The Reason Democrats Won’t Vote On FISA
By: Lee Kent Hempfling
So why are the Democrats really trying to stall, stop and gut the intelligence community’s ability to protect Americans from new threats? Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell wrote “Some have claimed that expiration of the Protect America Act would not significantly affect our operations. Such claims are not supported by the facts. We are already losing capability due to the failure to address liability protection. Without the act in place, vital programs would be plunged into uncertainty and delay, and capabilities would continue to decline.”
Yes, new threats. Now that the Protect America Act FISA enhancement has expired, we’re back to the 1978 FISA bill, that was so out of date it took special action by congress to allow it to even recognize things like email and cellphones, and routers.
President Bush remarked in his Saturday 02/16/08 radio address, “Some congressional leaders claim that this will not affect our security. They are wrong. Because Congress failed to act, it will be harder for our government to keep you safe from terrorist attack. At midnight, the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will be stripped of their power to authorize new surveillance against terrorist threats abroad. This means that as terrorists change their tactics to avoid our surveillance, we may not have the tools we need to continue tracking them — and we may lose a vital lead that could prevent an attack on America.”
Steny Hoyer (the House Majority Leader) accused President Bush of fear-mongering in an election-year. Edward Kennedy claimed, “It’s nothing more than a scare tactic designed to avoid legal and political accountability and keep Americans in the dark about the administration’s massive lawbreaking.” Anytime the Administration does something that involves protecting Americans, or in the case of fired U.S. Attorneys, exercising the rights of the Executive Branch, Democrats scream lawbreaking. Why?
Democrats are constantly harping how FISA’s lapsing causes no harm. Anything already in the works can keep on going, they say, for up to a year. Of course. But they ignore the point being made by the Administration. It isn’t what has already happened they are concerned about. It is what has not yet happened they are concerned about. (Insert all of the presuasive arguments made for the August, 2007 revision of FISA here). As typical as it may be for Democrats, defense lawyers and clinical morons to focus on topics out of context for personal gain, this process of ignoring the real topic, can have devastating effects on the nation.
The chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Silvestre Reyes, made a point that managed to ignore the irony of his party’s own actions. “We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.” Isn’t that what Harry Reid has already declared?
There are many possible reasons why Democrats refuse to permit a law that was passed to protect Americans, to be maintained. They can’t stomach the idea of encouraging cooperation from telecommunication carriers in protecting Americans, as someone who is not a terrorist might have their email scanned by a machine, or their phone call recorded by a machine. I don’t know about you, but I would think that anyone who has nothing to worry about, wouldn’t be worried about it. Good grief. If you have Google’s GMail, you are allowing Google to have a machine read your mail. That is so ads can be shown that match the mail. Do you not think that targeting terrorists is a bit more important than targeting consumers?
Another possibility is the one put forth by Scott Stanzel of the White House press office on February 15, 2008; in response to badgering from the caustic Helen Thomas:
“Well, it’s unfortunate, as you heard the President talk about this morning, that the House is departing Washington for 12 days off for Presidents Day. And it is important, I think — as you heard the President, it’s important to note a few things. It’s our view that leaders in Washington have no greater responsibility than to protect the American people. But at this time, this gap that we closed six months ago is going to reopen. And as Director McConnell has said, the Protect America Act has helped us obtain valuable insight on terrorist activities and it has led to the disruption of terrorist attacks. And unfortunately, tomorrow night that law will expire. So we will continue to work with members of Congress about the importance. But the issue really here is why is the House leadership, Democratic leadership, blocking a bipartisan bill?”
Thomas then asked; “What right does the President have to tell any company or any person in this country to break the law? … No warrants and so forth; that they can go and spy on us without any warrants?”
Stanzel attempted to explain the facts to her. “The Protect America Act was passed by Congress last August, as you know, and signed into law. So it is a lawful program that is expiring tomorrow night.” She interrupted, “Well, if it’s lawful, why would you not get a warrant? It still prevails, doesn’t it?”
