The American Legion is asking its members to use their power in moving Congress to pass the Bush legislation giving full telecom immunity from prosecution for their cooperation in illegal wiretaps. McJoan had a front page post yesterday telling the sad tale. In accordance with McJoan’s suggestion we veterans contact the American Legion, I sent an e-mail letter outlining my objections to the bill and requesting a reconsideration of their position. A reply came to my mailbox moments ago. Excerpts from their letter along with my thoughts and observations follow over the fold.
The letter begins with the usual platitudes:
Thank you for your honorable military service and for sharing your views and concerns with The American Legion.
I doubt they found any pleasure in my strong words about their stance but they get points for courtesy in my book.
The Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community are taking all the steps possible to try to keep the country safe during this current period of uncertainty.
The fearmongering goes right on. Most of the uncertainty in these times is the direct result of administration mistakes around the world. Many of the steps being taken by the Justice Department are illegal and immoral.
These measures are remedial at best however, do not provide the tools our intelligence professionals need to protect the Nation or the certainty needed by the intelligence professionals and their private partners.
Private partners is the appropriate concern in this sentence. The only concern is for protection of the telecoms from prosecution. They have no real interest in providing increased intelligence capability. There is plenty of latitude provided by laws in place today without extending retroactive immunity to the telecoms.
The American Legion believes S. 2248 would modernize FISA, ensure the future cooperation of the private sector, and safeguard the very civil liberties we all value.
The only liberty being protected by this extension is from prosecution and that extends to the telecoms. Citizens are in no way served by the bill.
Since enactment of the Protect America Act, the intelligence community has obtained information about efforts of an individual to become a suicide operative, efforts by terrorists to obtain guns and ammunition, and terrorists transferring money. Other information obtained, thanks in large part to these new authorities, has led to the disruption of planned terrorist attacks.
I am about as likely to believe those lies as I am to accept any others put forth by the administration. Let us see the proof or stop passing along false or misleading information.
Currently, FISA's requirements impair the ability to collect information on foreign intelligence targets located overseas.
Huh??? How can that be? There are no real limits once the FISA Court issues a warrant. In very few instances have those warrants been denied to date.
... the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment requires "probable cause" and where the civil liberties of Americans are implicated. However, this is illogical to require a showing of probable cause for surveillance of overseas foreign targets who are not entitled to the same Fourth Amendment protections.
So long as the interception is on American soil and may involve an American citizen I believe the Fourth Amendment applies. I would prefer we extend the rights of Fourth Amendment protection to all communications around the world. In that instance the FISA court could issue a warrant allowing the signal interception once the government proves the worth of the intelligence gathering in the first place.
The letter continues with lots more platitudes and right wing memes about needs for intelligence gathering and is signed by Steve Robertson, Director National Legislative Commission, America Legion. The entire piece is one fine bit of propaganda. Anyone interested in the full text can e-mail me for a copy. Jerry at Northington08.com
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