06/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

FISA: It's Time For Some Accountability

Just two short years ago I wrote an essay collection entitled Someday We'll
All Be Free
. That book included a piece about the 2004 presidential
election, another about Hurricane Katrina, and a third about September 11th.
Like many Americans I was profoundly affected by the events of that fateful
day. In that September 11th essay I made it a point to talk about democracy,
terrorism, and war. It is an expansive piece because I know American history
and know full well what we have lost as a country each time we've chosen to
ignore our own words about justice for all. And I was and remain very clear
that we as Americans should not allow anything or anyone to manipulate any
great tragedy into the elimination of our civil rights and civil liberties.
Furthermore, as a progressive who has committed the last quarter century of
his life, since I was a teenage youth activist, to movements for truth and
social equality, I cannot sit idly by and watch Congress cut backroom deals
on warrantless wiretapping. Real freedom and real democracy should never be
compromised, and I urge all Congresspeople of conscious to reject any
compromise bill that would grant big telephone companies immunity,
retroactively and going forward, even though many broke the law.

Additionally, America's telecommunications companies and executive branch
need to be held accountable for breaking U.S. law and violating the U.S.
constitution. The FISA court as it was established in 1978 gave the
government sufficient powers to respond to immediate threats to our nation's
security while establishing some oversight of judicial, investigative and
police powers. There have been no tangible benefits stemming from the
illegal spying perpetrated on U.S. citizens by their phone companies and
their government. The Bush administration has a long track record of wanting
to strip its citizens of their privacy and limit free speech. Illegal spying
by the government with the cooperation of unaccountable corporations
violates our freedoms and threatens the foundations of our democracy.