By Ken Hart
According to today’s New York Times, the Democratic leadership in Congress is readying a “compromise” bill that would extend the wide-ranging domestic surveillance powers granted to the National Security Agency.
Am I missing something? Isn’t this the same group of Democrats who vowed to rescind the debatably illegal warrantless wiretapping after its speedy renewal just before the August recess? The article goes on to say that the Democrats are – you guessed it – afraid of being labeled “soft on terrorism,” despite the public’s overwhelming opposition to domestic wiretapping without a warrant.
After the 2006 election surge (excuse me, couldn’t help myself), it seemed clear that the American people wanted to see a big change and that they were entrusting the Democrats to handle it. Granted, the Democrats in the Senate don’t yet have the numbers to overcome the GOP’s hypothetical filibuster threat on forcing a change in Iraq, but this?
Yes, the proposed legislation would force the Justice Department’s inspector general to perform an audit of the program on a regular basis, and yes, it would not grant retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that rolled over and enabled the warrantless wiretapping to get started in the first place.
Yet the Democrats make themselves look even worse than the telecom companies by conceding ground here. You can at least understand how the Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales might have bullied the telecom companies into participating. But the Democrats are in a position to do something. They’re choosing not to stand up for what they believe because they don’t want to appear “soft.”
It’s disappointing. The Democrats seem to think that by playing nice with the GOP on this issue, President Bush and the Republicans will stop calling them nasty names. Not going to happen. So why do they insist on playing in the Republicans’ sandbox?
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
By Ken Hart