Killing the Fourth Amendment

Updated Below
From page 5 of the The FISA Amendment Act of 2008:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be promptly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the district court of the United States in which such action is pending that…the assistance alleged to have been provided by the electronic communication service provider was in connection with an intelligence activity involving communications that was authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007.

Or simply: The President is the law.

Congress will vote on this bill today after having approximately 24 hours to read and mull over its consequences

Glenn Greenwald will certainly have updates about this issue throughout the day, and I’ll try to update this post when I can. You can also learn more about this issue from my post yesterday.

For a succinct breakdown check out Olbermann’s coverage of the FISA amendment from last night:

Update I
Are the Democrats still worth supporting if they pass this travesty of a bill? Digby thinks so:

Democrats have certainly enabled [authoritarian Republicans] over the years and will likely continue to. They are politicians, after all, not comic book superheroes. But there should be no doubt to anyone who isn’t wrapped up in immature freshman dorm cynicism, that there is a distinct difference between those who believe in the concept of an imperial presidency and those who are simply weak and corrupt. They both undermine freedom, but the first is many orders of magnitude worse than the second.

Update II

Update III
Here are two interesting notes from Greenwald’s blog. First, the Democratic led Congress polls better among Republicans than it does among Democrats. That’s representation you can count on.

Second, there is this amazing quote from Senator Kit Bond defending the FISA bill this morning on NPR:

When the Government tells you to do something, I think you all recognize, uh, that that is something that you need to do.

Just soak that one in.

Update IV
Insightful words from Hilzoy:

Our President and his advisors believe three things which are wrong individually, but disastrous when combined. These are:
(1) The President can do whatever he wants during wartime, whether or not it violates the laws.
(2) It is always wartime, and the battlefield is everywhere, both at home and abroad.
(3) The President has the right to keep what he is doing completely secret. No one — not citizens, not Congress, not anyone — has the right to force him to reveal what he and others in the Executive are doing.

Update V
According to Greenwald, the House just passed the FISA/telecom amnesty bill 293-129.

Update VI
Here’s the roll call vote. Notable traitors include Speaker Pelosi, Hoyer and Emanuel. And the entire Republican caucus save for Ron Paul and Tim Johnson.

This concludes my bleating for the day. See you on Monday.

Update VII
Uh oh. I lied. This is really the last update: Obama is the Wanker of the Day.


  1. Ian

    It doesn’t say the President is the law. It says the CIA is, and the President can hop in that party too if he wants. Its more dangerous than just giving the President too much power.

  2. Chris

    I was oversimplifying, but what it says is that the telecommunications companies are not accountable for breaking the law if the Attorney General says they were acting under orders of the President.

  3. Ian

    Put down Greenwald’s Kool-aid. You know this bill is going to pass. Your money would be better spent on campaigns of those who would take the place of the people pushing this bill and who would have voted differently.

  4. Chris

    That’s essentially what this campaign is about.

  5. Ian

    That Hannity quote reminds me of something Colbert said: “America, The Great Satan, or the Greatest Satan?”