Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Repeat Performance

They did it again. Just when we were beginning to be lulled into a false sense of having checks and balances restored, the White House rammed their FISA law amendment through the congress. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was becoming an annoyance to the Decider. The law was allowing a secret court to intrude on his spying program that was snooping in on Americans’ international phone calls and communications.

You have to give the Bushies credit. They really know how to hit the legislators with their “urgent” agenda just before congress recesses for vacation. This tactic worked like a charm for the passage of the Military Commissions Act just before Christmas last year. Who needs habeas corpus anyway? And who needs court authorized wiretaps on US citizens? Not this Constitution shredding bunch.

The administration tells the congress to quickly pass the new legislation or be called “soft on terror.” You know those Democrats. They would always be enabling the terrorists if it weren’t for Dubya’s vision and resolute wisdom to guide them back into submission. Good thing he still has the fear card to play.

“This is what we need to do our job to protect the American people,'' the president said. ''It's the bare minimum.''

Works every time. In their misguided attempt to appear strong on terror, they only prove to be weak on freedom.

Thanks to the goose-step, er, lockstep voting by virtually all the Republicans, and the complicity of assorted Democrats who forgot their oath to support and defend the Constitution, the so-called Protect America Act was passed. Now the power to disregard your Fourth Amendment rights is in the hands of “Honest Al” Gonzales and fellow Bush appointee Mike McConnell. You know, the non-partisan folks we can trust to not have a hand in the White House’s political agenda.

The key phrase in the act tells us: “…the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General, may for periods of up to one year authorize the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States…”

Yes, that means when you call and complain about our government’s dismantling of our liberties to Uncle Franz in Germany, or Cousin Pierre in France, or even Sister Sarah in Canada, Big Brother George can have Al or Mike listen in on your chat without a court order. Up until now only a court could authorize the wiretap of a US citizen.

There appears to be a silver lining to this dark cloud of totalitarianism. A sunset provision of 180 days was written into the act. Congress will re-assess the law in six months. Before we release a collective sigh of relief, it should be noted that the Patriot Act was re-authorized after only minimal fear mongering and accusations of being soft on terror.

The Republican Party has moved so radically to the Right, that it embraces what could fairly be called proto-fascism. Many observers and pundits are once again accusing the Democrats of spinelessness and cowardice. What they have in common is fear, power, and the fear of losing power.

We’ll see what they do about it in six months. If they allow this to stand, I will then have to call them as I see them. Their treachery is tantamount to treason.

As democracy loses, terrorism wins.

Works every time.

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