Anyone out there remember how the Bush Administration was listening in on international communications without a warrant, in flagrant violation of the 1977 FISA regulations that require a warrant within 72 hours of the beginning of wiretapping activities? Well, the Democratic-controlled Senate, in a move that I'm sure will go down in the annals of overwhelming courage and visionary leadership, said "yeah, okay, that's cool with us." The House is expected to follow suit today.
Good job, kids. You've just taken a blatantly illegal Administration policy and, instead of upbraiding the Administration for it, made it legal. What a concept. If the president breaks the laws, just change the laws so he doesn't have to break the laws to do whatever the hell he wants. Everybody's happy, right?
I've said it before and I've said it again - what's so hard about getting a warrant for surveilling terror suspects? I think the conversation would go something like this:
Administration official: We've been listening to this guy for a couple of days and we need a warrant.
Judge: Okay, why's that?
Official: He's been hanging out with terrorists and he's talking about blowing shit up.
Judge: Right. (hands over warrant) Here you go.
Painless! And it's conducted entirely in secret so no one has to know! What's so hard about this process? Why do you need to avoid the checks and balances? If the Administration is surveilling someone when they think a judge wouldn't approve of it, frankly, that frightens me. That tells me they're not just looking at terror suspects - it'd be fairly easy to get that warrant.
Anyway, isn't part of the reason the Democrats were elected is because people wanted a Congressional leadership that would stand up to executive overreaches, and not just let the Republicans roll them when such overreaches occur? I would think that most Americans would rather see Congress calling hearings on this issue rather than on the attorney-firing issue. It seems more important.
People wanted oversight. Simply watching as previously illegal programs are rubber-stamped by Congress without any sort of debate or challenge is not oversight. It's a travesty.