Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« New Dirt on New Life? | Parking Tickets and Crack Deal... »

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rodney Tom Says He’s Not a FISA Dem

posted by on August 10 at 12:21 PM

The GOP is trying to stir up a bit of trouble in the already hot Democratic scrap between Darcy Burner and Rodney Tom—both vying to be the Democratic nominee from the 8th Congressional District.

Burner is the former Microsoft manager who lost in a close close race to incumbent GOP Rep. Dave Reichert on Seattle’s suburban Eastside in 2006. Tom is a former GOP state Rep who changed his status from R to D and took out GOP incumbent Luke Esser for a state Senate seat in 2006. Tom’s campaign is in its nascent stages. Burner, riding high of her strong showing in 2006, has nearly $200,000 on hand. Burner is running left. Tom is running centrist.

I’ve pasted the GOP press release below, but here’s the deal: Responding to Burner’s recent attack on the Democrats (she busted on her own party for voting with the GOP on last week’s surveillance bill)—the GOP trashes Burner as a Commie and then puts the spotlight on Tom. They want to see if he’s a Commie too. The controversial bill—the “Protect America Act”— gives the Bush administration the authority to circumvent FISA, the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, which traditionally mandated a warrant process to obtain wiretaps. No more.

It should be pointed out that Burner is not so out of sync as the GOP press release would have it. As I posted a few days ago, the entire Democratic Washington State delegation was against the surveillance bill.

So, where’s Tom?

I asked him this morning. He said he would have voted ‘No’ on the FISA bill. “As we fight the war on terrorism we cannot undermine the very freedoms we’re fighting for,” he said. “I have seen no proof that the existing warrant system that we used for years before 9/11 was hindering us.”

Tom says the FISA bill was too broad and pointed out that an amendment to explicitly connect surveillance targets to al Qaeda was cut from the bill.

Tom disparaged the vote for the bill as a “Pavlovian response” on the part of Congress to let Bush do whatever he wants to fight terrorism.

Rejects Moderate Label and Embraces Party’s Left Fringe

Tukwila, WA… Failed Congressional candidate Darcy Burner released a new web video (link) on the liberal website blasting 41 Democratic House and 16 Senate members for supporting an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). The measure was a temporary fix aimed at closing a loophole in FISA that had been opened by a recent court decision (link).

“Darcy Burner is attacking her own party for doing too much to fight terrorism,” said Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser. “She isn’t even pretending to be a responsible moderate.”

Burner is, so far, the only congressional candidate in the country to actively attack her own party for allowing the measure to come to a vote. It’s also not the first time she’s offered a less than mature critique of her own party’s position on FISA (link). No word yet on what her primary opponent Rodney Tom thought about the vote.

The measures are designed to update FISA to take into account today’s technology as well as allow intelligence officials to tap communications between terrorists in other nations that is routed through U.S. equipment. If the FISA fix hadn’t passed, the intelligence community’s ability to track terrorists and prevent attacks would have been significantly reduced by the recent court decision. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who according to Burner “doesn’t get it,” had this to say about the legislation (link):

“The intelligence community is deeply concerned that chatter among suspected terrorist networks is up. I am concerned as well. We are living in a period of heightened vulnerability, and must give the intelligence community the tools they need to protect America.

This legislation is a temporary fix. It is not permanent and it expires in six months. It immediately addresses critical gaps in our intelligence-collection efforts – while preserving a role for FISA court review.

I voted for both bills because one needed 60 votes to pass. It is vital that we act now. We cannot leave the nation unprotected in this post-9/11 period.”

The measure makes clear that FISA does not apply to surveillance to collect foreign intelligence on foreign targets outside the United States. It provides a means to authorize and compel assistance to the government from third parties to aid in gathering intelligence information on targets outside the United States. It also provides FISA Court review for those procedures and for reporting to Congress. The measure also provides a retroactive liability defense for those who may have provided or who provide assistance the U.S. Intelligence Community to protect America from attack. The law keeps intact all current protections for the civil liberties of Americans.

RSS icon Comments


Yeah, but where's Red Bushie Reicherdt on this issue?

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 10, 2007 12:49 PM

Reichert voted for it, naturally. The Republicans saw remarkable consistency on this one.

