@ Newsdesk

Of Fear and FISA

By adjourning sans action last Thursday, the nominally Democratic U.S. 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 pardons the major telecom companies that facilitated their illegal snooping – preventing any substantive investigation into just how deeply Bush's spying operation went.

Despite the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's 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, Pres­ident Bush and Director of National Intelli­gence Mike McConnell have shamelessly played the fear card, gravely warning that American lives are in the balance if Congress doesn't pass the Protect America Act for good. (FISA itself is going nowhere.) Never mind that Bush has threatened to veto any extension of the act 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" Thursday night, Jan. 14.)

With such high-flying fearsome fuckery afoot, it isn't surprising Texas politicos have inveighed on the FISA follies.

Posted Friday, Feb. 15, on Newsdesk, the Chronicle News blog; continue reading at austinchronicle.com/newsdesk.

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