A final gut of the Constitution

The United State Senate Wednesday gutted what little is left of the American Constitution, capitulating once again to the most unpopular President in history, giving him virtually unlimited powers to spy on Americans while shielding his co-conspirators — telecom companies — from prosecution.

Democrats and Republicans joined together in this overthrow of the American way of life, voting 69-28 to allow George W. Bush and his corrupt, despotic government, to pry into the private lives of Americans without oversight or consequences. Both of the presumptive major party Presidential nominees — Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain — sold out their country and voted for the destructive measure. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who lost to Obama in a hard-fought primary campaign, joined the few who voted to try and save what little is left of America.

An ecstatic Bush said he would sign the legislation immediately.

Approval of the measure came five days after America celebrated the Fourth of July, a holiday that is supposed to mark this country’s independence from tyranny. Perhaps July 9 will become a new milestone in history — the day that a shadow of a once-great nation died.

Reports The Associated Press:

Bowing to President Bush’s demands, the Senate approved and sent the White House a bill Wednesday to overhaul bitterly disputed rules on secret government eavesdropping and shield telecommunications companies from lawsuits complaining they helped the U.S. spy on Americans.

The relatively one-sided vote, 69-28, came only after a lengthy and heated debate that pitted privacy and civil liberties concerns against the desire to prevent terrorist attacks. It ended almost a year of wrangling in the Democratic-led Congress over surveillance rules and the president’s warrantless wiretapping program that was initiated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The House passed the same bill last month, and Bush said he would sign it soon.

Opponents assailed the eavesdropping program, asserting that it imperiled citizens’ rights of privacy from government intrusion. But Bush said the legislation protects those rights as well as Americans’ security.

"This bill will help our intelligence professionals learn who the terrorists are talking to, what they’re saying and what they’re planning," he said in a brief White House appearance after the Senate vote.

The bill is very much a political compromise, brought about by a deadline: Wiretapping orders authorized last year will begin to expire in August. Without a new bill, the government would go back to old FISA rules, requiring multiple new orders and potential delays to continue those intercepts. That is something most of Congress did not want to see happen, particularly in an election year.

The long fight on Capitol Hill centered on one main question: whether to protect from civil lawsuits any telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on American phone and computer lines without the permission or knowledge of a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The White House had threatened to veto the bill unless it immunized companies such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. against wiretapping lawsuits.

Forty-six lawsuits now stand to be dismissed because of the new law, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. All are pending before a single U.S. District Court in California. But the fight has not ended. Civil rights groups are already preparing lawsuits challenging the bill’s constitutionality, and four suits, filed against government officials, will not be dismissed.

Numerous lawmakers had spoken out strongly against the no-warrants eavesdropping on Americans, but the Senate voted its approval after rejecting amendments that would have watered down, delayed or stripped away the immunity provision.


  1. Carl Nemo

    Don’t panic pollchecker. Needless to say I’m po’d with Obama’s FISA vote, but my wife and I will vote for him. The reason being is that we are pragmatists and will take the path with the most theoretical, least resistive efficiency; ie., with some “hope” for change! If he lets us down then he gets to walk in four years; ie., if we are still viable as a nation.

    My hope meter is at about 3 with this guy, but zero with McSenile and maybe even a 5 with “Shillary”. He might as well have her as V.P. at this point in time since they seem to be joined at the hips politically speaking… : |

    I’ll give Hillary credit for being one of the 28 that voted against the FISA bill, but with her, it could have been a very calculated, politically expedient tactic.

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. km0591

    Control my emotions?

    Well, I have passions that go beyond exhalation of the sanctimonius wind that Doug so well excels in. I do not belong here. No need for “macho man” to “throw me out my butt,” his excess testosterone can be preserved for other purposes.


  3. woody188

    Do you think if set up pickets at the voting locations and prevented everyone from crossing our lines that maybe that would make a difference? I’m sure we would be arrested, but if we delayed polls opening and made enough people mad it might just make some waves. Especially if we were able to mobilize enough people to cover the majority of the polling stations, particularly those of the suburbs.

