07/09/08: Nader Audio Message on Telecom Immunity
Listen to Ralph Nader's audio message on the Senate vote on FISA - here.
This is Ralph Nader.
Today is Wednesday July 9, 2008.
And I'm listening now to the debate on the Senate floor over legislation that will give President Bush new warrantless eavesdropping powers.
The bill will also grant immunity to telecom companies for cooperating with Mr. Bush in his illegal warrantless wiretapping on Americans - on any one of you.
We were taught as young children that in our democracy, under our system of justice, nobody is above the law - nobody.
But this bill puts the President and the telecom companies above the law.
It also conveniently assures a coverup of Mr. Bush's past crimes in this area - of wiretapping and surveillance.
On the Senate floor, Senator Feingold has just warned his colleagues that the Senate "will regret that we passed this legislation."
As my home state Senator, Christopher Dodd, said:
"If we pass this legislation, the Senate will ratify a domestic spying regime that has already concentrated far too much unaccountable power in the President's hands and will place the telecommunications companies above the law."
What does it say that Senators Dodd, Feingold, Harry Reid, and Patrick Leahy have led the valiant fight against this bill, but Senator Obama has said he will vote for it?
Again, this bill gives the President vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers and allows the government - for the first time ever - to tap into America's telecommunications networks with no judicial warrant requirement.
President Bush and the Democrats who support him argue that the telecommunications companies were only doing what they were told by the President and were acting as "patriotic corporate citizens."
This is pure hogwash.
First of all, corporations aren't citizens.
Second, the President can't order anyone - citizens or corporations - to break the law.
This legislation, which the Senate is debating right now, sets up a double standard of justice.
Break the law as a citizen, go to jail.
Break the law as a corporation, go to Washington and get immunity.
Remember, there were telecom companies, such as Qwest, that refused to follow President Bush's illegal wiretap orders and chose instead to obey the laws of the land.
The Senate is now posed to bury the rule of law.
What to do?
Join Nader/Gonzalez - the candidacy that will shift the power from the corporations back into the hands of the people.
We strongly oppose the wiretap surveillance legislation that Obama and McCain support.
We stand strongly with the American people and for the Constitution.
The Nader/Gonzalez campaign is now at six percent in the most recent CNN poll.
We're in the middle of a fundraising drive right now to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in 45 states by September 20.
Help us get there now.
Go to votenader.org.
Donate to your heart's content.
For the Constitution.
For shifting the power from the corporations, back into the hands of the American people.
"We the people" are the first words of the Constitution - we should always remember.
The Nader Team
Donkey for a Weasel
Letís make it official.
It is time to change the Democratic Party mascot from a donkey to a weasel.
I propose a weasel holding a white flag and wearing knee pads.
July 9, 2008 will go down as the day in history that the Democratic Party, on bended-knee, raised the white flag and capitulated to the most fervent desire of George Bush and Dick Cheney: to immunize the giant phone corporations and the Bush administration itself from any legal liability for their unconstitutional, criminal spying on ordinary American citizens.
This vote will be seen as the moment when all pretense of an opposition party in America dissolved.
This fact was confirmed when President Bush, moments after the Democrats capitulated in the Senate, appeared on the White House porch to thank the Democratic leadership for cooperating with him, particularly Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Verizon) and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-ATT).
The Democratic Party not only rubber-stamped the Bush Administrationís unconstitutional program of wiretapping without warrants, it also betrayed three core historic Democratic Party principles: freedom and civil rights, constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law.
If the Democratic Party in the twentieth century stood for something, it was freedom and civil rights. From Woodrow Wilsonís stated aim of making the world safe for Democracy, to FDRís Four Freedoms, to the expansion of civil liberties under Johnson and Kennedy, Democrats stood for protecting Americans privacy and civil liberties. By voting to immunize the law-breaking phone corporations and sanction the Bush Administrationís lawless surveillance dragnet, the Democratic Party has placed in danger the civil liberties of every living American and the liberties of future generations.
The second principle embraced by the Democratic Party was the Founding Fathersí concept of separation of government powers. When it became clear in the 1970s that the Nixon administration was using the CIA and the national security apparatus to spy on opponents of the Vietnam war and on political opponents, the Democratic Party fought back. After the Church Committee hearings, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that required the Executive to obtain a warrant before spying on Americans in this country. When the Bush Administration violated that law by combing through the phone records of millions of Americans, the new and not improved Democratic Party waived the white flag and undermined the principle that the Judicial Branch acts as a check on the Executive Branch.
The final insult hurled at the citizens of America by the Democratic Party is their willingness to undermine the rule of law. The legislation passed on July 9, 2008 is an ex post facto law that is almost certainly unconstitutional. By retroactively immunizing the phone companies and the Bush administration, this law unconstitutionally intrudes on Separation of Powers by telling the judiciary how to rule. The law is also unconstitutional in that it takes a property right from all of the citizens who have sued under the original FISA law to stop the wiretapping. Article 1, Section 9 of the United States Constitution states clearly ďNo bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.Ē By joining with Republicans to pass an ex post facto law, the Democratic party has eviscerated the rule of law in America.
There is no opposition party any longer in America.
There is only Big Government in the service of Big Business.
The fight to restore our democracy and wrest control from Big Government and Big Business ought not to be distracted by the side show of the Democratic Party which pretends to stand for change and against the Bush Administration while voting for the status quo and ratifying the worst unconstitutional acts of the Bush Administration.
As soon as President Bush signs the bill voted on by Congress, we will file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.
If the Democratic Party will not protect the Constitution, it is time for the people to lead.
Carl J. Mayer runs the Mayer Law Group LLC; the firm represents consumers and investors. His opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Asbury Park Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.