CommunityFDL Main Blog

FISA: Waiting For A Vote?

Not to be too crabby, but how hard is it for journalists to state the obvious — that Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans are standing up for the rule of law and the constitution against a unilateral executive power grab and a CYA effort to cover the Bush/Cheney illegal domestic spying tracks? Apparently altogether too hard for some. Via NYTimes:

In clear defiance of the White House, the proposal from House Democratic leaders would not give retroactive legal protection to the phone companies that helped in the National Security Agency program of warrantless wiretapping. Mr. Bush also threatened to veto any such measure, should it reach his desk.

Brian Knowleton, who wrote this piece for the Times apparently couldn’t be bothered to deviate from the WH fax blast script. It’s that bad. Pamela Hess of AP (via WaPo), to her credit, gives her piece a bit more context and legal heft:

Democrats launched their own broadside in response. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Bush’s criticism was disingenuous.

"The president has said that our legislation will not make America safe," she told reporters. "The president is wrong, and he knows it."

The third-ranking House Democrat, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, called Bush’s comments "absurd and outrageous."…

The Democrats’ measure would encourage the judge to review in private any secret government documents underpinning the program, in order to decide whether the companies acted lawfully.

The administration has prevented those documents from being revealed, even to a judge, by invoking the state secrets privilege. That puts the companies in a bind because it puts off-limits evidence they might use to defend themselves.

Keeping that information secret is all about the Bush/Cheney Administration covering it’s own flank for illegal domestic spying in contravention of the FISA law. Notice how quickly the House Judiciary committee analysis and language on Bush/Cheney CYA via their manipulative use of state secrets to hide the ball has made it into the media narrative. Good for Dems.

McJoan suggests calling your own Representative — along with all the Blue Dogs (and includes numbers). I concur.

Take some time to make a few calls and ask for support of the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment, and that immunity not be given to the Bush/Cheney Administration and telecoms. While you are at it, do cast your vote for the Blue Dog who most needs a FISA wake-up call. While the House is still debating budget intricacies on the House floor, we should take the time to let them know that standing up for the rule of law is something we all think is important. Let’s get to work…

UPDATE: ACLU has some thoughts on this as well. And CongressNow has a bit on the potential for a "secret session" (subs. req.) that some GOP folks are pushing — but I haven’t been able to confirm anything with any leadership or other House Members or staffers on this. Also, there is a rumor that the vote may not happen now until tomorrow, but I’m also hearing much later this evening, too — so keep those phones ringing, gang. Stay tuned….

Previous post

Gold Standard Gate, an Update

Next post

A Failure of Legal Scholarship

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com