  4. Carl Nemo

    Obama the “shapeshifter” has become so repugnant to me that I hope for whatever obtuse reason he loses the nomination at the Democratic convention and it goes to Hillary…!

    Many people think Obama was to be our “El Cid”; ie., the savior, instead he’s going to be “El Dud”…!

    Most people don’t even realize Obama’s not even a bonafide U.S. citizen per the laws that govern the ascendancy to our highest office be occupied by the same, and the requirements for citizenship as a function of birth in his case.


    Possibly Hillary voted against the FISA rework with a plan in mind and if so then good for her because to me, Obama has become nothing but a “jive turkey”. He cannot be trusted to follow through with anything he’s promising at this point. : |

    I’d even acquiesce to 32 years of a Bush~Clinton dynasty than put up with this assclown who I suspect “will not” get us out of Iraq once elected. The alternative is “yikes”; ie., John McSenile as preznit…!

    Look what the Democratic Congress has done for us since 2006. Granted they do not have a wide margin of control of both houses, but as any skilled warrior knows; superior tactics can overcome superior forces on occasion. Dem tactics are wanting to say the least, in fact are non-existent.

    There are many things that the Dems could have done to monkeywrench the Bushistas, but no, they’ve rolled over like puppies waiting for their tummy scratching, giving them everything they’ve ever wanted during the past two years.

    Pelosi, Hoyer, and Reid might as well be “rethuglicans”…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. Doug Thompson

    KM0591 and Pollchecker:

    I have deleted your petty little game of one-upmanship. Such posts have no place here. Do not do it again.

    To everyone here who is having trouble controlling your emotions:

    You have three choices:

    1–Tone it down;


    3–Or I’ll throw you out on your butt.

    We have rules here. Everyone follows them. Those who don’t are history.


  6. pollchecker

    Better still is that I have worked way past the anger and the hopelessness that you feel. Been there, done that. I can understand and appreciate the sentiment.

    I am to the point of making a difference no matter how that plays out. It beats the hell out of sitting around being frustrated.

  7. ekaton

    I think the difference between you and me is that you still think the country can be saved. I promise, and I mean sincerely, to you and everyone else, I’ll try to keep my snarky cynical sarcastic remarks regarding the hopelessness, the lostness (? misunderestimatedness?) of the cause, that I feel to myself. If I can contribute something useful I’ll speak up.

    — Kent Shaw

  8. Pablo

    Voting for Bozo,
    as liberal as he is, is a waste of a vote. You might as well stay at home. Why wouldn’t you vote for a third party? The problem in this country as you stated is that we have only one party–why not do something constructive to develop a new, liberal party?

    Sure, voting for Bozo is funny, but unfortunately nobody will even take the time to even appreciate your humor. A complete waste of time and energy in my opinion.

    I urge you to reconsider.

  9. pollchecker

    I did not ever say Obama was going to help. I said very plainly that I would rather take back my country under the presidency of Obama rather than the military fascist state of McCain…now is that plain enough.

    Geez, you people read whatever you want into things.

    If you are a vietnam vet then you should have a clue what we are going to get under Bush/McCain. Do you think we would have stood a snowball’s chance in hell in making any difference in the 60’s if LBJ or Nixon had the same type tactics as Bush/McCain? I say not just no but hell no.

    You want to change the system talk to me on Nov 5, 2008 if we still have a country.

  10. km0591

    This is ridiculous. Obama is going help us “take back” America. I tell you what, Pollchecker, there is this prince in Nigeria that wants your assistance in depositing his check in an American bank. Being an optimist, I am sure you will lend him a hand.

    People are tired of being conned by political leadership, Republican and Democrat. The only thing an Obama presidency will do will be to put an upbeat, smiley Democratic face on the same old policies and garbage of the past 8 years. Just like the Democratic Congress has done since being elected in 2006, and now with only a 19% approval rating.

