February 13, 2008

Another Painful, Humiliating Loss for Majority Leader Harry Reid...

Hatched by Dafydd

...Another legislative victory for America:

The president’s remarks came the morning after the Senate handed the White House a major victory by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants.

The immunity for the phone companies is the key difference between the Senate bill and the one passed by the House last year. The president said that without that protection, American telecommunications companies would face lawsuits that could cost them billions of dollars. Without the protection, he said, “they won’t participate, they won’t help us.”

“Liability protection is critical to securing the private sector’s cooperation with our intelligence efforts,” Mr. Bush said.

The bill now returns to the House of Representatives, which refused to grant such retroactive immunity to the telecoms before... presumably on the grounds that they had helped us identify terrorist cells in the United States right after the 9/11 attacks; and, well, no good deed goes unpunished. Or should, if the Democrats have their way.

Incidentally, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raced to Washington D.C. (or perhaps simply stayed there, if he was there for the primary yesterday) to vote against the immunity clause in a failed amendment that would have stripped it from the bill; but then he suddenly became unavailable and incommunicado for the roll-call vote on the actual bill. As was Hillary Clinton, also a Democratic presidential candidate. Profiles in courage!

How bad was the thumping of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%)?

On Tuesday, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater civil liberties checks on the government’s surveillance powers. Finally, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve the legislation, which the White House had been pushing for months.

The outcome in the Senate amounted, in effect, to a broader proxy vote in support of Mr. Bush’s wiretapping program. The wide-ranging debate before the final vote presaged discussion that will play out this year in the presidential and Congressional elections on other issues testing the president’s wartime authority, including secret detentions [of international terrorists], [so called] torture and Iraq war financing.

That last point, innocuously labeled "Iraq war financing," covers a multitude of leftist sins. It also means that the Democrats plan to try -- for about the eleventh or twelfth time -- to strangle war funding during a war and force defeat on troops who are currently pressing on to victory. This Quisliotic effort is led by the defeatist Reid, who famously declared many months ago, before the counterinsurgency even began, that it had already failed; that we had already lost; that the only thing left to do was evacuate the field and let al-Qaeda take over Iraq.

He spoke only the truth as he saw it, for Harry Reid is an honorable man. So are they all, all honorable men.

The attempted surrender in Iraq had, of course, nothing whatsoever to do with the Democratic Party compulsion to blame everything they hate, from the war to terrorism to the weather to the Boy Sprouts, on President George W. Bush. Honorable men would never be so petty and reckless as to precipitate military defeat and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, just to embarass our own government. And they are all honorable men.

So the next question is, will Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) now throw herself on the defeatism landmine, bravely immolating herself to rescue the leadership of her Senate counterpart -- at the expense of her own?

Is a rabbi Catholic? Does Ivana Trump sleep in the woods?

How big was the victory for the United States of America in the valiant quest to exterminate the human sacrificers in al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other transnational terrorist groups, along with their national sponsors in the Arab states, in Pakistan and Indonesia, and especially in Iran -- our war against global hirabah (Arabic for "unholy war")? Take a look at what our "lame duck" president achieved in Harry Reid's Senate:

The measure extends, for at least six years, many of the broad new surveillance powers that Congress hastily approved last August just before its summer recess. Intelligence officials said court rulings had left dangerous gaps in their ability to intercept terrorist communications.

The bill allows the government to eavesdrop on large bundles of foreign-based communications on its own authority so long as Americans are not the targets. A secret intelligence court, which traditionally has issued individual warrants before wiretapping began, would review the procedures set up by the executive branch only after the fact to determine whether there were abuses involving Americans.

“This is a dramatic restructuring” of surveillance law, said Michael Sussmann, a former Justice Department intelligence lawyer who represents several telecommunication companies. “And the thing that’s so dramatic about this is that you’ve removed the court review. There may be some checks after the fact, but the administration is picking the targets.” [As opposed to unelected federal judges on the secret FISA court -- all honorable men -- picking the terrorist-surveillance targets.]

The Senate plan also adds the provision that was considered critical by the White House: shielding phone companies from legal liability. That program allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without warrants on the international communications of Americans suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda.

