WASHINGTON — The fight over immunity for telecom companies in domestic-spying legislation is creating an unexpected side effect: unity among liberal bloggers and Ron Paul supporters.
Liberal activists and supporters of the Texas Republican and former presidential candidate plan to join forces Thursday and begin a “money bomb” protest of lawmakers who support telecom immunity in the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act. During a “money bomb,” grassroots activists donate money during a short period of time — usually a day — to create buzz and raise money for their candidate.
The effort is timed to coincide with a planned Senate vote on the bill. Libertarians and liberal activists have blasted Democratic lawmakers, including presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, for supporting the legislation.
Both groups are upset about a provision in the bill that would provide retroactive immunity from civil actions for telecom companies alleged to have provided information to the government as part of its secret, warrantless wiretapping program. The House passed the legislation on June 20 and a Senate vote could come as soon as Thursday.
“There’s entrenched power in Washington that protects itself and there are people on both sides who don’t feel like they’re having their rights protected,” says Jane Hamsher, one of the organizers behind the effort and founder of the popular Democratic blog Firedoglake. “It’s really about right and left coming together to fight the entrenched power and take their power away.”
The fund-raiser represents a novel partnership between the two groups, which have separately proven themselves adept at organizing activists and readers to take action. If it goes well, organizers say it could mark the beginning of a more far-reaching partnership between the two groups, which agree on issues from ending the Iraq war to protection of civil liberties.
“For us, it’s a natural alliance,” says Trevor Lyman of BreaktheMatrix.com, and one of the organizers behind the famous Ron Paul “money bombs” which stunned the political establishment by raising about $14 million total for the Texas congressman’s now-suspended presidential campaign.
“When it comes to civil liberties, we’re absolutely aligned” with liberal activists, he says, although he notes the two groups remain far apart on other matters such as economic issues. “We stand so closely on this issue.”
Mr. Paul missed the recent House vote on the domestic-spying legislation but later released a statement that he “strongly opposed every previous FISA overhaul attempt and I certainly would have voted against this one as well.”
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