Thursday, July 3, 2008

An Open Letter to Senator Obama

A group of Barack Obama supporters, distressed at his support for a FISA bill currently under consideration in the Senate, has created a group on Obama's own web site to mount a protest. Since its inception eight days ago, the group, called "Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right," has become the largest group on the website, currently with over 18,000 members. Concerned that Obama is supporting the legislation's immunity for telecommunication companies and its broadened powers for warrantless wiretapping, leaders of the group have written an open letter to Obama.

As a United Methodist, concerned about civil liberties, I share the group's intentions (and, in fact, joined the group when it was just a few thousand strong). As articulated in the denomination's Social Principles, the people of The United Methodist Church "hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people . . . to the right to privacy. . . . We also strongly reject domestic surveillance and intimidation of political opponents by governments in power and all other misuses of elective or appointive offices."

Because I think the use of governmental power is a spiritual question, I am reproducing the open letter written by leaders of the aforementioned group of concerned Obama supporters.

An Open Letter to Senator Obama

From the 15,000+ (and rapidly growing) members of the group

"Senator Obama – Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right"

recommended tags: fisa, Obama, myBO, getfisaright
and once you do, please add the link to the open letter repostings page

Dear Senator Obama,

On October 24, 2007, your campaign spokesman said, "To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."

On June 20, 2008 you said, of retroactive immunity, "I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses."

As the largest grass-roots group on your campaign website,, and in the spirit of your open/responsive government campaign pledges, we wish to share our ideas for how we may work together to further the goal of eliminating retroactive immunity from the FISA legislation scheduled for debate in the Senate next week. Although this is only one of the problems we see with legislation which allows the government to wiretap the communications of its citizenry without a warrant, it's the area we think we can help you with the most.

First, Senator Obama, we ask that you make the same tools that we used to call undecided voters in Iowa and New Hampshire available for us to call our fellow citizens in West Virginia, Nebraska, Delaware, Florida and other states that have Senators committed to voting against the amendment that would strip telecom immunity. You have the tools and we have the people power. Together, we are confident we can bring Change; we can make the government listen to the people instead of the telecom lobbyists.

Second, Senator Obama, we ask that you attend the Senate debate and schedule floor time to speak about the violence done to the rule of law when Congress retroactively immunizes the illegal conduct of a special interest. We know you understand that justice should not be sold to the highest special interest bidder; we also know that you can persuade other Senators that are not so clear on the issue. Of course, if you do this, our committed members will surely capture the video of your inspiring oratory, load it to YouTube and spread your words to our friends and family far and wide. We trust in your ability to bring a new way of doing business to Washington and look forward to helping you make that Change a reality.

Senator Obama, the caption reads, "I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington… I'm asking you to believe in yours." We're ready to put these words into practice

Thank you.

The 15,000+ (and rapidly growing) members of

"Senator Obama – Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right"

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