Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wiretapping, BushCo, Now What?

If you haven't been living in a cave, you know that there's been a dust up over wiretapping. In August the Congress extended the FISA reform extension allowing the Administration to wiretap without warrants foreign communications suspected of being terrorism related. The mess the Republicans and BushCo want passed is called Protect America Act, another nice sounding name that doesn't reflect reality. The idea is to permanently allow unregulated wiretapping of calls with an international endpoint and to grant immunity to telecoms that cooperated with the Administration's unlawful wiretapping, including domestic connections. Understand that while the BushCo was engaging in this prohibited behavior they had access to a secret federal court, FISA, that would grant temporary emergency permission without review and that authority still exists. The cooperating telecoms, Qwest did not, were not presented with warrants and you'd be hard pressed to find someone in telecommunications that doesn't know about wiretapping and warrants. BushCo seems to believe it can do whatever it wishes whenever it wishes and its Quislings bear no responsibility.

Dick Cheney got up in front of The Heritage Foundation today and called on Congress to pass the Act before its February 1 expiration, to pass it with no sunset provision and with immunity for their telecom buddies. The problem is that the House passed HR3773 last year without immunity and a December 2009 expiration. "There is no sound reason to pass critical legislation like the Protect America Act and slap an expiration date on it," Cheney said. "The challenge to the country has not expired over the last six months. It won't expire any time soon, and we should not write laws that pretend otherwise."
With the law due to expire in nine days, Cheney said, "we're reminding Congress they must act now to modernize" the 1978 FISA Act.

Harry Reid asked the White House to back a 30 day extension since there is little time to reconcile a Senate version and the House. Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader objects, he says there's plenty of time to get a bill "out of the Senate and to the House in a form the president will sign," he said. "Nothing is more important to protecting the homeland than getting this done and getting it done properly." The next time I hear "the homeland" out of one of this authoritarian nits I want to see someone toss up a Nazi salute. Homeland is not a magic word allowing just any kind of behavior.

Now Reid is also under some criticism, he says he is opposed to granting immunity to telecoms, but there are two competing Senate bills, one from JD Rockefeller IV (D-WV)'s Intelligence Committee with immunity and one from P Leahy (D-VT)'s Judiciary Committee that leaves it out. His decision to allow an initial vote on the Intelligence Bill has angered opponents of immunity, “If Senator Reid wanted to win, he would have put the judiciary vote on the floor first,” Caroline Frederickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “It seems as if he wants to lose.” “Senator Reid intends to do everything he can to strip immunity from the bill,” Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman said.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-MO), the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday, “To stall legislation needed to help our intelligence community prevent attacks and protect American lives is not only irresponsible, it’s also dangerous.” Seems they're in a big rush, but Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, said in an interview that if the August bill was allowed to expire in 10 days, intelligence officials would still be able to continue eavesdropping on already approved targets for another year under the law. They might however have to revert to the more restrictive rules of pre-August for new suspects. I don't believe anything more permissive than the '78 FISA rules are needed or good for this nation. I cannot understand how wriggling toward authoritarianism is good for the nation or leads to preservation of American values. It is another step in the direction of our foe's ideology. Tyranny is just that, whether the ideology is theocratic Islam or BushCo-ism.

Just a little update to think on, this wire tapping bill that is so important to BushCo will get vetoed if it doesn't contain immunity. If immunity trumps national security issues then what is the real deal? What might come out in a suit besides telecom money? These are rat bastards of the first order.


Steve Culley said...

I wonder what Cheney is afraid of by not having a sunset provision. Could be that inquiring minds might rethink some of our police state laws passed in the last several years.

KISS said...

Beware of Reid and his phony idealistic rhectoric. J Rockefeller has deep pockets lined with telecoms dollars.
Pat Leathy is after these crooks and just maybe Reid is in bed with the crooks. Reid has as much dirty laundry in Nevada as Stevens has in Alaska. With Pelosi and Reid in charge the foxes are in no danger of the to speak

Chuck Butcher said...

I do not know, Kiss. I've watched the Dems roll over enough to jsut shake my head.

Batocchio said...

An important story.

With a vote looming, Crooks and Liars and some other sites are urging to hit the phones. Reid's move isn't just bad policy, it's bad politics. And Rockefeller and Feinstein have been consistently on the wrong side of this.