What Every American Needs to Know (and Do) About FISA Before Wednesday Voting

“Those who can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

–Benjamin Franklin

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[Note: The vote was postponed from Tuesday (today) to tomorrow, Wednesday. There is still time to take the actions below.]

This is the most important and controversial post I’ve ever written. For American readers, the short video above could be the most important video you watch in your lifetime.

I hesitated to post this and will alienate some readers, but I accept that.

Wednesday, July 9th, could mark the beginning of official condoning of warrantless surveillance of law-abiding citizens in the US, not to mention foreign nationals. I am not an alarmist and believe in qualified surveillance with process — this is different. I’ve done the homework.

The above is an 18-minute interview that I just finished with Daniel Ellsberg, famous for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. His actions are often credited with helping end not only the Nixon presidency but also the Vietnam War. He consulted for the Kennedy Administration after receiving a PhD. from Harvard in Economics and served in the Pentagon under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Remember that part of lifestyle design is creating a good environment for you and those you care for. Central to this is preventing dangerous laws — the rules of your environment — from coming into existence. This is not about being political. It’s about being responsible. There are Republicans in Congress who oppose this bill, so it shouldn’t be written off as leftist propaganda.

In the video above, I interview Ellsberg to learn what every American needs to know — and do in the next 24 hours — about the new FISA (Foreign Information and Surveillance Act) amendments. The interview, and below partial transcription, answers questions like…

-I don’t have anything to hide. How does this affect me?

-What if this type of surveillance is what has prevented another 9/11 from happening?

-What are common inaccuracies about FISA reported in the media?

Please watch it.

Find below how you can make a real impact in less than 60 seconds. Every person counts — the Senators who will vote are watching the numbers. 41 Senators can block the bill, and it’s not too late.

Please do the following.

How I ask you to spend 60 seconds

Daniel explains below several important reasons to act in the next few hours (much more in the video), but for those who are prepared to spend 60 seconds to help protect their liberties and prevent warrantless wiretapping from becoming a new standard in the US, here are two options:

1. ALL AMERICANS: Go to the EFF website here and put in your zipcode to find your Senator’s phone number. Call them and read the short script on the same page. If no answer or a full voicemail box, click the link at the bottom of the page to e-mail them.

(Tell others verbally to go to “www.eff.org” and click “take action”)

2. OBAMA SUPPORTERS: Go to My.BarackObama.com here and join the group requesting he oppose (as he did earlier) the amendment. This takes about 30 seconds. I suggest changing “ListServ” in the bottom right to “Do not receive e-mails.”

(Tell others verbally to search “obama please vote no” on Google and My.BarackObama.com will be in the top 3 results, currently #1)

I would love to give online Facebook-like groups for all Republicans, especially McCain, and Democrats who originally opposed the bill, but Obama is the only Senator I can find with a group to join specifically related this FISA bill.

Two Tips from a Former Pfizer Lobbyist and Fellow Reader

Credit and thanks to “Roger Dodger”:

1) When you call your Senators, ask then where they stand on the bills before reading the script. If they are with you on most issues, thank them! Then ask why they don’t support the issues you differ on. Then go on to ask for their support on those issues. If they are against you in most things, then refer to the entire script.

2) If they get enough calls, they will change their minds on an issue. 10 activists saying an issue is important to them may equal the opinion of 10000 constituents. If you don’t believe that, just talk to any Real Estate Developer in your area and listen to their war stories on how 10 people coming to a community meeting and shouting blocked a multi million dollar project from happening.

Be nice. And be interested in the person on the other end of the line. These people have nutjobs calling all day to scream at them.

I was amazed at how uninformed people in Congress (not just the elected, but their staff as well) were on issues. I was talking heathcare with them and in most cases, ten months after passing the Medicare Part D, I was the first person who they’d talked to who had interviewed doctors on how they felt Part D was working.

Inform your Congress on issues you are interested in!

Some Highlights with Daniel Ellsberg

1. Why does the vote this Tuesday, July 8th matter to normal people who have nothing to hide?

Ordinary citizens who want to live in a democracy — including those with nothing to hide — should be concerned about the ability of the government to use private, sensitive personal information to blackmail, manipulate, and intimidate their representatives, journalists and their sources, potential whistleblowers, and activists or dissenters of any sort.

2. Couldn’t it be argued that this type of surveillance ability has prevented another 9/11 from happening? Isn’t it possible that this type of legislation has saved American lives?

The administration has claimed that is has, but without presenting a single piece of evidence that this is so, even in closed hearings to Senators with clearances on the Intelligence Committee. The FISA court has granted warrants in virtually every request that’s been made of it that has any color of helping national security. The administration’s decision to bypass that court, illegally, leads to a strong suspicion that they are abusing domestic spying, as some of their predecessors did, in ways that even the secret FISA court would never approve.

3. What are the most important factual inaccuracies about FISA found in the media?

Advocates of the bill take pride that it makes this amended FISA the exclusive basis for overhearing citizens, but that exclusivity is, in fact, in the current 30-year-old FISA bill already. President Bush simply ignored it in bypassing FISA, and there’s not reason that he and his successors would not continue to do the same here.

It’s been inaccurately stated that if this amendments didn’t pass, FISA would expire. This is flatly false. FISA is open-ended and will continue as it already has, adequately for 30 years. What would expire are some blanket surveillance orders authorized last year, which the majority of Democrats, including Senator Obama, voted against.

The current bill does include one useful amendment to FISA, which could be passed with virtually unanimous approval in an afternoon, to allow warrantless interception of foreign-to-foreign communications that happen to pass through the United States. No one opposes this.

Various administration officials have claimed that the requirement of applying for a warrant from the FISA court deprived them of speed and flexibility. This is false. The FISA allows for surveillance to be implemented in an emergency situation before a warrant is sought, and that could undoubtedly be extended with Congressional approval without controversy.

What the administration seeks, and this bill provides, is permanent warrantless surveillance.

4. Let’s consider an analogy: police officers have the legal right to stop you if you’re going 56 mph in a 55-mph zone, but this right isn’t often abused or applied to harass citizens. What makes you think the administration would abuse their surveillance powers if this amendment is approved?

The abuses of surveillance to which governments are drawn are those that keep them in office, used to intimidate and manipulate their rivals, and to avoid debate and dissent on their policies. These are exactly the abuses that the Church Committee discovered in 1975, which had been conducted on a wide-scale by the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and in some cases even earlier, which is what lead to FISA in the first place.

To remove judicial oversight, which this amendment would effectively do, is to invite the same kind of repressive abuse that lead to FISA in the first place.

5. Why would the current administration want this amendment to pass, if not for safety of citizens and prevention of attacks?

Using NSA to spy without judicial oversight or constraint on American citizens provides the infrastructure for dictatorship. George W. Bush has frequently said what other presidents may only have thought: “It would be a heck of a lot easier in a dictatorship, if only I were the dictator.”

