The Democrats in Congress are preparing to cave in to George W. Bush once again. Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democratic Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has signaled that the House Democrats are prepared to give President Bush exactly the form of the FISA Amendments Act that Bush has demanded, including unchecked power in the White House to spy against Americans without any search warrant or congressional oversight, and even the power for the government to search through Americans’ homes and offices without any search warrant or any other notice.
Silvestre Reyes, whose committee needs to approve the Republicans’ newest version of the FISA Amendments Act, has said that he is now willing even to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations for their illegal spying against their own customers on behalf of the government, sharing private information about Americans’ personal electronic communications. “We are talking to the representatives from the communications companies because if we’re going to give them blanket immunity, we want to know and we want to understand what it is that we’re giving immunity for… I have an open mind about that,” Reyes says.
This capitulation is as outrageous as it would be for the Congress, upon discovering that the President of the United States had embezzled 100 billion dollars from the federal budget, with the help of American banks, to pass retroactive immunity for the banks, and a new law legalizing continued embezzlement, with no protest from the Democratic congressional leadership than to say, “We are talking to the banks, because if we’re going to give them blanket immunity, we want to know where the money went. I have an open mind about that.”
The Associated Press, as usual, understates the issue at the heart of this legislation, saying, “A quirk in the temporary eavesdropping law adopted by Congress last August allows the government to initiate wiretaps for up to one year against a wide range of targets.” Have their reporters actually read the legislation in question, or have they just read White House press releases about it?
It is no mere quirk of the Protect America Act or the FISA Amendments Act that the laws are purported to only allow spying against foreigners and terrorists, when it in practice, the laws allow the American government to conduct electronic spying and physical searches against whomever the government wishes to target. Such uncontrollable, ubiquitous government spying is in fact at the heart of what these laws have been designed for.
America, do you have no memory? Do you not remember the attempt to establish Total Information Awareness? Can you not recognize its profile now in the Protect America Act and FISA Amendments Act?
There is no need for the FISA Amendments Act. We don’t need to give up on the freedoms promised to us in the Bill of Rights.
There is no need for the Democrats in Congress to cave in to George W. Bush once more, with less than a year now left in the Bush term in office. Can the Democratic Congress not find its backbone even once, to finally stand up to Bush, just to prove that they’re not completely useless? Have they been bought, or blackmailed, or are they just to damned timid to do their duty and honor the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and the rule of law that it establishes?
I am sick to the core of my being at the continuing surrender of America’s freedoms. I am ashamed of the leadership the Democratic Party for going so quietly, and so agreeably, hand in hand with the Republican Party into the darkness.