Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Democrats cave on FISA

Senate Backs Wiretap Bill

Well done, Barack Obama. Well done, Democratic Party. Well done, United States Senate. The Times has the important details, beyond the well-documented immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with President Bush in the illegal wiretap fiasco after 9/11:

The legislation also expands the government’s power to invoke emergency wiretapping procedures. While the National Security Agency would be allowed to seek court orders for broad groups of foreign targets, the law creates a new, 7-day period for targeting foreigners without a court order in “exigent” circumstances if government officials assert that important national security information would be lost otherwise. The law also expands from three to seven days the period in which the government can conduct emergency wiretaps without a court on Americans if the attorney general certifies that there is probable cause to believe the target is linked to terrorism.

Oh, well, if government officials "assert" or "certify" that...government officials really, truly need the information, it's all good. I can't possibly foresee a situation where those officials would lie, manipulate evidence or even be blinded by a well-meaning patriotic zeal.

The Democrats caved. Period. It was an election year surrender, designed to promote the idea that the Democratic Party is as desperate to protect Americans as the GOP. That's a great message to promote, and this is absolutely the right way to do it, unless you're hung up on the fact that it won't work.

Kudos to, among others, Hillary Clinton for doing the right thing. Her statement on the issue is spot on.

It's necessary to single out Obama for opprobrium, and not just because of his blatant flip-flip on the issue. He's not simply the Democrats' presidential candidate and standard bearer. He is a man with a unique ability to articulate a national security message that stands in sharp contrast to the philosophy espoused by the Republican Party. With his intellectual and oratorical gifts, Obama should, at least, endeavor to convince voters that America's safety is secured by the rule of law and a reverence for the dictates of our Constitution.

Instead, he decided to fight on the GOP's terms. That simply doesn't work for Democrats.

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