Sunday, March 02, 2008

FISA Non-Alert :
IF FOX doesn’t Report,
How can I Decide ?

Confession time – ever since Defense of Democracies started running advertisements educating me that "the law that lets intelligence agencies intercept Al Qaeda communications expire[d]", I have barely left the inner confines of my bunker.

Patiently, I have waited … and then the words I needed to hear … My Friends At Fox were going to get answers.

From today's TV Guide, “Fox News Sunday” leads with the surveillance debate, with interviews with Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Good. I had to hear if Durbin had changed his tune from his previous statement (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S.1035, 02/14/08) “The Law, As It Currently Exists, The FISA Law--Even If We Do Not Change It--Gives Ample Authority To This President To Continue To Monitor The Conversations Of Those Who Endanger The United States.” And Feinstein is a key player since she authored the amendment that states FISA is the exclusive means for conducting electronic surveillance (it failed but is a sticking point and may be revamped in the House bill.)

I tuned in and listened intently to hear FOX defend our liberties and attack these liberal Democrats … but alas, it was just mindless babble about next November’s election … not only from Durbin and Feinstein … but also from Karl Rove.
IF Karl Rove doesn’t feel the threat, what is an ordinary citizen to conclude ?

Was this just an exploitive commercial to attack First District Congressman Tim Walz ?

From Bluestem Prairie, “House Republican attempts to gain political traction against Democrats on the delayed overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act aren't having the impact GOP operatives had hoped for.

OK … so maybe it was just “political theater” … but the claims must be basically true?
Well, reviewed the ad and objected stating “false claims and twisted facts in support of this or any other legislation.

So what’s the real reason?
First off, the Senate bill was passed without a majority of Democrats (19 in favor versus 29 opposed, so not exactly overwhelming bi-partisan support.)
Second, it was passed without leaving any time for the House to study it. The House Democrats lead by Michael Arcuri of New York wanted to pass a 21-day extension of the existing legislation. John Kline (R-MN-02) spoke out
We should be doing nothing short of providing our intelligence officials with every tool necessary to always stay a step ahead of these radical extremists.
In the end, instead of insuring that the existing “tools” were continued for an additional 21 days, the Republicans voted that down. Arcuri is under attack by the Defense of Democracies Smear Machine.
Too bad .... if the Republicans could have voted this extension, America could still be intercepting ”Al Qaeda communications”.

The dispute is not really about ”Al Qaeda communications”, it’s about amnesty for the telecoms.

Did the Bush Administration do something illegal ?
The Washington Post reported ”disclosures in the lawsuits could clarify the scope of the government's surveillance and establish whether, as the plaintiffs allege, it involved the massive interception of purely domestic communications with the help of the nation's largest providers …”

On February 28th, Durbin said ”I have seen the documentation presented to us in closed session. All I can say about it is, it was extremely limited. There was no legal brief given to the telephone companies saying, this is the authority of the President. It was a very scant document with very little information in it. But this program went on way beyond 2001, 2002. It went on for years. And for years the telephone companies were surrendering this private information about their customers and access to their customers' conversations in a questionable situation under the law.”

That’s the crux of the matter. Amnesty for telecoms.

This week, the House will probably split the Senate bill in to two halves … including one that concerns amnesty for the telecoms … at that time, we will see how John Kline and Tim Walz truly feel.

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