Friday, February 15, 2008

House Republicans Take a Walk, Leave America “Unprotected”

In a cowardly move right out of the Iraqi Parliament’s playbook, Republicans walked out of the House Chambers en masse Thursday afternoon to protest the House Democrats refusal to pass the deceptively named Protect America Act. The walk-out came right before the House were to vote on a resolution citing former White House counsel Harriet Miers and current chief of staff Joshua Bolten for contempt of congress for failing to obey subpoenas in connection with the controversial dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and 2007.

But House Republicans also protested the Democrat's refusal to bring up for a vote the Protect America Act, a Senate-passed bill supported by President Bush to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Said act is an attempt on behalf of the Bush Administration to legitimize its illegal wiretapping and interception of domestic telecommunications traffic without obtaining a warrant. This has been going on for at least the last five years and was only recently brought to light by the New York Times.

The major sticking point has been over whether to give the telecommunication companies such as AT&T and others immunity for their complicity in the government’s illegal conduct. The truly patriotic actions were those of the House Democrats, who refused to cave in to the administration’s falsehoods and pressure tactics and let the legislation expire. Despite the administration’s rhetoric, this poses no danger to the country as the FISA courts are all caught up and ready to act on any new warrant requests. Under existing FISA law, any telecommunications company cooperating with the government pursuant to a court certified investigation has immunity. Furthermore, any intercept programs currently underway at the time the stop gap legislations expires this Saturday will continue unaffected for up to one year.

One of the main reasons I keep my overpriced land lines with Qwest is because of its good corporate citizenship and patriotism in refusing to participate in helping the Bush Administration trash the constitution. The farcical and highly hypocritical protests on behalf of the House Republicans and President Bush is eloquently laid bare in David Welna and Melissa Block’s excellent report of February 14, 2008 entitled “House Democrats Face Off On Wiretapping Bill” which can be found at the following link:

Before you jump to any conclusions in response to the President and Republican’s characterization of this issue, (i.e. that the Democrats refusal to pass the legislation at this time has left the country “unprotected”), you must listen to this report and hear the expert interviewed who explains with precision why, what they say, is simply untrue.

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