It doesn’t take a PHD in political science to figure out why the Democrats have been kicked around by the Republicans all these years. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reminded us why the Democrats are the Washington Generals to the Republicans’ Harlem Globetrotters (not that you would ever catch a Republican in Harlem). In reference to the ongoing work on FISA and warrantless surveillance and the attempt to get a temporary extension of the Police America Act, a six month law passed in August, Reid said:
The president has to make a decision. He’s either going to extend the law, or he will…which is temporary in nature, or there will be no wiretapping. (emphasis added)
*Sigh* What should we do with these people? If the Police America Act expires on Friday, there will be wiretapping. Under FISA, the NSA can conduct surveillance with warrants from the FISA court, a court that has been so friendly to the government since its creation that it’s been called “a rubber stamp.” If the surveillance is urgent, it can begin and the agency can go back to the court three days later for approval.
The only problem with FISA is a technical issue. Calls between foreign agents can be routed through the United States while neither party is actually in the U.S., a technical advancement that could not be foreseen in the 1970s. Very few people had any problem with fixing the law to allow warrantless surveillance of those types of calls. But the Bush thugs took advantage of that issue to push for more power, including warrantless surveillance of people in the U.S. and amnesty for telecommunications companies that conspired with the Bush crowd to break the law.
By saying “there will be no wiretapping,” Tin Ear Harry- while trying to sound tough- has played right into the hands of those who would eviscerate our Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment. He’s agreeing with their framing of the issue that without this law “there will be no wiretapping,” which is factually incorrect.
It’s only Monday, and I already have a headache.
Updated, 11:10am EST: Daily Kos has an update on the status of today’s cloture vote.
Andy in Harrisburg