Bush just held another fear-mongering press conference in yet another attempt to scare the living daylights out of the American people for no good reason. He coordinated this with Congressional Republicans to time their little temper tantrum over this issue.
Let's just remember Sen. Kennedy's summation of Bush's position on FISA:
The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retro-active immunity. No immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he's willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.
That's essentially the message he sent today, too, by making telco amnesty once again the crux of what he says is so critical to the nation's security. And that's the message the Republican members of Congress sent today, too. Their temper tantrums and political posturing are more important than the Constitution, more important than creating legislation that both addresses national security and protects the most basic Constitution rights of Americans.
Let's get this straight. If the Protect America Act expires, we're still safe. Don't believe me? Believe them:
Richard Clarke, Former Chief National Security Council Counterterrorism Advisor: "On one issue in particular - FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) - the president misconstrued the truth and manipulated the facts... Simply put, it was wrong for the president to suggest that warrants issued in compliance with FISA would suddenly evaporate with congressional inaction." [Philadelphia Inquirer, February 1, 2008]
Mort Halperin, Director of U.S. Advocacy for the Open Society Institute: "Even if the President permits the PAA to temporarily lapse, the intelligence community will have the authority not only to continue on-going surveillances for a year but to add other surveillances as long as they are consistent with the existing procedures." [2/7/08]
"Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, said in an interview that if the August bill was allowed to expire in 10 days, intelligence officials would still be able to continue eavesdropping on already approved targets for another year under the law." [New York Times, 1/23/08]
Kate Martin, Director of the Center for National Security Studies: "If the government learns of new individuals apparently plotting terrorist activities, it can immediately surveil such individuals — whether they are here or calling here from abroad — by obtaining a FISA court order... As officials have confirmed to the Congress, the court can issue an order within literally minutes of being asked and such order can be implemented within minutes. Or the government can start surveillance without a court order under the always existing FISA emergency authority." [2/7/08]
Because this is a message that can't be stated enough: Don't fall for it again, Dems. The House of Representatives is doing something that it has needed to do since Dems got the majority last year. They are standing up to the White House. With the contempt votes that Kagro has been writing about, and now with their refusal to be bullied and to let the Protect America Act expire.
This is a very welcome development, and should be applauded and encouraged. So a big Huzzah! to Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Conyers, Steny Hoyer and all of the Dems finally willing to play hardball over the issues that matter most.
It also puts those Blue Dogs who have said they will vote with Bush and the Republicans in a it of a bind. Will they support their leader, their caucus, their party and the Constitution? Call and ask them.
- Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, D-Iowa -- Phone: (202) 225-3806, Fax: (202) 225-5608
- Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark. -- Phone: (202) 225-4076, Fax: (202) 225-5602
- Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark. -- Phone: (202) 225-3772, Fax: (202) 225-1314
- Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. -- Phone: (202) 225-2611, Fax: (202) 226-0893
- Rep. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer, D-Ala. -- Phone: (202) 225-4801, Fax: (202) 225-4392
- Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill. -- Phone: (202) 225-3711, Fax: (202) 225-7830
- Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. -- Phone: (202) 225-6401, Fax: (202) 226-6422
- Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga. -- Phone: (202) 225-2823, Fax: (202) 225-3377
- Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla. -- Phone: (202) 225-5235, Fax: (202) 225-5615
- Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif. -- Phone: (202) 225-6161, Fax: (202) 225-8671
- Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla. -- Phone: (202) 225-2701, Fax: (202) 225-3038
- Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn. -- Phone: (202) 225-4714, Fax: (202) 225-1765
- Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah -- Phone: (202) 225-3011, Fax: (202) 225-5638
- Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. -- Phone: (202) 225-4311, Fax: (202) 226-1035
- Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn. -- Phone: (202) 225-6831, Fax: (202) 226-5172
- Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. -- Phone: (202) 225-4636, Fax: (202) 225-3284
- Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa. -- Phone: (202) 225-5546, Fax: (202) 226-0996
- Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La. -- Phone: (202) 225-4031, Fax: (202) 226-3944
- Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan. -- Phone: (202) 225-2865, Fax: (202) 225-2807
- Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa. -- Phone: (202) 225-3731, Fax: (202) 225-9594
- Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio -- Phone: (202) 225-6265, Fax: (202) 225-3394