Video: Daniel Ellsberg on FISA

Tim Ferriss interviews Daniel Ellsberg, the man who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the amendment that will allow the government to spy on American citizens without a warrant — as well as provide retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies who illegally allowed American security agencies like the NSA to listen to conversations of American citizens. A vote tomorrow in Congress will authorize these changes, although Senators Feingold and Dodd have fought back against the proposed extension of FISA.

Senator Obama had once been a strong ally in the fight against FISA, but recently changed his position. Ferriss recommends joining the group against FISA to send a message to Senator Obama, as well as contacting your Senator and expressing your opinion.

If it were not already obvious, I would suggest doing either or both. FISA is an insidious bill. There are mechanisms in place to allow domestic spying when necessary; there is absolutely no need to allow the spying without a proper warrants. I've done both. It took about 60 seconds.

What Every American Needs to Know (and Do) About FISA Before Tuesday []

Join the Conversation


  1. If these companies didn’t break the law, then they should have nothing to worry about and nothing to hide. If your government and their agents don’t have to obey the law and/or have no consequences for breaking the law, then you know you’re living in a tyranny. The rule of law is one of the few clear indicators of who the good guys are. We don’t wear appropriately-colored hats anymore.

    Why is it important that the government have checks in place to listen in on citizens’ phone calls and read their email? Simple: governments that can stalk, surveil and harass its citizens with impunity become governments that control the people rather than governments that are controlled BY the people. You have a reasonable expectation that unless the police have probable cause to believe that you are a criminal you can talk to your wife, your kids, your lawyer, your priest, your shrink, or your lover without worrying whether some pervert (paid with your tax dollars no less) is listening in on your phone call or reading your email. They’re _our_ employees, not the other way around. That’s what makes America great. That’s the idea that made this country worth fighting for those couple hundred years ago and, with dedication, courage, and the blood of patriots, will make it still worth fighting for a couple hundred years from now. There are some people that think that we should give up those rights that so many have died to win in order to defend us from the terrorists. There’s a name for people like that. They’re called cowards. What a dishonor to the warriors and allies who willingly put their lives on the line every day to _actually_ fight the people who attacked us on 9/11. To suggest that we citizens of the republic are not willing to endure even the tiniest bit of hypothetical risk to honor and guard the rights that we order our soldiers to die to defend is worse than offensive. It’s disgusting. And shameful. I’m not a coward. I’m going to visit my senators’ offices today to let them know. Maybe you can take a minute to call your senator today and tell them you’re not a coward either.

  2. This is an important constitutional crisis here folks, watch the video. This is legislation that not only would grant retroactive immunity for the warrantless wiretapping of the last seven years, without knowledge of the extent of such and the damage done, but also the empowerment of the executive branch to continue such programs without judicial oversight. Are you willing to grant such surveillance powers on the basis of “trust me, I won’t use this authority for evil”? Over my desk hangs a sign that reads “Abuse of power comes as no surprise.” Let’s not surrender the fourth amendment without a fight.

    Call your Senators and ask them to use every vote they have on Tuesday:

    Vote “YES” on the Dodd-Feingold amendment, which would strip telecom immunity from the bill entirely.

    Vote “YES” on the Bingaman amendment, which would delay implementation of telecom immunity until after Congress has received the Inspectors General report on the president’s warrantless surveillance program.

    Vote “NO” on the cloture motion to end debate on the FAA,

    And finally, vote “NO” on the FISA Amendments Act, an unconstitutional and dangerous bill that would radically expand the presidential spying powers and immunize the companies that violated the law.

  3. DAVE@1 and JIMH@2: Here Here!

    Something factual to chew on: Wiretapping of Americans started weeks after Bush took office. The terrorism argument was a blanket thrown on this burning issue, and a retroactive blanket at that. The illegal wiretapping was used for political gains, to monitor and spy on government officials as well as average Americans. This was a year and a half before 9-11! If it were done to prevent terror attacks, it was woefully unsuccessful, if used for this purpose at all.

    Resources mentioned in the video linked here for your convenience, as well as a bunch more:

    (I just left messages with the offices of Sen.s Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn to this effect: “If a Democrat is elected president, there will be no oversight to their spying on YOU.”)

    Obama Supporters who think he got it right the first time:

    The statement of the Get FISA Right movement of Obama supporters:

    Call Obama’s campaign directly and voice your opposition to this “compromise” here: (866) 675-2008. When you get a menu, press 6.

