August 2008 Strategy and priorities



The Strategy and Priorities page as it was from mid-August 2008 until the end of the year ...




WORKING DRAFT: Revision and discussion in progress. If you write or blog about information on this page, please make the draft status clear. Also, a clarification, please refer to us as "Get FISA Right" with a link to our web site at http://getFISAright.net.

See also: Discussion of What's Next for Get FISA Right, Today's priorities, Previous Strategies and Priorities, Strategy details, Statistics

Situation


The ACLU immediately filed suit against the FISA legislation on behalf of plaintiffs including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Interational USA, SEIU, Naomi Klein, and The Nation; EFF is also preparing a suit. Telecom companies' immunity is not final while the legal actions are ongoing, and these are very likely to stretch into the next administration. We expect new FISA reform legislation to be introduced in early 2009, and are starting to prepare now for that battle.

While we lost the July vote in the Senate, the FISA reformers alliance -- including Senators like Dodd, Feingold, and Leahy, the netroots, non-partisan groups like the ACLU and EFF, and now Strange Bedfellows and Get FISA Right -- is gaining strength. Since February 2008, a dozen Senators have shifted to oppose telecom immunity. We will build on that momentum and our learning from this battle to establish a majority in both houses against telecom immunity as well as against the expansion of warrantless wiretaps and other forms of illegal government surveillance.

At the same time, with Senator Obama tipping his hat to Get FISA Right in his Netroots Nation video and calling on progressive groups and other grassroots activists to use the organizing tools on my.barackobama.com, we are uniquely positioned to share our learning and experiences -- and build bridges both with progressives and broader multipartisan and non-partisan coalitions.

Overall strategy


For the next couple of months, focus on short-term objectives that build the movement's strength and make advocacy for this issue more sustainable, leveraging our social network origin and skills, the strength of our 23,000+ members, and our other competencies and assets.


  • After the convention, continue to highlight the importance of FISA while working with other activists to help to elect Senator Obama and congressional candidates who support FISA reforms.

  • After the election, ramp up public education and grassroots lobbying to create an environment that will be conducive to reforming these issues soon after the inauguration of the new president and the new congressional delegation.

  • After the inauguration, make it a priority for the next presidential administration and the new congressional delegation to reform FISA and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights to the American people.

We are also discussing the possibility of broadening our focus to civil liberties in general, offering our experiences as a resource to other grassroots groups, or evolving towards a multi-issue structure (e.g., a network of "Get ___ Right" groups). Conversation on all of these possibilities will continue --decisions, details, and timing are all to be determined.


Mission and vision

We are in the process of developing both a mission statement and a vision statement. For now, we have two versions of a mission statement currently in use on our various websites and materials:

We are a proud group of Obama supporters who believe in his call for hope and a new kind of politics. We ask Senator Obama, and other legislators, to reject the politics of fear on national security, and work to get FISA right.

We are a proud group of (organized but unofficial) Obama supporters who believe in Obama's call for hope and a new kind of politics. We are asking Congress and all Americans to reject the politics of fear, revisit this flawed bill, and safeguard the people's rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.




Assets


  • 23,000+ members in our MyBO group
  • 2,000+ members on Facebook (and the interconnectedness between them and others)
  • 50+ volunteer organizers with a unique mix of organizing experience and other competencies
  • Our brand, as "the FISA activists on My.BarackObama.com" and specifically as "Get FISA Right"
  • Media visibility and appealing narrative hooks
  • Archive of blog posts and videos
  • Our television ad, produced jointly with SaysME.tv; this is likely to be the first post-vote ad through the cable approval process, and it has been designed so that others can use the video to promote candidates who support our mission

Core Competencies


  • Inclusiveness: We have developed a consensus and collaboration model that works
  • Innovation: We used existing tools in new ways to create a large and vocal group of activists
  • Social Media: We are using social media to support our consensus and collaboration model
    • Social network sites: MyBO, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and so on
    • Collaborative writing: Google docs, wiki, and so on
    • Online discussion: MyBO email group, Google groups, web-based forums, and so on
  • Technical Skills: Several organizers have strong technical skills
  • People Skills: Moderating an email list of thousands takes a careful hand, and we've done that
  • Media Outreach: Our organizers have media outreach experience, and we have already garnered widespread media attention
  • Blogosphere Connections: We have some bloggers in our group, but we need to further develop ties to more prominent bloggers

Key assumptions


  • The vast majority of Americans are against telecom immunity and in favor of the rule of law -- especially when the survey question is worded in a way that expresses the facts clearly or when they are educated about this issue. A large majority of Americans are against warantless searches and general warrants. (It's not as overwhelming as the percentage against immunity; most polls show 60%.)

  • With over 20,000 members in our MyBO group, and a few thousand in our Facebook groups, we can get the word out through multiple channels simultaneously.

  • We will experience ebbs and flows of growth. We should expect to overwhelm the technology from time to time (as we did with myBO); when that happens, we will regroup and revise.

  • We will provide clear, simple, why-you-should-care FISA101 materials that will help us build a critical mass of support to bring about real change on this issue.

  • We will be required to continue negotiating the widely diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, and philosophies of our members and organizers.