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Friday, February 15

Here we go again

Let's use the terrorist threat to change the subject in the House.

Wednesday: President Bush on the delay of the renewal the Protect America Act by the House after the Senate approved the renewal while giving immunity to telecoms:
"At this moment, somewhere in the world, terrorists are planning new attacks on our country. Their goal is to bring destruction to our shores that will make September the 11th pale by comparison. To carry out their plans, they must communicate with each other, they must recruit operatives, and they must share information.

"The House's failure to pass the bipartisan Senate bill would jeopardize the security of our citizens. As Director McConnell has told me, without this law, our ability to prevent new attacks will be weakened...."
On Thursday, House Republicans stormed out of the chamber to "boycott a vote to hold 2 presidential confidants in contempt** for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether federal prosecutors were ousted for political reasons." (Notice when the House wants to investigate a constitutional crisis, the Republicans suddenly bring up those who want to kill us.)
"We have space on the calendar today for a politically charged fishing expedition, but no space for a bill that would protect the American people from terrorists who want to kill us," said Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the minority leader. "Let's just get up and leave," he told his colleagues, before walking out with scores of Republicans in tow. [Not only is he a big baby, his motives are very transparent.]

A short time later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had instructed the chairmen of the House intelligence and judiciary committees to meet with their Senate counterparts by Friday to start reconciling the House and Senate eavesdropping legislation — something she predicted could be done within 21 days.
But the Republicans in the House defeated the 21 day extension so that Bush's bill could be signed into law immediately (as if waiting one second longer will bring destruction to our land and it will be the fault of the evil Democrats.) The Democrats in the House are trying to reconcile the part in the Senate Bill which gives telecoms retroactive immunity. And it's not like letting the current law will bring an immediate end to the government eavesdropping on its citizens suspected terrorists.
Existing surveillance could continue under the law for a year from when it began — at least until August. Any new surveillance the government wants to institute could be implemented through underlying FISA rules, which could require warrants from a secret court. The White House argues that this can cause "dangerous delays."
Will the Democrats cave today? It remains to be seen. This argument does appear to be purely political because as of yet, no one can give a good argument as to why the telecoms need retroactive immunity other than more terror warnings. Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, attempts to explain it in today's Washington Post but as I said, I still haven't been convinced why.

** Held in contempt were presidential chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers, who failed to answer subpoenas last summer for testimony or documents issued by the House Judiciary Committee.
The panel was investigating the 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys, which Democrats believe was politically motivated and which contributed to the departure from the Justice Department last year of Attorney Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales.
The contempt resolution was approved by an overwhelming margin of 223 to 32.

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