Other presidents have violated the law and the Constitution in much the same way as Bush, so long as they could do it secretly, but they haven’t proclaimed that as a right of their office as Bush, Cheney and their legal advisors have done.

The oath of office they took, along with all members of Congress, was to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. I believe that, in the matters we’ve been discussing, the Founders had it right, not only for their time but for ours.


Please Digg and Buzz this below if you believe this is important. Please act now, as hours matter.

Extended bio of guest:

Daniel Ellsberg’s earlier career includes serving as a Marine Corps company commander and earning a PhD. in Economics from Harvard. In 1959 he joined the Rand Corporation’s Economics Department as an analyst, and consulted for the Kennedy Administration on the command and control on nuclear weapons. In 1964 he was recruited to serve in the Pentagon under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Following two years in Vietnam for the State Department, Ellsberg eventually returned to Rand. In 1971 he made headlines around the world when he released the Pentagon Papers. Ultimately his actions helped end not only the Nixon presidency but the Vietnam War.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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229 Replies to “What Every American Needs to Know (and Do) About FISA Before Wednesday Voting”

  1. Tim love your blog but dont be so naive. Not sure why you are buying this leftist spin. Under this bill the ONLY time they will listen to your conversations is if you are talking to a KNOW terrorist overseas. We are not in any danger of losing any rights. I am a very strict constitutionalist and in no way would I ever give up my rights and if they were to listen to my conversations I would be upset, but if I was talking to a KNOWN terrorist then I would understand. Stop the spin and talk to the other side and get the other side of the issue.

  2. No comments yet?! Then let me be the first to say, “Kudos to you, Tim!” I’ll definitely be contacting my senators & Mr. Obama.

    Sadly, this historic vote did not make the front page of either my local news or the New York Times website.

  3. Oh man! It just keeps getting worse for you guys!

    Is it too much to ask for honorable people in positions of power?

    Glad I live in the uk. But we will be having the same problems soon enough…

  4. Tim, thanks for this. It’s incredibly important and affects us all – not only americans. Even as I’m in Norway, writing this comment, I’d be surveilled by the US government, without my own knowledge and without judicial oversight. It’s a breach of fundamental principles that has created democracy, and it’s slowly but surely eroding.

    I’ve recently worked with attempts to stop both the Data Retention Act in the EU, and the FRA law in Sweden, which are both laws severly limiting civil liberties. And the last one is even being used from January 1 next year. The FISA amendment is pretty close to the Swedish law, actually. Approved by so-called liberals.

    It’s a bit late now, but feel free to get in touch for campaign tips, if you need to. We’ve had quite some success creating debate and sparking interest here, and it’s the only way of getting people out of apathy.

    Otherwise, I’ll say what Bruce Schneier would say: If I don’t have anything to hide, you have no reason to watch me.

  5. What frightens me somewhat, is this the ease with which you suggest that privacy is only for U.S. citizens.

    Quote (part of highlight 3.):

    “The current bill does include one useful amendment to FISA, which could be passed with virtually unanimous approval in an afternoon, to allow warrantless interception of foreign-to-foreign communications that happen to pass through the United States. No one opposes this.”

    So, if you were to communicate with your friends, the U.S. government has no right to snoop on that. But if I communicate with my friends (and this communication passes through the U.S.), the U.S. government can just listen in?

    How would you feel if it was the other way around?

    This could also have big repercussions on corporate communications for instance? Should the U.S. government be allowed to listen in on foreign corporations talking with each other if it passes through the U.S.?

  6. @Dafmetal and all:

    I don’t mean to imply that privacy is just for US citizens. Not at all. I added “not to mention foreign nationals,” as the effects will be even more severe for you all. It just happens that we Americans would be living in an evolving police state, and since we’re responsible for contacting our Senators, I addressed this post mostly to my fellow Americans.

    @All who might consider this leftist spin:

    There are Republicans in Congress who oppose this bill. It’s not a party problem, it’s a 4th amendment problem with good people on both sides who have voiced real fears.

    Those of you who know more about these issues, please speak up! And remember folks — I didn’t write this for the debate but for the action we need to take.

    Please act. It cannot hurt to postpone or eliminate the immunity in the amendments, but it could end up being irreversible if we wait.

    Pura vida,


  7. Good for you Tim. It’s brave to make a personal, political stance clear, in public. It’s also very responsible. I’m thanking my lucky stars that, for now, I’m in Canada. I’ve passed your video on to my American friends (many of whom live in Washington D.C.).

    I try to stay on top of major American news and I’m a little startled that this issue isn’t a front-center, top-of-the-page headline. How eerie.

  8. It’s ridiculous that such a measure is even being considered, but we have strayed very far from our roots.

    Tim, I realize you don’t like or believe in the dogma of politics – you could do a LOT worse than read The Revolution: A Manifesto (Ron Paul) to realize just how far America has wandered and to finally see a real discussion of the problems we face and what solutions are available.

  9. Thank you for posting this, Tim. This bill will retroactively will make crimes that already have been committed by corporations and the Administration legal. (Yes, folks – domestic wiretapping without a court order is illegal).

    Only a fool would trust ANY government (let alone this crime family) to use such power only for counter-terrorism.

    This is not a left-vs-right argument. This is a “are we a nation of LAWS or of corporations” argument.

  10. Thanks Tim, I did my home work and I happened to agree with your request and took action!

    With Respect,

    Cameron C.

  11. “For American readers, the short video above could be the most important video you watch in your lifetime.”

    And today’s Most Extreme Use Of Hyperbole Award goes to…

    It’s not “leftist spin” to oppose this bill. It is spin, however, to act like it portends the doom of democracy as we know it.

    Call your senators, discuss the bill, oppose the bill, do what you like, but let’s not get into the apocalyptic nonsense that drives network news cycles.


    Hi KM,

    No hyperbole intended. I lived in Beijing circa 1995-96 in a “foreign experts” dormitory where we had all of our calls, mail, and e-mail monitored. If this amendment passes, in particular the immunity, we are a stone’s throw from this scenario.

    I do appreciate the comment, though. If we all agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place indeed.

    All the best,


  12. Tim i support you!

    I live in holland and we had that discussion as well some time ago. But any real democracy should not do so. The intentions of the bill might be good, but i’m sure it will be used for many other things than tracking terror suspects.

    Big brother will be watching us better i guess. I’d rather keep living with the risk of an attack than losing my precious privacy.

  13. Another nail in the coffin of Americans’ liberty.

    @Dean Ouelette

    “the ONLY time they will listen to your conversations is if you are talking to a KNOW terrorist overseas.”

    Who decides what is a “known terrorist?” That label could be applied to anybody (like the terms “enemy combatant” and “person of interest”).

    Even if the intent truly is to listen only to known terrorists, how would we know the rule is being followed?

