By Martin Bosworth
In a rare and welcome example of showing steel in the collective spine, Senate Democrats have voted down an attempt to shut off debate and block amendments on the FISA reauthorization bill. By refusing cloture, the bill will continue to be debated, with the next step being discussion of a 30-day authorization of the odious “Protect America Act.” If that vote fails, the Act will expire on Friday (February 1st), and (despite what you may have heard), the current FISA law will revert to being the de facto standard for surveillance guidance.
Here’s how twisted and ludicrous the Bush position on this is–everyone from Mitch (and Mike) McConnell to Dick Cheney has come out loudly braying that failure to permanently pass this law and grant telecom amnesty would instantly result in terrorists being able act without fear of being spied upon. Yet Bush has promised to veto any extension of the bill. If Bush doesn’t get what he wants–permanent and full authorization of PAA, including immunity from prosecution for lawbreaking telecoms–he’d rather expose us to risk of terrorist activity. It is to laugh.
When you factor in how many of these oh-so-precious wiretaps and surveillance gambits have ended because the Feds didn’t pay their bills on time, it really makes you wonder if the deadly earnestness of the White House push for this bill to become law is grounded in anything more than ensuring that those stalwart allies of theirs–AT&T and Verizon–don’t end up on the hook for spying on Americans illegally.
But you can prevent that. Do your part to contact your Senator and Representatives, and tell them to stand up for the rights of the American people to live in a world free of constant, illegal surveillance, and to not let rapacious, lawbreaking corporations off the hook.
UPDATE: The vote did indeed fail–OH NOES! We’re at the mercy of The Terrorists IN LESS THAN FIVE DAYS!!!!! ZOMG!!11111