. At least JPAnet is not trying to fool anyone - this is all about politics and has nothing to do with faith... and your contributions to OCWM make it possible.

The Washington Post editorial last week put the issue into perspective:
Reasonable people can differ on the issue of immunity, but the FISA debate hasn't been overpopulated by reasonable people. As a result, the immunity issue has assumed a significance in the legislative process that far exceeds its underlying importance. We understand the heartfelt arguments of those who believe that closing the courthouse door to Americans who claim the warrantless wiretapping invaded their privacy rights represents "an abandonment of the rule of law," as Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., said last month.

But the fact remains that no one can claim with certainty that his or her communications were monitored. The likelihood of prevailing — or even getting very far — with such lawsuits is low. The litigation seems aimed as much at using the tools of discovery to dislodge information about what the administration actually did as it is at redressing unknown injuries. The telecommunications companies complied with a government request after being assured, in writing, that the activities had been authorized by the president and deemed lawful by the attorney general. Punishing them by forcing them to endure the cost and hassle of lawsuits would be counterproductive to securing such cooperation in the future, while offering little prospect of a useful outcome.

More fundamentally, even if we are wrong and retroactive immunity is not warranted, that is the least — not the most — important aspect of the complex FISA debate. The more important concern is to ensure that there are adequate protections in place, including vigilant court oversight, to give intelligence agencies the flexibility they need to intercept international communications without infringing on the privacy rights of Americans.

On that score, Mr. Obama nailed it the other day when he explained his new position — "that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people." Mr. Obama said he would be "happy with a system" that "makes sure that we prevent violations of the American people's privacy even if the phone companies are held harmless. The issue was, 'Can we get to the bottom of what's been taking place?' and, most importantly, 'Do we have safeguards in place going into the future so that Americans' civil liberties are not being violated?'" Those are the right questions, and Mr. Obama gave the right answer.
posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, July 09, 2008

25 Comments:

James,

There is a very wide swath of Americans who are opposed to this legislation. Both conservatives, and liberals, value our constitutional protection regarding unwarranted searches.

I think there is little difference between this and the advocacy our church has done for civil rights, the environment, or etc. They are all movements powered by our common commitment to justice, fairness, and the rule of law. This is biblical and an essential expression of our religious faith.
commented by Blogger David, 2:26 PM  
Where does the web site explain the biblical application of this law?
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 2:47 PM  
Oh... and you are wrong about public opinion on this... which is why Obama and the other Senators are going to pass this legislation by overwhelming numbers.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 2:48 PM  
I'd like to see some stats about public opinion on this issue. I doubt very much that Americans who are informed about this action approve of it in large numbers. The largest group on Obama's website right now is the one opposing the FISA legislation. On the right, the entire Ron Paul movement is an expression of conservatives' frustration with the erosion of civil liberties.

Regarding the biblical application of this law on the website, I suggest that such a biblical basis is assumed (Micah 6:8 for example?). Our church has a long history opposing totalitarianism and recognize that erosion of civil liberties is the pathway towards tyranny.
commented by Blogger David, 2:53 PM  
Public opinion? Check out http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/the-platform/editorial-writers-notebooks/2008/07/fact-checking-todays-guest-editorial-about-surveillance/


Also, the only justice issue that would apply to Micah 6:8 is the one you would have to make up since there is no allegation that these wiretaps have been an injustice to anyone according to the Washington Post editorial.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 3:18 PM  
"Also, the only justice issue that would apply to Micah 6:8 is the one you would have to make up since there is no allegation that these wiretaps have been an injustice to anyone according to the Washington Post editorial."

How do we know that? Without proper oversight by the courts, and Congress, we can only assume that the administration is acting properly in this regard.

Also, the opinion polls you posted show an even split. I think most Americans are painfully ill-informed about this program and that is reflected in the polling data.
commented by Blogger David, 4:24 PM  
How do we know? Because no one has been prosecuted from information collected from a wire tap. There is no allegation of injustice.

This is a political fight, not a privacy fight... and the public gets it:

"57 percent majority of adults feel that U.S. law enforcement is using its expanded surveillance powers in a proper way"

"63 percent U.S. adults feel that the government’s anti-terrorist programs have taken only a little or none of their own personal privacy away."
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 4:37 PM  
"How do we know? Because no one has been prosecuted from information collected from a wire tap."

James, I think you know that even if there was a conviction, if it involved state secrets or national security, we may never hear of it.

Are you comfortable giving up the fourth amendment for the War on Terror?

