Check out how this is reported in the Christian Science Monitor.
New misgivings on wiretap law
At issue now is the temporary update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) passed earlier this month, just before Congress fled Capitol Hill for its summer break. This update was made necessary when the secretive judicial body that oversees the wiretapping, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, banned eavesdropping on foreigners whose communications were being routed through the United States.
The legal update, which expires in six months, allows the NSA to resume siphoning such communications. In one of its key changes, US intelligence no longer needs to know that at least one of the parties to a communication is abroad prior to eavesdropping. It needs only to "reasonably believe" that one person is off US soil.
In the weeks since this bill's passage some Democrats have begun to regret the manner in which it was approved. They feel the vote was held in haste, with summer break looming. And they've started to worry that by changing just a few words in a massive piece of law they've opened the door to practices they did not intend.
"Temporary update" is so misleading.
You cannot believe a word of what Team Bush says. How is it that, 6 years into what is nothing less than a hijacking, you Democratic leaders cannot see this? What is the matter with you?
The Sunset Clause WAS - past-tense - nothing more than a small chocolate candy offered to children if they will just cooperate for the moment. It was a sexually aggressive man promising to respect a woman in the morning. Team Bush has absolutely NO intention of letting the "update" return to its former state. They have already said so. They want it to be permanent. "We got what we want, now get lost": that's the Team Bush Spirit.
Unfortunately, Democrats who believed this were stupid to believe this.
Team Bush will fight the sunset with everything they have; they are already stonewalling on subpoenas demanding pertinent information, claiming "executive privilege".
Leahy's demands seem to have no teeth, at least not yet. He's sputtering the "time is up" but he's not done any more than sputter.
And that is a serious problem
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. John Conyers (D) of Michigan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) of California wrote that "Many provisions of this legislation are unacceptable, and, although the bill has a six-month sunset clause, I do not believe the American people will want to wait that long before corrective action is taken."
You got that right, sister.
In addition, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Aug. 20 threatened to pursue contempt charges against the administration over its reluctance to produce documents outlining the eavesdropping's legal foundation.
Senator Leahy subpoenaed the NSA, the National Security Council, and the offices of the president and vice president for these papers in late June. They are necessary, he says, so that the Senate can understand better exactly what it's voting for in regard to warrantless wiretapping.
Here's the crux of the problem: Democratic Leaders, like Leahy, experienced people who should really know better by now than to extend any sort of trust or goodwill to any member of the Bush Administration. They will lie and stonewall and drag their feet.
I mean, really, what stands in the way of learning this very simple lesson?
"When the Senate comes back in session, I'll bring it up before the committee," Leahy said at a press conference. "I prefer cooperation to contempt. Right now, there's no question that they are in contempt of a valid order of the Congress."
In regard to the subpoenaed documents, both sides have strong arguments for their positions, notes one legal expert.
Such nonsense. This is what I mean: Leahy prefers cooperation to contempt? Where has he been? When has Team Bush "cooperated"? When have they ever just done the right thing and not stonewalled or openly flouted the laws? Is he becoming...you know.... too old to think clearly?
Here's a little more to add:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) set Monday’s subpoena deadline after granting an extension request by the White House. Presidential counsel Fred Fielding, as expected, told Leahy in a letter that a second delay, until after Labor Day, would help Congress and the administration "expeditiously seek a means of accommodation that will negate the need for an assertion of executive privilege."
Stung by a furious backlash after they approved a White House-written fix to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), House and Senate Democratic leaders both have signaled their plans to take up a new bill remodeling the administration’s eavesdropping program in September. Leahy said that he and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) are prepared to move forward on a new FISA bill that strengthens the courts’ role in wiretapping regardless of whether the White House responds to the subpoenas.
Leahy also asserted that he is prepared to pursue a contempt vote against the White House when Congress returns, although he appeared inclined to continue negotiating with Fielding for the time being. A contempt vote in either chamber would effectively move the subpoena dispute to the courts, with a final ruling unlikely before President Bush leaves office.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters on Monday that Fielding continues to work toward a deal with Democrats, indicating that the White House did not consider meeting Leahy’s second deadline.
I don't think they have been "stung" hard enough or long enough. I don't think they have sincerity yet.
They issued subpoenas and Team Bush blew them off. They issue letters indicating that they have no intention of cooperating because, frankly, they are above the law now.
