ACTION ALERT: Bush Loses on Illegal Wiretapping: How You Can Fight Telecom Spying

December 18th, 2007 - by admin & People for the American Way & CREDO Mobile – 2007-12-18 23:17:09

Bush Loses on Illegal Wiretapping!

(December 18, 2007) — For the last few months, the Bush Administration has been pushing Congress hard. They wanted Congress to declare its clearly illegal domestic spying program—which was made possible by many of America’s biggest phone companies—above board. And yesterday, despite all of the work we’d done together, it looked like Congress was going to cave—The New York Times even posted a headline implying that the companies had won. (1)

Then Senator Chris Dodd took the floor of the Senate and said he was prepared to block the bill. Tens of thousands of phone calls started pouring in from all over the country. He was joined by progressive champion Senator Russ Feingold, and then others. (2) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had to pull the bill from consideration. (3)

This fight isn’t over, and we can bet that when President Bush and the telecoms industry are back at it next year, they’ll have a battle plan to make sure they’re not stopped again. So just like they’re gearing up to defend their illegal spying, we need to gear up for a big campaign to defend our Constitution and the rule of law.

With your support, we’ll make sure Congress continues to hear a roar of protest at the prospect of legalizing the spying program and letting phone companies off the hook.

That’s exactly how Progressives beat President Bush yesterday—an extraordinary grassroots mobilization, and Senator Dodd’s strong leadership. Here’s how The Nation described the work we all did together:

Halting the amnesty bill was also a victory for the netroots, which ferociously backed Dodd’s legislative strategy…Over half a million people lobbied against the bill via email… and MoveOn targeted specific Senators to back Dodd’s efforts. (4)

This wouldn’t have been possible without Senator Dodd’s leadership. We need more Senators in Washington who are willing to take bold and principled stands like he did—and who are willing to fight the right fights, even when it’s not popular.

Senator Dodd described the importance of this victory best when he said, “The president should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens.” (5)

The Senator was a hero this week. Click here to send a thank you note to his campaign:

We won a round yesterday, but the fight isn’t over. In early 2008, the Senate will again consider giving immunity to lawbreaking phone companies. The Bush Administration will be putting a lot of pressure on Congress to let them off the hook and to allow widespread wiretapping without any oversight. They’ll falsely accuse Senators who stand up for civil liberties of endangering national security.

We need to be ready to fight back twice as hard to defend our constitutional rights—more phone calls, more letters, more ads, more grassroots organizing.

1. “Telecom Industry Wins a Round on Eavesdropping,” New York Times, December 17, 2007

2. “Telecom Immunity Pulled From Senate Debate,” CBS News, December 17, 2007

3. “Dodd’s Filibuster Threat Stalls Wiretap Bill,” Huffington Post, December 17, 2007

4. “Dodd Beats Back Bush Spying Bill,” The Nation, December 17, 2007

5. “Democrats Delay a Vote on Immunity for Wiretaps”, New York Times, December 18, 2007

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Blocked in Senate
People for the American Way

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled legislation from the floor that would overhaul electronic surveillance rules, leaving Congress little time to act early next year before provisions in the current law expire.

Reid, D-Nev., faced with a backed-up agenda and numerous procedural obstacles on legislation (S 2248) that would rewrite the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, decided late Monday to delay consideration of the bill until January.
— From Congressional Quarterly:

Thanks to activists like you, we were successful in pulling the brakes on bad FISA reform legislation that would have undermined civil liberties and the rule of law. Senators Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold led the effort in the Senate.

The Protect America Act (PAA) expires in February. The Senate was right to try to replace that legislation, but the Intelligence Committee bill was unfortunately lacking. Even the Judiciary Committee, which made positive progress, couldn’t fully get the job done.

Senators will be under tremendous pressure to pass some sort of FISA reform before the PAA expires, and the White House, along with its Senate allies, will be pushing for an extension of that dreadful law along with retroactive telecom immunity. But senators must hold firm to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights in the face of an administration that so obviously does not respect those rights.

If the PAA expires in February and no other bill has been passed, then the law reverts back to FISA, which has served the country well since 1978. To be clear, we completely acknowledge the legitimate need to update FISA based on changing technologies and the way people communicate, but senators must not throw our civil liberties under the bus in a rush to get there.

Stay tuned — this fight will continue next month when Congress reconvenes after the holiday recess, and your activism could help determine whether or not the Senate chooses to stand up for civil liberties and accountability for past law breaking.

• Watch a video segment on this from MSNBC’s Countdown here.

ACTION: Hang Up on TeleSpies: Consider Credo
Michael Kieschnick / Credo Mobile

In a key vote yesterday morning, just nine senators joined Sen. Christopher Dodd to stand up against President George Bush and his cronies at AT&T© and Verizon©.

At stake was a bill to grant blanket immunity for phone companies that aided the Bush administration plot to illegally eavesdrop on Americans.

But then something unlikely happened. By evening, a groundswell of public pressure from citizens like you and me moved Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pull the bill from the floor.

AT&T and Verizon are now preparing for the next battle over telecom immunity, and so are we.

If telecom immunity is passed by the Senate, we may never know how much Verizon and AT&T helped the National Security Agency listen in on Americans’ phone calls — or how much they’re helping now.

What can you do? If you have a cellphone from Verizon or AT&T, you can keep on sending them your money and supporting them — and Bush — in their cover-up.

Or you can join CREDO Mobile — which is fighting to expose the administration’s illegal spying program and bring all those responsible to justice — including Bush himself. CREDO Mobile is brought to you by your friends at Working Assets. It’s the same great wireless service we’ve offered for years, with a new name to reflect our commitment to causes we believe in.

How different are we? Take a look below. What you see may disturb you. For a remedy make the switch now to CREDO Mobile.

AT&T and Verizon — Spy on you:
CREDO Mobile — We don’t. Actually, we donate to the ACLU to STOP wiretapping

AT&T and Verizon — Cooperate with the Bush administration’s warrantless spying on American citizens… with the money you pay them.

CREDO Mobile — Donates over $50 million to service- oriented and progressive nonprofits — including the ACLU

AT&T — Contributes more money to political campaigns than almost any other company — mostly to Republicans

Verizon — Spends $90 million on lobbying — more than Phillip Morris or Exxon

CREDO Mobile — America’s greenest phone company — and the only one to offer solar chargers

AT&T and Verizon — Think of the worst polluters in elected office…That’s where their money goes

CREDO Mobile — Defends your freedom of speech and supports First Amendment heroes like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Democracy Now!

AT&T — Censors Pearl Jam for critizing Bush during a concert webcast

Verizon — Blocked text messages from NARAL Pro-Choice America (before being forced to allow them)

If you think your privacy is important, then it’s time to think about CREDO Mobile. Switch now and we’ll buy out your current contract (up to $200).*

Michael Kieschnick is the Co-founder and President of CREDO Mobile (formerly Working Assets).