Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama, FISA and John Barrow

Glenn Greenwald:

As noted yesterday, Blue Dog Rep. John Barrow of Georgia has been one of the most enthusiastic enablers of the radical and lawless policies of the Bush administration. When running for re-election, he ran ads accusing his own party of wanting to "cut and run in Iraq," and was one of the 21 Blue Dogs to send a letter to Nancy Pelosi demanding that they be allowed to vote for the Rockefeller/Cheney Senate bill to give warrantless eavesdropping powers to the President and amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms.

As a result of all of that, Barrow faces a serious primary challenge in July from State Senator Regina Thomas, who decided to run against Barrow due to -- as she told Howie Klein when she announced -- "Barrow's failure to support his constituents against the encroachments of powerful Big Business interests." As Klein noted yesterday, Thomas' positions on both foreign and domestic policy are firmly in line with Barack Obama's views and with the Democratic base in that district, while Barrow has continuously supported the most extremist Bush policies, as he himself proudly boasts.

In contrast to Barrow's demands for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, here is the statement Regina Thomas issued yesterday (via email):

After reading the FISA bill -- Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- I thought "This can not be good for Americans. That the Bush Administration wants unlimited powers for spying on not only terrorists, but on any American citizen. This is against and violates the Constitutional Fourth Amendment [right of] privacy. This also allows warrant-less monitoring of any form of communication in the United States." I was disappointed and dismayed with my Congressman John Barrow supporting this Bush Republican initiative against Americans. Too often Congressman Barrow from the 12th district in Georgia has voted with Bush and the Republicans on key issues.

Despite all of this, The Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported yesterday that Barack Obama -- who has been claiming to be so emphatically opposed to warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, to say nothing of the Iraq War -- taped a radio endorsement this week for Rep. Barrow, with the specific intent to help him defeat Regina Thomas in the Democratic primary (h/t sysprog):

Obama cuts an ad to help John Barrow in his primary fight

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has taped a radio commercial on behalf of U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Savannah, who faces a July 15 primary challenge.

It's the first case of Obama involving himself in a local race in Georgia. . . But the Obama campaign made clear to my colleague Aaron Sheinin that it sees Barrow, a two-term Democrat, as an important ally. . . .

"Senator Obama believes that Congressman Barrow has worked hard to bring change that families in his district deserve, and we'll work hard to help John Barrow win in November," Obama spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.

In the ad, Obama asks voters to join him in supporting Barrow. "We're going to need John Barrow back in Congress to help change Washington and get our country back on track," Obama says in the 60-second ad.


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