Friday, September 08, 2006

FISA Round-Up

Anonymous Liberal summarizes what's at stake with the wiretapping issue:

Is it even possible to be any more disingenuous? The amendments to FISA contained in the Patriot Act were passed with the express purpose of giving the president the ability to listen in on any calls involving al Qaeda agents. Every single politician in the country is unambiguously in favor of listening in on al Qaeda's calls and to suggest otherwise is entirely dishonest.

Bush doesn't need any further Congressional authorization to intercept terrorist communications. What he wants is for Congress--via the Specter Bill--to do away with any requirement that the courts oversee what the executive branch is doing. He wants us to return to the pre-FISA era of unchecked executive power, where the J. Edgar Hoovers of the world could spy on whoever they wanted to without fear of being held accountable.

Thankfully, Republicans such as Heather Wilson understand the issue:
"You need checks and balances in place to make sure future administrations or even civil servants don't get out of line," said Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), sponsor of the main House surveillance bill. Unlike Specter's bill, she added, "my bill was not authorized by the White House."

I like that quote, because it reinforces how the Bush administration is so often short-sighted in the sense that it does things for the benefit of their administration. If GOP lawmakers look ahead to a time when they are no longer in control of the White House, do they really want the president to have unfettered surveillance powers? Of course not. It should never be the case. But because they are in power, every decision is calculated to give the president more power. If they have their way, I suspect the GOP will come to regret this one day. In other words, this shouldn't be a partisan issue, but rather a checks-and-balances issue.

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