“WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 – Under pressure from President Bush, House Democrats on Saturday grudgingly prepared to clear the way for approving changes in a terrorist surveillance program despite serious reservations about the scope of the measure.
With time running out before a scheduled monthlong break and the Senate already in recess, House Democrats confronted the choice of accepting the administration’s bill or letting it die. If it died, that would leave Democratic lawmakers, who have long been anxious about appearing weak on national security issues, facing an August fending off charges from Mr. Bush and Republicans that they left Americans exposed to terror threats. “
We were exposed to terrorists threats that became the greatest act of terrorism ever perpetrated upon this country when BushCo elected to ignore “Bin Ladin Determined To Attack the U.S.”
But that’s been flushed down the memory hole, hasn’t it folks?
“There was no indication that lawmakers were responding to new intelligence warnings. Rather, Democrats were responding to administration pleas that a recent secret court ruling had created a legal obstacle in monitoring foreign communications relayed over the Internet. They also appeared worried about the political repercussions of being perceived as interfering with intelligence gathering. But the disputes were significant enough that they were likely to resurface before the end of the year.
Democrats have expressed concerns that the administration is reaching for powers that go well beyond solving what officials have depicted as narrow technical issues in the current law.
“They have got us in a vise,” Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York and chairwoman of the Rules Committee, said as she left a Saturday afternoon meeting where senior Democrats were debating how to handle the issue in the final hours before recess.”
It’s a vise of your own making, dear.
The American people loathe and despise Bush and loathe and despise the war in overwhelming numbers.
And they loathe and despise you too BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE THE FUCKING BALLS TO STAND UP TO HIM!
“Mr. Bush on Saturday urged the House to act promptly after the Senate on Friday night approved changes in the terrorist surveillance program sought by the administration, which said it was being prevented from monitoring communications of terror suspects overseas during a period of apparently heightened activity.
“Protecting America is our most solemn obligation,” Mr. Bush said in a statement.”
Which is of course a lie.
His most solemn obligation is to his oil cartel cronies, and his own ego.
“Other Republicans called for swift House action as well. “I can’t imagine they would take a monthlong vacation without fulfilling their obligation to keep America safe,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.”
Really? Well the Iraqi Parliament has taken an entire summer’s vacation. Don’t you care about that?
Of course you don’t, fucking scumbucket!
“Senior House Democrats said they were resigned to moving forward with the administration bill, which would be in force for six months. “
You see folks? IT’S ONLY A FRIEDMAN!!!
“But they continued to encounter resistance from lawmakers who complained they were being bullied into hasty action by the administration and Congressional Republicans. They said Democrats should stick with a House proposal defeated Friday that kept more judicial control over the program than the administration wanted. Their opposition was complicating efforts to end the dispute by sending the bill to Mr. Bush.
“Let’s make our Constitution work,” said Representative John F. Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts. “We can have security and our civil liberties too.”
Not with this crew in power, and creeps like you as its willing handmaidens.
“House Republicans complained angrily that Democrats on Saturday had not immediately considered and approved the changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the wake of Senate approval.
“If it is good enough for Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats, it should be good enough for House Democrats,” said Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the second-ranking Republican.
Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the senior Republican on the Intelligence Committee, accused Democrats of dithering for months without giving “the intelligence community tools they need while we are at heightened risk.”
Heightened risk of Dubbya falling even further in the polls.
“Administration officials have been quietly pushing Congress to pass a broad “modernization” of the current law, arguing that technological changes – especially the expansion of telephone calls over the Internet – had made the current rules outdated.
One key issue, apparently raised in secret by judges overseeing the problem, is that many calls and e-mail messages between people outside the United States are routed over data networks that run through the United States. In principle, the surveillance law does not restrict eavesdropping on foreign-to-foreign communications. But in practice, administration officials contend, the path of those calls through this country means the government cannot monitor them without a warrant.
But Democratic lawmakers have been deeply suspicious that the Bush administration was seeking a broader and more controversial expansion of surveillance authority by making changes that were vague on important issues. Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday that the administration-supported bill would allow wiretapping without warrants as long as it was “concerning a person abroad.” As a result, he said, the law could be construed as allowing any search inside the United States as long as the government claimed it “concerned” Al Qaeda.”
