Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.Firedoglake had this to say:
Administration officials acknowledged that they had heard such concerns from Democrats in Congress recently, and that there was a continuing debate over the meaning of the legislative language. But they said the Democrats were simply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of the legislation.
They also emphasized that there would be strict rules in place to minimize the extent to which Americans would be caught up in the surveillance.
The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought. (more here)
I don’t know which claim is less credible: Is it the Administration’s argument, which Risen/Lichtblau report without comment, that they never intended such an overly broad gutting of FISA and do not intend to interpret the new statute that way, even though we know the DNI McConnell reportedly agreed to a narrower statute worked out with Congressional Democrats, only to have that version replaced by a much broader bill written by the White House? Or is it the Democrats claiming they are surprised that the Administration so badly misled them? How many examples of total duplicity does it take before the Democrats learn they cannot trust this Administration on any matter and should never cave to any Administration threat, especially when Constitutional rights are directly at stake?
The facts reported by Risen/Lichtblau are appalling on several levels. Above all, they confirm that even ignoring the leadership failures to coordinate their strategies in the final days before passage, Congressional Democrats were recklessly irresponsible in hastily passing a bill they failed to read and understand and still cannot explain to the public. They passed it even though they knew that the bill’s subject matter involved critical issues of Constitutional rights, individual and business privacy, and problematic domestic spying by the NSA, an organization that was never meant to spy on American citizens.
The Democrats also knew the Administration’s history in willfully violating the warrant requirements of FISA, and they knew the Administration has yet to explain what it is doing and how it can be legally justified. They knew the Administration had engaged in activities that were so blatantly unlawful that the previous Attorney General, the acting Attorney General and the Director of the FBI were prepared to resign if the activities continued. Yet knowing all this, they passed a bill written entirely by the Administration and never vetted through hearings that gutted FISA, a 28 year old statute that had been carefully crafted and updated after extensive public hearings. They recklessly gutted a statute designed to protect our rights against government abuses that had occurred during the Nixon and prior administrations, abuses that, given the Bush/Cheney regime’s history and statements, the Democrats knew were probably at risk here. (It only gets better. Check it out here.)
Yes. It must be difficult to live without a spine. Sell-out Democrats.
How many times do I have to write this article? How many times will these same Democrats give in to the worst president in history? So, this time, they caved on FISA. And they caved big time.
The president has been running an illegal warrantless wiretapping program since 2001. He has been continually and brazenly breaking the FISA law. He finally submitted the program to the FISA court recently. And a FISA judge said earlier this year that the program was not legal. Now how do the Democrats hold the president accountable for breaking this federal law?
Did they impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors? Did they censure him? Did they cut off funding? No, not only did they not do any of these patently obvious things, but instead, they turned around and changed the law to give him the authority to ignore the courts. How do you not call them weaklings? How am I supposed to take it easy on them? How can this possibly be justified?
They made his illegal actions legal in retrospect. Instead of holding him accountable, they gave him a blank check. If all of this wasn't bad enough, they even removed the provision that the warrantless wiretapping be about an Al Qaeda operative or in some way linked to terrorism. So, the president now has BROADER authority to wiretap anyone who makes or receives a foreign call about ANYTHING.
You have got be asking yourself, why did they do this?! Do they know something we don't? And the answer is unequivocally - no! They know a lot less than you do. They are under the ridiculous assumption that voting against this president on any national security matter would hurt them politically.
You ass clowns, he is the least popular president in history! Nixon spent nowhere near this much time at a 25% approval rating. In fact, when Nixon got to be this unpopular, he was forced to resign. Can you imagine Democrats capitulating to Nixon on critical legislation days before his resignation? (more here)