The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Thursday, January 24, 2008
FISA Debate Heats Up; Dodd, Hard-Left push for filibuster
Democrat Chris Dodd is threatening a filibuster. And the jihadists are cheering.
As Andy McCarthy explains:
Dodd’s objection is about as counterproductive as it gets to national security. He is unhappy because a far from perfect but comparatively sensible FISA-reform proposal that won overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate Intelligence Committee would provide telecommunications service providers with immunity from legal liability.
The telecoms, in the wake of the 9/11 atrocity, acceded to the Bush administration’s requests for assistance in carrying out the NSA’s warrantless monitoring of wartime terrorist communications that crossed U.S. borders. This effort, relying on presidential authority consistently acknowledged by the federal appeals courts, did not comply with FISA protocols.
Granting the telecoms immunity, which is not merely the only fair thing to do but the only smart thing to do, would end numerous lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and others.
…Dodd and his colleagues in the Democratic party are desperate to keep the courts front and center. Feeling the heat from their hard-Left base, they would have al-Qaeda operatives given protection against surveillance not only inside the United States but overseas — such that if, for example, jihadists inside Iraq were plotting to kill American marines there, the government would have to seek a judge’s permission before eavesdropping on their communications.
This is so patently absurd and dangerous that even the energetic Leftist Congress which enacted FISA in 1978 did not attempt it, taking pains to exempt intelligence collection outside the United States from the new (and ill-advised) requirement that the president — the constitutional official principally responsible for national security — obtain court permission before monitoring spies and terrorists. The Democrats would obviously prefer to depict such foolishness as the doing of judges rather than a policy choice bearing their own fingerprints.
Thus the Dodd gambit: Just say “no” to telecom immunity while pushing for an 18-month extension of the temporary deal Congress and the administration struck this summer, which permits the CIA and NSA to continue overseas surveillance without court permission.
Currently, that deal is scheduled to sunset in early February. The Democrats’ strategy is transparent. They realize their position underscores how weak they are on national security and how beholden they are to the CAIR/ACLU/MoveOn.org Left, which is more animated by the “rights” of terrorists than the lives of Americans. If they can con the Bush administration into accepting the 18-month extension, that takes the issue off the table for the 2008 election. Not only would Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama be able to avoid being accountable for their party’s unpopular position. The ducking would further help one of them win the presidency, whereupon she or he could help Democrats sculpt a more terrorist-friendly FISA in 2009, when no one is up for re-election and public scrutiny ebbs.
The Bush administration and the Republican presidential candidates should not let them get away with it. FISA needs a major overhaul to make it easier, not harder, to monitor the people trying to kill us. Osama bin Laden doesn’t need to apply to a sharia court before blowing up an American embassy; the president shouldn’t need to apply to a federal court to try to stop him…
The nutroots are cheering on the Dems’ obstructionist effort to block a lasting FISA makeover. Where are you?
Make your voice heard.
Senate switchboard: 202-224-3121