It is apparently too convenient not to see a pattern that links the atrocities of war with the use of torture and the abrogation of civil liberties at home. In response to a Credo campaign, I have sent the following to Representative Steny Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (cc: Representative Mike Honda).
I’m writing you today to urge you to help ensure that the FISA legislation conference report does not include retroactive immunity and preserves the oversight mechanisms contained in the House RESTORE Act. Congress’s best chance to strip retroactive immunity is if members of the House stand strong and oppose Title II of the Senate bill during the conference with the Senate in coming days.
The Senate failed to pass a bill that protects the rule of law by including retroactive immunity. Big telecom companies partnered with the Bush administration by eavesdropping without warrant, in contravention to FISA. These companies knew the law and they broke it by invading Americans’ privacy without court order.
Granting broad, retroactive immunity would make it much harder for anyone to find out who in the Bush Administration gave the orders for these illegal acts. It would also be a tremendous strike against the rule of law.
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But most significantly, this (yet another) Senate capitulation sustains a pattern of congressional complicity with Bush administration criminality. This is the same administration that claims torture (excuse me, waterboarding) is indispensable in an endless and phony war on terror that diverts attention from our own culpability in atrocities, crimes against humanity, around the world. This is the same administration that considers the war in Iraq essential to national (for which, read, imperial) security. This is the same administration that seeks to expand the war to Iran (as if we had the forces), and manipulates data to support ideology.
In the 2006 elections, voters thought they elected a different congress, giving majorities to the Democrats in both houses. Yet having been elected explicitly to end our involvement in Iraq, Democrats have acquiesced to this administration on every vote that counts, on a range of issues from civil liberties to the war. This supports long-held suspicions that we have no true opposition party, that the United States is just as surely a one-party state as the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, and that we must examine socioeconomic status as a driver of policy rather than any democratic ideal of representation. Moreover, we must see authoritarianism as more compelling to our entire political establishment than any regard for human rights here or in the world.
I look forward to your response to my letter.
According to the New York Times:
House Democratic leaders tried to obtain a 21-day reprieve to allow more time to negotiate before the [broad spying powers temporarily approved by Congress in August] expire on Friday night. But the proposal was defeated in the face of opposition from liberals who are against the surveillance plan and conservatives who favor it.