Of Fear and FISA

How do Texas pols come down on the FISA debate?

By adjourning sans action yesterday, the nominally Democratic House of Representatives – inadvertently or not – called the President's fear-mongering bluff on permanent passage of the Protect America Act, a craven piece of legislation that not only grants this least trustworthy of administrations sweeping new surveillance powers, but also retroactively pardon the major telecom companies that facilitated their illegal snooping – definitely preventing any substantive investigation into just how deeply Bush's spying operation went.

Despite the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's (FISA) broad spying justifications, allowing surveillance to occur on suspects as soon as probable cause exists, days in advance of the need for a court order, Bush and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell have shamelessly played the fear card, gravely warning American lives are in the balance in Congress doesn't pass the PAA for good. (FISA itself's going nowhere.) Never mind Bush has threatened to veto any extension of the PAA absent telecom immunity, hence, by his own admission, putting AT&T and Verizon's legal costs ahead of sacrosanct homeland security. (Keith Olbermann eviscerated this turkey in his Special Comment last night.)

With such high-flying-fearsome-fuckery afoot, it's not surprising Texas politicos have inveighed on the FISA follies: The good, and the bad, after the jump.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald, who has done a peerless job birddogging the FISA/PAA debate, leads his column today with a noxious quote from East Texas know-nothing Ted Poe: "I think there is probably joy throughout the terrorist cells throughout the world that the United States Congress did not do its duty today." Greenwald's response really says it all:

This is the kind of pure, unadulterated idiocy -- childish, cartoonish and creepy -- that Democrats for years have been allowing to bully them into submission, govern our country, and dismantle our Constitution. Outside of Andy McCarthy, Mark Steyn and their roving band of paranoid right-wing bloggers who can't sleep at night because they think (and hope) that there are dark, primitive "jihadi" super-villains hiding under their beds -- along with the Very Serious pundit class which proves their Seriousness by placing blind faith in the fear-mongering pronouncements and demands of our military and intelligence officials for more unchecked power -- nobody cares about adolescent Terrorist game-playing like this any longer. In the real world, it doesn't work, and it hasn't worked for some time.
More inspiringly, Texas Dem and House Intel Chair Silvestre Reyes blasted this broadside against the Republican misinformation swirling around surveillance, reading in part:
Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans’ communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration’s warrantless surveillance program.
The whole letter is here; it; along, with learning more about the national FISA debate, is well worth your time.

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