Democrats and Republicans United In Grabbing Power

This weekend, the Democrats in Congress passed legislation legalizing the Administration's previous grab for new wiretapping powers.  Further proving that the minority party in the US government does not really object to power grabs, they just get in a huff that the other party thought of it first.  Other examples of such behavior include the Patriot act, currently supported by Republicans and opposed by many Democrats, but most of whose provisions were originally proposed by Bill Clinton and opposed by a Republican Congress  (opposition led by John Ashcroft!)

I really don't want the president, of either party, listening to my phone calls without a warrant, and that answer does not change if I am talking  to my friends in Arizona or my friends in London.

John Scalzi has a great post reacting to the line in the article above where Democrats vow to, at some time in the future, "fix" the flaws in the law they just passed.

They wouldn't have to "fix" it if they hadn't have passed it.
Once again I am entirely flummoxed how it is that the Democrats, faced
with the president more chronically unpopular than Nixon, and so
politically weakened that the GOP candidates for president can barely
bring themselves to acknowledge that he exists, yet manage to get played by the man again and again.

If the Democrats honestly did not feel this version of the bill
should have been passed, they shouldn't have passed it. I don't see why
this is terribly complicated. And don't tell me that at least it has a
six-month "sunset" clause; all it means at this point is that in six
months, the Democrats are going to allow themselves to get played once
more, and this time they'll have given Bush the talking point of "well,
they passed it before."

My only objection to this statement is the implication the this is just a matter of the Democrats getting played.  I actually think it's exactly what the Democrats want -- they want to retain a reputation for caring about government intrusiveness without actually reducing government powers (just like Republicans want a reputation for reducing economic regulations without actually doing do when they were in power).  After all, the Dems expect to control the administration in 2 years, and they really don't want to take away any of the President's toys before that time.


  1. Jim Rockford:

    You're wrong on nearly every particular here.

    Dems passed this due to the following:

    1. NIE report came out several weeks ago, concluding (in the publicly released section) that AQ has reformed itself in Pakistan and has pre-9/11 capability, will strike soon with another 9/11 attack in the US.

    2. FISA Judge (likely a Clinton or Carter appointee) threw out the whole NSA listening program, including the ability to monitor e-mail and other comm routed from foreign country to foreign country through the US with no one in the US being monitored.

    3. Report leaked to the press indicating that NSA was unable due to FISA requirements for warrants to eavesdrop on AQ in Iraq holding the kidnapped soldiers, two of whom had their tortured, mutilated, beheaded bodies dumped.

    4. DNI just recently confirmed by Congress went to Congress and begged for authority warning he could not prevent another 9/11 without it.

    5. Azzam the American aka Adam Gadahn releases more AQ videos promising mass attacks "soon" that will "shake America."

    6. CIA leaks a report saying the likelihood of another 9/11 style attack is HIGH this summer.

    7. UK Doctors who set themselves on fire yelling Allah Akbar! in the Glasgow Airport are in e-mail communication with unknown persons in the US.

    Bottom line: DEMS (and the media/ACLU/Liberal alliance) will get blamed (and justly) for any attack since Bush asked for the tools to stop it. Not giving Bush the tools he asks for is a huge downside, if there is another attack expect immediately a Presidential Press Conference "I wanted to stop it but Dems inside Congress were more concerned with privacy rights for terrorists."

    As a practical matter, Google is more a threat to your privacy than the Government. There are so many safeguards and political enemies within various bureaucracies that the idea of a Nixonian operation is laughable. The danger is not doing anything because of elitist contempt for ordinary Americans. Which in turn will lead to vigilante politics. If people don't get protection from Muslim terror they'll turn to their own militias to get it. And besides Google is likely selling right now your own private data (bundled with many others) to whoever can buy it: China, competitors, whoever.

    I am not worried about Government surveillance, which has checks and balances and promises me something good (fewer mass casualty terror attacks) than I am with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, CISCO, or other private companies who can make trillions selling off my private data bundled with others to the highest bidder.

    Pelosi is playing the elitist ACLU card, one likely to backfire if there is another major terrorist plot uncovered by NSA listening. The idea that Judges who are unaccountable to anyone can conduct anti-Terrorist surveillance is laughable. The public will shoot it down.

  2. M. Simon:

    The government has an out here.

    Just claim they are looking for drugs.

    No objection for that.

    All they have to do is talk to one of their snitches:

    Agent: "I hear Coyote is involved with drugs [nod, wink], what do you hear?"

    Snitch: "I think I heard the same thing too."

    Agent to other agent: "Who is our most reliable judge? I need a warrant. I have probable cause."

    However, we do have a moderately smart government most of the time. They try to avoid fights with people who can fight back. Which does tend to prevent the worst excesses.

  3. Thaiphoon:

    The President has always had the authority to monitor communications that are outside of this country (even if the other end of the "line" is in the US). Nothing has changed here. There is no Constitutional crisis here. This is part of the President's Constitutional authority and has been upheld by the courts as such.