Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Boyda's FISA Op-Ed: "Wiretap program needs oversight"

This appeared in full in this weekend's issue of the Ottawa Herald. We'd like to give it all to our readers as well.

Wiretap program needs oversight

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda,
Community Viewpoint

When America’s political debate breaks down into slogans and shouting matches, our whole country suffers. Just look at the broken debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

If you listen to the heated rhetoric, you might believe that keeping America safe requires shredding our constitutional system of checks and balances. Nothing could be further from the truth.

FISA is a critical 1978 law that authorizes the United States government to wiretap suspected criminals and terrorists residing overseas. Since FISA was enacted three decades ago, the communications tools used by terrorists have evolved dramatically, so Congress is now considering proposals to update FISA to meet modern-day security needs.

One FISA proposal, which I emphatically support, tells the executive branch, “Go wiretap the terrorists. Keep America safe. Then, within 14 days, tell a court what you’re doing and get their approval. Wiretap first, get permission later.”

To my mind, “wiretap first, get permission later” makes perfect sense. It gives the executive branch the power it needs to fight terrorism, and at the same time, it preserves the checks and balances our Constitution guarantees. It ensures that the U.S. intelligence community has every tool it needs to fight terrorists. And, by providing judicial oversight, it ensures the privacy of Americans who travel overseas for business or pleasure. It is simply wrong to wiretap Americans without a warrant.

Very unfortunately, the president has drawn a line in the sand. He has sworn to veto any FISA bill that includes court oversight. Instead, he wants the executive branch to oversee itself; he wants all FISA programs to fall under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.

That is a flagrant violation of checks and balances, and what’s more, it won’t help America fight terrorism more effectively. The FISA court is extremely generous with its warrants. Through 2004, the court had granted 18,761 wiretap requests. It had rejected only five.

So why isn’t this an open-and-shut discussion? Why doesn’t Congress just tell the White House to read the Constitution? Most importantly, why would any member of Congress willingly shred the protections promised by our Founding Fathers?

Because some folks in Washington are terrified of 30-second attack ads saying they’re “soft on terror.” In the face of that communications nightmare, some politicians lose their nerve. They trade our national values for a better shot at re-election.

And that’s what’s so scary. Soundbyte politics works. And it will keep working unless we demand better.

Please know that, as your representative in Congress, I will vote for a strong FISA bill that protects America while preserving our historic system of checks and balances.

Defending America is our nation’s number one priority. There’s just no reason to throw out the Constitution to do it.
Tie this together with everyone that has already been said on this blog over the last week. The base ideas in the bill aren't bad...but the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Congress want to violate our civil rights. Courts must maintain their oversight role, and blanket retroactive immunity must not be given- ever.

What does this all come down to? We know we aren't less after, we know the Republicans and the President are trying to scare people into action again. And we know brave members of the House like Nancy Boyda are standing up to it this time.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

You'd think that the republicans in Washington would see that they're on the wrong side of this issue, but apparently they're still loyal to Mr. 28%. That's fine by me, because their stance on this issue helps to solidify the Democratic majority in the House and Senate as well as elect a Democratic president. Keep up the idiotic work, nimrods!

Anonymous said...

this is bullshit...and this woman is making us all less safe.

i don't even know how she can sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

If we were really going to be any less safe, then why did the President threaten to veto any FISA bill that didn't include amnesty for telcoms? Are you telling me that the President is really willing to risk American lives to protect phone companies from having to defend themselves in lawsuits?

Of course he's not! No one is less safe, the government has all the tools it needs to monitor terrorist communications. I applaud Congress for protecting the American people from warrantless government surveillance.

Its attitudes like yours that help the terrorists change our way of life. I don't know how YOU can sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

I have your phones tapped. I also have you under 24 hour surveillance. I can see you right now. Put some pants on for goodness sake.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for you, Anonymous #4. I feel much safer knowing you're out there.

Anonymous said...

Good going #2 err COWARD #2 yup your lil bush has made us all less safe, remember how the "decider" sat in that class room in florida for a PHOT O OP will we were under attack. yup I feel safer all the time

Anonymous said...

Thank you Congreswoman Boyda. I don't live in your area, but you and others in congress who have the courage to stand up to these representitives who have chosen party over country are to be commended! You are helping ALL Americans to keep our rights.

When someone takes the office of Congress or even as President, they swear to uphold THE CONSTITUTION, from attacks foreign AND domestic!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

@anonymous #2 - This is the land of the free, home of the brave. Not land of the presumed guilty and home of the bedwetter. Grow some ballz.

Anonymous said...

fantastic message. clear, concise, and best of all, factually correct, unlike the accusations of your opponents.

Can all other Democrats learn this by heart? We need to be strong so that our representatives, congressional D's will be strong for us. No immunity for telecoms, ever. Fantastic sound bite.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. Thank goodness for the little rays of sunshine Kansas produces now and again. Yes, we do have intelligent, mindful people who live here. Really!