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/07/09/fisa_vote/

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/35928prs20080709.html

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/fisa.html

http://blog.simplejustice.us/2008/07/08/the-politics-of-fisa-capitulation.aspx
commented by Blogger David, 6:20 PM  
If it involved state secrets, I'm not all that concerned about privacy - and neither should you (unless you work for the CIA). It's a completely false argument to oppose a violation that hasn't happened.

The 4th amendment is going to be just fine - the only threat is the one you (and others) are making up. I prefer to live in a world where a claimed injustice is a real event, not a theoretical one that hasn't hapened.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 8:40 PM  
"The 4th amendment is going to be just fine - the only threat is the one you (and others) are making up. I prefer to live in a world where a claimed injustice is a real event, not a theoretical one that hasn't hapened."

James,

Again, you have ZERO evidence for any of this. We have no way of knowing what violations are occurring. We don't know how many Americans have had their 4th amendment protections violated by this warrant-less wiretapping. We do know that every telecommunications company (except for Qwest) is participating along with companies such as Cisco (so as to read emails). It should be troubling to you that the law passed by Congress this week is clearly unconstitutional.
commented by Blogger David, 5:16 PM  
I have zero evidence that nothing has happened? Ummmmmm.... yes, that is correct. How do you prove that something hasn't happened? By the lack of ANY evidence that something has happened.

Really... think about your logic here.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 3:29 AM  
James,

Are you trying to be obtuse? You do understand the basic principles behind this. You have no way of knowing if any violations are occurring because we don't know what is happening and to whom. This wouldn't be so troubling if the administration wasn't also avoiding the FISA court which at least gives judicial review to subpoenas regarding issues of national security. As it exists now, private companies who are asked to spy by the administration may do so, without a subpoena from FISA, without any judicial overview, and immune to civil liability.
commented by Blogger David, 9:53 AM  
David:

You really didn't read up on the bill. From the Washington Post:

****
The new FISA bill clarifies the scope of government intelligence activities, depending on the type and origin of the communication, and provides greater latitude to use technology to track foreign terrorism suspects overseas. The new version continues to require warrants to target Americans in the United States, but no permission is needed to track foreign citizens who are located abroad -- regardless of whether the surveillance passes through U.S-based communication networks. If the overseas target is a U.S. citizen, a warrant would be required -- regardless of where and how the spying takes place.
****

All U.S. citizens are protected since a warrent is required for any surveillance. There is no violation of the 4th Amendment.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 10:24 AM  
"The new version continues to require warrants to target Americans in the United States, but no permission is needed to track foreign citizens who are located abroad -- regardless of whether the surveillance passes through U.S-based communication networks. If the overseas target is a U.S. citizen, a warrant would be required -- regardless of where and how the spying takes place. "

Yes, the bill continues to require warrants to spy on Americans using the FISA. This was the way it was setup up originally. The problem, however, is that the Bush Administration is wiretapping without these warrants. That is why we needed to have judicial overview, and the ability to sue for civil liability, to both uncover illegal wiretapping done by the administration, and prevent telecommunications companies from continuing to engage in this illegal activity.
commented by Blogger David, 7:31 PM  
David: This bill does not permit the Bush Administration to spy on Americans without a warrent - what part of that don't you understand?
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 3:32 PM  
James,

The illegal wiretapping program started in 2001 under the Bush Administration. This wiretapping did not follow the FISA rules and seek warrants from the court. The administration's legal counsel has claimed that the executive does not need to follow FISA as they are exercising a constitutionally given power during a time of war. Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 in response to the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr (which was also done without a warrant). Again Congress, with this new legislation, has reiterated that the executive must seek a warrant to wiretap American citizens in the investigation of matters of national security. What was crucially important however, was that the new legislation contain the provision to seek judicial review of the administration's actions -- which are in complete violation of the FISA Act. Unlike the previous FISA bill, we now have no judicial recourse to stop the administration from continuing to ignore FISA and wiretap without a warrant.

I am a professional legal researcher and work for a law school in California, and quite ironically, I met Judge Lambert today in Portland. He was the chief justice of the FISA court under Janet Reno. May I ask, what is your legal background?
commented by Blogger David, 10:41 PM  
Lambert=Lamberth
commented by Blogger David, 10:46 PM  
LOL - I could care less if you work in a library... your logic and interpretation is completely flawed.

