To this day, many people identify mid-2008 as the time they realized what type of politician Barack Obama actually is. Six months before, when seeking the Democratic nomination, then-Sen. Obama unambiguously vowed that he would filibuster “any bill” that retroactively immunized the telecom industry for having participated in the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program.
But in July 2008, once he had secured the nomination, a bill came before the Senate that did exactly that – the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 – and Obama not only failed to filibuster as promised, but far worse, he voted against the filibuster brought by other Senators, and then voted in favor of enacting the bill itself. That blatant, unblinking violation of his own clear promise – actively supporting a bill he had sworn months earlier he would block from a vote – caused a serious rift even in the middle of an election year between Obama and his own supporters.
Critically, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 did much more than shield lawbreaking telecoms from all forms of legal accountability. Jointly written by Dick Cheney and then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, it also legalized vast new, sweeping and almost certainly unconstitutional forms of warrantless government eavesdropping.
In doing so, the new 2008 law gutted the 30-year-old FISA statute that had been enacted to prevent the decades of severe spying abuses discovered by the mid-1970s Church Committee: by simply barring the government from eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without first obtaining a warrant from a court. Worst of all, the 2008 law legalized most of what Democrats had spent years pretending was such a scandal: the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program secretly implemented by George Bush after the 9/11 attack. In other words, the warrantless eavesdropping “scandal” that led to a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times reporters who revealed it ended not with investigations or prosecutions for those who illegally spied on Americans, but with the Congressional GOP joining with key Democrats (including Obama) to legalize most of what Bush and Cheney had done. Ever since, the Obama DOJ has invoked secrecy and standing doctrines to prevent any courts from ruling on whether the warrantless eavesdropping powers granted by the 2008 law violate the Constitution.
Gee Glenn, the FISA revision wasn’t my first clue. I realized what type of politician Barack Obama actually is six months earlier when he played the race card on Bill and Hillary. I wasn’t exactly enamored of him before that (his supporters repelled me) but falsely accusing the Clintons of racism is about as down and dirty as is gets. Any
Democrat politician with honor and integrity would never throw such a low blow.
So by the time Obama’s FISA revision flip-flop came around I wasn’t shocked and surprised by what Obama did. Hillary, on the other hand, kept her promise and voted against the FISA revision. Then she went to work for Obama.
The FISA revision is a prime example of why the whole “The Republicans Are Worse®” argument is so much bullshit. When the shit gets real both parties join hands to fuck us over. The rest is kabuki. (While some Democrats voted against the FISA revision, they sure didn’t put up much of a fight, did they?)
As far as I am concerned the only difference between Democrats and Republicans is which direction you’re facing when they stab you.