Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Obama lost my support

Dear Mr. Burton,

I am very saddened by this recent turn of position by Barack Obama on the matter of amnesty for the telecommunications violation of the law in their complicity with the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping orders.

These are your words, Mr. Burton:

"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."

These are Senator Obama's words from last January:

"I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill.

Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people - not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

That is why I am co-sponsoring Senator Dodd's amendment to remove the immunity provision. Secrecy must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens – and set an example to the world – that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient.

A grassroots movement of Americans has pushed this issue to the forefront. You have come together across this country. You have called upon our leaders to adhere to the Constitution. You have sent a message to the halls of power that the American people will not permit the abuse of power – and demanded that we reclaim our core values by restoring the rule of law.

It's time for Washington to hear your voices, and to act. I share your commitment to this cause, and will stand with you in the fights to come (emphasis mine)."

And again in February:

"We know it's time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd's candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish. The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I've been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability . We must show our citizens – and set an example to the world – that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America – no one is above the law."(emphasis mine)

It is clear after his statement yesterday that he was either lying then, or he is lying now:

"My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people."

I am not so naive as to think that Senator Obama would not shift his positions on important issues, all politicians do that. But on a matter of such grave importance as defending the Constitution, and holding accountable those who would harm it, there is no room for compromise.

As someone who volunteered to the campaign many, many hours and money I could ill afford to give up, all because I trusted that Barack Obama was the one true candidate who was different from all the rest, it is heartbreaking to see that he is indeed just like all the rest. The only change I see coming from Barack Obama now is a change in his attitude towards those of us who worked so hard to help him win the Democratic nomination. It is painfully clear to me that we were used up and are now being hung out to dry.

I can no longer volunteer my support, nor donate any more of my time or money to Obama's campaign. I cannot in good conscience support any candidate who could be so cravenly dishonest on such an important matter.

Take note of this, Mr. Burton: When someone who has been so committed to supporting Barack Obama withdraws that support over this FISA compromise issue, imagine what might happen with all of the undecided voters who are concerned about this issue.

James "Jake" Barlow
MyBo: seejake

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