« Some White House Framing on the war in Iraq | Main | Progressive Christians Eyeing Political Fray »

Wake-up Call

An Emergency Town Meeting with Ed Markey
(A summary report by North Bridge member Cynthia Ritsher)

•  Ed Markey is a Massachusetts Representative  in Washington
•  Marc Rotenberg is the Executive Director of EPIC, the Electronic
Privacy Information  Center   (see: www.epic.org)
•  Carol Rose is with the ACLU

Yesterday evening, January 4th, at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington  several North Bridge  members were present at an important wake-up call, similar in many ways to the one  sounded in Seattle some years ago when thousands of Americans  marched in unison against the
WTO, the IMF and the World Bank.  Back then we were affirming our solidarity with third world countries suffering under the  club of U.S. empire. Yesterday we were clear about our frustration with King George and his gang in Washington.  We supported Ed Markey’s call for regime change  at home.  Both events were wake up calls.

On his web page, Ed Markey posted yesterday’s large gathering  as  “AN EMERGENCY TOWN MEETING on the Bush Administration’s Program on Domestic Surveillance.”  He, along with his two invited panelists, was clear that they were sounding an alarm, the first of many Emergency Town
Meetings that will be heard across the country in the coming months.  All three speakers declared that we’re in the midst of a CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS.

Together they refuted eight myths we are asked by our government  to believe  regarding domestic surveillance. Paraphrased, these myths are:
1.  That we could have prevented 9/11 if we’d had a secret surveillance program in place at the time.
2.  The FISA court is too slow for wartime and undermines surveillance capabilities.
3.  The NSA program is limited and tightly controlled.
4.  The President already has existing authority to conduct secret surveillance.
5.  There is congressional oversight.  Members are periodically briefed.
6.  The domestic spying programs is closely monitored and approved by top Justice Department officials.
7.  Too many restrictions on surveillance already exist.
8.  Talking about this is shameful.  It helps the enemy.  (taken from a Bush quote)

The refutations (Forgive my too brief note-taking.)
1.  After 9/11 Senator Specter and the FBI affirmed in a well-known interchange that there was adequate legal authority and information.  Carol Rose agreed that information gathering is adequate.  What is needed is better analysis.  She spoke of the constitutional crisis
we’re in.
2.  By law we can get Ex Post Facto authorization from the FISA court.  Secrecy is what the Bush government wants, not speed and agility.
3.  the NSA is within the Defense Department and has both funds and power in the extreme.  What we’re missing judicial and legislative oversight.
4.  Simply put, the President is NOT above the law.  (More was said about the 4th Amendment and the 1978 FISA law… but I didn’t take notes.)
5.  Speaking from his own experience, Ed Markey disagreed with President’s notion that there is Congressional Oversight.  He stated further that secret congressional briefings degrade the role of
Congress.
6.  Though the government has stated that the domestic spying programs are closely monitored and approved, Markey made it clear that there’s little information or understanding in congress about WHAT Bush has approved or WHAT he has authorized. He believes Congressional Hearings
– with subpoena powers – are needed.
7.  The FISA Court is a one-sided representation, a rubber-stamp.  Regarding this, the panelists agreed that the Bush gang seeks to do DATA-MINING. In fact, Governor Romney is planning to set up a model FUSION CENTER in Framingham, for collecting and organizing vast amounts of data gleaned from various sources.
8.  The panelists agreed  that we, the audience, and we the people, must be INFORMED and ACTIVE – during this Constitutional Crisis. We must push Congress for Hearings, with subpoena powers. And as we must remind the people about the high stakes at risk. We must inform and inspire
each other to action, making sure that Emergency Town Meetings take place across the country.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on January 7, 2006 at 06:41 PM | Permalink

Comments

Very nice essay. Please keep at it.

Posted by: greg karber | Jan 8, 2006 10:25:28 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.