Posted by: iam0nly1 | July 5, 2008

Obama’s Response to FISA Backlash, Creates More Backlash

The FISA backlash from his own supporters became too loud for Obama to ignore. The Senator Obama – Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right group on has over 16,000 members, making it the largest group on the site. Senator Obama’s response is long and filled with excuses.

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those of you who oppose my decision to support the FISA compromise.

This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn’t have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush’s abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration’s program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That’s why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.

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 Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues. The (PDF)recent investigation uncovering the illegal politicization of Justice Department hiring sets a strong example of the accountability that can come from a tough and thorough IG report.

The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I’m persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe — particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer.  Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I’ve chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention — once I’m sworn in as President — to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.

Now, I understand why some of you feel differently about the current bill, and I’m happy to take my lumps on this side and elsewhere. For the truth is that your organizing, your activism and your passion is an important reason why this bill is better than previous versions. No tool has been more important in focusing peoples’ attention on the abuses of executive power in this Administration than the active and sustained engagement of American citizens. That holds true — not just on wiretapping, but on a range of issues where Washington has let the American people down.

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. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue. But I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country. That is why we have built the largest grassroots campaign in the history of presidential politics, and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as President of the United States — a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples’ business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country’s destiny.

Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That’s ok.  But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.

So I appreciate the feedback through, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come. Together, we have a lot of work to do.

I was going to give a pretty long winded analysis of his hollow excuses and transparent “after all, the choice in this election could not be clearer” (read: “you have no where else to go”) claim, but the voices of his (ex) supporters are much more poignant. These are just a few of the comments that greeted Senator Obama’s excuses response:

By Adam Yesterday at 7:06 pm EDT
Senator Obama-  Your choice to support this Bill is wrong and it worries me. I appreciate your speaking to it on this blog, but I respectfully disagree.  

I don’t support politicians easily, much less give them money, and I have to say, this is a big dissapointment. I’ve seen and heard enough politicians tell me the good and bad things about particular bills, and waffle support and fudge the truth.

When i say I want change, I mean I want a leader to take a stand for what is right. I don’t see you doing that here. I see you allowing yourself to be boxed in by the opposition party. A great leader should be able to break out of any box.

You’re the leader of the Democratic Party. You have the opportunity to take a stand, send the bill back and tell them to take the immunity out. I’ve said before, I’d rather lose a thousand elections and be right, than win one and be wrong.

By Dianne from Detroit, MI Yesterday at 7:24 pm EDT
I agree with Adam. John Kerry lost by not taking a firm stand and trying to be all things to all people. First it was the telecom industry, now it’s backing away from the time table to withdraw the troops. Mr. Obama should read the Huffington Post, he will lose Progressive Democrats if this continues.
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By Adam Yesterday at 7:33 pm EDT
Thank you. The line that disturbs me most is, “After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer.”   
Not exactly. Our point is that the choice in this election is getting less and less clear on a daily basis.
By J from Beverly Hills, CA Yesterday at 7:49 pm EDT
I echo Adam’s statement. I am sorely disappointed in Barack’s message…which is “Let’s give a pass to those that break the law; including the President and his cronies!” OK, I expected this from Nancy Pelosi via “We’re not going to impeach the President” adamant stance; suspicious isn’t huh?! I expected more integrity out of Barack. Couldn’t he at the very least say he would prosecute those who have broken the law in criminal court, after he took his place in the Oval Office? Too risky huh? Didn’t want to chance the election? Well, let me tell you what a lot of us think…COP OUT!!! Change? Yeah, I don’t even have 2 quarters I can rub together in this day and age. It was a nice thought, albeit brief as it was, that change could ever occur in this country again. This country is devolving into a third world nation. I’m not voting now. It really doesn’t matter who gets into the Wbite House…Corporations will continue to run/ruin the country while the elite few will bask in their power and money!
By Andy Yesterday at 10:20 pm EDT
I am going with you more and more… the leadership has failed… Obama has failed me.
I will not vote or vote elsewhere.There should be some accountability sometime… apparently they got the check and I didn’t.
By Mike in Ohio Yesterday at 10:25 pm EDT
I agree. I won’t vote. Or I’ll write in Al Gore.
By Derek 25 minutes ago
I’m a firm believer that cowards tend to see their hand forced where leaders would see an opportunity to refine the problem and move forward along a path to everyone’s common benefit.  Obama unfortunately demonstrates himself a coward on this issue and not a leader by allowing the conversation to be framed by men with nothing but bad intentions for our country and its people. 

