Wednesday, January 23, 2008

FISA, Immunity, and Leadership

UPDATE: The ACLU has the poll numbers showing widespread support for this issue.

Yesterday I wrote about the phenomenon of faith, idolatry, and leadership.

And while stock market meltdowns dominated the news yesterday the battle over our civil liberties reared it's ugly head again.

Former Presidential Candidate Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut received, rightly, a great deal of praise for his courageous stand against retroactive immunity for the telecom industry during his all too short lived campaign:

He has taken a consistent and strong stand against the abuses of our rights by this administration.

Sen. Dodd showed the leadership that I have been looking for in a Presidential candidate.

Yesterday Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher led the way in calling for Sen. John Edwards to lead he other candidates to water.

Speaking of water... did you know that Sen. Dodd's stand against retroactive immunity led to over a half million dollars in contributions from you and your fellow Americans? Many of whom were new supporters and greatly expanded his contact list?

But I digress....

Following in Glenn and Jane's footsteps were Howie Klein, John Amato, Sadly, NO!, and Jason Rosenbaum.

The ACLU has all the information you'll ever need on the issue, the post-Watergate FISA law itself can be found here, and Working Assets CREDO Action (which has just hired Matt Browner Hamlin late of the Dodd campaign to help with the effort) has a petition calling on the Presidential aspirants to get back to Washington and defend the Constitution.

I've read the original FISA law. It was a well crafted piece of legislation that allowed the executive branch to engage in necessary investigation and espionage while providing oversight and protecting our civil liberties. It really does not require much by way of "fixing" in order to adjust to the "Post 9/11" world. All right wing cries of terror and pant-peeing fear not withstanding.

When did the right wing become such wimps anyhow?

But I digress again....

Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid are afraid of appearing weak, soft on terror. What passes for wisdom in Washington circles is that in order to appear strong and forceful they need to cave to pant-peeing Republicans and their all-time worst President.

Let me see if I've got this right...

Caving in and joining in on the pant-peeing terror is strong.

Standing your ground in defense of The Constitution is weak.

Fear is strong. Standing your ground is weak. Uh....

I don't know if Sen. Edwards is the right person to lead the way back to Washington to join Sen. Dodd (and Sen. Feingold I believe) in defending the Constitution or not. I think that whichever of the three Senators shows the courage it will apparently take to lead the way will be the right one. For me the logic is pretty simple.

If you want to be a leader... show leadership.

If you want to prove to me that you can lead the nation... lead the nation.

As New Yorkers preparing to vote on Feb. 5 in our first meaningful Presidential Primary in ages I think Sen. Clinton should show us how much she wants out vote by leading us where we want her to lead us. I think if Sen. Obama wants to show us why we should vote for him instead of our own Sen. Clinton then he should show us that by leading us where we want him to lead us.

It is up to us to lead our leaders into leadership.

Senator Obama's Senate web page and contact information.

Senator Clinton's Senate web page and contact information.

Senator Edwards Presidential web site and contact form.

Senator Obama's Presidential web site and contact info.

Senator Clinton's Pesidential web site and contact form.

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