    We have one party in America, an establishment, corporate, military-industrial party with 2 branches, Democrat and Republican. Anyone who actually challenges the status quo, a Dennis Kucinich or a Ron Paul are quickly marginalized by the sanctimonious guardians and fascist toadies of the established order.

    I am a Vietnam vet who has been voting Democratic since 1972. I am through with being conned and I am not letting it happen again. Screw it! I am writing in Bozo the Clown in ’08.

  11. pollchecker

    “I’d rather be an optimist and be thought a fool, than be a pessimist and be right.”

    As I said to Grif in another post, I do not expect any politician to be the answer.

    As I said in another recent piece I wrote to take back America requires the people’s participation.

    Now do you think you stand a snowball’s chance in hell of taking back American under the gestapo type tactics that Bush and McCain both have clearly demonstrated they will use against us?

    Of the two, I will gamble on Obama. I understand that it is a crap shoot but at this point in the game I would be a fool to put my money on something else especially given the importance of this coming election.

  12. ekaton

    “You tilt at windmills? At least you comprehend your vote means nothing.”

    Just like yours.


    And these same policies will be carried forward by Barack Obama.

    Nice vote for warrantless spying on Americans, there, Barky! I wouldn’t expect you Barky or any other democratic candidate for president would be willing to give up any of the power Bush has usurped for the “unitary presidency.”

    Democrats keep on funding the illegal activities of the Republicans. Anyone who expects much of any kind of “change” with Barky in office is sadly deluded.

    — Kent Shaw

  13. TruthSeeker

    ACLU and EFF now poised for lawsuits:

    Per CQ Politics:
    The law would allow warrantless surveillance of foreign targets, even those communicating with people in the United States. Before that surveillance could begin, the secret FISA court would review the executive branch’s spying procedures. However, the administration could begin its surveillance before the FISA court review if it declared “exigent,” or urgent, circumstances.

    What’s more, all existing lawsuits against third parties that assisted Bush’s warrantless surveillance program would be waived if a federal district court rules there was “substantial evidence” they received written assurances the program was legal and authorized by the president. A Senate Intelligence Committee report on an earlier version of the legislation detailed how the companies had received those assurances.

    The dismissal of the lawsuits – which Bush has argued will ensure future private sector cooperation with government spying efforts – and enhanced authority to conduct spying were Bush’s top priorities for a rewrite of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill includes some concessions to Democrats, such as the prior court reviews of surveillance procedures and whether immunity was warranted.

    Civil liberties groups disagreed with Bush’s interpretation of the law, saying it violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and prevents justified court scrutiny of the president’s surveillance program. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation had both indicated they would challenge the new law in court as soon the bill is signed.

  14. pollchecker

    “I suppose I tilt at windmills”

    You tilt at windmills? At least you comprehend your vote means nothing….it will produce no result. Many people don’t get that.

    As an eternal optimist who still believes there is hope, I probably tilt at windmills more.

    I have never voted FOR a candidate (as in the person I initially supported) so why is this any different? I’ll tell you…


    I’m glad you have your integrity my friend but it is still the Reality we face. I hope the small comfort compensates for the major pain we face with the consequences of our actions.

  15. ekaton

    One does what one must. Because I literally feel that Obama is no better than McCain I cannot vote for either. I suppose I tilt at windmills, but at least I’ll have my integrity. Small comfort I suppose.

    Kent Shaw

  16. ekaton

    I’m definitely voting third party this year, as futile as it may be. But for the sake of fantasy, let’s say that either Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney were to win by a substantial margin. How would the powers that be, republicans and democrats and their owners, manage to deny the election to the obvious winner? How would they spin it? Sure would be fun to watch. Maybe they’d just have the winner murdered. That usually works pretty well.

    — Kent Shaw

  17. pollchecker

    Perhaps this will help clarify my thinking….

    In Tx at the last election for governor we had a GOP, a DEM and 2 independents. The winner was decided by who got the most votes…..not even a majority…just who got the most.

    Now the crazy neo-cons and their lobbyists buddies came out all of 33% for the winner and the other 67% split 3 ways.

    I repeat, this country cannot stand 4 more years of Bush/McCain policies.