  14. The truth is that by giving up this right we are allowing the government to come one step closer to dictatorship. This is a point that Tim pointed out clearly. Imagine each and every word that comes out of your mouth being overheard by some “intelligence” in the white house? No way!!! It is critical to vote against this act. We will continue to sell out this country by giving up our basic rights. This reminds me of communism. Could it be the iron curtain is going to come back? We must definitely step up and take IMMEDIATE ACTION.


    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  15. Tim: this is exactly what I was looking for when I criticized you for fooling around with all your free time. I am glad you ARE doing something serious, and this one is of personal interest to me. I am going to forward this piece as is to my own fans. Thank you very much!

  16. Another important action:

    If you really want to have an effect on this bill, the most forceful way is to donate to this fund:


    This is a fund started by Glenn Greenwald, FireDogLake and other prominent Democrats. The purpose is to get a fund of money together that will support primary challenges against select Democrats who vote for this bill.

    Calls are good, but history has shown that money is better.The specter of a primary challenge is one no Democrat wants, and the place we get the biggest bang for the buck in politics is via primary challenges.

    Tim, please check out the history of this fund, or ask people about it. If it gets up to $500,000 today — a half a million dollars floating around looking for challengers to those that voted for this — *that* will be something that the Blue Dog Democrats will listen to.

    One final thing — I loved your book, but on the thing on politics I flipped out a little — you said basically, don’t follow politics, just wait until the election and then ask the smartest people you trust. I screamed — political action is not only elections!

    I see now I completely misread you. The Low Information diet gets FISA — and those on the High Information Diet seem to have missed it. That’s a powerful endorsement for reading less…

    Congrats on a brave blog post — it’s always hard to know where that line is where you should pull politics into a blog like this — this was clearly one of those instances.

  17. Thanks, Tim.

    I was already aware of the issue, but am glad to see you posting about it here to help spread the word.

  18. Dean,

    This leftist, rightist crap does nothing but separate us. What if I told you this was a bill was resurrected by the Democrats? It was pushed by the Democrats and helped by about half of the Democrats.

    If you actually read the bill, you would know it has nothing to do with known terrorists. Anytime you have a conversation with someone from another country it will be recorded.


  19. Why is it so hard to find the actual text of the proposed legislation so I can decide for myself? The more I look into this, the more I’m confused. It seems there are amendments (proposed) to the amendments. It also seems the EFF is supportive of amendments, but against the bill itself.

    I’m too independent to listen to ONLY the ACLU and Daniel Ellsberg.

    That said, this isn’t the last chance, right? Still would have to be reconciled with the house bill in conference before becoming the final legislation. But I understand the desire to shape the Senate version, esp. with fewer Senators to target.

  20. Tim, I’m a college professor and I would like to clarify a couple of points. First, the poster stating that this bill will allow the US gov’t to listen to our conversations with KNOWN terrorists only is incorrect. This bill will allow the US gov’t to listen to any US citizen calling ANY foreign national. So, if you want to call your 90 year old grandmother in Canada or the UK, then guess what, your call could be listened to because your dear old grandma could be a terrorist, according to this Bill.

    Second, why did you take the position that we should call Senator Obama? I mean, sure, he might change his mind again and vote against this bill, but most recently he changed his stance to support the telecom immunity bill. I personally found his switch extremely disappointing. His statement on the issue went on about how he disagrees with the Bush administration on this, but due to security concerns he will vote FOR the bill. He’s playing the I have to look like Mr. Right, not act like Mr. Right game. Haven’t people yet grasped the concept that the “anything but Bush” campaign strategy doesn’t work? Where’s the substance? The substance is rearing its ugly head right now. I doubt that Obama will vote against the bill.

    Once again, Congress and certain politicians that have gained our support by saying they themselves will be different, have sold us out and sold our civil rights out to telecom companies that increased their contributions to Senators opposed to the bill. You can check CNN for the telecom funding issue as it hit mainstream media early last week.

    Don’t buy into the rhetoric. Obama is going back on this extremely important issue because the politics of fear sells.

    I applaud you for pointing out this issue to such a broad audience. I truly hope that it will make a difference. BTW, I’m politically independent as I no longer see significant enough differences between the two main political parties. We’re in a Democrat controlled Congress and little has been done to promote change. This is another example of how the “I’m different” rhetoric doesn’t live up when it comes to action.

    Ironically, Senator Obama is using Nixon’s election playbook in his own campaign. History does continue to show that there are very few original ideas yet lots of long term memory loss. I could recommend a book on this issue if anyone is interested in a scholarly take on political rhetoric:




  21. I used to lobby Congress for Pfizer. Can I add two things to this debate?

    1) When you call your Senators ask then where they stand on the bills before reading the script. If they are with you on most issues, thank them! Then ask why they don’t support the issues you differ on. Then go on to ask for their support on those issues. If they are against you in most things, then refer to the entire script.

    2) If they get enough calls, they will change their minds on an issue. 10 activists saying an issue is important to them may equal the opinion of 10000 constituents. If you don’t believe that, just talk to any Real Estate Developer in your area and listen to their war stories on how 10 people coming to a community meeting and shouting blocked a multi million dollar project from happening.

    Be nice. And be interested in the person on the other end of the line. These people have nutjobs calling all day to scream at them.

    I was amazed at how uninformed people in Congress (not just the elected, but their staff as well) were on issues. I was talking heathcare with them and in most cases, ten months after passing the Medicare Part D, I was the first person who they’d talked to who had interviewed doctors on how they felt Part D was working.

    Inform your Congress on issues you are interested in!

  22. Stupid idea. Recognize that we have not had a terrorist attack since 2001 in this country. It is naive to think that it is just coincidence. This is the result of hard work by dedicated people who are interested in protecting our freedoms.

    Tom — stick to economic thought — this venture into politics is not your strength and all it does is demean you in the eyes of others. Why is it that every entertainer — most of whom either can’t make it out of school or graduate with a BA in the “arts” thinks that they know enough about world affairs to lecture others publicly

  23. “His action are often credited with helping end not only the Nixon presidency but also the Vietnam War.”

    Tim- I agree with you, but you have to read over your posts for typos. You meant to say “His actions are often….” or “His action is often….” (I wouldn’t write this on any blog, but you seem to pride yourself on attention to detail and thoroughness)

    Also, when I studied an earlier version of FISA in grad school, the acronym stood for FORIEGN INTELLIGENCE AND SURVEILLANCE ACT. Does it have a new name? I’ve never heard of the FEDERAL INFORMATION SURVEILLANCE ACT?

    Just wanted to check.


    Hi Mike,

    Good catches — I finished this at around 6am after a long stretch, so just fatigue-induced typos.



  24. Tim you can say whatever you want but it’s pretty obvious what side (politically) you fall on here.

    Your disclaimer of evidence or whatever you wish to call it.. that there are even Republicans voting against this as some sort of proof that this is not just a leftist drive shows you naivety. The Republicans are in shambles because so many are gutless and are falling to represent their constituents and their views.

