Wiretap Compromise in Works
FISA Update May Hinge On Two Separate Votes
By Ellen Nakashima and Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, March 4, 2008; A03
House and Senate Democratic leaders are headed into talks today that they say could lead to a breakthrough on legislation to revamp domestic surveillance powers and grant phone companies some form of immunity for their role in the administration's warrantless wiretapping program after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Captain 2nd Lieutenant 19% wins again?
And look what the "compromise" is!
Some aides on Capitol Hill were discussing the potential for the House passing the Senate version but breaking it into two votes: one on the portion of the bill that deals with revising FISA provisions and a second on the immunity measure.
This procedural move would allow many Democrats to vote against immunity but still make its approval all but certain since almost every Republican and some centrist Democrats would vote in favor.
Nope! It's not the White House compromising on the substance of the bill with Congress. It's the Congress compromising with itself on the procedure by which they'll hand the White House exactly the substance it demands. One vote or two? It's your choice! See? Compromise!
But at least we were treated with respect along the way, yes?
Kenneth Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, said at the same meeting that key issues surrounding the legislation had been hashed out in a "long and tedious" but "healthy" process, aimed at updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
I don't know what's more obnoxious. Having to absorb millions of dollars worth of "Democrats are traitors" attack ads while Assistant AG Ken Wainstein grins and tells the world how "healthy" the process has been (while reporters nod and scribble it down), or the notion that the Congressional Democrats who have found themselves so thoroughly hobbled in their efforts to actually enforce their oversight powers would ever consider granting even more power to the executive. Especially one that would itself require such close and vigorous oversight.
What a joke.
Who do these people think are going to keep this power in check?
"This is not amnesty," Wainstein said at the meeting. "This is targeted immunity" for companies who meet requirements specified in the Senate bill that include having received an attorney general's certification that their assistance was determined to be lawful.
Just last week the "Attorney General" of the United States told you to stick your subpoenas up your ass. You now find yourselves begging a federal court to please, pretty please, enforce your subpoenas for you, because the "Attorney General" certified that you suck eggs. That "Attorney General" gets to certify this new power is "lawful?" And your response to this is, "OK?"
What planet are you on?
At this late date in the Bush "administration," the only truly relevant question you need to be asking yourself about any new powers or programs you're granting to the "unitary executive" is: Am I comfortable with this thing operating with absolutely zero oversight? And only if the answer is yes should you be voting for it. Because six-plus years of experience with this president should have taught you by now that that is how it's going to operate.
Are you comfortable with allowing unlimited, warrantless electronic surveillance and datamining of the communications of all Americans and indeed the entire world on the say-so of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and/or David Addington, with no possibility that they will ever agree to answer any questions you may ever have about it?
Is that not how it will work? Do you not agree that that is how you're ultimately going to have to assess it? You can't possibly believe you're just going to be able to snap your fingers and have an open and honest hearing about it, can you? If you do, please, by all means, tell us why. Because you'd be the only ones in the country who think so.