    Sen. Russ Feingold is assembling a petition on this issue. I urge you to please take a moment to sign it:

    The ACLU’s action link on this issue:

    From Restore The Republic:,com_wrapper/Itemid,119/ Watch this short video for more information:,com_seyret/task,videodirectlink/Itemid,40/id,808/ Please support the Freedom Media Project:

    Check out this action item on Daily Kos:

    and this:
    Help Obama Get FISA Right

    Lastly, I leave you with the immortal words of John Lennon:

    Only People

    Only people just know how to talk to people
    Only people know just how to change the world
    Only people realize the power of people
    A million heads are better than one, so come on, get it on!

    Well I know how we tried and the millions of tears that we cried
    Now we are hipper we been thru the trip
    And we can’t be denied
    With woman and man side by side
    Make no mistake it’s our future we’re making
    Bake the cake and eat it too!

    We don’t want no pig brother scene

    Well it’s long overdue there
    Ain’t nothing better to do
    Now we are hipper we been thru the trip
    We can fly right on thru, there’s nothing on earth we can do
    Fish or cut bait it’s our future we’re making
    All together now pull the chain!

    We don’t want no pig brother scene!

  4. I take issue with what was said in the first 40 seconds of the clip. The host starts off by saying he doesn’t like to talk about politics, and he doesn’t have any dedication or affiliation with any party.

    This is not something to admit in public or subtly brag about. He SHOULD like to talk about politics.
    He SHOULD join a party, any party.
    This is 2008 for crying out loud. There are some many world changing issues on the table right now. This “politics is beneath me” attitude is the sign of an unenlightened individual. I don’t care how many hours he works in a week.

    Does the host think it is acceptable civic behavior to wake up to address a single issues like wiretapping then go back to sleep. How embarrassing.

    I think the ancient greeks had the right idea when political discussion was part of everyday life.

    With all do respect, pull your head out of the sand.

  5. Good points all around.. MichaelB1 I agree with you as well, I know many people who insist they’re playing “devil’s advocate” but there is a point (especially in the middle of everything going on today) when you have to get off the fence and take a stand on one side or another. I’ve sent this to everyone I know, etc, I just hope it will be enough. I’m getting sick of watching my country die in front of me.

  6. Seems all the democrats do in congress is pass laws of laws that already exist. A new law re-iterating the illegality of torture? A new law re-iterating that the government cannot spy on its citizens? A new law re-iterating that voter fraud is illegal? How about some enforcement here of the laws that exist instead of re-passing laws as a kind of theatre to pathetically whimper, “When we passed that law before, we really meant it.”

    If it is the job of the executive to enforce the laws, then how about a little impeachment action on those grounds?

  7. Was this info used to blackmail or embarrass their opposition? Embarrass people like Eliot Spitzer? The Mayor of Detroit? Using this info to strangle their domestic opposition in the crib, so to speak…
    Was the info used for commercial advantage? Against business rivals? Rival bankers?

  8. This was sent out this evening from Democracy For America (

    Today may be our last chance to stop senators from voting to pass the so-called FISA “compromise” bill.

    Last week, thousands of us called our own senators. Thousands more DFA members personally delivered our message to senators at their district offices. And tomorrow every senator will receive DFA petition signatures from members in their district demanding they stand up to President Bush and vote against the “compromise.”

    Yet there is still one person who can stop this bill today: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    Call Senator Reid right now and demand he pull the FISA “compromise” bill which will lead to retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies who spied on Americans.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
    Washington DC: 202-224-3542

    If the DC number is busy – Try reaching his district offices:
    Reno Office: 775-686-5750
    Vegas Office: 702-388-5020

    This is it. We have stopped President Bush from getting his way and letting AT&T and Verizon of the hook four times.

    It is up to us to stop it again.

    Thank you for taking action. Thank you for everything you do.


    Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
    Democracy for America

    P.S. If you haven’t signed the Senate Petition to Stop Telecom Immunity yet or sent it around and asked your friends and family to sign, you still can. We will deliver the signatures first thing tomorrow morning to every Senator right before tomorrow’s votes. CLICK HERE TO SIGN

  9. if Ellsberg is not in fact a coward, why does he perpetuate the fiction that our troops in Irag and Afghanistan are fighting against the people responsible for 911? they are in fact fighting FOR the people responsible for 911.

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