    The Democrats have been waiting with baited breath for Bush/Cheney to break the law or commit any infraction against the constitution so they could begin the impeachment process… and they never have… and they’ve had the power to do so (by their numbers) since ’06. Why haven’t they? Mainly because what they say and what they actually know are two different things. The bottom line is they have NOTHING and wonks like Ellsberg keep spewing this same old BS.

    Tim from a small businessman/marketer’s perspective I think it’s wise to steer clear of the political fray. You only set yourself up to lose have of your following… can you afford this?


  25. I’ve been providing monthly support for the good work of EFF for years, and I encourage you all to join in. These days, the ramparts of defense of our electronic liberties are very thinly manned indeed. Only in our numbers, our votes and our pocketbooks can we overcome the disproportionate influence of corporate lobbyists in Washington. But we can do it! Go EFF!

  26. He seems confused…Speaking on democracy, he quotes the benefits of having a republic…Which is it? Republic or democracy? I’ll take “…and the republic for which it stands.” Still though, the U.S. constitution is died long ago. And most American’s have had their rights “infringed upon” before they were born…ho hum.

  27. I hate this bill and it makes me ill reading it. This is not about being liberal or conservative its about bending our freedoms in a direction we don’t want to go in. So in the fine print the bill says only if you are “talking to a known terrorist” well my question is how did they know you were talking to them to begin with and what constitutes a terrorist? Any manipulation or bending of our right as outlined by the constitution in the name of anything is BAD period no matter what side of the fence you sit on.

  28. Thanks for the post, Tim! As you mentioned about yourself, I, too, have generally avoided politics and politically-oriented topics. But because of this morning’s post I have just called my local Senators for the first time in my life! I was nervous about it – not knowing what to expect – but in the end it wasn’t difficult at all! Thank you for the information.

  29. Hi Tim,

    I’m glad you don’t talk about politics much…but I’m thrilled to see that you have the courage and vision to write a post like this. We need people with your influence to help get the message through.

    America is in deep, deep trouble. We are only a few steps away from Fascism and most people don’t even see it coming.

    Personally, I am in the process of acquiring a second citizenship as a contingency plan.

  30. Thanks Tim,

    I’ve been concerned about this for a while and your post got me off my butt. I just typed up two letters for my senators and faxed them to the senators’ offices.

  31. Thanks, Tim!

    As someone who’s spent 15 years in the military (Marine Corps, Army), I’m all too familiar with the what it means to support and defend the Constitution in the face of constant attack in the name of the ‘public good’. This isn’t leftist spin: It’s about protecting the principles America was founded upon.

    “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” … Thomas Jefferson

  32. Just an advice. Take the chance here, America, and act.

    We just got an equal bill, FRA, passed in Sweden despite massive protest for authorities and the people and the goverment is defending it by saying that they’ve ensured the integritet with 4 different control institutions.

    If you make a good control institution you only need one. There has been big protests and there are still protests going on so…

    Please, America, before its to late. Protest!

    Hope that you still try to stop the bill and wish you the best in the fight!

  33. Tim, As I believe that we are still at war there are certain things that have to done to keep us safe. You interviewed a person who broke the law by disclosing certain information (SECRET) to of all anti-american institutions, the NYTIMES! It’s our rear ends they’re trying to protect so I would definitely investigate these actuations throughly! GOOD LUCK!

  34. Hi Tim,

    I am a big fan of your blog and also follow politics quite a bit…I have not made up my mind on this particular issue but would like to comment in general about the preservation of freedom.

    – First, we do not live in a democracy, we live in a Republic…there is a huge difference between the two. I suggest your readers research why we are not a democracy and why this is a good thing.

    Why is it that so many people (both on the left and the right) are concerned about their freedom in terms of this particular legislation? Why the outrage here?

    The government is taking away more and more of our freedom every single day and no one gets outraged.

    We are facing the possibility of a new president (I’ll let you figure out who it is, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out) who is advocating for trillions of dollars in new taxes and entitlement programs. For those readers who think there is nothing wrong with this, consider it in these terms – when I earn money, I am trading a portion of my life for the means by which I can take care of my family or improve my life in the way I see fit as a free citizen. So by definition, when money is taken away from me, that traded portion of my life has been taken away. We have a candidate wanting to strip away the freedom of one American in order to pander to another…Where is the outrage?

    I am sure a lot of readers of this blog are entrepreneurs or very motivated professionals. These are the kinds of people who make this country great, not our government. Everyday the government is chipping away at the resources of these individuals through tax policy and over-regulation. Where’s the outrage?

    I challenge everyone to look past the bumper sticker slogans and do your research…though I don’t like to see political topics on this website, I do applaud Tim for backing up his position with research.

  35. …oh…and… just because you’re not paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not after you…heh heh

  36. Kudos, It’s important to speak your mind, remember you can’t please 100% of the people a 100% of the time. I am glad your let us into this part of who you really are. Last night I was watching CNBC. David Farber had a special about Big Brother, Big Business. I think it was broadcast for the timeliness of this bill on Tuesday. People forget that even their library books are called in to question under these kind of surveillance.

    I pray our forefathers aren’t rolling over in their grave’s just seeing what we have let happen to this country in terms of freedom from persecution and tyranny.



  37. Thank you, Tim. I blog about our lives as expats living in Costa Rica. I take a humorous view, like “Erma (my hero) lives in a third world country.” Like you, I think about what I post and how it pertains to my topic. I don’t want to have a political blog, but, in today’s world, it could become so political so fast…

    We came to Costa Rica for a year adventure, never intending to live permanently outside the good ole USA. But what an eye-opener! For starters, you learn firsthand what non-US citizens think of us. Goodness, we’re smug! You also gain a new perspective on life there and what we’ve given up in the name of “liberty.”

    To Dean I’d like to say don’t be so naive. To the rest of the world, the US military is a known terrorist organization. We’ve bombed and killed more citizens of other countries in the name of spreading democracy and homeland security than any other country ever. You are five times more likely to die from an attack of killer bees than by a terrorist. Please educate yourself before you discount any spin.

    As an expat, my conversations could be routinely monitored. I have nothing to hide, but… that’s not the point.

  38. Recognizing that Tim wants to keep this to action, rather than debate, I’ll stay brief.

    @Dean from the first comment: this issue really has nothing to do with who you might be communicating with. It’s about following the Constitution and limiting the power of the executive branch. The balance of powers is one of the most important parts of keeping our country “free”.

  39. Tim – you can’t please everyone all of the time 🙂 Thanks for the excellent information & interview.

  40. Chris from Norway is right – even citizens in the UK would be subject to this and without recourse to the representatives of the US government.

    We’ve already had the cases of extraordinary rendition in the UK which the UK government implied the US hadn’t informed them of so we’re under no illusions as to where we stand in the ‘special’ relationship vis-a-vis intergovernmental exchanges.

