Posted by Rojas @ 9:14 pm on June 20th 2008

Obama caves in

There is no point in sugar-coating it. By endorsing the utterly shameless “compromise” on FISA, Barack Obama has personally ratified the single greatest infringement of American civil liberties since the Patriot Act. And he has demonstrated, contrary to Brad’s assertion below, that there is a constituency for telecom immunity: Barack Obama.

Greg Sargent puts it best:

To be clear, I’m not even talking about whether opposing this would or wouldn’t have carried political peril. It really doesn’t matter. Because if there were ever anything that would have tested his operating premise throughout this campaign — that you can win arguments with Republicans about national security — it was this legislation. If ever there were anything that deserved to test this premise, it was this legislation.

And this time, he abandoned that premise.

For the voter primarily concerned with civil liberties, there can now be only one option: Bob Barr.

BONUS: Greenwald is in rare form this week. Here he reports on Obama’s personal intervention to protect a pro-telecom amnesty Democratic incumbent from an anti-amnesty primary challenger.


  1. Blech. How deeply disappointing.

    Comment by Talarohk — 6/20/2008 @ 10:39 pm

  2. I actually don’t think that Obama could win an argument with the Republicans on National Security on this issue. I think that he can afford to lose the National Security argument on this by voting against the bill — it looks like it’ll go through regardless — but I don’t think that it’s the marquee issue for him where he gets to act tough whilst bucking the GOP line.

    So while I think he’ll vote against it (although I’m not certain), I don’t think that he’ll lose a lot of votes over it; he’ll probably lose some enthusiasm from the netroots, but to be honest, a little less of their enthusiasm might not be a terrible thing.

    Obama really must be somewhat peeved with Hoyer for negotiating this and shepherding it through the House.

    Comment by Adam — 6/20/2008 @ 10:44 pm

  3. People need to wake up to the reality that the law doesn’t matter in the US any more. Our government and now the business that support that government are above it, plain and simple. We are no longer a nation of laws. The President, his Cabinet and administration, and the business community are not beholden any longer.

    Congratulations, Mr. Bush. You’ve accomplished one of Al-Qaeda’s secondary goals, the destruction of the United States of America.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/21/2008 @ 12:19 am

  4. This part from the first link in the post:

    So basically, one day in the near future, we’re all going to learn that one of our federal courts dismissed all of the lawsuits against the telecoms. But we’re never going to be able to know why the lawsuits were dismissed or what documents were given by the Government to force the court to dismiss the lawsuits. Not only won’t we, the public, know that, neither will the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Nobody will know except the Judge and the Government because it will all be shrouded in compelled secrecy, and the Judge will be barred by this law from describing or even referencing the grounds for dismissal in any way. Freedom is on the march.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/21/2008 @ 12:25 am

  5. You can be assured this is all President Bush’s fault. He owns Congress after all, as dumb as he is.


    Comment by James — 6/21/2008 @ 12:44 am

  6. Can you hear me now?

    Comment by James — 6/21/2008 @ 12:46 am

  7. First, this should remove any concern that Obama will be a “radical.” He will not.

    He is a go along kind of guy, more or less, who is just going to stay one step to the left of his opponent. I am still going to vote for him, but if i change my mind it will be because he is too weak for change, not too strong.

    Second, the democratic calculus seems to be that Republicans are going to get blamed for this law anyway (which is true), and therefore let’s take the lobbyist money and vote to help the Republican’s go off the cliff with more velocity.

    You would think they would “do the right thing,” but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

    I mean, I called my Democratic senator to complain and I could just hear the “what are you going to do about it, vote Republican?” on the other end of the line.

    Comment by daveg — 6/21/2008 @ 1:47 am

  8. He certainly won’t be a radical in favor of civil liberties.

    Whether the same calculus applies in other policy areas remains to be seen. He is already SEVERAL steps left of his opponent on social spending.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/21/2008 @ 1:57 am

  9. What’s your point, James, about congress? Those fools are constitutionally corrupt and entirely failed to fulfill their oaths of office. But regardless, the President has set unprecedented precedent in his criminality, from torture to domestic abuses. There really isn’t any way to deny this, but plenty of unAmericans seek to justify it or deflect this truth.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/21/2008 @ 7:12 am

  10. Unprecedented? Please.

    Comment by James — 6/21/2008 @ 11:47 am

  11. I just wanted to say unprecedented precedent, but my point is valid. From signing statements to domestic spying on US citizens to habeas corpus to indefinite detention to torture to opacity in government… I’m young enough to only have lived under 6 presidents and only been aware of 2, so maybe there’s been Presidents that have done more to set negative precedents. Inform me.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/21/2008 @ 11:09 pm

  12. The big Habeas Corpus suspension was under Lincoln, but I would think that Roosevelt (who I assume was president when all those Japanese-Americans were interned and tried to stack the Supreme Court by expanding the number of Justices, as I recall) was the most recent example of someone that did a lot of Bad Stuff. Well, other than Nixon, who was pretty naughty, too.

    Comment by Adam — 6/22/2008 @ 8:49 pm

  13. The Civil War and WWII are a completely different set of circumstances to the extended military campaign cum police action, the “war” on fear.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/23/2008 @ 3:26 am

  14. The Civil War and WWII are a completely different set of circumstances to the extended military campaign cum police action, the “war” on fear.

    Every situation is describable as ‘different circumstances’. Your point is presumably not that, but that you think that it was justified in those cases, or at least less unjustified (good luck with justifying, or de-unjustifying, the internment of Americans of Japanese extraction, though).

    As for other over-reaches, it wasn’t so much an Executive issue at all so much as it was a Legislature issue, but McCarthyism was pretty bad (significantly worse, I should say, in terms of rampant paranoid witch-hunting and unconstitutional action, than that going on today).

    Comment by Adam — 6/23/2008 @ 11:40 am

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