And as voters we allow ourselves to fall into the same trap if we allow ourselves be be forced into thinking of elections as merely an opportunity to select option D or option R.

Promises of future changes fall flat unless that are grounded on leadership — this has been the essential flaw in the Democratic legislature for years. And it’s sad to see our first real hope of positive change in a generation falling flat in the face of a danger that amount to little more than the threat of a few days of stiffly worded op-eds from the malcontents of our media.

The end of the American experiment will not come from without, but from within — and it cannot come without the cowardly complicity of its people and its leadership.

By Card Player Today at 12:02 am EDT
B.S. He and the rest of the gutless Democrats could defeat the bill unless immunity was stripped out. If the bill not passing would really put us in danger then let the Republicans stand up and say that immunity for the telecoms is more important to them than national security. But no, as usual we dems will drop our trousers and bend over again. We don’t deserve to run an ice cream truck let alone a nation.
By Joshua Tinnin Today at 3:18 am EDT
I support a candidate who does what’s right, not talks about it and then does something else. I will still vote for him, but I can’t get excited about the campaign anymore. Some of the things he said were outright false. I can understand a difference of opinion. I’ll not work for a liar.
By James in Eugene Yesterday at 11:15 pm EDT
Ditto, Robert.  Obama has not only demonstraed a lack of knowledge of our dire Constitutional and Legal situations, he has become an enabler and conspirator with the Reactionary Cabal whose mouthpiece has become the Republican Party. 

There should be several Special Prosecutors to investigate and prosecute wrong-doers in this case, the politicization of our Justice Department (Injustice Department), the legal justifications for torture and this whole mess of Constitutional violations, the gaming of Intelligence to lie us into the wrong war, all for Neocons’ wet dreams, the immense violations of no-telling what laws which have been abrogated or violated by Bush’s insistence on signing statements, etc. I could go on to another few, but I would be satisfied with this five (5)Special Prosecutors to restore some sense of Constitutional and Legal Order.

But, I now recognize you do not have the knowledge, experience, willingness, nor desire to correctt these Major System Deficiences. 

I should have known you were knowlege-deprived when you sucked rear-end at AIPAC. That organization, along with the Federalist Society which has now captured and made reactionary our Federal Judicial System, the PNAC (Project for a new American Century, the Heritage Foundation, the Americal Enterprise Institute, and all the off-shoots of the Scaife funded and associated oufits, are now the backbone of the Reactionary Milieu now dictating the direction of major war-and-peace issues for Our Country.

Obama, you are ignorant of all of that and I feel like a fool for believing differently..

I was $600 toward my goal of $1,000 to $1200, which is a large amount of money for me. You have just kissed off the last $400-600 from me.

I will now select a few really progressive Senatorial or Congressional cndidates and support them instead. But, I will discontinue wearing my buttons, T-shirts, etc. and I will discontinue my sometime efforts at Saturday Market. 

Finally, what disturbs me as much or more than anything is the visual I received when I logged on this evening to see those three young geeks not yet wet behind the ears who are telling me and others about National Security , Wiretaps, the Consitution, etc. If those are your Advisors, there is no wonder you have no clue about the seriousness of our National Situation 28 years after the beginning of the Reagan Reaction. Some weren’t even born by then.

Obama, I am greatly disappointed and angry.