    We have our own issues with our government trying to overturn some of the principles of Magna Carta and detain ‘terror’ suspects for up to 42 days without trial.

    I see a ‘thread’ emerging from Western governments in this ‘war on terror’, but none of these measures would have stopped 9/11 or 7/7 here in the UK surely.

  41. Tim, I saw you mention this on Twitter and I’m so glad you decided to go ahead with it. It’s so important that we stand up against this stuff. The constitution and our rights over the last few years has taken such a horrendous beating, it truly is frightening.

    I’d just like to add, that to those who think our terrorism policy is making you safer/grounds for sacrificing certain rights, you’re so, so completely wrong. I recently did a writeup which i’ve linked (click name) outlining just a few of the threats that just one or two hackers could facilitate as an illustration that caution and diligence is necessary, but sacrificing our civil liberties, quality of life, and failure to hold our government accountability will not make us any safer.

    Remember, they’re called your inalienable rights for a reason. They are profoundly important and central to the ideals of being an American. The decision to support things like the FISA bill, Patriot Act and other similar mumbo jump isn’t patriotism. It’s submission to fear mongering and a betrayal of your patriotic duty to yourself, your fellow Americans and the constitution.

  42. Buzzed and Digged.

    Also joined the Barack group.. and about to call.

    (I hardly keep up with politics.. but do take

    action when necessary)

    Faithful Reader,

    Dan Sweeney

  43. Tim,

    What are your suggestions in planning for unpredictable government where the constitution is not even followed?

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  44. Tim,

    Thank you very much for taking this important step and posting this interview. For these very reasons I will not participate in the CLEAR program “those who sacrifice liberty for convenience, will get neither”

    When I was a child I went to bed thinking 40,000 Soviet ICBM’s might rain down us overnight, but I wasn’t scared. Now we are all terrified of a suitcase nuke, and of the Iranians – who by they way have no airforce or navy – What happened to the home of brave. We are destroying our country ourselves out of fear. Wake Up Everyone.


  45. I was trying to organize my thoughts to clearly articulate them. Then I found this quote:

    He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. ~Thomas Paine

    Nuff said!

  46. Tim –

    Good reminder, and I’ve made the calls and pinged my friends via email.

    As a side note, I’m disappointed that one of my Senators (Feinstein) already form-emailed back a note defending her pro-FISA Amendment stance.

    From her second paragraph”…It is important to understand the consequences if the Senate does not pass this bill. We would either have to extend the temporary surveillance bill passed last August – which should not happen – or allow surveillance on certain foreign targets to expire which would lay the Nation bare and decrease our ability to identify and protect against terrorist threats. Neither of these options is acceptable.”.

    That’s a pretty weak argument – we don’t want to extend the temporary bill (er, why?), and we don’t want NO surveillance, therefore we must pass this bad, permanent bill.

    I = not impressed. To be fair, she indicated her willingness to support removal of Telco immunity provisions.

    – Karl

  47. To me the first quote sums everything up.

    How many of us are too scared, too spineless to live in a free country?

    Soldiers spill their blood to protect these freedoms from foreign influence. Citizens on whichever side they happen to fall should see encroaching on anyone’s freedom a threat to their own freedom.

    If the Republicans trounce Democrat’s freedoms what happens if and when the Democrats take power? If the Democrats trounce the Republican’s freedoms what happens when the Republicans retake power?

    If the far left revolutionary’s rights are trampled shouldn’t the right wing reactionary stand up for those rights and vice versa?

    The current lack of respect for each other makes me sick.

    Religious leaders and people. Remember what you have to lose should the freedom to gather and worship freely from anyone. You might be next.

    Atheists, the freedom of religion protects you too.

    As for the argument that this is leftist bull crap, I’m a right leaning moderate. My friends are right leaning moderates or far into the right. And quite frankly we’re concerned about where we’ve come to.

    Trading security for freedom is a dumb trade.

  48. I’m really proud of the fact that you spoke your opinion openly here. I have considered doing the same on my site but have been concerned about the ramifications. Once again you have inspired me. Thanks!

  49. To me it is very simple why Obama’s current position has evolved on this. If a terrorist attack were to happen, it would be very good for the McCain campaign (both McCain and one of his top campaign people have acknowledged this) and it would be serious detriment to the Obama campaign. Obama’s compromise for some oversight to this is a smart short term band-aid, and I have full confidence he will deep-six FISA if he becomes president.

    @Andrew “[the possibility of a president] who is advocating for trillions of dollars in new taxes and entitlement programs”

    I suggest you stick to FISA here and avoid the classic (outdated) liberal arguments, political jabs and unqualified statements.


  50. Thanks for stepping outside your comfort zone and posting this, Tim. I make a living in the security and privacy world and these topics havn’t received enough attention in the general public.

    My colleagues and I have debated the issues surrounding FISA quite a bit, and I was on the fence about various details (such as to what extent this really supports the fight against terrorism versus to what extent it excuses the illegal actions of the Bush Administration). However, all those doubts evaporated the instant I actually read the bill.

    [From Tim since URL expired: search “FISA Amendments Act of 2008” at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c110query.html%5D

    Pay close attention to the sections of the original FISA Act of 1978 which this bill repeals (Title IV, Section 403).

    One of my favorite authors has pointed out that we’re not choosing between Privacy OR Security, but rather between Liberty OR Control. We should all remember that privacy and liberty are security mechanisms too – they protect us against a police state. (See http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/01/security_vs_pri.html for the full argument.)

  51. Tim, I applaud you for taking this stance, and for directing the “following” you have to a good cause. As suggested, I’ve signed up for the Obama group and contacted my senators.

    When I was in college, I studied electronic governance and legislation and the topic of ECHELON (check Wikipedia) came up. This bill sounds like an attempt to finally authorize and extend the powers of the network “legitimately”.

    The points Dan raised about extensive surveillance turning America into an autocracy or dictatorship are frighteningly prescient, and regardless of who ends up in power here, will be the likely outcome. Who will be able to resist using information when their “security brief” includes personal information that would never have been available before, but which is now “common knowledge” to the intelligence agencies due to wide-ranging surveillance?

    For anyone interested, my paper on the subject (written 5 years ago, so this isn’t something new) is linked from my name.


  52. Tim,

    I’m a conservative, card-carrying Republican and I support the war against Islamic fundamentalism on any and all fronts- including Iraq. Bush was correct to invade Iraq, depose Saddam Hussein, and the military surge designed to help the Iraqi people restore order and establish the necessary political structure for the first democracy in the middle east other than Israel is working, will work, and posterity will judge Bush as spot on.

    That being said, this legislation that provides for government wire taps with the only pre-requisite being that the call is being made to – from overseas is disturbing. In a global marketplace, Americans who do not see this as a threat to their liberty are “useful idiots” for an already bloated, invasive, and abusive Federal Government. Consider just for example that an American citizen could be dealing with a call center in India, or a relative in France, or a Christian missionary in China- potentially jeopardizing their life- could be wire tapped without the government having to present probable cause, obtain a warrant, or– and this is most frightening– with any oversight whatsoever. Why conservatives in particular are not reflexively distrustful of government on this point is mystifying.

