October 22, 2010
By: Thomas Nephew
On September 24th, 2010, the FBI raided anti-war and solidarity activists in Chicago (two homes) and Minneapolis (five homes and the office of the Anti-War Committee). During the raids, the FBI took computers, cell phones, documents and personal family items. In total, 14 activists in Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan were subpoenaed to appear before a Grand Jury. They have subsequently refused to appear.
“Get FISA Right” activists recently decided to add the organization’s name to a petition protesting these raids. Now there’s a chance to learn more about them, and lend support to activists opposing such infringements of First and Fourth Amendment rights.
On November 6, civil liberties activists and experts will gather from 1-4 pm the Friends Meeting House in Washington, DC (2011 Florida Ave., NW) to examine the FBI raids and other attacks on activists, our legal rights, and how our community can respond. Admission is free, the event is open to everyone.
The event program and other details are below the fold.
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October 10, 2010
Russ Feingold faced Ron Johnson in a televised debate Friday night –and took advantage of it. I transcribed some of their exchanges and have posted them online. Some highlights (or lowlights in Johnson’s case):
- Responding to a question about the Tea Party, Johnson claimed “Senator Feingold’s record has been pretty clear: he wants government control over lives, he wanted a single payer government run health care system, he has voted for higher taxes…” That gave Russ Feingold the chance to respond:
I’ve been waiting for a chance to talk to the Tea Party people about where we agree and where Mr. Johnson disagrees. The people in the Tea Party really value the Constitution. I think they probably read the Constitution before they were 55 years old which Mr. Johnson admitted, he just read it this year. And even though he made some comments originally about how the PATRIOT Act maybe had some problems he fell into line with the Republican view and he says he’s for the PATRIOT Act. I was the only Senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act because it invaded personal freedom, and the Tea Party people agree with me on that.
- Johnson’s concern for freedom seemed to only extend as far as his wallet. Freedom of speech? Not so much:
I’m also somewhat optimistic from the standpoint that we have General David Petraeus, I think probably the finest general we have operating the Army today. And by the way it’s, you know, a general that Senator Feingold refused to vote for the resolution condemning Moveon.org that placed the ad in the New York Times calling it General “Betray Us.” I thought that was pretty shameful.
- On checks, balances, and separation of powers, Johnson tried to deny that he would simply duck all debate once a war was on. But his explanation of what he would do instead sounded like he didn’t understand members of Congress have actual powers they’re supposed to wield:
I wouldn’t do what Senator Feingold did, is try and float a resolution to cut off funding while our troops are in battle in Iraq. If I had a real problem with the war, what I would do is I would talk with my fellow Congress people, I would talk with the administration until I developed a consensus so we could obtain a majority and then go to the American people and say listen, we need to reverse course here, but we want to do it as a unified country. I would never play politics with war.
- Feingold was able to respond to that in the course of answering another question, about whether the U.S. was doing the right things to prevent another 9/11:
The fact is the president is doing the best job he can but we are not focusing and have not been focusing since 9/11 on the real issue. The real issue is Al Qaeda is an international syndicate that operates in many countries. We should not be invading country after country and getting stuck there, when the real plan is to work with other nations — and almost every nation in the world wants to get these guys — to find them, and destroy them. That is absolutely essential and we have to have a global vision of this.
And you’re not going to that global vision, Ron, by just talking privately to Congressmen. You’ve got to talk to other people, you’ve got to talk to experts, you’ve got to talk to constituents. The people of Wisconsin actually have something to offer you and me about their views about what we should do to protect our country.
Herewith a confession: I don’t agree with Senator Feingold about everything. For example, while I know my side has lost the argument by now, I don’t consider gun ownership to be an individual right, or they wouldn’t have put all that stuff about “well regulated militia” up front in the Second Amendment. I also disagree that “all options have to be on the table” to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
But I think Feingold is right a lot more often than he’s wrong. Feingold would of course never be a lockstep Republican the way Johnson surely would. But when I think about the PATRIOT Act, Iraq, TARP, Afghanistan, and FISA, to name a few, I like that Feingold’s no lockstep Democrat either. Support Russ Feingold now!
May 30, 2009
FISA’s been a major topic since the 90s at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference, and this year’s no exception. For the first time ever, we’ll be streaming video, and so the great content will be available whether or not you’re making the trek to Washington DC … and the Twitter backchannel will give a way to participate in the discussion as well.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the sessions that are likely to be of interest to Get FISA Right members — and anybody else interested in domestic surveillance, warrantless wiretapping, and a panoptic society. All will be streamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cfp09, and videos will also be available for later viewing.
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April 1, 2009
Thanks everybody who voted for and tweeted about our Ask the President question:
Before you were elected, you committed to having your attorney general review domestic surveillance policy. What are your plans and timeframe to get FISA right?
We wound up with 268 yes votes, 16 no for +252 net and an astonishing 94% approval rating. Depending on how you look at it, we finished #7 (in terms of net votes) or #1 (in terms of approval rating). Bob Fertik’s special prosecutor question was at 1020 yes, 371 no, 73% approval, and finished #3 in net votes at +640. Congratulations all!
Of course Ask the President was just a vehicle. Our goals were getting more coverage of FISA and domestic wiretapping issues, and resuming our dialog with President Obama.
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March 5, 2009
In a comment on What does it mean to “get FISA right”?, Ben Masel wrote:
I caught up with Senator Feingold last Sunday, at his Birthday Party/Re-election fundraiser.
He’s going to give the Administration “a few more weeks” to come up with a bill to roll back the FISA amendments, introduce his own bill if they don’t.
One more reason why Get FISA Right ♡ Senator Feingold!
So now’s a very good time to think about activism related to whatever legislation gets introduced: a “50-state strategy” of feedback to all the Senators and Representatives from their consituents — including in-person meetings and cable TV advertising — as well as pressure on President Obama and his administration. Continuing the discussions on What does it mean to “get FISA right”? is a key part of it; it’s a chance for us to take the initiative. So please check out that thread and contribute your opinions.
More details as we get them. Other thoughts on how we should proceed?