More than three dozen lawsuits have already been filed against AT&T, MCI, and other telecoms for violating the privacy rights of Americans who receive phone calls from al-Qaeda. It would be rude and offensive for us to compare these lawsuits to the threats by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to target a huge bunch of "John Doe" passengers in the lawsuits filed by CAIR on behalf of the "flying imams" against US Airways. Certainly there can be no similarity between lawsuits designed to stop telecoms from participating in future efforts to identify al-Qaeda cells inside the United States -- and suing passengers for reporting extremely suspicious behavior by Moslem activists on an airline flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix.

No, we can all agree they're not in the least bit similar; still, I wonder how many Democrats would also vote against extending immunity to ordinary citizens who report suspicious, terrorist-like behavior to authorities, immunity from being sued for daring to speak up.

(We'll probably never know; both the House and Senate finally reinserted such protection into the reauthorization of the Homeland Security Bill in late July, 2007... but only after the Democrat-led conference committee first stripped it from the bill on July 20th. I don't know what deal was struck to get it back in, but I believe it was finally reinserted into the final bill before passage.)

Contrariwise, we certainly do know that there are 21 "Blue Dog" Democrats willing to vote for the Senate version of the FISA-reform bill:

Some House Democrats were prepared to support immunity, regardless. In a Jan. 28 letter, 21 Democrats in the conservative Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., supporting immunity and listing other provisions that they believed were needed in a FISA bill.

They wrote that the Senate bill “contains satisfactory language addressing all these issues, and we would fully support that measure should it reach the House floor without substantial change.”

Those 21 Democrats, plus the 202 Republicans in the House, makes a 51% majority in favor of reforming FISA to allow intelligence agencies to engage in rapid-response surveillance, rather than wait weeks for a FISA decision -- and have to show "probable cause" to surveille even foreign terrorists living abroad. And of course, there are other Democrats who will support the Senate version just to prevent the FISA law from expiring, as President Bush has already announced that he will support no more temporary extentions.

On the other side, some of those 202 Republicans might vote against it. But clearly, this is a vital issue in the war on global hirabah; a substantial portion (possibly a majority) of the House supports it; and the Senate just passed it overwhelmingly.

Of course, Speaker Pelosi pushed instead for a 21-day extension of the bill... knowing the Senate would never go along, and the president wouldn't sign it anyway. Of course, it might buy a few days time. Of course, the August extention expires Saturday. Of course, the House won't be in session either tomorrow or Friday. Of course, of course.

Of course, the delay tactic failed when "more than 30" Blue Dogs joined the Republicans to vote it down, 229 to 191.

That means the Speaker has only two options left in her bag of tricks:

  1. Refuse to vote on the Senate bill, thus allowing the entire edifice of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reform to expire in three days... leaving our intelligence agencies high and dry. And all for the want of the will to allow a vote that Pelosi knows she will lose.
  2. Hold her nose and hold the damned vote.

Which hand will she choose? I suspect that by the end of the day, we will have a vote and a new FISA law sent to the president's desk for signature. That will resolve our intellignece crisis... for the next six years; after which -- you're way ahead of me -- it will expire. Again.

Democrats: So are they all, all honorable men (and women).

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 13, 2008, at the time of 4:49 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/2805


The following hissed in response by: Fritz

Poor old Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%, he seems to be rolling a lot of snake eyes lately. I would say he is setting records in that respect except he is being matched by guess who? What, you cheated and guessed Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%. Two more inept leaders of their respective bodies of government have never before been seen.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 13, 2008 11:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: MarkJM

Just to be sure there is no mistake. With much thought and no pause, the answer to your question (rhetorical?) is a simple 'No'. 'Honorable' is a foriegn term to these folks, as is a multitude of other adjectives involving 'ethics' and 'integrity'. We need congressional term limits!

The above hissed in response by: MarkJM [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2008 9:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Term limits? But Reid is a walking advertisement to vote Republican.

Pelosi seems to be slowly getting a clue, but Reid is relentlessly stupid.

Pelosi will hold her nose and hold the vote.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2008 10:19 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved