FISA: The Power of Not Passing A Bill

The Senate's pathetic performance last night really did not come as a surprise. It has proven time and time again to be filled with Democratic members who talk tough and then capitulate at the first resistance (Senator James Webb comes to mind as possibly the biggest tough guy phony in that body.) Unlike many folks, I know that Leader Reid has no hand to play in the Senate.

To me the only hope for resolve against Bush comes in the House. But there is little evidence for my hope. Consider this from today's Times story on the FISA Capitulation:

The House is expected to take up the White House-backed measure on Saturday morning before going into its summer recess. Democratic leaders acknowledged that the bill would probably pass.

The question is why? Why can not Democrats in the House just say "Mr. President, we have offered you a bill that addresses the problem." Sign that bill. This is, of course, a reprise of the Iraq Supplemental Capitulaton.


The incapacity of a Democratic Congress to stand up to President Bush means that they will get rolled on every issue. Is there any awareness of this from Democrats in Congress? That Bush knows he can roll you on every issue?

Is there only one elective office in this couintry that matters now? Is the President the de facto sole ruler of the nation? A lot of people want to blame Bush for this. I blame the Congress, particularly Democratic members of Congress who have abdicated their Constitutional responsibilities. In response to Joe Lieberman's offensive tirade last night, Senator Russ Feingold retorted that Liebrman's blind trust in Bush and NSI Director McConnell was an abdication of his Senatorial responsibilities. It was the highlight of the evening.

But ask yourself this, how are the rest of the Democrats who capitulate to Bush, Democrats like Jim Webb, different than Lieberman on this score?

Kucinich: Cheney should be impeached for lying. Big cheers (not as big as it was for Edwards though.)

< The FISA Upshot | Blogging the Hillary Breakout Session >
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    Americans talking to Foreigners (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Jeff in Texas on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 11:47:49 AM EST
    Articles are reporting this allows warrantless interception of Americans' overseas communications.  But this is the language (I think from the version of the bill passed by the Senate) that troubles me, and it seems not to apply only to overseas communications:


    `(g)(1)(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title and subject to the provisions of this subsection, the Attorney General may, with the concurrence of the Director of National Intelligence , appoint appropriate supervisory or executive personnel within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency to authorize electronic surveillance on a United States person in the United States on an emergency basis pursuant to the provisions of this subsection.

    `(B) For purposes of this subsection, an intelligence agent or employee acting under the supervision of a supervisor or executive appointed under subparagraph (A) may conduct emergency electronic surveillance under this subsection if such supervisor or executive reasonably determines that--

    `(i) an emergency situation exists with respect to the employment of electronic surveillance to obtain foreign intelligence information before an order authorizing such surveillance can with due diligence be obtained; and

    `(ii) the factual basis exists for the issuance of an order approving such surveillance under this title.

    Unbelievable (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 11:57:56 AM EST
    Am I Wrong? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeff in Texas on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 11:49:17 AM EST
    Or does the language above give them a blank check, so long as there is an "emergency" as determined by an FBI agent in charge???

    It sure looks that way... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 12:15:30 PM EST
    good observation (none / 0) (#7)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 12:18:40 PM EST
    Besides being an apparent (albeit unconstitutional) blank check for the attorney general to do as he pleases, (and attempting to let corporations {the deep pockets} off the hook with impunity), we don't know yet, the full implications of what all this means. The mentioned point seems to show the attorney general can delegate his blank check authority. That is why it should prove quite interesting to parties in discovery in the coming legal challenges to this insult on our Constitution. (Few have ever considered the House as any substantial obstacle the final passage.)

    Also, a chill factor for communicating outside the United States is a form of apartheid.


    I'm flummoxed (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by troqua on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 12:33:32 PM EST
    They all watched him lie, said he lied, are still saying he's lying about the circumstances of the TSP, and here they give him even more power.  What the hell are we suppposed to do with these people?  You can't threaten to unseat them - people like Feinstein are so deeply entrenched in the system you can't lodge them.

    Feinstein of all people, after the fuss she's made about the liar, just gave him more wiggle room for his lies.  I'm pissed!

