Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don't let the fear-mongering work again.

Glenn Greenwald calls bullshit on the GOP and their media enablers who claim "terrible things will befall us -- scary, "unthinkable," "severe," "dangerous" things -- unless we all harmoniously comply with the President's demands for the power to spy on our communications without warrants and without oversight, and unless we immunize telecoms that broke the law." He implores the Dems to do the right thing and not cave in yet again.
There's one reason and one reason only why the Protect America Act expired last February and why the orders obtained under it are set to expire in August. It's because the President and Congressional Republicans blocked an extension of the PAA because the President said he would veto any FISA amendment unless telecom amnesty was attached to it (Lichtblau notes: "Democrats have offered temporary extensions in the surveillance law, but the White House has resisted that idea").

[...]
That is the hallmark of the Democratic Party leadership: they are afraid of looking weak, and the way they try to solve that problem is by being guided by their fears and allowing themselves to be bullied into complying with the President's instructions. They actually still think that being bullied and always being afraid to take a stand will make them look strong. They have yet to figure out that it is that craven behavior which makes them look weak, and appropriately so, since it is weak.

But even that ostensible political fear makes no sense whatsoever. Democrats control the agenda in Congress. They determine what bills are voted on. All they have to do is force a House and Senate vote on a bill that does two simple things: (a) exempt foreign-to-foreign calls from FISA's warrant requirements and (b) extend the PAA surveillance orders by 6 or 9 months. When the GOP filibusters that bill, or when George Bush vetoes it, then that will obviously preclude the GOP from using the expiration of those PAA orders as a club to beat Democrats, since it will be as clear as day -- so clear that even our national press corps can understand it -- that it was the President and the GOP, not Congressional Democrats, which caused those orders to expire.

Whatever else happens, the excuse that will be offered by Democrats -- that they were pressured and forced into accepting this "compromise" because they would be politically harmed if the PAA orders expired in August -- is patently false. They could easily obviate that weapon by simply offering a bill to extend the orders. When they don't do that, and instead agree to a "compromise" that gives the President virtually everything he has been demanding, it will not be because they were coerced or pressured into doing so, but rather, because they, too, favor warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty.

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