The bi-partisan bill that was passed does not give the President the right to spy on Americans without going through the court - and that is a fact no matter how much disdain you have for the current administration.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 11:43 PM  
James,

Would you care to explain how my logic is flawed? Would you also like to explain how the warrant-less wiretapping done by the administration, beginning in 2001, is permitted under the FISA Act? I would love to hear your explanation.

The position of the administration is that they are not required to follow the procedures demanded by FISA because they have a constitutionally given right during times of war. The new bill simply reiterates the position that the administration must follow the FISA act. We will have to wait to hear from the courts regarding whether the president's actions are defensible or not. Unfortunately, given the new FISA bill, we will have very little judicial recourse to do so.

Also, I don't simply "work in a library". I have my MLIS and a JD and teach advanced legal research to law students and work on research projects for law faculty. I also don't have "disdain" for the administration. I would simply like the executive to follow the laws passed by Congress. I don't think that is unreasonable.
commented by Blogger David, 1:45 AM  
The topic of this post was the bi-partisan bill that was passed by the Senate by a wide margin. You are claiming an injustice but haven't proved any injustice - and then you use a circular argument that you can't prove an injustice because the administration isn't following the law. That is not logical. As the Washingon Post points out "the new version continues to require warrants to target Americans in the United States" - there is no violation of the 4th amendment.

As far as your credentials and education go - they are about as useful to you as piano lessons were for me. If you think there is a violation of the constitution taking place, then by all means use your skills, education and logic and use the court system to seek justice.

As far as this thread goes, you haven't made a single valid point whatsoever and you have not claimed a single injustice by the the government surveillance program. You have no argument here and there is no justice issue that concerns our church. If you raise an actual justice issue (i.e. a REAL claim of injustice from a REAL person), I'll be glad to respond... otherwise, I'm done.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 3:14 AM  
James,

I'm trying to be as polite as possible. You are simply not understanding the basic principles involved here. The president IS ignoring the FISA Act and IS spying without warrants. We know this. It isn't debatable, it is public knowledge since 2001. Now the president argues that he can ignore FISA during a time of war -- but our courts have not yet made any decision whether the executive has this power or not. Congress, however, has now passed the FISA Bill twice with both versions requiring warrants to spy on both foreign nationals and American citizens. What was critically important with the new FISA bill was that there was a provision to sue for civil liability against the telecom companies that are cooperating with the administration by spying, without warrants.

And regarding your request for a "REAL claim of injustice from a REAL person" I have stated now repeatedly that those who are being spied upon have no idea they are. And even worse, those (such as telecom companies, librarians, etc.) that receive National Security Letters are bound by a gag order from discussing them.

Your position is that the executive should be able to ignore legislation passed by Congress, spy on Americans without a warrant, immunize telecom companies that participate, force those who are involved into silence, and simply trust that the government is doing the right thing.

And regarding my "credentials and education" I assure you that I am doing everything I can to "seek justice". I am involved in the ACLU which is filing suit against the government. The law students I help educate, and law faculty I assist, are working to reverse this erosion of our civil liberties.

How's your piano career? ;)
commented by Blogger David, 12:36 PM  
"And regarding my "credentials and education" I assure you that I am doing everything I can to "seek justice". I am involved in the ACLU which is filing suit against the government. The law students I help educate, and law faculty I assist, are working to reverse this erosion of our civil liberties."

Now this scares me. The ACLU is no friend of the United States of America. That is why I support the ADF. http://www.alliancedefensefund.org
which are winning in courts AGAINST the ACLU.

This explains your ignorant and stubborn postings to date. Get the blinders off, please.

My nephew is studying to be a lawyer, and he is well aware of your types. He will be following the constitution, as written and not what the ACLU deems appropriate and political to their anti-American needs. We do not need an organization that is anti-Christian, socialist and anti-American dismantling the Bill of Rights. Shame on you. Shame, Shame, Shame.
commented by Blogger JESS, 9:41 PM  
Jess,

I too hope the courts read our constitution as written. In doing so, they will invalidate this recent legislation and put a stop to the warrant-less wiretapping done by the executive by forcing them to follow the FISA Act.

Regarding the ADF, it has not been a good year for that organization. They lost the marriage case in California, and their allies lost on the issue of habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees. What cases are your referring to that they "won" against the ACLU? I find it ironic that conservatives are becoming increasingly unhappy with the court, even after the administration has shifted the balance to the right. Apparently conservative jurists do not share your ideological perspective.
commented by Blogger David, 1:42 PM  
“I too hope the courts read our constitution as written.”