    While I agree the FISA law needs to be updated to account for things like disposable phones, etc. (for example, I would favor a warrant that follows a person vs. a device– for a SET period of time), that’s no excuse to ignore the FISA laws outright.

    I’ve put partisan politics aside in favor of personal liberty. Our government is involved in too many aspects of our lives already. I hope my fellow conservatives and Republicans will join me in contacting their representatives and John McCain to oppose this latest Federal Government usurpation of our rights.

  53. Tim, great post today — very courageous of you to openly announce where you stand when it comes to freedom of the people, (no surprise how you feel!) Coincidentally I just watched the excellent film The U.S. Vs. John Lennon which explored this very subject in the days of Nixon. All of us in Anglo democracies should take serious note of this potentially precedent-setting infringement on the rights of individuals — privacy bills such as this attack and undermine the very core of Western society. The whole thing reeks of 1984!

    Bush = Nixon. Long live freedom!



  54. Hey Tim,

    Great post, I’m glad you did it. There is a distinct difference between being an alarmist and raising an alarm; with the way things have been going lately there happen to be a lot of alarms. People should be aware that the freedoms we have enjoyed in the United States are diminishing daily under the guise of protection. For every new law that is enacted to protect us the result is one less freedom we enjoy. For once liberty is lost, it is difficult to recapture.

    The growth of the Federal Gov’t and the power it wields is in direct opposition to the plan for this country that was founded in our Constitution. Perhaps, it’s time to consider what made this country great in the first place and return to those principles instead of running amuck and reacting to every perceived threat in an attempt to save what remains of its greatness.

  55. If these regulations didn’t stop them from spying before, how is preventing this bill going to turn on their moral compass?

    If I wanted politics, I’d visit the huffington post or CNN. What ever happened to the Tim Ferriss that taught us language or business automation?

  56. Just want to point out that first commenter Dean is completely wrong about the “compromise” legislation only permitting interception of calls to known terrorists.

  57. I thought you guys lived in a constitutional republic not a democracy?

    Always enjoy your interviews with interesting people.

  58. Hi All,

    Thank you so much for your comments. Three important points:

    @All – great advice for calling Senators:

    From RogerDodger, who used to lobby Congress for Pfizer (Roger, I’m adding this to the post):

    1) When you call your Senators ask then where they stand on the bills before reading the script. If they are with you on most issues, thank them! Then ask why they don’t support the issues you differ on. Then go on to ask for their support on those issues. If they are against you in most things, then refer to the entire script.

    2) If they get enough calls, they will change their minds on an issue. 10 activists saying an issue is important to them may equal the opinion of 10000 constituents. If you don’t believe that, just talk to any Real Estate Developer in your area and listen to their war stories on how 10 people coming to a community meeting and shouting blocked a multi million dollar project from happening.

    Be nice. And be interested in the person on the other end of the line. These people have nutjobs calling all day to scream at them.

    I was amazed at how uninformed people in Congress (not just the elected, but their staff as well) were on issues. I was talking heathcare with them and in most cases, ten months after passing the Medicare Part D, I was the first person who they’d talked to who had interviewed doctors on how they felt Part D was working.

    Inform your Congress on issues you are interested in!


    I appreciate your honesty. To you question: can I afford risking my following by posting this? I think about it differently: is it worth it, even if I do? I believe this is important enough.

    @All re: eliminating the bipartisan divide

    I want to thank the Republicans readers for leaving comments like this (this example from Paul Strauss):

    “I’ve put partisan politics aside in favor of personal liberty. Our government is involved in too many aspects of our lives already. I hope my fellow conservatives and Republicans will join me in contacting their representatives and John McCain to oppose this latest Federal Government usurpation of our rights.”

    Thank you to all for commenting and — above all — taking action.

    All the best,


  59. to WP,

    Actually, I have a PhD and teach in this field. However, your elitist attitude is the result of effective rhetoric. I’m a patriot that has stayed away from dogmatic debates and I try to teach my students about the issues aka. how to decipher the rhetoric. The current administration will not reveal evidence that their counter terrorism programs have worked directly. Another explanation, or two, as to why we haven’t had a catastrophic attack inside the US:

    1. We set a great policy standard. You attack us, then we invade your country. Simple. Yes, most leaders, even those that sponsor terrorism would like to stay in power.

    2. We’ve hardened our targets (so you’re partially correct) and guess what? It’s a heck of a lot easier to attack Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan then in the US.

    So, since rhetoric is aimed at the lowest common denominator, people who have not had access to acquire strong analytical and critical thinking skills, are very vulnerable to the rhetoric. As a New Yorker that used to work in Tower 2, I’m glad that we haven’t had anymore significant attacks in the US. However, I also know that statistically speaking I’m much more likely to die in a car accident than in a terrorist attack. Therefore, I’m NOT willing to give up my civil rights just to promote state power.

    Here’s a scholarly book on the topic:




  60. 1. Tim, good post, you were right – I definitely agree.

    2. “I’m a conservative, card-carrying Republican and I support the war against Islamic fundamentalism on any and all fronts- including Iraq.”

    The United States does not fight religious wars – we are fighting against terrorists, not religious fundamentalists. Christian fundamentalists bombing abortion clinics are just as much terrorists as Muslim car bombers. The United States government should be working to stop all of these people.

    3. If you look at the two parties historically, the Republican party is the party that used to support individual rights, so if you have a Republican senator in your district you should be calling them and ask them why they are in favor of infringing upon our 4th Amendment rights. Using the fear to violate the Constitution is something that should scare Americans far more than any potential terrorist attack.

    4. We had the knowledge of an impending terrorist attack prior to September 11th, 2001 and we simply didn’t act on it. The best solution to the problem would be to organize the intelligence and military communities to allow free dissemination of information and allow individuals to act upon the information without fighting the bureaucracy that exists at the Pentagon, the White House, and within the military. There is no need to listen to more phone calls – it will simply add more noise to the data.

  61. Tim,

    This post makes me admire you even more. It’s very brave to stick up for something you believe in, especially in Politics.

    @ WP- we don’t know that we haven’t had terrorist attacks due to actions of the Bush Admin. It’s not as if we were having them constantly before. It’s naive of you to think that it could not be a coincidence. Since I served in Iraq, I would say I’m one of the dedicated people interested in protecting our freedoms, not one who’s out to steal them.

  62. No immigration = no surveillance. Think about it: the only reason this might be necessary is that we’ve let in so many foreign nationals who wish to do us harm. Had we not done so, we wouldn’t be having this debate.

  63. Donate to the EFF. It’s sad we have to do this much just to prevent unconstitutional laws from being passed.

  64. Every Fourth of July, I enjoy the celebration and purpose of our nation’s creation. I get a great amount of pleasure from the writings of our nation’s founders and find myself refreshed by their words and having renewed hope for our beloved United States, warts and all.