Looks like Representative Reyes is planning to marry Whitney Houston:
“R&B star Bobby Brown is still convinced Osama Bin Laden wants him dead so he can marry Whitney Houston – 11 months after the singers officially separated. Brown’s 14-year marriage to Houston came to an end when their divorce was finalised earlier this year, but the hitmaker remains adamant he is on the al Qaeda leader’s hitlist. He even hired extra security to guard him on his recent tour of Australia. He tells the New York Daily News, “I figure if Bin Laden wants me, and everybody is looking for him, it probably won’t happen. But if he wants to try and find me for something so stupid, he can do what he wants. I have to leave it in the hands of my higher power. Come on, if anybody (else was) threatened by Al Qaeda, they’d take it seriously.”
“Democrats said their suspicions had been fueled in part by the White House’s repeated reluctance to ask Congress for technical changes addressing issues that should have been apparent long ago.
In a recent letter to a Republican on the committee, Representative Heather A. Wilson of Mexico, Mr. Reyes noted that Congress had updated the FISA law eight times since the Sept. 11 attacks.
“You repeatedly claim that FISA is woefully outdated,” Mr. Reyes wrote. “Neither you nor the administration raised concerns during consideration of those bills that the statutory changes proposed were inadequate.”
For years, but especially since the attacks, Democrats on the intelligence oversight committees have been loath to do anything that might provoke charges of tying up the intelligence agencies in “outdated” restrictions.”
“But relations have steadily soured since the public disclosure of the warrantless surveillance program 18 months ago. White House officials have repeatedly argued that the president has broad authority to carry out such programs without explicit permission from Congress, even if the programs appear to violate long-standing legal restrictions.
The mistrust has gone in both directions. Administration officials contend that any attempt to have Congress address even straightforward issues prompt Democrats to seek all manner of new restrictions. But Democrats, and some Republicans, contend that the administration has aggravated the distrust by refusing to be provide detailed information to lawmakers and by offering what appear to have been misleading answers to congressional queries.
Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has criticized Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales for insisting that the Justice Department never had any internal disputes about the legality of the surveillance program.
Several top Justice Department officials, including director of the F.B.I. Robert S. Mueller III , have publicly contradicted Mr. Gonzales’s testimony and told lawmakers that senior officials threatened in 2004 to resign over the disputes.
Several Senate Democrats have gone further, calling for a special prosecutor to investigate possible perjury by Mr. Gonzales.”
Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.
“On the surface, Congressional Democrats seemed to support key issues that Mr. Bush wanted to address.”
That “surface” is miles deep.
“House Democrats said their alternative proposal would explicitly clarify that the government did not need a court order for monitoring any foreign-to-foreign communications simply because they were routed through switches and servers in the United States.
They said it would also authorize the special FISA court to provide a “basket warrant” for monitoring many individuals that might pick up communications with people in the United States, though the bill would have also required the attorney general to submit its procedures for approval by the court and would have required the Justice Department’s inspector general to conduct an audit every 60 days of communications involving people in the United States.
The administration, by contrast, insisted that the attorney general should have broad authority to approve surveillance in such cases and would only have allowed the court to intrude if the attorney general’s procedures were “clearly erroneous.”
And speaking of “clearly erroneous” baskets, here’s a gem from Kit Seelye’s coverage of the Yearly Kos:
“In her ongoing attempt to present herself as the most experienced candidate who knows her way around the corridors of power, she went on to say that she would not agree to refuse money from lobbyists. Based on her 35 years of public life, she said, no one would believe she would be influenced by a lobbyist. The audience sharply disagreed
with this response.
“The important thing is what you have fought for and what you will fight for,” she persisted, and pledged to “absolutely be on the front lines of the change we need.”
Fighting the resistance in the room, she went on to thank the people in the room “for being part of the progressive moment in America,” adding that she wished they had been around in 1993 and 1994 when she was trying to pass health care. That got some applause.
She was then asked if she would continue to take money from Washington lobbyists, she said: “Yes, because they represent real Americans, nurses, social workers, and yes they represent corporations _ that employ a lot of people.” Speaking as if in a general election and not to Democratic primary voters only, she added: I want to represent the entire country,” and by then she drew some applause.
Mr. Obama then brought the hammer down on Mrs. Clinton. He noted that it was the Washington lobbyists who had killed her health care effort when she was first lady. “They have an agenda,” he said. “They aren’t participating in the public interest.” This brought the audience to its feet, with wild cheers and some cries of “Take down!
Unspeakably pathetic fools, the lot of them. Do they really think they’ve got one friend in profesional politics who won’t stab them in the chest at the first opportunity?
Meanwhile in the letters following Seelye’s fait divers, the following:
The idea that the Democrats are “left” and the GOP is “right” is laughable, as they are both squarely on the right.
Kucinich is the only member of this debate truly on the left and is therefore immediately relegated to also-ran status by our corporate overlords, who filter our choices down to the appropriate pro-imperialist few. Edwards is firmly in the middle/right. The rest, especially Obama and Hillary, are solidly on the right, along with the rest of the Democratic leadership.
The ignorance of the American public is clearly seen in the “Democrat” vs. “Republican” debates, which implies that the two are not in fact the same business party, with common goals (imperialist power and control for corporate profit for the wealthy elite) and only slightly varying strategies and tactics for achieving those goals. The Democrats (led by Hillary and Obama) believe it’s a smarter move to let some crumbs fall to the masses (universal health care that still caters to big insurance, for example) to keep them complacent, while the GOP (Bush, Cheney, Lieberman-yes Lieberman, Giuliani, Cheney) believes you don’t have to give any crumbs away when a truly strong propaganda campaign (fear-mongering and misguided patriotism, for example) can fool the “bewildered herd” easily enough.
Of course, these facts don’t get in the way of alleged “leftists” putting their support behind the Obama’s and Clinton’s of the world, in spite of the fact that they have more in common with Dick Cheney than with anyone truly on the left.
How did this happen?
The largest factor, though one of many, is the right-wing led media, which has slowly but surely filtered the debate further and further right until we are at the current place where firmly on the right is considered left and far right-wing ideology is considered merely moderate right.
What’s that you say? What about the “liberal media” conspiracy?
It’s a myth. One of the great triumphs of elitist propaganda.
The fact of the matter is right-wing billionaires own the majority of the mainstream corporate media outlets, including the NY Times. They get their funding, through advertising, from billion dollar corporations owned by similar right-wingers. They hire right-wing editors and producers who control content. Then they hire “liberal” reporters who are emasculated as soon as they walk through the door and have no real power as to what their assignments are or what gets published.
Predictably, right-wing think tanks love to point out the “liberal” reporters as their “proof” of a “liberal media” conspiracy; completely ignoring the right wing ideologues who ultimately pull the strings.
The right wing propaganda in this country is an enormous problem. One needs to merely compare stories reported throughout the world, which are summarily IGNORED here in the states, and you can see it clear as day. It’s the heart of the problem and it’s only getting worse as media outlets are being consolidated into fewer and fewer right-wing hands.
What do we do?
To quote a fellow blogger, “concerned citizen”:
“It is well and good to understand realpolitik. It is also well and good, however, to insist that one’s nation live up to its own stated principles. It is the hypocrisy of our nation to which any real patriot ought to vociferously object. We Americans ought to be holding our leadership to the highest possible standards that our own culture and political history have enshrined in our most cherished documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
When our “leadership” has blatantly violated these standards of behavior both domestically and internationally, it is our duty as citizens to object, to protest, to take political action, to vote, to educate, to lift the veil of ignorance and obfuscation, to criticize, to raise the uncomfortable issues that no one wants to discuss.
Yes, we have much that is admirable in this nation. Those who genuinely love these principles must never quietly acquiesce in their destruction. Those who see democracy under corporate assault must say so. Those who see families being destroyed by an economic system that requires two parents to work fulltime while their children become “latchkey kids” are less likely to fall in love with corporate economics.
When our nation commits dastardly acts against life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in other nations it is the American citizen’s duty and responsibility to dissent, to criticize, to deplore, to protest against the defilement of our most sacred principles. It is our duty as citizens to upbraid those who perpetrate these offenses.
It is not patriotic to wrap oneself in the flag and trumpet “America, Love it or Leave it”. It is not patriotic to stick one’s head in the sand when our country does morally and legally indefensible deeds at home or abroad. True citizens must always dissent and object to these things. The price of liberty is constant vigilance.”
Amen, brother… ”
– Posted by Thomas NYC
Thomas, it’s past time we all read the handwriting on the wall.