FISA Debate: Not So Much a Debate as a Death March for the Fourth Amendment

Depressing, I know, but it's the truth. Get ready to lose all faith in government. Maybe an overstatement. Maybe not. To get our official line on this bill, read our letter to the House.

Watching the debate on the floor has given a few memorable moments. Some infuriating, some hysterical, some make me want to kiss Barbara Lee. Here's a wrap up of my favorite and least favorite moments.

  • Lame Duck Heather Wilson (R-NM) did her usual spiel and claimed that, after the New York Times revealed the NSA program, Congress conducted "extensive oversight." All due respect, Ms. Wilson, but it really didn't.
  • A few notes for Darrell "Viper On!" Issa:
    1. You are wrong. "Both sides" have NOT been working on this. The White House and those seeking to appease it have been working on it. Everyone else has been shut out.
    2. A "no" vote is a "play to special interests"? How interesting you bring up special interests… *cough*telecomlobby*cough*. "Hello pot" "Oh, hey, kettle"
  • Barbara Lee perhaps said the best thing I've heard throughout this debate: "This bill scares me to death and I urge a no vote!" Amen, Barbara. Amen.
  • Pelosi made her Oscar acceptance speech, handing out thank yous and faux-compromise spin. (P.S. if the Protect America Act was so "unacceptable" why did you schedule it for a vote?) Someone should send her today's San Francisco Chronicle editorial, no? She's not asking anyone to vote for this bill? Strong leadership.

By the way, President Bush made a few comments on the bill today saying that it "ensures" telecoms will be shielded from courts. Neat. I love that he and Congressman Blunt and Senator Bond aren't even attempting to pretend this is a compromise. I guess that's the Democrats' job?

Hoyer's making his Oscar acceptance speech now. He'd like to thank the Academy, the telecom lobbyists, and the White House. As he says, in the legislative process "no one gets everything they want." Especially the Constitution, Steny.

Vote will be coming up shortly. Start drinking now.

Oh god. It's over. 293 – 129. Continue drinking until next week's Senate vote…

Add a comment (10)
Read the Terms of Use

Voter From Wash...

For the first time, I'm going to find out how each of my state 'representatives' voted on this. I will be voting to replace every one of them that approved this bill.


What the heck? What is WRONG with all those Democrats that voted to approve this bill?

Jim from Milwaukee

To retroactively change the law in order to protect the phone companies and especially the President is so obviously wrong.... Not only does it excuse clear criminal behavour, it even encourages it. Checks and balances have no meaning any more when the executive branch is able to convince the legislative branch to change laws retroactively. What "King" George did was an impeachable offense....


I e-mailed my representatives and senators + steney hoyer. This is an affront to all americans, and makes the role of the judiciary meaningless. There is no accountability or protections. This congress is contemptuous of our Laws, the Constitution and the people of this nation.


I'm hoping that one of the Senators who really oppose this will stand up and initiate a filibuster.

Rolf from Santa Rosa

Is the ACLU gone to sleep? Otherwise you would have started a fierce campaign against this government spying which affects us all.


At this point it does seem rather hopeless; the Bill of Rights can be gutted and there is nothing the citizenry can do about it. The corporate interests can always provide far more extensive financial support than anything concerned citizens can put together, so why listen? On May 24 Glenn Greenwald pointed out that the telecoms provided 13 Million dollars in lobbying, how can a few hundred thousand compete with that? On June 9 & 18 Greenwald pointed out that Comcast was refusing to air the ads which were critical of the telecom immunity. When the ACLU & the right leaning Cato Foundation both agree something is UnConstitutional, the govt ought to be made to listen.

Hawaiian style

Who gave the Congress the right to pick and choose what laws it will enforce, follow or defend?

Who gave Congress the right to say its OK to break this las to get what we think is more valuable?

Who said, "I will protect and defend the Constitution..." when they were sworn into office?




Brian Warren

I hope that current plaintiffs and ACLU will argue not only 4th Amendment violations, but that retroactive dismissal of pending lawsuits is a violation of the Ex Post Facto clause. How can you summarily dismiss a cause of action that was legal before a new law was passed ?
Federal District Judges would seem to face certain appeals if they dismiss these lawsuits.
It's not over yet. I don't think telecoms should get to comfortable.

John Morrow

Mayor Mulder & Sgt Penna,

Today ( 2/26/09) in quiet Arlington Heights I was shocked to see a police officer stop a young man on foot and search him – even making him take off his shoes and sox.

I ended up riding the 690 bus with that man and asked him… why did you get searched. He did not know!

I called the non emergency number. The desk sergeant said that they started doing that based on a supreme court ruling. I had SAID I THOUGHT IT WAS QUITE DEMEANING and against the protections of the fourth amendment. He put me on hold and checked with the police report (4pm near Rt. 14 @ Minor) It came back that the officer was searching… based on a suspicious person call. The young man did not look or act suspicious. He had a beard and was carrying a backpack. Somehow the officer said the person (I assume the bus rider) was a heroin addict. Also he said a person on probation had no rights to protection under the 4th amendment.

I am not sure of the actual basis for what the officer said, but somehow, it appears they are going too far and are violating the 4th Amendment. I am concerned for the loss of my own protections under the Constitution.

John Morrow

Stay Informed