Stanzel tried again. “Because it’s — in 1978, as we talked about, during that period, in 1978, the law, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was passed, and that law was designed to help us gain intelligence on foreign targets in foreign lands. What we’re not wanting to do here is to extend constitutional protections to terrorists in foreign countries. So it’s important that this law was modernized. It was modernized in August. As we talked about then, that the law was significantly outdated. You could have sat in that chair in 1978 and not had the ability to make a phone call from a cell phone; today you can. Today, you can send an e-mail from anywhere in the world via a Blackberry. The law was outdated, so it needed to be improved. It was improved. But Congress set a deadline for it to expire so they could review it some more and that — they missed that deadline. We gave them a 15-day extension. The Senate used that time to pass a bipartisan bill that received over two-thirds support from the United States Senate, has a majority of support in the United States House. But the House leadership, which seems to be beholden to class-action trial attorneys in this matter, refused to let it come up for a vote. So they are more interested in protecting the interests of one of their constituencies than in protecting the interests of Americans.”
Thomas was aghast. “That’s a terrible indictment for you to say. They want to obey the law.”
Do they? The Senate Democrats stalled and received an extension. Why did they stall? Why are the house Democrats now doing the same thing? Could it be their ownership by “class-action trial attorneys”? Or could it be deeper?
Dana Perino thinks so. On February 14, 2008 she said, “They’ll have to ask themselves, â€˜Do you trust the intelligence community more than you trust Democrats who are beholden to their left-wing?â€˜ And that’s the debate that this country is going to have.”
This country is going to have a debate about the Democrats being controlled and owned by their left-wing (sedition)? I can’t wait.
Perhaps the most damning evidence in support of Stanzel’s accusation comes from a thoroughly researched and expertly written piece by Amanda Carpenter, National Political Reporter of TownHall.Com; published February 13, 2008. Entitled “Obama, Hillary, Dems Take FISA Trial Lawyer Cash” I am repeating portions of that article here, as the press has not picked up on these facts.
- “Court records and campaign contribution data reveal that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against these phone companies donated at least $1.5 million to Democrats, including 44 current Democratic senators. Court records and campaign contribution data reveal that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against these phone companies donated at least $1.5 million to Democrats, including 44 current Democratic senators.”
“Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.), who is in the running for the Democratic nomination, was given $28,650 from trial lawyers listed as counsel for plaintiffs who are suing those companies because they turned over phone records as a part of President Bush’s covert phone surveillance program. $19,150 of that was donated in the last year. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y), the other main contender for the Democratic presidential bid, also accepted money from trial lawyers on the case. Records show those lawyers have poured $34,800 to her and her husband’s campaigns over the years. $12,150 of those donations were made to her within the last year.”
“The other 22 senators who opposed the amendment and have taken similar donations are: Joe Biden (Del.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (M.D.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), Teddy Kennedy (Mass.), John Kerry (Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Carl Levin (Mich.) Robert Menendez (N.J.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Harry Reid (Nev.) Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).”
“Since 1997, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) accepted donations from three lawyers working the FISA case that amount to $10,000. The No.2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, who is charged with whipping votes, has accepted $18,350 from 1996 through 2007 from lawyers listed as counsel against phone companies.”
“Records show that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) accepted $3,750 in donations to her campaigns and PACs from these lawyers from 1996-2001.”
When asked his take on the FISA problem, John McCain stated, “people that are patriotic Americans need to sit down together and work this out.”
In his CPAC speech McCain stated: “I know in this country our liberty will not be seized in a political revolution or by a totalitarian government. But, rather, as Burke warned, it can be “nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.” I am alert to that risk and will defend against it, and take comfort from the knowledge that I will be encouraged in that defense by my fellow conservatives.”
The President charged, “House leaders chose politics over protecting the country — and our country is at greater risk as a result.”
So while we’re having that sedition debate, let’s have the public corruption debate as well. President Bush is demanding the ability to catch new threats and the congress is content to rest on known threats. Somebody is trying to make the country blind to new threats.
Wonder who that might be?! The question is really: Who’s Zoomin Who?
About the Author: Lee Kent Hempfling is a human from Apache Junction, Arizona who writes about humans and other creations at http://www.enticy.org, critiques neuroscience claims at http://www.logicwatch.com and proudly supports Patriots at http://www.countryaboveself.com.