    Thank you, Tim, for calmly and rationally bringing up an issue that needs our immediate attention. (And for using a Benjamin Franklin quote in the correct context.) I have sent a personalized e-mail to Senator Casey (D) and Senator Specter (R) and hope that they vote accordingly. I will follow up on their votes later this week.


    P.s. I enjoyed your hard boiled egg demonstration (very funny!) but I could not get mine to cooperate. The cooked eggs seemed stuck to the inside of their shells. Any tips?

  65. Made the call; forwarded to 20 friends. I’ve been watching this issue for some time, but thanks for prompting me to specific action.


  66. Tim, love your blog. While I agree this amendment should not be passed, it does read as if you are being an alarmist. Perhaps my own politics are swaying me, but the very fact that you feel you need to address the Obama supporters specifically does make me feel alienated. Obama has proven he will do what is best for Obama, not our country. Please stick to your normal blogging and leave the politics out.

  67. As a traditional Republican (read: NOT a neo-con) I am glad that this post has been able to inspire and trigger some action on behalf of many of the readers. The unprecedented growth of government power since 9/11, especially under a Republican administration is frightening.

    And Tim – only you can go from how to peel hard boiled eggs to a detailed post on FISA.



  68. @All and Duane, re: where can I read the actual bill?

    To read the new FISA bill from the Library of Congress instead of a partisan group, just search “FISA Amendments Act of 2008” at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c110query.html

    Thanks to Justin W. for pointing this out.

    @All re: Obama mention

    I would love to give online Facebook-like groups for all Republicans and Democrats who originally opposed the bill, but Obama is the only Senator I can find with a group to join specifically related this FISA bill. Please don’t misinterpret this.

    This post is about a bill much larger than Obama, even though others Democrats are likely to follow his lead if he opposes the bill.



  69. Tim, thanks for the concise information. I’ve joined the BO group, and used EFF’s information to contact my Senators (both email and phone).

    Thanks again for doing all you’re doing.

  70. Let’s make July 14th “Support The Constitution Day” It could be a non-violent homage to Bastille Day, and send a message to the folks who are supposed to work for us and to reflect our values.

    Things we can do: Fly the flag, write your congressional representatives and tell them in no uncertain terms to support the Constitution and the principles of rule of law.

    Write your newspaper, contact the editor – ask why the paper doesn’t do a piece on government spying on its citizens, suggest some people to talk with. Forward the articles that resonate with your point of view to the papers, to the websites attached to the news business.

    Write to the Editorial Page editor, send a letter to the editor. Contact your local news station, television and radio with the same request. Send supporting information regarding the issues, and make it a Bill of Rights issue. It is not Right/Left, Democrat/Republican anymore, it’s Truth Justice and the American Way.

    After Abu Graibh, it’s imperative that America regain her rightful role as the beacon of liberty for hope. This is a way to prove that as a country we still uphold the principles of law.There are many thinking people around the world who are concerned that the US has descended into a fear induced paralysis, and that our best days are behind us. If we do nothing, they may be correct.

    Some suggestions: I have stopped my account with AT&T, and switched to another carrier who refused to pimp my information. Perhaps there are principled carriers in your area. Call around and ask, “Do you spy on me?”

    If they don’t, and they haven’t, consider switching to that carrier.

    Then send a note stating why to AT&T or the others (Verizon, etc) explaining why their abuse of your privacy has lost them a customer.

    Copy your newspaper, your television news station website and your better business bureau.

    Talk to your friends, associates, and co-workers about this issue in stores, cafes, and schools. Educate the folks who are struggling to pay for tuition, taxes, soaring rents and gasoline how this is related. When the cozy relationship between those who profit from our activities is conflated and combined with those who govern us, the amount of control over our economic well-being grows to alarming proportions. When the regulators are compromised by the business interests, we are truly on our own. Remember, at least Mussolini made the trains run on time. This gang of Keystone Cronies can’t even control their contributors.

    Finally, make July 14th “Support the Constitution” day.

    Send copies of your letters to your newspaper, to FOX News and CNN and TIME magazine. Ask them to do investigations on the illegal spying on law-abiding citizens, and to do reports on this abuse. Follow up. Send letters on this topic in your own words to your legislators, to your friends, and to the blogs you get your information from. Investigative journalism may be in hibernation during this election, but if enough people know about what’s happening, it may make a difference.

    We are not all “Good Fellas” on this bus.

    Thank you for your time.

  71. Those of you posting from the UK – you are by far the most heavily video survielled population of the planet. No one else even comes close. So don’t talk about the situation here.

    Right vs. Left does matter. It matters a lot. You will not lose your freedoms from the right; you will lose them from the left.

    Year by year the left enlarges government, requiring more taxes.

    A dollar is one Unit Of Freedom. Every dollar confiscated from you is a dollar you don’t have to do what you want to do, and a dollar unelected elites in a myriad of federal bureaucracies do have to tell you how to live your life.

    The people who will take them away from you will be the college professors who prohibit you from saying the truth in class, lest it violate official doctrine.

    The people who will take them away from you will be the self appointed masters of political correctness who limit what you can say or wear, lest it offend someone.

    The people who will take it away from you will be the petty bureaucrats who regulate you life in a thousand ways in blatant violation of the Constitution.

    Notice all these things are abstractions. No dictators or jack-booted troops marching in the streets.

    So guys like Ellsberg have to market their doom and gloom to those who can’t understand abstractions. Ellsberg’s argument is packaged for simpletons.

  72. Tim,

    Saw your tweet re:dailykos. Fan of the book, in the liberal “netroots” and want to get you connected. Drop me a line.

  73. Something for all of you conservatives to consider: if this bill is passed all future presidents will have this power. Do you really want the liberal, pinko, Democrats to be able to listen to you without a warrant?

  74. Hi Tim,

    Thanks so much for going out on a limb and sharing this information with all of us, I wasn’t remotely aware of it. After reading your post and watching the video I not only called my senators for the 1st time ever (turns out it’s really easy – who knew?) but encouraged all my friends and family members to do the same.

    I’m sure this wasn’t an easy decision for you to make so thanks for doing the conscionable thing. And who knows how far your post will “ripple”?

    – Sally

  75. Awesome piece with Daniel Ellsberg.

    Hate to chime in with an English example from a dramatic work (play then film) but this scene from “A Man For All Seasons” seem to apply to this situation:


  76. After watching the video you posted with Mr Ellsburg, I love that he mentioned the film, The Lives of Others.

    If you have not seen this film, please watch it. It is a great movie, and accurately displays what it is like to live in a society where the government can spy on all of their citizens. It will really make you think.

  77. As a Canadian, I know it is in many ways inappropriate for me to comment, especially as my country was not the one attacked “from the inside” on September 11. However, my political views have been highly influenced by Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. As such, I am a very big admirer of the US constitution.