    I just don't understand. (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by kindness on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 01:14:42 PM EST
    It would seem, in my mind at least, that what the Democrats proposed was a solid offer.

    I think the public would buy it if they publicized it properly and showed how it compares to the bush43 Admin's proposal.  It isn't just liberals who'd agree, basic libertarian conservatives would too.

    20 more years of this corruption (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Compound F on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 02:27:43 PM EST
    and we will be no different from China.  Corruption begins at the top, and moves downward.  the average citizen is far more patriotic than any person in Congress.  It is sad to watch it happen.

    Perhaps we are all missing something? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Key on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 11:44:02 AM EST
    I'm wondering... perhaps we are missing something here.  Could it be that the Dems are so sure of their chances next year that they want to have this power for themselves?  Or perhaps our elected Dems really don't have a problem with this?  Maybe they don't really represent us on this?

    It may not be that they lack the balls to stand up to Bush.  It may be that, on this issue, they simply don't care about standing up to Bush.


    Re: so sure of their chances next year (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Edger on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 11:50:32 AM EST
    The Origina Sin (none / 0) (#9)
    by koshembos on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 12:33:39 PM EST
    The original sin is pretending that terrorism is an existential problem for us. In reality, terror is an FBI problem that can be handled rather easily with good intelligence, alertness and cooperation. The so called war on terror is nothing short of war against the American people and the Constitution. It is a tool to maintain Republican control and enrich the fat cats even more.

    It is not too late for the Democrats to start legal proceedings against Bush due to his crimes against the American people.

    very wide leeway (none / 0) (#10)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 12:41:50 PM EST
    ACLU points to this Huffington Post write-up.

    Yup (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 12:44:03 PM EST

    what's this about REALLY? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 01:04:22 PM EST
    oops - left out his comment: (none / 0) (#13)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 01:10:37 PM EST
    Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence:

    "We are in this situation because the law simply has not kept pace with technology."


    don't look now... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 01:29:54 PM EST
    They (ostensibly) select a target, they throw their entire trick kit at the target and at a much later date, they tip the court to their doings.

    "It's always easier to apologize than to ask permission." --  Grace Hopper

    Here is what would happen (likely) (none / 0) (#16)
    by chemoelectric on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 01:48:29 PM EST
    We got a preview when these issues arose before, of what Bush does in situations like these. He said that if he didn't get his bill then 'the program won't go forward' or something like that. What he is saying is that if he doesn't get what he wants then he will open the gates to the city and let the 'enemy' roll in. This is how he acts; he can do no else, he is a very, very sick man. If the masses tell him, by means of voting, that they want him to take the troops out of Iraq, he responds by sending more of them in.

    With Jim Webb his reaction is probably like Colin Powell's--a lot of bluster followed by a dutiful 'Yes, Sir!' But in general--and this is also a big reason why the press have been gentle with Bush--there is terror that Bush will 'break down' completely. And he very well might. But I say let it happen, make it happen, and let's get it over with, then discard the obvious loon, and move on.

    The reason might be simple (none / 0) (#18)
    by s5 on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 02:07:49 PM EST
    While I personally don't see why the Senate should cave to Mr. 25%, the answer might be simple. Maybe enough people genuinely want this.

    While most people are nominally for civil liberties,  they're also operating under the assumption that "I have nothing to hide, so I have nothing to worry about". And this assumption is probably correct. Your average middle American probably has no interest in planning a protest over the drug war or animal rights, so they don't need to worry about ending up on the no-fly list (and they probably don't travel anyway). It's a problem for "other people". So a few of those "other people" taking the fall so my family can be safe becomes an acceptable, even desirable, trade-off.

    Unfortunately, it may not be as simple as "some Democrats were too weak". It may be "our culture is spineless and lives in fear, so their elected representatives are doing what they were hired to do."

    spineless and lives in fear? (none / 0) (#20)
    by Edger on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 07:52:52 PM EST
    I hope not. I prefer to think it's more that most people are just not informed enough. We keep seeing seething anger all over the internet among people who do realize what's rally happening.