True Patriot Acts
Today’s attack on democracy in the United States began with George W. Bush’s efforts to strongarm the House of Representatives into extending the Protect America Act.
Failure to act would harm our ability to monitor new terrorist activities and could re-open dangerous gaps in our intelligence. Failure to act would also make the private sector less willing to help us protect the country, and this is unacceptable.
The lives of countless Americans depend on our ability to monitor terrorist communications. Our intelligence professionals are working day and night to keep us safe, and they’re waiting to see whether Congress will give them the tools they need to succeed or tie their hands by failing to act.
Determined not to be upstaged by their faithful leader, House Republicans called a vote during the memorial service for Tom Lantos, forcing Congressmen to leave the memorial service to return for a vote on…nothing.
And like the two-year-old babies that they are, when confronted with a vote on a resolution to cite Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton for contempt of Congress (which they are), House Republicans, save two, walked out in a huff to a bank of microphones and reporters conveniently waiting on the steps of the Capitol.
The House Democrats, in their first act of patriotic bravery, passed two resolutions, one of which holds Bolton and Miers in contempt. It is refreshing to see Nancy Pelosi finally stand up for what’s right instead of backing down and dropping the ball.
“This is beyond arrogance,” said Pelosi. “It’s hubris taken to the ultimate degree.”
Conyers said he had already discovered “plenty of evidence of wrongdoing at the Department of Justice. He said officials made the decision to fire attorneys on the basis of whether they had pursued public corruption charges against Democratic government officials. He also said that Justice officials made misleading statements to investigators minimizing the apparent involvement of White House personnel in the firings.
Emboldened by the adrenaline that comes with doing the right thing for a change, Speaker Pelosi adjourned the House of Representatives until a week from Monday, allowing the Protect America Act to expire on Saturday.
Can you imagine this happening a year ago? Even six months ago? Why the difference? Could it be that our elected Representatives are hearing us when we tell them via vote and voice that we refuse to be intimidated, bullied and controlled by fear? Could it be that they are finally getting the message that we expect them to represent us and do the right thing instead of the political thing? It would seem so.
Another Patriot Act: Congressman Silvestre Reyes sent a letter to President Bush Thursday, forcefully reminding him that his statements about leaving America vulnerable are patently false and that the House of Representatives will not be bullied into passing a law on the basis of empty threats. His closing paragraphs seem to echo something I’ve been hearing recently in one of the candidates’ Presidential campaigns:
I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.
We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.
The entire letter should be framed and placed squarely on the Oval Office desk.
In a parting shot, Nancy Pelosi said :
President Bush tells the American people he has nothing to offer but fear.
I believe that our representatives are hearing our voices, the voices that call, fax, email, blog and write. The voices of the voters who are turning out in droves to say they are tired of being the pawns in a big political game. The voices that think it’s wrong for our government to ignore the same laws we obey.
Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment tonight articulated the outrage that I feel when I think about the payoff Bush wants to give the telephone companies for spying on me, especially this:
Mark Klein was the AT&T Whistleblower, the one who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all AT&T circuits — everything — carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your web browsing into a secure room, room number 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.
Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some spy — a spy both patriotic and telepathic — might able to divine had been sent or spoken by — or to — a terrorist.
Every time you looked at a naked picture.
Every time you bid on eBay.
Every time you phoned in a donation to a Democrat.
Oh, go ahead and watch the whole thing. You know you want to. Even when Keith gets shrill, he makes good points and tonight’s were especially well-spoken.
Will the newly-emboldened House of Representatives inspire the Senate to do the right thing? Will we finally have elected representatives who understand that we’re refusing to allow them to run roughshod over the Constitution for political and personal gain? Will George Bush join the board of AT&T when he leaves office?
Stay tuned for upcoming Patriot Acts, and the inevitable whimpers of cowards, fading away into better, bolder times. We can always hope.
- EFF: Telecoms Say They Won’t “Protect America” If They Don’t Get Their Way: Talking Points
- Domestic Access to Spy Imagery Expands