This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. People who blow off subpoenas do so under penalty of law. Does Leahy intend to let them exist above the law? That's exactly what he's doing every minute in which he does not send law enforcement to enforce the subpoenas.
The fact is the Democratic leadership screwed up BIGTIME by giving Team Bush this authority.
Lets see how this was covered in the rightwing press - US News and World Report
Bush Wins Wiretapping Standoff
Although President Bush is widely viewed as a lame duck, and an unpopular one at that, the Democratic-controlled Congress handed him a major legislative win over the weekend by passing revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Senate approved the measure on Friday night by a margin of 60-28, and the House followed suit on Saturday night by a margin of 227-183. NBC Nightly News said on Saturday Bush had given Congress "a sort of ultimatum...on the subject of electronic surveillance," while the Washington Times reported the Senate "bowed to...Bush in passing a temporary revision to rules on eavesdropping on foreign terrorists, ending a daylong standoff." Bush had "vowed to veto the House bill," sponsored by the Democrats and defeated on a 218-207 vote, and "stressed the importance of getting the Senate bill done before Congress adjourns for its August recess." The Los Angeles Times called the Senate vote was "a key victory for Bush at a time when adverse court rulings and dismal approval ratings have forced his administration to retreat from some of its most aggressive assertions of executive authority in the war on terrorism."
So there's no way around it: The Democratic Party Cave-In is absolutely huge. The single biggest screw-up since they took over majority in both houses.
They simply rolled over and gave Bush what he wanted.
Because Bush or Cheney said "Boo".
This is a huge fuck-up - nothing less than. Needless too.
Completely, pardon the pun, unwarranted.
The appearance to me is that they caved in quickly so they could go on vacation. Dedicated public servants, eh? So quick to sell off MY 4th Amendment protections.
They have incurred some wrath from us little people and that has warmed my heart and put the thinnest smile on my face. But that doesn't fix the problem they have caused.
I have referred to them in the most unflattering and foul terms but have settled on referring to those Democratic rollovers - for it is NOT ALL OF THEM - as Fainting Goat Democrats.
Fainting goats are a small goat with a genetic issue that causes their legs to stiffen when they get scared or excited. They fall right over when spooked, basically, just like the roll-over, capitulating democrat.
Have a quick look.
Corrective Action Plan
Since they seem to need this, and this is what I would get if I screwed up half as badly at my job - especially if I had been given very clear instructions by "the People" -I will spell out their instructions very clearly.
I would get a "Corrective Action Plan" and so all the Fainting Goats will get one as well. Their job is very serious and they simply cannot be allowed to keep screwing it up.
This isn't difficult, but pay attention - there will be a very important test. When you get back from your vacation.
I don't get a vacation this year, by the way: I'm laid-off. Not that anybody needs to care - I can throw that in because I can.
- When Democrats get back from their cushy vacations, they WILL meet first thing and craft AND pass some law taking back the FISA cave-in. IT is this cave-in that must be fixed immediately, before Team Bush uses the power against us - because, frankly, that's what all this is about.
Simply repeal it. Add a law that suspends it. Do something. I know you can - the question is will you?
- Enforce the subpoenas already outstanding. This is of primary importance. You set a limit and are allowing the limit to be blown off just like the original subpoena. Send law enforcement. That is the next step. Stand up for yourselves.
- Begin the steps to Impeach Alberto Gonzalez. This is also very basic.
- Until January 2009, you will not give George Bush or his administration anything else. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nothing.
If Bush asks for water, you will not give him any. If he asks for a hug, you will not hug him. If he asks for more power, you will not give it to him. If he needs CPR, you will not give it to him.
Do you understand?
Do you really understand the importance of this?
Do you understand how bad the Bush Administration really is?
Do you recognize they have absolutely no credibility? No sense of fair play, no sense of right or wrong?
If they ask for anything - and they will ask for the sun and the moon - you will not give it to them.
Listen to us from now on, not Bush or Cheney.
You KNOW where to find feedback from us. And many of us will be calling you FREQUENTLY with reminders to help you decide correctly.
Do you think you all can do these simplest of things?
Do what you are told.
Update [2007-8-22 12:15:12 by xxdr zombiexx]: I have added "Impeach Gonzalez" as a part of the Corrective Action Plan. The link is to clammyc's current posting.
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