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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-03-2008, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Obama & FISA: He was against it before he was for it and then he was sort of ...

Obama Responds to FISA Protest on His Web Site

After a protest group gained prominence on Senator Barack Obama’s own campaign Web site, the candidate has written a response to those who object to his support for the current compromise legislation in the Senate on immunity for telecoms. The long note explaining his position appeared on his campaign Web site this afternoon, and several of his policy staff members answered questions in the comments section for about 90 minutes. Though Mr. Obama did not change his position in response to supporters’ objections, the mere fact of his response, as well as the choice to put it on his own site, is a remarkable illustration of the power of online organizing.

“This was not an easy call for me,” Mr. Obama said in a statement posted to the diary of Joe Rospars, a top Internet adviser to the campaign. “I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect.”

But he made his case for the bill:

But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I’ve said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility.

The e-furor relates to an update of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. One of the central sticking points has been whether to grant telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for helping the administration with its warrantless wiretapping program. Although Mr. Obama had long pledged to fight against granting immunity, even saying he would support a filibuster, he has since said he will vote in favor of the compromise, though he will work to have the immunity measure removed. The Times’s Noam Cohen and James Risen both looked at the backlash earlier this week.

“It is very significant for the presidential candidate to directly respond to his supporters disagreements with a single policy,” said Ari Melber a correspondent for The Nation who has been following both the FISA bill and Web organization throughout the campaign. “While the campaign was surprisingly late to address people organizing through his own tools, via his own Web site, it’s a respectful honest and direct response.”

Mr. Melber, who is a member of the “Senator Obama Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right” group on my.barackobama.com, also noted that Mr. Obama’s explanation is “more specific” than some of Mr. Obama’s previous statements to the press on the matter, asserting that hyper-informed, focused activists might be better at pulling the nitty-gritty from the candidates than reporters.

Today’s exchange also brings to mind an issue The Times’s Katharine Q. Seelye brought up in one of her recent Web columns.

“Is it possible to translate the online expertise developed during campaigns into running the federal bureaucracy?” she asked. “To take the energy that goes into manipulating voters to win elections and convert it into listening to voters and being transparent, accountable and accessible?”

A significant portion of Mr. Obama’s note addressed accountability:

I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I’m not exempt from that. I’m certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too.

For Mr. Melber, the response represents only the “beginning of policy discussions that candidates must have with their supporters and swing voters alike.”

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and thats what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-03-2008, 10:28 PM
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I guess Obama could teach Bill Clinton a thing or two..
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 06:13 AM
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Honesty goes a long way toward appeasing critics of the imperfect.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 11:10 AM
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Some of the verbiage is very similar to the note I got from Congressman Chandler regarding his vote for the FISA bill last month.

He ended the note with "I expect we will continue this conversation over the Fourth".

For some reason I don't think he is looking forward to seeing me this weekend.


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by QBNCGAR View Post
Honesty goes a long way toward appeasing critics of the imperfect.
I don't think we can stand any more appeasement from Obambi. As his campaign stalls, he seems to be doing a lot more "tweaking" of his policies and positions. He's starting to make John Kerry look like a ROCK SOLID candidate for President!

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