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July 1, 2008

A comment on Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment”

Quote of the Day:

“Man is not free unless government is limited. As government expands, liberty contracts.”
— Ronald Reagan

Subject: A comment on Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment”

DC Downsizers bombarded MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann with more than 1,700 messages yesterday. These messages urged Olbermann to hold his favored president candidate, Barack Obama, to the same standards he has applied to President Bush. Your messages may have had an impact.

But before getting to that, I’d like to update you on our final numbers for June . . .

* We recruited 729 new Downsizers
* We sent 70,533 messages pressuring Congress (and Keith Olbermann)
* And we also made budget — THANK YOU

This is the first time we’ve sent more than 70,000 messages in a single month. We shattered our old record by more than 19,000. Thank you to everyone who participated to make June such a successful month. Your efforts do have an impact.

They may have had an impact on Keith Olbermann. It seemed to us that his “Special Comment” seemed slightly softer that what it had been advertised to be. And others observing Olbermann have similarly opined. Moreover, Olbermann said some good things . . .

* He accused the Democrats of caving-in to fear-mongering in regard to warrantless spying and telecom immunity
* He quoted George Washington on the dangers of political parties

We like both of these things. However, Olbermann also asserted that the “FISA Amendments Act” would merely restore the old way of authorizing domestic surveillance, implying that warrants will still be required for such surveillance. We disagree. We think the bill pretty much allows presidents to spy on anyone they want, with insufficient judicial control. You can read our analysis here.

Mr. Olbermann also asserted that the “FISA Amendments Act” only grants immunity from civil suits, and that criminal prosecutions will still be possible. He bases this claim on an analysis by John Dean in collaboration with lawyers from the ACLU. We work in coalition with some of those same ACLU lawyers, so we’ll be checking the claim and reporting back to you. However . . .

We’re not as thrilled by this as Olbermann and Dean seem to be. They seem confident that Obama would pursue prosecutions if elected. We are less confident. And what will happen if McCain is elected? The answer is NOTHING. Olbermann and Dean seem not to have considered this possibility.

Olbermann and Dean do acknowledge that President Bush could pardon the telecoms, but they think this would be a good thing, because it would be an admission of guilt. Again, we disagree, because we’re more worried about the future than about this particular instance of law breaking.

If the “FISA Amendments Act” passes, and the telecoms get off scott free, either through a pardon, or through a failure to prosecute by either Obama or McCain, then the way will be cleared for more illegal activity in the future. The fact remains that if the “FISA Amendments Act” fails, then . . .

* Warrants will be required for surveillance
* The existing court cases against the telecoms will be able to proceed to their day of justice

This is what all of us, including Olbermann, should be aiming at. We should NOT be trying to create wiggle room for Barack Obama or the Senate Democrats. Olbermann has done good work in the past by criticizing President Bush’s lawbreaking, but his partisan preference for Obama and the Democrats has now led him astray, as partisanship almost always does.

Olbermann has tried to give Mr. Obama an excuse for abandoning his defense of the Bill of Rights. We intend to compensate for Olbermann’s mistake by pressuring Mr. Obama to lead his party in defeating the “FISA Amendments Act.” We have created a new campaign for this purpose. Please send Barack Obama, at his campaign, a message. You can do so here.

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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