By Steve Yesterday at 11:42 pm EDT
I feel the same as Adam–disappointed and betrayed. The Senator’s eloquent response did nothing to change my mind about his lack of courage and his willingness to let political considerations outweigh his duty to protect the Constitution and the rule of law. Honestly, Senator Obama has lost all credibility with me over this issue. I do not see the change. I do not see a new politics. I see a presidential candidate who does not want to appear soft on national security. Ironically, the “compromise” bill is not necessary. FISA will not expire if the bill doesn’t pass. The administration will still have the tools needed to track our would-be enemies, foreign and domestic.  The Senator and his advisors appear to be playing the same old cynical game of counting on the support of partisans, even when political promises are broken, assuming that they would rather vote for an imperfect candidate than the candidate from the opposing party. I’m tired of that game. I’m not voting for Senator Obama. I hope others will exercise their right to vote to vote against Senators Obama and McCain. Remember the Nader factor in 2000? If enough of us demand that our nominees remain true to the principles they espoused during the nominating process, even if it means voting against them in the general election, then perhaps they’ll make develop the integrity we’ve been looking for. Maybe they’ll be the kind of leader Senator Obama claimed to be, but sadly, is not.
By Christian from Seattle, WA Yesterday at 7:49 pm EDT
Correct. This “compromise” is for the rubes. Everyone here needs to read more Glenn Greenwald I’m afraid. The bill gives Americans nothing they don’t already have. All it does is give Telecoms immunity, and make legal determinations about the legality of what has gone on impossible. Obama is proving himself to be a corporate hack, and he will get no more money from me unless he changes his mind on this issue. If he does not take a stand here, when the evisceration of the 4th ammendment is on the line, when will he then exactly? This is not a non-issue; this is one of THE MAIN issues we face in this country and is connected to all others: Corporate Power and fascism. Sorry, no more money from me. His drift to the non-existent center is worrysome to me. Sounds like he is listening to some crappy consultants and not reading the landscape accurately. He needs to keep REDEFINING and reframing the issues. He can make the right choice and still win. Stop listening to the consultants!!
By Lisa from CT Today at 12:46 am EDT
“Let’s make certain we get Senator Obama in office, first –”  Is all this about winning or about change? 

Change is not infringing on civil liberties so one can win office.

By Liane from Newbury, VT Yesterday at 6:32 pm EDT
Now, it’s possible that the Senator has decided that preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution is not within his abilities. So be it.   That doesn’t mean we have to sit by quietly while our rights are pulled out form under us.
By Obamamaniac In Oregon Yesterday at 6:49 pm EDT
I too am disappointed in Obama changing his position on Telecom Immunity this last week. It is wrong no matter how many excuses you try to make for it.  Now, he is changing his position on withdrawing from Iraq? Unbelievable! 

I am very disturbed by his changing positions lately. Before anybody accuses me of being a Troll, I have been a firm Obama supporter and contributed several times through this website.

Of course I won’t be voting from McCain, but I also won’t be giving any more money to Obama, unless he goes back to being who we thought he was.

He should remember who brought him to the dance, and stop flirting with those Right-Wing Nuts!

Obama is beginning to scare me! Sorry, but I just had to say it.

By JonnieRae Yesterday at 6:22 pm EDT
Christine, I, too, did not like that “deal breaker” line. I felt like it was dismissive, especially when he has been trying soo hard to get the gun advocates, the evangelicals, the death penalty advocates…It’s like, ok, get lost. I got plenty more voters and money!! What has happened to him???
By T from Berwyn, IL Yesterday at 6:26 pm EDT
And what I meant by that is, what Christine said, not the dude who thinks FISA is a petty issue. It’s not. It’s about, does Bush get to do whatever the heck he wants, or not? Is it worth staying to course to do the right thing for the American people, or not? Obama will not get this disillusioned Republican into the fold by selling out our rights. And letting the current legislation expire is not the dire situation that it is made out to be–as Christine pointed out.
By carl Yesterday at 5:34 pm EDT
Actually a crappy response.   There is nothing in current law that prevents the electronic monitoring and tracking of foreign (or US) citizens suspected of engaging in espionage or terrorism. FISA is the exclusive law under which such electronic surveillance can take place, and all that is require is that the administration FOLLOW THE LAW. 

The “compromise” that Sen. Obama is supporting is simply an endorsement of the lawbreaking of the current administration. It does NOTHING to make us safer, instead covers up the kind of spying the Nixon could only have dreamed of.


By Harry from Nahant, MA Yesterday at 8:09 pm EDT
“And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That’s ok. ”  What? That’s ok?! No, it’s not ok! You told us you would filibuster immunity, and that’s a big reason that many of us voted for you in the primary. (Witness the largest member group here on your own site Senator) Now that you got our votes, you go back on your word and refuse to stand firm on immunity. You are the deal breaker, sir. Now that you’ve benefited from our primary votes, you break the promise that got you the votes. And you condescendingly say, Gosh, if that’s a dealbreaker, well then so be it.  