    So you can advocate all you want for a 3rd party vote but in the end you will end up enabling those who would literally sell us off one piece at a time.

    For me there are bad choice and untolerable choices. I’m no champion for Obama, but I repeat, this country cannot stand 4 more years of Bush/McCain policies.

    Quite frankly a 3rd party has been tossed around for decades. It hasn’t flown in the past perhaps because there are too many complainers and not enough doers.

    Want a valid 3rd party? Talk to me on Nov 5 2008. Until then I am fighting for the life of this country and will not be distracted or dettered by people who don’t like their choices.

  18. Wayne K Dolik

    I think CHB readers are looking for solutions. I agree, it is a difficult path to righting the wrongs. But, do not ask me to be a cheerleader for either political party. Senator Obama broke my heart yesterday. He will see no more money from me. He has offended his base.

    Both political parties are fundamentally broke if you believe in the Constitution or in the rule of law. There is ample blame to go around. Either our system is completely corrupt or those leaders in Washington don’t have a clue. I would submit that our present leaders in the Congress and the Whitehouse have gone criminal.

    The evidence is clear that the Incumbents in both political parties must go. Those who voted against your freedoms and the Constitution must be voted out of office.

    Let’s throw the bums out! That is my solution.

  19. Pablo

    There is another choice:
    We all need to unite behind one of the third-party candidates, so we have some force and influence. Hopefully, obama’s betrayal of his country will force people to reevaluate their being backed into the corner once again and being forced to vote for the least-evil candidate-again.

    But people will have to quit feeling helpless and weak before this can happen. I, for one, am done with being backed into a corner and intimidated. I need to do some investigating of the third party candidates, but I’m certainly not voting republicrat again in this election!


  20. km0591

    This vote will be remembered as the last chance for our current system of government to begin the long process of change and correction to undo the damage of the last several years.

    That chance was missed.

    As far as Obama goes, there will be plenty of buyer’s remorse to go around now, particularly since Hillary showed backbone and voted against it. Those who make excuses for Obama’s “let’s all get along and work together” message need to understand that there are limits to that when it comes to fundamental, constitutional principles.

    So, we have a “choice” this election folks!

    Obama – a smart, slick talker without substance who will make pretty speeches to put a happy face on the status quo to salvage it.


    McCain – an old fool who will preserve the status quo but who is so brain dead and incompetent he will screw it up.

    So we choose Obama who is a better salesman to maintain the status quo rather than McCain who is likely to mess it all up?


  21. remoran

    “Never stop questioning.” Einstein

    I completely agree with what Doug says about the final gutting of the Constitution. We have jackals in congress who are the minions of the corporations and because of this, this once great nation is going down. Only a revolution can save us now as we slide slowly toward the abyss courtesy of the BA and Congress.

    The founding fathers are surely rolling in their graves.

    America, RIP

  22. remoran

    “Never stop questioning.” Einstein

    I completely agree with what Doug says about the final gutting of the Constitution. We have jackals in congress who are the minions of the corporations and because of this, this once great nation is going down. Only a revolution can save us now as we slide slowly toward the abyss courtesy of the BA and Congress.

    The founding fathers are surely rolling in their graves.

    America, RIP

  23. Janice

    Another sad day in the decline of the United States of America.

    Just because our government has been spying on us since th 1950’s, does not make it right. FISA had provisions for getting a warrant after the fact, but this administration – and our current congress – choose to ignore that little fact.

    Senator Klobuchar voted against the bill- as she should have, and Norm Coleman crawled out of Bush’s pocket long enough to vote for the bill. I hope the people of Minnesota have enough sense to give Norm Coleman a fast track out of Washington and put Al Franken in his place.

    As for Obama, I am deeply dissapointed. And, McCain is a coward for not voting – showing the typical bad character of the republican party.

    If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.
    Mark Twain

  24. TruthSeeker

    Pigeons for sale:

    Latest prices on Pigeons is $400 for 6 of them. Hurry now…quantities are….um….are flying away fast.