In the debate over Fisa, the Bush administration has long used the threat of terrorism as a cudgel against its opponents in Congress. Here’s what Bush said during his State of the Union address last month:
To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they’re planning. Last year, Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, Congress set the legislation to expire on February the 1. That means if you don’t act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger.
Brian Beutler points out, however, that after Democrats refused to reauthorise the Protect America Act last week, the threat of terrorism has – shockingly – remained unchanged:
Here it is, six hours until the the Democrats’ high sign to bomb-toting terrorists goes into effect, and the Department of Homeland Security has responded by … keeping the threat advisory level exactly where it was yesterday.
In a smart op-ed in the Washington Examiner yesterday, Melanie Scarborough outlines the real reason for the Bush administration’s ardent support of the Protect America Act:
If Bush truly believed that “our country is now in more danger of an attack,” would he really jeopardize American lives merely to protect the telecom companies? Of course not. His purpose is to thwart lawsuits that would expose the extent to which the administration has spied on innocent Americans.
It’s as concise an explanation as I’ve seen about what’s really behind all the legislative wrangling.