That’s a flim-flam tactic, sir. You should be ashamed of yourself. I will never trust you again. You do not keep your promises, and your word is not your bond. You are no different than John McCain. You reap the benefits, then abandon the position to exploit another, thinking: Oh well, who else are they going to vote for? Well, I won’t be voting for McCain, but I also won’t be voting for you. Con men get no further rewards from me. Once again, shame on you, sir. You squander your reputation for a minor advantage.


By Matt from Sacramento, CA Today at 12:35 am EDT
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! This is, pretty much verbatim, the letter I received from my senator, Dianne Feinstein, when I wrote her concerning the Iraq War resolution. “Oh, I have information that you’re not privy to, I have high level clearance, I know what’s going on.” Guess what? She didn’t, and look where it got us. Having faith in our leaders has let us down time and again. I say fight back.
By Scott from Seattle, WA Yesterday at 8:33 pm EDT
No, we’d rather *win* the election with a candidate we fully support. We’re really tired of settling for spineless compromise and empty rhetoric. Obama’s lame excuse for supporting the compromise identified what we were giving up, but wasn’t very clear about what we were gaining. How is that a good compromise? Is every compromise going to be like this?  Yes, I’ll still vote for Obama, but actually it’s really about voting against McCain again. I’m sorely disappointed, and no longer willing to debate principles with Republicans when they can hit back with this.
As can be seen from the numerous comments, Senator Obama has some serious trouble on his hands. If he thinks he can disown his base and not suffer any consequences in November, he is gravely mistaken. Senator Obama’s flip-flops and lies are becoming the greatest PUMA recruiting tool we could have asked for. 



  1. Clinton voted against the FISA bill.
    You stupid pr^cks. You had a real candidate and you screwed her over becasue she was a woman.
    McCain in 08, clinton in 12.

  2. many of us saw through his mask long ago,why do you think we were and are so opposed to him? BUT ,we were called racists as so many Ob and media people labeled us.Don’t some of the Ob rock star fans realise this is a very undemocratic thing to stifle people’s dissent ?to me just like the abortion issue and women feeling a little blue comment ,seems we heard that about Hillary in his comment that she was a little blue after the primary.YES she was something but i don’t think it was blue.

    It’s more like his buddy Jesse Jackson said and rightfully so , he was being condesending to blacks in his talks .

    Are you actually keeping track of the backward stepping OB’s done since Hillary left the campaign? Another thing, that will keep us voting for him but then again we did not feel his change message he was putting out there and his fans were swooning about the NEW kind of politician well, well, it sucks to be a fool! wheres the outrage from people that went crazy over bosnia hype and how dishonest Hillary was supposed to be? Well guess what, that only hurt Hillary and not us. the flip flops OB did in the last two weeks DOES hurt all of us and the FISA thing cannot be dismissed saying like some of his sheep ,well it was going to pass anyway ,so just like in his book he said he was a blank slate and he was what people wanted him to be! Is this what we want ,a chameleon?? a coward? go along to get ahead and damn the standards need in a president!

    We do have a choice and its the convention and to those that say its not ,they are still being blindsided and will let our country get a president that makes excuses and the sheep follow at all costs, the country be damned. the DNC better wake up and nominate the person that has credentials to run this country and has plans for many of the needs the country has problems with. If the DNC hadn’t interferred in the primary process and gave Ob the push to being the selected nominee we would be focusing on any of you notice the issues get pushed aside and OB always has someone misquoting,dissing him or like the interview ,it was a mistake,of course the favorite you are rasist if you disagree! that is getting old and AA people should see through his using this as an excuse no matter how much they want An AA in office. Powell would have been better as well as any number of AA people qualified and experienced. WAKE UP this one of the most important times in our country life and the constitution be waylaid isn’t the way to lead. make the DNC accountable .

    – apachegrl

  3. why is my comment in moderation for so long…it is only truth
    Hey apachegrl,

    First, thanks for your comments. Second, the length of your posts gets them caught up in the spam filter, and myself and 12counts aren’t on all time, so sometimes comments get caught in moderation for a while. I hope you understand. We allow all voices and opinions here, even those that don’t agree, as long as they are respectful.

    Again, that’s for your comments 🙂


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