Come on, David. If they courts did that, you would lose your agenda on national security, abortion, homosexual “marriage”, etc. The fact is, you want activist courts populated with activist judges who see themselves as above any duty to “interpret” the constitution. You need judges like that because you know as well as I do that neither the founders nor the majority of the population from the time of the founding of our country ever supported the proposition that states can’t outlaw abortion or criminalize homosexual sodomy, or that enemy combatants would have access to the Federal Courts. Let me make sure I understand this: for the first roughly 200 years of the Republic, the Supreme Court says that the Constitution permits states to prohibit abortion and homosexual sodomy, and suddenly they now say they can’t? Did the Constitution change? No. What changed is that arrogant judges lacking a commitment to their constitutional duty decided that they were going to impose their views. I think you at least need to be honest about the fact that you are NOT interested in having the constitution interpreted as written.

With respect to ADF, they didn’t “lose” the California case, 4 judges of the CA Supreme Court decided to ignore the CA Constitution and impose their will (overruling the will of the CA people). So I would say the CA courts broke the rules of the game. Unfortunately, that is the only way your side wins, and it builds a great deal of resentment from those of us committed to democratic principles. By the way, ADF won yesterday in that the CA Supreme Court ignored the challenge YOU (ACLU) filed to try to keep Californians from voting to stop homosexual “marriage.” So who is more committed to democracy: the ACLU who tries to keep Californians from voting to overturn the erroneous CA Supreme Court decision, or the ADF, who fights to allow Californians to at least have the right to vote. By the way, ADF has won defending marriage in over 30 states in this country, and has only “lost” in two places, CA and MA, where again, the judges of the Supreme Court refused to follow the constitution. ADF also defended MA citizens’ rights to vote to overturn that decision. Where was the ACLU on that one? I think I know. The ACLU is the enemy of true democracy in America, and Americans are figuring it out. You can’t hide behind your clever name forever. By the way, what “American” civil liberties are you defending when you are defending the rights of enemy combatants to have access to Federal Court? You might need to change your name to actually reflect what you do. Maybe TCLU (terrorist civil liberties union)?

Here’s the link to the recent ADF victory for democracy in CA: http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=4611

You said earlier “I think there is little difference between this and the advocacy our church has done for civil rights, the environment, or etc. They are all movements powered by our common commitment to justice, fairness, and the rule of law. This is biblical and an essential expression of our religious faith.” I think your commitment is to your agenda, rather than to “justice, fairness, and the rule of law.” If you were committed to those three things, you (and the ACLU) would be behind justice for the unborn, fairness in terms of respecting the outcomes the democratic process delivers (like, for example, marriage as only between one man and one woman as CA citizens voted in 2000, and fairness in allowing CA citizens to overturn a deviant CA Supreme Court decision at the ballot box), and the rule of law in terms of requiring judges to actually interpret the constitutions of both CA and the US, rather than making it up to suit their personal agendas.

By the way, do you work for a private university or public? Do you teach any substantive law classes, or just legal research and writing?
commented by Blogger JESS, 1:37 PM  
"Come on, David. If they courts did that, you would lose your agenda on national security, abortion, homosexual “marriage”, etc."

That's hilarious. We haven't had a "liberal" Supreme Court in over a generation so all of those issues to which you object were given to us by conservative jurists. Even now, with the court further leaning to the right they have still come out in favor of civil liberties. They have recently given terrorist detainees the right to a trial and habeas corpus and have ruled against the death penalty for crimes other than murder. The California Supreme Court, as you know, is dominated by Republican appointees, and yet they found that our state constitution does include a fundamental right to marry (based on Perez v. Sharp) and equal protection.

The interpretation of the Constitution is obviously not static. Our society has changed tremendously over the intervening 250 years. We no longer permit slavery, allow women to vote, and not longer ascribe to "separate but equal".

Regarding ballot initiatives, I think you may be confused about how a constitutional republic works. Voters are not permitted to rescind the constitutional rights of any group. Voters cannot rescind the court's decision in Perez v. Sharp (or Loving v. Virginia) which ended bans on inter-racial marriages.

"By the way, ADF has won defending marriage in over 30 states in this country, and has only “lost” in two places, CA and MA, where again, the judges of the Supreme Court refused to follow the constitution."

Again, that's wrong on a number of levels. The US Supreme Court has not taken up the issue of marriage since it ruled in Lawrence v. Texas. A number of legal scholars have written how difficult it will be for the court to not rule in favor of marriage equality given the precedent they have set. Once they do rule in favor of marriage equality, those state constitutional amendments will be void.
commented by Blogger David, 2:15 PM  

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