An Open Letter to America on Illegal
Surveillance and Telecom Immunity
Kyle Hence -- 7/9/08
Rumor is circulating that the House leader, Nancy Pelosi, is making a play to put Karl Rove above the law. Reportedly she is saying he should not be held in contempt for refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee. Although Pelosi’s office now denies it, many are finding it hard to give the Speaker the benefit of the doubt and for good reason. She took impeachment off the table to prevent the House from responsibly examining likely impeachable violations, just one of which is the President’s warrantless wiretapping program.
As illustrated above, there is a disturbing pattern here. The Rove issue comes shockingly just a week after the Democratic House leadership caved-in to the Executive Branch over the FISA Bill. In the Bill’s passage today in the Senate the Executive Office gets what it wants, and the telecom companies get what they wanta get-out-of-jail free card for a massive, still secret surveillance program operating without warrants or oversight for years in order to spy indiscriminately on the phone, fax, and email communications of millions of Americans.
By passing this Bill, the telecoms gain effective immunity from civil prosecutions over their participation in NSA warrant-less wiretapping directed by the Bush Administration. Some 40 lawsuits, some of them class-actions representing millions of Americans, will be dismissed by District judges as a result of this legislation. To get off the hook, the companies need only produce written evidence of a “directive” (rule by fiat) by the White House affirming the program’s legality, thus ignoring and forgiving the actual violations of the law, and precluding further litigation and investigation. (see EFF lawsuit – Hepting vs. AT&T)
Bottom line on the FISA vote today: the Democratic leadership and a minority of Democratic members in both the House and the Senate aligned with the Republicans have, by their votes on the FISA Bill, declared that the telecom companies and the Executive Office are above the law. The Bill also makes legal wiretapping of any and all Americans who communicate with friends or family overseas without being required to prove suspicion or just cause, without a warrant. Big brother is now sanctified and codified in the passage of this Bill. Hyperbole you say? Well, just ask AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, who witnessed the installation of secret NSA controlled rooms at his AT&T facility.
This is a prescription for lawlessness in our country, a prescription, shockingly, written by our own Congress. This is systematic, dissembling of the Constitution. This is violation of the American system of checks and balances. This is the death of a Republic in slow motion. This is usurpation of Constitutional rule of law by Presidential Directive. And by a compliant and complicit Congress and its members who failed to uphold their oath of office.
As Republican Senator Specter said on the floor in arguing for his amendment, “History will look back on this period of history as one of unprecedented expansion of Executive authority, unchecked expansion of authority.” Exhorting his colleagues Specter said “perhaps after the July 4th holiday, Congress will declare its independence from the Executive branch.” It didn’t happen.
How did all this come to pass? The simple answer: the dangerous merging of corporate and Executive power and a lack of courage in the face of the politics of fear.
The passage of this Bill was preceded by millions of lobbying dollars pouring into Washington, D.C. and corporate contributions to members of Congress, including a spike in telecom donations to the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller. The lobbying dollars has now insured legal protection of a massive secret spying program accountable to no one but the President. And it has revealed a dangerous even treasonous liaison between unbridled, unchecked executive power and private corporate power that has led to gross violations of the rule of law and U.S. Constitution. This my friends, my fellow Americans, herald a rising Fascism, a merging of corporate and government power, that is now rising up in place of a dying Constitutional Republic, all delivered to the American people by the almighty corporate dollar and those elected to office who by their vote today have utterly and completely betrayed.
We are witnesses, here and now, with the passage of this Bill, to the arrival of dangerous merging of narrow unchecked corporate interest and those of an equally unchecked Executive Office that Congress has utter failed to hold to account, as is their sacred duty under the Constitution. We each are witness now to a de-facto coup by Executive fiat, rule by directives irrespective of the law or Constitution, all veiled by secrecy and to which all dissent is overcome by instilling fear. It marks the death of the Republic unless we act now to tie off the autocratic fear-feeding cancer that afflicts our nation.
Make no mistake about what happened on the floor of the Senate today. With the passing of this FISA Bill the Congress is capitulating, lock, stock and barrel, to the merging of the interests of an unaccountable secret dictatorial Executive governing by “Directive” with the interests of the corporations that feed at the massive and growing private contracting trough. A few score of corporations now gobble up so much of the Federal budget that fully 70% of the intelligence budget is now outsourced to private contractors such as AT&T.
This is the same AT&T that received a get out of jail card today, despite the fact that it violated laws on the books, by piping their communications network straight into secret rooms controlled by NSA. Whereas Qwest refused based on a clear understanding of FISA law, and was cut out of pending government contracts, AT&T continues to take government money to spy illegally on Americans since there can be no verification the NSA has shut its secret rooms or ceased its massively trolling of the private communications of innocent Americans.
Thanks to a minority of Democrats, the spinelessness of a Democratic nominee to back up his rhetoric with real leadership, the majority of the Republicans and the Executive Office has yet again employed the post 9/11 fear card to induce a tragic capitulation and betrayal of the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.
“When laws ends, tyranny begins.” These are not the words of a enraged radical leftist, no, these are the words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, just quoted minutes ago by Senator Dodd in his closing arguments before this unconstitutional Bill was passed into law, and our country turned brazenly and openly to Corporatism and rule by Executive fiat.
There is no time for despair in the face of this treason so let us hope, pray and most importantly act so that this travesty, this trespass on our rights is not left unchecked and uncorrected by those of us who still believe in the sanctity of the Constitution and Freedom granted each us by our Creator, and who are courageous enough to stand up and defend it.
Kyle F. Hence