Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Democrats prepared to let FISA extension expire

Keep it up Democrats. Just keep pulling these sorts of stunts, and come November your only worries will be who to ask to help you clean out your offices.

After the Senate passed the FISA reforms, with bipartisan support, it moved to the House where Nancy Pelosi has decided to sit on it, and let it run out:

The House broke for a week’s recess Thursday without renewing terrorist surveillance authority demanded by President Bush, leading him to warn of risky intelligence gaps while Democrats accused him of reckless fear mongering.

The refusal of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, to schedule a vote on a surveillance measure approved Tuesday by the Senate touched off an intense partisan conflict over the national security questions that have colored federal elections since 2002 and are likely to play a significant role again in November.

Trying to put pressure on Democrats, Mr. Bush offered to delay a trip to Africa to resolve the dispute and warned that failure to extend the expanded power under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires Saturday, could hamper efforts to track terrorists.

“Our intelligence professionals are working day and night to keep us safe,” Mr. Bush said, “and they’re waiting to see whether Congress will give them the tools they need to succeed or tie their hands by failing to act.”

But Ms. Pelosi and other House Democrats said Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans were at fault because they had resisted temporarily extending the bill to allow disagreements to be worked out. Democrats would not be bullied into approving a measure they considered flawed, she said.

“The president knows full well that he has all the authority he needs to protect the American people,” said Ms. Pelosi, who then referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s admonition about fearing only fear itself. “President Bush tells the American people that he has nothing to offer but fear, and I’m afraid that his fear-mongering of this bill is not constructive.”

The decision by the House Democratic leadership to let the law lapse is the greatest challenge to Mr. Bush on a major national security issue since the Democrats took control of Congress last year.

Last summer, Democrats allowed the surveillance law to be put in place for six months although many of them opposed it. They have also relented in fights over spending on the Iraq war under White House pressure. But with Mr. Bush rated low in public opinion polls as he enters the last months of his presidency, Democrats are showing more willingness to challenge him.

Republicans say House Democrats are taking a risk, especially in light of the strong bipartisan Senate vote for the bill.

“They can’t pass a Mother’s Day resolution and got 68 votes for this bill,” said Representative Adam H. Putnam of Florida, chairman of the House Republican Conference.

The battle over the surveillance bill was also tangled up in the rancor over a House vote to hold in contempt Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, for refusing to testify about the firing of United States attorneys. Republicans said the House was devoting time to that issue when it could be considering the surveillance program, and they staged a walkout in protest.

The main sticking point is a provision in the Senate bill that provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that, at the Bush administration’s request, cooperated in providing private data after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Many House Democrats oppose that immunity.

Surveillance efforts will not cease when the law lapses. Administration intelligence officials said agencies would be able to continue eavesdropping on targets that have already been approved for a year after the initial authorization. But they said any new targets would have to go through the more burdensome standards in place before last August, which would require that they establish probable cause that an international target is connected to a terrorist group.

That's the problem. We don't need a warrant to eavesdrop on targets abroad. But if the target is in contact with someone here in the US, then we have to get a warrant, which is asinine. If Osama is yakking with Hillary Clinton, then there shouldn't be a need for any warrant. It's an international call, and no warrant has ever been needed for such surveillance.

The Democrats are playing chicken with our ability to monitor our enemy abroad. Their sole complaint is the immunity for the phone companies when they cooperate with our intelligence agencies. It only makes sense to grant them immunity as they are helping our intel guys keep track of the animals abroad that want us dead. But the Democrats -- radicalized by their thirst for power -- don't think it's right to grant them such immunity. They want them open to lawsuits, like the thirty or so the phone companies are facing now from radical left-wing groups like the ACLU.

Yesterday Nancy Pelosi really swallowed her foot with a single quote that was so outrageous that I'm surprised people haven't melted down her phone yet:

"The President and House Republicans refused to support the extension and therefore will bear the responsibility should any adverse national consequences result."

First off, there was no need for another extension, Speaker Pelosi. You've had plenty of time to debate this. Once again, Democrats led by their out-of-the-mainstream leaders, have decided to play the role of petulant babies pouting over being told what to do. So, in a hissy fit, they're sitting on the floor holding their breath until the president caves in. We don't think he should. As a matter of fact, we'd rather see him order Nancy Pelosi into a special session with the sole intent to debate and vote on the FISA reforms. But that won't happen.

So, it falls to us, once again, to drive the point home. 202-225-3121 Send her and her minions a message that you want these reforms voted on, as the Senate has passed them. Then, when this November rolls around, make sure you let your Democrat representatives know that you want Nancy Pelosi thrown out of the Speaker's position. Never before have we seen such open animosity towards the president, and a complete lack of respect in doing her job.

Publius II


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