In case anyone missed it, this past weekend, our United States Congress — led by Democrats, no less — caved in to pressure from the Bush White House and passed a bill essentially allowing Alberto Gonzalez, the most discredited Attorney General in our lifetimes, almost unilaterally to suspend the Bill of Right’s Fourth Amendment and allow warrantless surveillance of Americans by the NSA up to six months at a time, so long as a “significant purpose” of the intrusion involves obtaining foreign intelligence and the AG, Gonzalez, makes a finding that “reasonable procedures [are] in place” to determine that the intrusion involves “persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.”
Make no mistake. This bill — already signed into law by President Bush as I write this on Sunday night — allows Bush to continue the worst abuses of the NSA secret surveillance program, continue to ignore oversight by any tribunal of law, and do it now under cover of a mealy-mouthed statute. Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s a link to the text of the bill, S. 1927, titled the Protect America Act of 2007: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c110:2:./temp/~c1105W4v7x:: Don’t take my word for it!! Read it yourselves!!
How did this happen? After all the talk and promises about protecting civil liberties? In the Senate, only 28 Democrats voted No on the proposal. That means all the rest caved in and went along for the ride — apparently intimidated by threats from the Bushites of being called unpatriotic or terrorist lovers so some such. And worst of all was the fact that the Democratic leadership agreed to bring up the bill at all — knowing they would lose the vote — in the final hours before leaving Washington on a month long August recess, rather than refusing and forcing the Bush White House to negotiate seriously for a responsible compromise that protects the country without sacrificing civil libeties — even if it meant that Senators and Congressmen might lose a few days at the beach, on a foreign trip, or back home. They had allowed the Bushites to out maneuver them, force them into a corner.
I hate to throw stones, but someone fell down on the job here.
For more details, here a link to the New York Times article on the story, posted by the Dandelion Salad blog. http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2007/08/05/house-passes-changes-in-eavesdropping-program-by-carl-hulse-and-edmund-l-andrews/
And here’s another link to an excellent speech on the subject by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tx), posted by the Fold/Spindle/Mutilate 2.0 blog: http://freddevan.com/wordpress/2007/08/05/rep-sheila-jackson-lee-d-tx-says-it-all-it%E2%80%99s-official-george-bush-and-alberto-gonzales-now-have-the-legal-authority-to-spy-on-you-and-i-without-a-warrant-at-any-time/
And here’s still another from the LeftWord blog (that mentions my book Young J. Edgar: http://leftword.blogdig.net/archives/articles/August2007/04/SENATE_DEMOCRATS_BEND_OVER__HAND_BUSH_THE_K_Y_AND_VOTE_FOR_WARRANTLESS_WIRETAPS_FOR_NO_REASON_OTHER_THAN_CRAVEN_COWARDICE.html
Please let me know if you think I’m overreacting or being unfair. I don’t think so.
Grumble grumble grumble. I need more cofffee.