Now, I am against extending the Protect America Act because I believe it gives unconstitutional power to law enforcement agencies to spy on American citizen's without a warrant. But, if it is going to be extended it damn well better not include Telecom Immunity. Currently, law suits brought against the Telecom companies are the only active means we have to find out who the Bush Administration has been spying on, what information has been collected, and how has it been used. Congress is doing nothing and the Justice Department will not investigate, so that leaves the law suits brought by citizen's rights groups against the Telecoms. If Telecoms are granted immunity then the fact finding parts of these law suits will be shut down and we will never know what has been done under this illegal program.
But back to Heath Shuler. Mr. Shuler, as most Bush dogs, claims that because he is from a conservative district they must vote with the Republicans on National Security issues. I believe the 2006 election and the primaries this year offer many examples of where standing strong against the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration overreach for executive power has helped Democrats in conservative as well as liberal districts.
The latest example is the special election for IL-14 which was held yesterday, March 8th. IL-14 is Denny Hassert’s old district and has been a firmly republican district for many years. But, yesterday Bill Foster (D) won that seat. He did it not by running away from Democratic ideals and trying to be tougher on National Security Issues, but by proudly stating he was a Democrat, we should pull out of Iraq ASAP, and he ran against telecom immunity. Consider this statement by Bill Foster
"The President and his allies in Congress are playing politics with national security, and that's wrong. Nobody is above the law and telecom companies who engaged in illegal surveillance should be held accountable, not given retroactive immunity. I flatly oppose giving these companies an out for cooperating with Alberto Gonzalez on short-circuiting the FISA courts and the rule of law" (quote copied from Open Left)
People who live in Mr. Shuler's district need to confront him on his stand on Telecom Immunity and ask to him follow the example Mr. Bill Foster. He needs to know that defending the constitution is more important to the voters than protecting the Telephone Companies. I have read that Mr. Shuler has a very good voting record on the environment and having him in the Congress is certainly better than having his predecessor. I tend to think that his political calculus is wrong on this issue. If he studies the way voters respond to strong Democrats standing up to the abuses of the Bush Administration he may be swayed from his unwavering support for Bush's National Security policy.