Posted by MvB | August 10, 2007 1:07 PM


Shame on Mr. Esser and anyone else who had anything to do with this press release. When will they realize that insulting the intelligence of moderates and conservatives in this manner is pathetic? Believe it or not, we actually don't think liberals/progressives are in league with the terrorists. Yet when Mrs. Burner has a legitimate concern about the danger of allowing warrantless spying, the GOP tries to paint her as a terrorist.

They wonder why the moderates like me are flocking to the Democratic Party. I suppose it is a sign of the GOP's weakness if they now have to resort to these sorts of tactics.

Posted by Benjamin | August 10, 2007 2:18 PM

Did Sen. Feinstein forget to read the FISA bill she voted for? Did she fall for the Big Lie? Rather than being a stop-gap for six months, buried within it was a provision that renewed it for 18 months. No more ridiculous oversight by Congress until the Bushies have backed their bags and gone!

What you get with Darcy Burner is a woman who shoots straight, literally and figuratively. She doesn't speak in anger, but she calls them as she sees them, rather than serving up the inside-the-beltway prepackaged perspective.

Posted by Sarajane46th | August 10, 2007 2:27 PM
The measure makes clear that FISA does not apply to surveillance to collect foreign intelligence on foreign targets outside the United States. It provides a means to authorize and compel assistance to the government from third parties to aid in gathering intelligence information on targets outside the United States.

Clear as mud.

Posted by Daniel K | August 10, 2007 2:35 PM

Frankly, I was delighted to see Ms. Burner's video. At last, someone who is actually willing to call for real defense and protection of our civil liberties.

Painting this as an exercise in "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" analysis misses a great deal. Darcy Burner at least understands that, to abuse the aphorism, "the enemy of my Bill of Rights is no friend of mine". She gets that this is true regardless of the (D) or (R) somebody chooses to put after their name. And good for her.

As for Rodney Tom, please. If you don't get that this is a guy who will say anything to get elected, you haven't been paying much attention to his career. This is a guy who, after spending 1 term in the state House as a Republican, flipping parties when the national wind shifted, then serving less than 1 year in the state Senate before bailing out on his duties to run against Darcy Burner, had the gall to say in Postman on Politics:

"The thing you have to remember is the 8th isn't about just winning in '08. But you have to have someone who can stay around in the long run and I think I can fit that profile."

It's beyond me how he can say that with a straight face after showing the strongest possible signs of being interested in his own career uber alles. So yeah, he'll totally claim to be against the FISA bill, because he knows damn well that Darcy Burner is very much in touch with the voters of the 8th district, and if she's against it then he'd better be too.

As for Feinstein, has she forgotten the so-called "sunset" provisions in the PATRIOT act? I never believed for a moment that those particularly egregious aspects of that horrible piece of legislative twaddle would actually be allowed to sunset, and was proven right with the provisions came back up for extension. How are these supposedly limited FISA provisions, be they 6 or 18 months, any different?

Posted by Jason Black | August 10, 2007 3:15 PM

What do you care, Jason? GWB will just write a signing statement exempting him and his comrades from paying attention to it anyway.

Face it, you live in Soviet America. Better have your papers in order, comrade.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 10, 2007 3:49 PM

Rodney Tom is not a Democrat or Republican. He is not an independent in the good sense of that word. He is not a representative of his district but of himself. He is running for Congress to represent himself. I know all politicians are a little self-absorbed but this guy can't see beyond his own nose. He puts his finger in the wind and goes wherever it blows. Both parties should work to take this guy down -- for the good of the people. He is a disgrace.

Unfortunately, Darcy Burner is a lightweight with too little experience and nothing to offer but the Democratic party platform. If the Democratic Party had put up a solid candidate in 2006 (someone who can actually think for herself and offer some leadership), Reichert would have lost.

Beyond party, the people of the state should look at the individual candidates. I do a lot of work with Congress on behalf of a small Redmond company. Rep. Dicks and Rep. Reichert are the best members of Congress that Washington State has. They are both straight-shooters and work hard for Washington State.

Burner and Tom are both such bad choices it hurts (even fellow D's in Congress have said as much, just not on the record -- in fact, I have heard Washington Democrats in Congress say they are glad Reichert won but couldn't support him vs. Burner despite wanting to support him for the good of the State's delegation). Unless the Democratic Party can recruit a candidate that doesn't make you want to pinch your nose while voting for him/her, the Party should get out of the way. The question should not be Tom or Burner. It should be: "Why hasn't it recruited a decent candidate in the 8th district?" (Hint: Failure of party leadership, yet again).

Posted by TC | August 17, 2007 11:36 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).