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Senate Gives in on Wiretapping. 16 Dems Go Along

by Daily Kos (reposts)
The Senate has surrendered to Mister Bush on domestic spying, yielding ignominiously to the White House’s demands that the unitary executive be given more authority when it seeks to wiretap suspected terrorists without warrants. The vote was 60-28. If passed by the House, the bill would be law for six months. Meanwhile, Congress would use that time to put together a permanent one.
The New York Times notes:
The White House and Congressional Republicans hailed the Senate vote as critical to plugging what they saw as dangerous gaps in the intelligence agencies’ ability to detect terrorist threats. "I can sleep a little safer tonight," Senator Christopher S. Bond, the Missouri Republican who co-sponsored the measure, declared after the Senate vote. The measure approved by the Senate expires in six months and would have to be re-authorized. The White House’s grudging agreement to make it temporary helped to attract the votes of some moderate Democrats who said they thought it was important for Congress to approve some version of the wiretapping bill before its recess. The White House and Republican leaders pressed the point throughout the day that a vote against the measure would put the nation at greater risk of attack.
No Republicans voted against the bill. The following Democrats voted for it: Evan Bayh (Indiana); Tom Carper (Delaware); Bob Casey (Pennsylvania); Kent Conrad (North Dakota); Dianne Feinstein (California); Daniel Inouye (Hawai‘i); Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota); Mary Landrieu (Louisiana); Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas); Claire McCaskill (Missouri); Barbara Mikulski (Maryland); Bill Nelson (Florida); Ben Nelson (Nebraska); Mark Pryor (Arkansas); Ken Salazar (Colorado); Jim Webb (Virginia).

Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd and Barack Obama all opposed the bill, as did 23 other Democrats and Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont. Joe Lieberman voted ...well, you know how he voted.

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§There is something fundamentally wrong here.
by Daily Kos (reposts)
The Congress is at the threshold of a major capitulation on FISA. There's no doubt that there are a lot of political (read: electoral) implications to this vote. We all know that. We've been through this fear mongering routine before, where the public is rattled by vague pronouncements about unspecified threats (or about whatever's going on in Michael Chertoff's "gut," as the case may be), and where Members of Congress are cowed by the prospect of Republican attack ads claiming they're "weak on terror."

And of course, at this point it should go without saying that if a bill is placed before you that addresses additional powers and authority for the Attorney General, of all people, this is a full stop moment.

The vote on this bill is no. The vote on any bill expanding the powers of this Attorney General is no.

These are things I should not have to outline for anyone at this point. Certainly not Daily Kos readers. But you'd hope Members of Congress, too. But apparently, in that hope you'd be disappointed.

Still, these are merely the surface issues. There's something deeper and even more troubling going on here. What's happening here is the ceding of the last remaining prerogatives of the legislative branch to the executive. We are currently watching the Congress cede its oversight authority -- not its ability to hold hearings, but its ability to make hearings mean something. We may be watching the Congress cede its "power of the purse," as George W. Bush now threatens to veto any appropriations bill that does not match the numbers in his budget. (You need to know that the president's budget has almost never been the working model for Congress. The traditional reaction to the president's budget, no matter whose it is or even who's reacting, has been that it's "dead on arrival.") Now we are watching the Congress cede even its legislative powers, reacting to Bush's threat to keep them in session until they pass the exact FISA legislation he demands.

Does this comport with any American's concept of the basic functions of the different branches of our government? Since when does the president dictate the terms of legislation... to legislators?

Since they started rolling over for it, that's when.

This is a fundamental failure not just of politics, but of the framework envisioned by the Founders, who felt sure that the immutable precepts of self-interest would be the engine that drove the checks and balances that protect our freedoms and forestall the creep of tyranny. While the political motives of elected officials were always open to question, it was beyond doubt that personal ambition and the jealous guarding of power would be all the motivation necessary to keep any branch from ceding its powers to another.

That this could ever turn out not to be the case is simply astounding, and it is a measure of just how much damage the George W. Bush "administration" has inflicted on our Constitution. While we are all too well aware of the political constraints involved in remedying the situation, the fact is that his continuance in office endangers the future of our system of government as every one of you have understood it to date.

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Mon, Sep 17, 2007 7:21AM
the light of truth
Sun, Aug 5, 2007 11:30AM
LA Times (reposted)
Sat, Aug 4, 2007 10:56AM
NYT (reposted)
Sat, Aug 4, 2007 10:55AM
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