October 19, 2007

Now they're concerned about bin Laden?

Well, the Republican shenanigans on the FISA reform bill were nothing more than a straw man (NYT)...

But after an afternoon of partisan sniping, Democratic leaders put off that vote because of a competing measure from Republicans that . . . declared that nothing in the broader bill should be construed as prohibiting intelligence officials from conducting the surveillance needed to prevent Mr. bin Laden or Al Qaeda “from attacking the United States.” Had it passed, it threatened to derail the Democratic measure altogether.

Democrats denounced the Republicans’ poison pill on Mr. bin Laden as a cynical political ploy and “a cheap shot.” But Democratic leaders realized that they were at risk of losing the votes of a contingent of more moderate Democrats who did not want to be left vulnerable for voting against a resolution to stop Al Qaeda, officials said. So the leaders pulled the measure, promising to take it up again next week once they could solidify support.

Let's see... the Republicans had year after interminable year to find bin Laden and they failed. Bush even joked about it. FAILED. Even still, some of the D's in the House got all flustered like a bunch of kids...instead of beating the Republicans down. Girls and boys, let me tell you a little secret : Bullies will keep needling you until you throw a punch. They are losing the PR debate. No one listens to or believes them any more. They have to do this. You have to fight back. It's that simple.

In the Senate, Leahy sniped at the W. Va. Lawnchair and Dumbass Feinstein bleated on about how wonderful bipartisanship is, even when it tramples over the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans...

At the second day of confirmation hearings for President Bush’s Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey, Leahy warned that “the Intelligence Committee is about to cave on this,” citing pressure from the White House and press reports suggesting the administration had gotten its way.

“[Administration officials] know that it was illegal conduct and that there is no saving grace for the president to say, ‘Well, I was acting with authority,’ ” said Leahy. “Otherwise there wouldn't be so much pressure on us to immunize illegal conduct by either people acting within our government or within the private industry.”

Leahy’s remarks signal that a bipartisan accord to overhaul the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), reached Wednesday by the Intelligence panel’s leaders and the White House, could divide Democrats and hit a roadblock on his panel as well. The Intelligence Committee marks up the bill Thursday afternoon, after which it will be referred to Judiciary, where more Democrats have openly opposed retroactive immunity language.

His comments also come as House Democratic efforts to overhaul the law are falling into disarray, after House Republicans used parliamentary maneuvers to force leaders to pull the Democrats’ FISA rewrite from the floor late Wednesday.

Attempting to resolve a central point of contention, Senate Intelligence panel Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) reportedly reached a deal Wednesday with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to give full retroactive immunity to telephone companies if they can demonstrate they were cooperating lawfully with the secret wiretapping program when suits were levied against them.

Not all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee appeared to share Leahy’s concerns. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sits on both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels, signaled she was likely to support the bipartisan approach.

“At this stage, it is a bipartisan bill,” Feinstein said. “I’m absolutely convinced that the only way we can legislate on this is on a bipartisan basis. This bill so far is bipartisan — that’s good news.”

So, bipartisanship for the sake of being bipartisan? Yeah, just because you guys caved into the demands of the Republicans doesn't mean it's 'bipartisan'. You might want to check with your constituents in CA, Diane.

The bottom line on this is that even AG Ashcroft wouldn't sign a letter releasing the telco's from liability. They had no 'get out of jail free' card. FISA even gave the Administration 48 hours to obtain a warrant, AFTER the tap had been initiated. Under current law, there is no reason for the Administration to have done anything illegal. Further, there is no reason for a private company to have cooperated with the illegal activity.

Sen. Dodd's hold may not be enough if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has his way(CQ)...

Tim Starks of Congressional Quarterly reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to bring the Senate’s surveillance bill up for floor debate in mid-November. That’s despite the hold that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) plans to place on the measure — something first reported by Election Central’s Greg Sargent.

The Senate intelligence committee is still marking up the bill behind closed doors, according to staffers. A joint statement from committee leaders Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kit Bond (R-MO) will follow when the mark-up concludes, but that may not occur today.

Click here to support Senator Dodd. This bill needs to die and the Democrats in Congress need to run the debate.

Posted by mcblogger at October 19, 2007 12:16 AM

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