Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bob Barr vs Obama & McCain

OK, here's another place Barr is not like McCain... but where McCain is like Obama: the issue of surveillance against the American people. Senators McCain and Obama both support the FISA bill.

Bob Barr's Statement, issued today:
The House on Friday passed legislation that greatly expands the power of the government to surreptitiously surveil phone calls and e-mails of American citizens. If, as expected, this legislation is passed by the Senate and the President, as promised, signs it into law, it will represent the greatest expansion of the government’s ability to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans ever.

While the Administration will tout this as a bill to “listen in to phone calls with al Qaeda” and other terrorist organizations (a power the government already possesses), the fact is, under this legislation, every phone call or email that takes
place between a US citizen in the United States and any person “reasonably believed to be” overseas, can be surreptitiously surveilled by the government without ever going to a judge. Yes – it is that broad.

It also gives telecommunications companies that previously allowed government agents full access to the private records and calls of their subscribers in violation of the 1978-FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) completely off the hook for such privacy-invasive actions; it grants them prospective immunity as well.
The day before the bill passed in the House by a 293-129 margin, Barr issued the following press release:

Bob Barr Urges Congress: No Surveillance of Americans Without Fourth Amendment Protections

June 19, 2008 6:33 pm EST
Atlanta, GA -- “In asserting his power to conduct warrantless searches of Americans, President George W. Bush has expressed his clear contempt for the Fourth Amendment. So has Sen. John McCain, despite his reputation as a supposed maverick,” says Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president. Now the Democratic-led Congress is preparing to approve a so-called compromise that gives the Bush administration almost everything it wants in order to expand dramatically the power of the federal government to surveil American citizens without court orders. “America desperately needs leaders who will stand up for the Bill of Rights,” observes Barr, “not those who flaunt its vital and time-honored protections.”

The president already has the power to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists. The 30-year old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides for court oversight, along with the requirement that the government get a warrant. “The court has virtually never rejected a request,” notes Barr. “Changes in technology require updating the law, not gutting it.”

However, the bill being advanced by the Democratic leadership “would allow the government to listen to millions of phone calls by Americans with neither an individualized warrant nor an assessment of probable cause,” he adds. Although the law would offer some protection when a particular American was expressly targeted, even then “the proposed rules fall short of what the Fourth Amendment mandates.”

Moreover, the bill would immunize telephone companies from wrong-doing, protecting them against law suits even when the firms violated the law by helping the government conduct warrantless searches. Past cases would simply be dismissed. “Conservatives once said, ‘you do the crime, you do the time,’ but no longer,” observes Barr. Now virtually the entire Republican Party is prepared to sacrifice the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans in favor of federal government power.

And the Democratic leadership is ready to do the same. Congressional Democrats privately say that they don’t want to take the political risk of opposing the president. “But the individual liberty of Americans is not a political football, something to be tossed about when an election looms,” insists Barr. “It is the constitutional duty of lawmakers of both parties to defend the Constitution, even when they believe doing so might be politically inconvenient.”

Advocates of abandoning the Constitution warn us that we live in dangerous times. But Americans have long lived in dangerous times. “That didn’t stop the nation’s founders from creating a Constitution that secured individual liberty and limited government,” notes Barr. “It shouldn’t stop us from following the Constitution today.”

Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA.

Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and has teamed up with groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Conservative Union to actively advocate every American citizens’ right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Along with this, Bob is committed to helping elect leaders who will strive for smaller government, lower taxes and abundant individual freedom.

"Advocates of abandoning the Constitution". I like that tag, for both McCain and Obama.

Please- don't give me this "lesser of two evils" crap when discussing McCain or Obama. It's no more healthy than the "lesser of two eye gouges", or the "lesser of two genitalia mutilations".
It would take some kind of sado-masochism or willful ignorance to go that route this year.

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