Get FISA Right: quick update

Executive Summary


Even though it’s the holiday season, it seems like the group’s energy is really starting to ramp up after the election, so I just wanted to take a moment to update people on what’s happening.  I realize that our communications are very, um, challenging right now and appreciate everybody’s forbearance.  One of the important things going on is a plan for improved communications in 2009; please have a look and see what you think!

Our short-term priorities are the Ideas for Change competition, working with on our next round of cable TV ads, and continuing our 2009 strategy planning.   And there a bunch of civil liberties questions on’s new Open for Questions, including a FISA-related idea with a great backstory.

Read on for more …

Ideas for Change is being run by, and their partners include MySpace and some great non-profit organizations.  Secondary Activism on Irregular Times has some good perspectives on the competition in context, including questions about just what will happen after the top 10 ideas are selected. Get FISA Right, Repeal the Patriot Act, and Restore our Civil Liberties remains in 6th place overall.  If you haven’t already voted for it, please do!

There are also similar ideas in other categories, incuding Donovan Caesar’s End the Patriot Act and Cody Warden’s stop all warrantless wiretapping (in Government Reform) and Pierre Loiselle’s Repeal the Patriot Act (in Other).  There are great ideas on other topics as well … fortunately, there’s no limit on how many ideas you can vote on in the first round, so please vote early and often!

I’ll have a guest blog post on’s Criminal Justice blog over the weekend.  If you’d like to help promote our idea, please see the suggestions here.

We had a great conference call on Tuesday discussing the ads; our next one is on Saturday.  (Links to call-in info, notes, and a recording are here.)  We’re working on two, a “light” one for the Inauguration in the DC area, and a harder-hitting one for DC and around the country.  There are some great ideas up on the wiki, and we’re trying to get rough scripts done by Friday so that we can get things nailed down by Monday.  Please join in the discussions!

As for the strategy planning, first of all apologies to those who couldn’t read the summary I emailed on Tuesday;* here’s a link.   Transparent Participatory Activism: Help Get FISA Right on Irregular Times had some really great things to say here:

I don’t agree with that document in all points, but I have strong respect for the organization’s determination to keep going, even while most Americans seem eager to drop talk of politics and instead place their passive hope in the notion that the new president will fix everything for us like some benevolent father figure or perhaps a rich uncle. I have an even greater respect for the transparent, inclusive way in which Get FISA Right is trying to bring people in as meaningful participants in the movement, and not just as mute supporters of some top-down agenda.


The document’s still in its early stages, so if there are things you too disagree with — or just as important, agree with — feedback is welcome. Please check it out and see what you think – and if there are others you know who would have good input, please forward it.

And moving on to … Nancy Scola’s Open for Questions: Meh or Yay? on techPresident is a good summar of how it works: anybody can submit a question (as long as you don’t mind sharing your personal information with Google), and people vote on which ones are the most interesting.  The current #2 question, from Kari in Seattle, is about restoring Constitutional protections, so civil liberties have a lot of attention.

There are several FISA-related questions, including this one:

“Will you work with (or against) Congress to strip telco immunity from the FISA law that passed last year? Given the huge amounts of money telecom lobbyists have given to Congress, how much political capital will you spend to defeat the opposition?” — Mike Stark

Good question! I voted for it … please consider doing the same (as long as you don’t mind sharing your personal information with Google).

If the name rings a bell, it’s the same Mike Stark whose Will Obama feel the sting of social networking? launched Get FISA Right in the progressive blogosphere last June.**  Hiiiiii (waves)!

There are also questions about the PATRIOT Act (this one from Dutchess in Florida is the highest-rated one I saw) and wiretapping … once again, there isn’t a limit on how many times you can vote, so vote early and often.  As long as you don’t mind sharing your personal information with Google, that is.

There’s a consistent theme emerging with,, and other sites like, where ensure our privacy and repeal the patriot act is #2.  At least in the online world, these are very clearly issues that people care about civil liberties and the Constitution, up there with the economy and health care and other top-priorities.  Good news for us, with the caveat that we still need to replicate this in society as a whole.

Which ties back to the strategy discussion.  One of our proposed goals for anti-FISA forces in 2009 is “Significant change in public opinion to the point where there’s strong evidence that the vast majority of Americans (60%+) oppose continuing the “national surveillance state” approach to providing the illusion of security.”

How to accomplish that?

Your thoughts welcome!


* MyBO had problems with HTML email.  I hate software.

** if you didn’t recognize the name, have a look at the Brief History section of the Strategy backgrounder