    The continual restrictions and intrusions on personal liberties and freedoms, by the US administration(s) is literally heart breaking and I believe dangerous for the world’s liberal societies (classical sense) should it continue. The USA of today is increasingly not resembling the USA that was founded in a bloody war for the cause of liberty. So, it seems unconscionable that you may give your country’s founding ideals away without so much as a fight. You may actually vote your liberty away. Please do not let this happen, the world needs a strong and free USA.

  78. It is naive to say that the bill ‘only’ comes into effect when you are talking to a ‘known terrorist’, because if you actually understood the law, you would know that the PATRIOT act defines what a terrorist is, and that happens to be anybody designated as such by either the president or the attorney general, who do not have to prove to anybody that their allegation is valid. Frankly, that sounds like a loophole.

  79. @ JohnC

    Left, right, it doesn’t matter. Left-wing politicians take away your liberty in the name of children and of fighting poverty, while right-wing politicians do it in the name of family values and fighting drugs. Either way, government gets bigger and you become less free.

  80. Tim,

    I really salute you for taking this stance. I am a UK citizen but know how much America dictates world policy and feel like probably the whole world should get a vote in American elections.

    People must make a stand on all issues of importance because when small concessions are conceded over time the whole previous framework can be completely eroded and freedom can become facism in the same way that democracy can become tyranny.

    I absolutely love the 4HWW and recommend it to whoever I can and I am really glad that you have used the platform which you’ve gained to alert us to this other issue which is so very important in the overall makeup of our lives.

    To one of the fellow posters who said that they were glad to be in Canada and not in the USA I hate to be the one to inform you but the powers that be are in the process of merging Mexico, Canada and America into a North American Union which will use a new currency called the Amero. In times such as these no-one is immune and that is why it is very important that everyone take an active interest in these types of proposed policy, which can threaten our liberty and destroy the very fabric of our lives.

    Ignorance is not bliss.

    Once more thank you Tim for highlighting this issue and using your platform so wisely.

    Best Wishes,


  81. This needs to be countered:

    “His actions are often credited with helping end not only the Nixon presidency but also the Vietnam War.”

    He may have helped create the political environment in which betrayal of allies was acceptable, but the war did not end when the USA left.

    Tim, think about it from a South Vietnamese perspective.

    How would you have felt 40 years ago if you were continuing to fight against tyrannical communist aggression, and you read the words: “The Vietnam War is ended.”

    The war was not over, we just stopped fighting in it. So there was not peace, there was only a one-sided war: China didn’t stop THEIR support of the Vietcong.

  82. Tim, stop freaking out. The government is already everywhere! I have to laugh at all the Europeans here who are making all these comments that we are having some super surveillance society here in the US while in almost all cases European governments provide cradle to grave socialism!

    Wake up all! Where where you when the government took over the schools, your retirement, aid to poor families, medical care, the setting of time, nutrition, food production and market prices, etc, etc. etc.

  83. Yes we are supposed to be living in a republic rather than a democracy. The fact that many Americans don’t understand the difference is indicative of the real happenings that we should oppose: manipulation of our attitude.

    Even if we have been spied on by ECHELON for decades, legalizing it takes our society one step closer towards having no grounds for complaint or protest. People get murdered every day, but that doesn’t mean we should legalize it.

    I agree with protesting this. A question for everyone though:

    Many of our laws today are illegal themselves. What can we do to reverse the constitutional infringement in additional to stopping its spreading?

  84. Hi, Tim. Never pegged you as a Leftst before, but now I know. It’s too bad you allowed yourself to get brainwashed by the hysteria.

    As others have noted, the UK is far more survailed, and Democracy has not failed there. Nor has it failed here, as evidenced by the fellow in the video and yourself being able to freely talk nonsense.

    The Left has long pushed the theory that the Bush/Cheney administration is evil and out to destroy our freedoms. Tim, if they have done this, why are all the liberal intellectuals, so called, still allowed to speak? Why aren’t the Universities closed? Why isn’t Michael Moore being tortured? Why hasn’t the DailyKos and HuffingtonPost been taken down from the Internet?

    Because it’s all a fantasy. FISA allows the US to monitor you if you call a known terrorist. Period. Libertarians hiding out in the GOP and Leftists in the Democratic Party are using this for political gain and are sadly misguided.

    I would be right out there with them if I thought for a minute that this could be used by the current administration – or the Chavez-like Marxist Regime of Obama that is likely to follow it – to shut down dissent. We ought to save our ire and outrage for the 2009 Congress, which will delete all radio stations and newspapers it feels are not giving Leftists are fair hearing with the “Fairness” Doctrine.

    I think you’ve been affected by your Leftist friends who hate America and have a rather abnormal and irrational fear of it. This Ellsberg character committed a crime by releasing classifed documents to the media. This nutjob thinks the UN actually has more power than the US Constitution over Americans and that Bush should be impeached (see Wikipedia entry)

    Tim, please, please, please keep your politics to yourself in the future or put it on another blog. There are few Capitalists who believe this bill or any other current measure is a threat to their liberties, and fewer still who buy into nutty conspiracy theories. You’re shrinking your base.

  85. Also, I keep noticing people talking about the right vs. left & democrats vs. republicans.

    Has it not occurred to you that the trend of rising taxes and growing government has persisted no matter which party is in power? I have yet to see a time in recent history where government truly gets smaller and taxes truly go down.

    Our political system is broken, and something more significant than faxing a letter needs to be done. This is like treating a symptom instead of the cause.

    I don’t have the answer or solution, but we should all be looking for it and then standing behind it.

  86. I was under the impression that the ideals the U.S. originally stood for are mostly all gone now anyway. Guess this is just another nail in the coffin. Very pleased I live in the land of the (mostly) free – though apathy will probably get us just as surely as it’s getting you. Well done to those of you who still dare to care.

  87. I’m definitely not a leftist as I’m very much a right-wing conservative. However, I agree that many of our liberties are being taken from us. As the AT&T technician in San Francisco discovered, ALL of our calls are monitored (even if they are just domestic). All email is monitored as well dating back to Carnivore.


    Isn’t this something that a totalitarian government would love employ? Even if our current leaders are trusted, what about the next ones?

  88. Hi All,

    Thank you for all the feedback — including critics — and action. To address a few important points:

    1) This is not a “leftist” post. In fact, I agree with many stances of far-right Republicans. The problem is legal and constitutional, not partisan — Senators take an oath to protect the Constitution, and this FISA bill violates the 4th amendment:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    2) The UK comparison doesn’t quite work. There is a big difference between being video recorded in public spaces (I have no issue with this) and being monitored and recorded in your home and having private communications recorded without a warrant (I have a huge problem with this and experienced in personally in Beijing in 1995-96).

    Best of luck and thanks again for listening, even if you disagree.



  89. 232 years old and still rings true-

    Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    You are the man Tim Ferris