FISA–NOT THE MAGNA CARTA
In the wake of the illegal wiretap scandal, Bush critics are invoking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act like it’s the Magna Carta. Actually, FISA is flawed legislation that imperils civil liberties and opens the door to abusive law enforcement. In the 1990s federal “anti-terror” agents secretly searched American homes and manipulated phone-tap data to prosecute people who obviously posed no terrorist threat. In the case of my husband, Kurt Stand, the government netted three domestic dissidents. Terrorism had nothing to do with it. The three harmless defendants are still serving draconian prison terms, and some of the evidence used to that end is still secret, its veracity unexamined. One more Bush outrage notwithstanding, let’s not glorify the past. Janet Reno and Louis Freeh used highly dubious tools for highly dubious reasons, with Congressional authorization. The FISA Court went along. Instead of defending FISA, we should call for procedural reforms that will really protect individuals.
LISA FOLEY STAND
GOODBYE 2005, HELLO 2006
Katha Pollitt’s 2005 retrospective, “It Wasn’t All Bad,” was outstanding [“Subject to Debate,” Jan. 9/16]. You can sit around and groan about the year having been a train wreck, or you can take her perspective, which actually made me pretty happy. Living in Virginia, I found Number 8 (the decline of support for the death penalty) especially pertinent. Thankfully, my state saw fit to elect the anti-death penalty Tim Kaine to be governor. He beat his opponent, Jerry Kilgore, a run-of-the-mill Republican, in areas that even Mark Warner couldn’t take four years ago, and that’s with Kilgore trying to exploit Kaine’s controversial stance on capital punishment. But as Pollitt suggests, citizens of many so-called red states, like Virginia, are beginning to see through the vacuous gesturing and are doing what’s right for themselves and their country. 2005 did have its good moments.
THE GREAT G.M.’S
Kansas City, Mo.
As a Clean-for-Gene soixante-huitard, I came nearly to tears over George McGovern’s perfect tribute [“Gene McCarthy,” Jan. 2]. No one better to write it, and none better to read it than student warriors of that not-so-quixotic campaign who, with McCarthy’s inspiration, awakened their world irreversibly.