Get FISA Right: on the air in St. Paul!

Get FISA Right logoDuring the past 8 years, the Bush administration listened to Americans’ phone calls and read their emails without a warrant. If elected President, John McCain would do the same.*

Get FISA Right ad, scheduled to air on Fox News in St. Paul today

Update: check out Nick Juliano’s Anti-FISA group targets GOP delegates in St. Paul on The Raw Story

We’ve got at least 9 Get FISA Right ads scheduled to air on the cable news networks during the Republican National Convention. With the live documentation of journalists in handcuffs and demonstrators teargassed and pepper-sprayed in St. Paul, a prime time Fox News ad defending the Constitution for only $123 feels like money very well spent — a great chance to reach all the media looking for convention stories to cover as well as the personal satisfaction of bringing up an issue I know none of the speakers will touch. I know it’s been said a lot recently, but’s ability to let individuals air cable ads is really a game-changer.

For Against
Republicans 46 1
Democrats 5 44
July 9 Senate vote on telecom immunity

It’s been a really difficult 8 years for civil libertarians, and although there’s a sense of change in the air and I’m increasingly confident that we’ll win when the FISA battle resumes early next year, nobody at last week’s Democratic National Convention seemed to want to talk about the damage that’s been done to the Constitution. Is it really possible that issues like the Fourth Amendment, the rule of law, and the underlying Nixonian Article II/”unitary executive” theory aren’t going to be on the table this election? It’s appalling on at least a couple of levels. As an American, I really feel like we should get to vote on whether or not we continue a slide into fascism. And as an Obama supporter, how can an otherwise-intelligent campaign throw away such a huge potential advantage?**

Ah well. There’s still a couple of months before the election, and while Rick Davis of the McCain campaign thinks it’s not about the issues, David Plouffe of the Obama campaign and virtually all of the voters I talk to think otherwise. So maybe it’s not too late to get some meaningful discussion.

For Against
Republicans 47 0
Democrats 22 27
Senate vote on FISA Amendment Act

It’s frustrating, because this is a story that should be getting attention from the mainstream media attention and interest from the Obama campaign. Libertarians are a key battleground in this race; how many will McCain be able to hold — and how energetically will they support him? Conversely, how many of the progressives who are considering not supporting Obama because of his FISA vote can be turned around? How many of those who leave McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden will go for a third-party ticket, how many will stay home, and how many will crossover? Hard to know at this point but it could certainly be enough to influence the race.

Alas, FISA’s been virtually absent from the mainstream media (MSM) since the Senate vote in mid-July. That makes it easy for both parties to discount the importance of the issue. I know there are reporters out there who want to cover civil rights; hopefully the story of a rag-tag group of activists running an ad during the Republican National Convention is enough of a hook.

For Against
Republicans 188 1
Democrats 105 128

House vote on FISA Amendment Act

Another possibility: coordinated energy on this ad highlighting the breadth of the multi-partisan opposition to FISA (Strange Bedfellows, Joe Biden, Ron Paul, EFF, ACLU, and so many more) could get it to enough visibility that the MSM has to show some interest. One interesting lesson from NoBayh*** is that coordinated action from about a dozen major progressive blogs and news sources, and 2000 people joining the group, was enough to get coverage in MSM-affiliated blogs: the Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp, the NY Times’ The Caucus, etc. From what I know of it, the pro-drilling #dontgo activism campaign also only had a few thousand social network activists, but it appears to have had a significant impact on Obama’s energy position as well as the VP nomination. Yeah, yeah, okay, they had a lot of help from influentials … we have allies too.

In other words, it’s up to us.

If you’re reading this and would like to help, there are a few things you can do:

  1. help get the word out. if you blog, please write about it; let press and bloggers know; mention it in comments on political blogs. there are a few references below in a comment to make this easier 🙂
  2. join our communication action team
  3. please join us: on Facebook,, Twitter, MySpace, or the message board
  4. support our allies against FISA: ACLU, EFF, Strange Bedfellows, Senators Dodd, Feingold, Leahy, Bingaman, and Specter, …
  5. If you’d like to air the ad yourself, in your home city or elsewhere, please see the page on

One way or another, please get involved!

The opportunity is clearly there. Is the Obama campaign paying attention? Will the mainstream media step up and decide to pay attention to the Constitution? If not, can the blogosphere make enough noise that the MSM has no choice? We shall see.


PS: As always,it’s been an amazing experience working with the Get FISA Right group and The ads came together quickly enough that we can get them on the air, and the “During the last 8 years” intro do this one turned out to match the “8 is enough” theme of Obama’s speech. We’ve got a chance to put a discussion civil liberties on the national agenda in a year that everybody agrees is likely to be a “realignment election” … how cool is that? It’s a great pleasure working with you!

* source: McCain spokesman Doug Holtz-Eakin’s statement in National Review Online. Ryan Singel’s McCain: I’d Spy on Americans Secretly Too in Wired’s Threat Level has context.  Holtz-Eakin is now Sarah Palin’s domestic policy advisor.

** True, Obama’s far from perfect on FISA — in fact, Get FISA Right first started on by (unsuccessfully) calling on him to change his position. Even so, I discussed in Get FISA Right gets partisan! there’s still a huge difference between him and McCain, and between the Democrats and the Republicans, on telecom immunity in particular and civil liberties more generally.

*** 100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP; see the coverage list on their wiki.