Friday, February 15, 2008


Will Congress cave in to Bush on the Protect America Act?

by Larry Geller

There seems to be a misunderstanding in the media about how the House voted not to extend the Protect America Act for another 21 days.

Although Bush and the media are excoriating the Democrats, all 195 Republicans who voted on the matter voted against it. So while the Senate has already capitulated to Bush and voted to grant retroactive immunity to the phone companies that cooperated with the government's illegal wiretapping program, the House has not yet done so. "Yet" is the operative word.

You can bet that the pressure is on even during the 12-day recess in an effort to pass something when Congress returns. It's too early to say that the House has stood up to Bush. We need to see what happens when they come back. Chances are that just as the House has caved in to everything else Bush has demanded, they will cave in to this as well.

Here's what they need to understand:


From an email sent from the ACLU to its members:

"Though many questions still remain unanswered about years of domestic spying, the Senate has effectively sealed the vault by handing over immunity to the phone companies," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the [ACLU] Washington Legislative Office. "The over forty legitimate lawsuits currently pending against them may end before they've begun. It's a fact that Americans had their rights violated and now, by closing the courtroom door, they may be left with no recourse."

Stopping the awful Senate bill -- which the House can do -- is vital to protecting your constitutional right to make a phone call, send an email or search the Internet without the government monitoring your activity.

Here is a MediaMatters article on the false reporting. It also explains why Republicans walked out of the House chamber, something apparently not covered in the mainstream media (according to the article).

Keith Olbermann on the House action

"You said that the lives of countless Americans depend on you getting your way. This is CRAP. And you sling it with an audacity and speed unrivaled by even the greatest political felons of our history."

A note on warrantless spying

It's easy to say that the issue of whether or not phone companies should be held accountable for illegally granting access to their customer's communications doesn't affect most of us. After all, it's not our emails that the government is looking at. Just the terrorists' emails, right?

Not so.

I'm not sure that many people realize that in order to spy on all those terrorists dumb enough to send emails from the USA to their overseas counterparts, it's necessary that the phone companies make all emails available to be read. Why? Well, how do you know where an email is going unless you read it? The  information in the header of the email determines the destination. As each server passes on the message, that information is read to determine how to handle it. The NSA has to read the email to see where it's going. So they need access to everything.

Same for phone calls and everything you did on the Internet. Check out the video above. There's a sequence about the whistleblower who set up the intercept on the AT&T circuits.

So the NSA knows what sites you have been visiting and may have read everything you said to granny in Hoboken.

If this isn't your idea of privacy, tell your Congressional reps about it.


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