Saturday, March 15, 2008

FISA Vote Proves Republicans Protecting the President -- NOT Us from Terrorists

According to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) "The No. 1 job of the American government is to protect her citizens."

In Bachmann’s Star-Tribune Op-Ed, she accused Speaker Pelosi of failing to move forward legislation. However, when given an opportunity to vote on H.R. 3773, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, Bachmann voted NO thus she did what she was most concerned about -- she "shirked that most fundamental responsibility -- the safety of the American people."

By now all of us - including Congresswoman Bachmann - have seen the paid television advertisement “Midnight” by Defense of Democracies. As FactCheck delinated, the advertisement took great liberty with the facts … yet the concern is valid …. Why would any responsible Congresswoman not want to approve H.R. 3773 ?

By Bachmann and all the others who voting NO (that would be every member of the Republican delegation) are essentially agreeing that the current FISA legislation is adequate. It truly is not that FISA is lacking, but the desire to award amnesty to the telecoms and protect the Bush Administration.

In the Speaker’s address, Pelosi: FISA Bill Meets Our Responsibility to Protect America While Protecting Our Civil Liberties , she questions the opposition to this legislation : "Why would the Administration oppose a judicial determination of whether the companies already have immunity? There are at least three explanations:
"First, the President knows that it was the Administration's incompetence in failing to follow the procedures in the statute that prevented immunity from being conveyed -- that's one possibility. They simply didn't do it right. Second, the Administration's legal argument that the surveillance requests were lawfully authorized was wrong; or third, public reports that the surveillance activities undertaken by the companies went far beyond anything about which any Member of Congress was notified, as is required by the law.
"None of these alternatives is attractive, but they clearly demonstrate why the Administration's insistence that Congress provide retroactive immunity has never been about national security or about concerns for the companies; it has always been about protecting the Administration.”

Thus, the real question is Executive Power versus Congressional Power and Judicial Review.

The Republican opposition can best be surmised as blind loyalty to President Bush.

And that is the way it is in the Bush Administration.
Tow the line or you’re gone.
Just this week, CENTCOM Commander William Fallon's resignation (dismissed for hubris which amounted to insubordination).
He was not the first … President Bush’s economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, Chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster, eight United States attorneys, and the list goes on …

One may think that if you are in the Congress, you would be immune … not so.
The Party enforces discipline through campaign support and committee assignments.
Some members of Congress may not want President Bush to campaign with them, but they sure appreciate the fundraising that he generates.
And the telecoms have sway through lobbying.
Verizon, one of the telecoms who has a great deal of interest in this legislation, has lobbying expenditures of $13,733,000 in 2007.

When the carrot (campaign support) doesn’t work, then the stick is applied. The Club for Growth spent over $600,000 on television and radio advertisements attacking Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) who was defeated in a Republican primary by State Sen. Andrew Harris, who ran a campaign highlighting his conservative bona fides on fiscal and foreign policy issues.
So when the supporters of Defense of Democracies want to run their next set of commercials, what Republican Congresswoman would want to be attacked ?

What Bachmann and her cronies don’t understand is that Bush is on his way out … they need to ask the question, How much executive power do they wish to grant to the next administration ?

To paraphrase Congresswoman Bachmann, the Republicans in Congress are shirking that most fundamental responsibility – to the U.S. Constitution and its inherent Separation of Powers.


Alex said...

Great post - Both Congress and the President's recent actions (or lack thereof) on FISA has been pathetic and people should take note. We need to protect our civil liberties, and the spinelessness (especially of the Republicans, but the Democrats are guilty as well) is frustrating.

Anonymous said...

There is an excellent article online regarding the FISA vote:

Be aware that Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Colin Peterson and Tim Walz voted to continue the FISA wiretapping. I've already written them and would recommend that you do the same. Maybe include a copy of the Constitution just in case they have never read it.