B Smith said...

Good Job Congresswomen Boyda. As a Kansan, I applaud your stance and give them Hell. All of us Democrats in Kansas support you, and with your guts and sweet, we will dominate in 2008.

Michael McChesney said...

I must respectfully disagree with Congresswoman Boyda. FISA doess NOT “authorizes the United States government to wiretap suspected criminals and terrorists residing overseas.” FISA authorizes surveillance of foreign spies and terrorists residing INSIDE the United States. Surveillance taking place outside the U.S. was specifically exempted from FISA. However, a FISA court ruled, wrongly in my opinion, that any communication passing through the United States (such as through a computer server located physically in the U.S.) is subject to FISA even if all parties to the communication are located overseas.

The Senate bill was passed overwhelmingly in bipartisan fashion. Our intelligence agencies should not be subject to a probable cause standard when spying overseas. While unrestricted domestic wiretapping would be a severe infringement of our civil liberties; that is not the case here. Let the NSA and CIA tap every phone or computer in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan if it helps protect our troops or helps us prevent another terrorist attack.

Hilário Godinho said...

Hilário Godinho

Peço Asilo Político, Je demande Asile Politique, Ich verlange politisches Asyl, I ask for Political asylum
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Ditaduras, PIDE/D.G.S.E., Tortura, Fome, Corrupção. Não Obrigado.
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Sr. Godinho --- Dornacherstrasse, 245 --- CH 4053 Basel --- Suisse. ---
Telefone: 0041 765 450 994. Comuniquem na Imprensa Mundial. Eu falo Português, E também Francês. -----
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Peço Asilo Político, Je demande Asile Politique, Ich verlange politisches Asyl, I ask for Political asylum
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Résistance Portugaise Militaire et Civil Anti Pide/D.G.S.E. -----

Liberté, Démocratie, Justice, Presse, Droits Humanitaires. Oui.
Dictatures, PIDE/D.G.S.E., Torture, Faim, Corruption. Non Merci.
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Mr. Godinho --- Dornacherstrasse, 245 --- CH 4053 Basel --- Suisse. -----

Si ne peut pas imposer la paix, peut convaincre par l'exemple. -----

Je demande Asile Politique. -----

Donations pour la Résistance Portugaise Militaire et Civil Anti Pide/D.G.S.E..
Hilário Vicente Rosa Godinho --- Compte d'Épargne UBS CHF --- Nº de compte 233-691451.M1F --- Nº de client 233-691451 --- IBAN: CH21 0023 3233 6914 51M1F --- SWIFT Adresse (BIC): UBSWCHZH80A --- UBS AG --- Postfach, CH 4053 Basel --- Suisse. --- Ou ---
Mr. Godinho --- Dornacherstrasse, 245 --- CH 4053 Basel --- Suisse. ---
Téléphone: 0041 765 450 994. Communiquent dans la Presse Mondiale. Je parle Portugais, Et aussi Français. -----
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Peço Asilo Político, Je demande Asile Politique, Ich verlange politisches Asyl, I ask for Political asylum
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Widerstand Portugiesisches Militärisches und Zivilist Anti Pide/D.G.S.E. -----

Freiheit, Demokratie, Justiz, die Presse, Humanitäre Rechte. Ja.
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Herr. Godinho --- Dornacherstrasse, 245 --- CH 4053 Basel --- Schweiz. ---
Telefon: 0041 765 450 994. Teilen in der weltweiten Presse mit. Ich spreche Portugiesisch, Und auch Französisch. -----
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Peço Asilo Político, Je demande Asile Politique, Ich verlange politisches Asyl, I ask for Political asylum
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Resistance Portuguese Military and Civil Anti Pide/D.G.S.E. -----

Freedom, Democracy, Justice, The Press, Humane Rights. Yes.
Dictatorships, PIDE/D.G.S.E., Torture, Hunger, Corruption. Not Thank You.
I ask for Political asylum, Money, Sick and Invalid with Hunger in Court with Debts.
To send money for the Anti Pide/D.G.S.E..
Sir. Godinho --- Dornacherstrasse, 245 --- CH 4053 Basel --- Suisse. -----

If it can not impose peace, can convince by example. -----

I ask for Political asylum -----

Donations for the Resistance Portuguese Military and Civil Anti Pide/D.G.S.E..
Hilário Vicente Rosa Godinho --- Account of Épargne UBS CHF --- Nº of account 233-691451.M1F --- Nº of customer 233-691451 --- IBAN: CH21 0023 3233 6914 51M1F --- SWIFT Adresse (BIC): UBSWCHZH80A --- UBS AG --- Postfach, CH 4053 Basel --- Switzerland. --- Or ---
Sir. Godinho --- Dornacherstrasse, 245 --- CH 4053 Basel --- Suisse. ---
Telephone: 0041 765 450 994. Communicate in the World Press. speak Portuguese, And also French. -----

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edit: wrong post

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