“It’s Christmas at the White House”

The House of Representatives passed the unconstitutional FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 6304) today by a vote of 293-129. The final roll call is up at the House website, so you can see how your representative voted. My rep is Bill Pascrell, and I am proud to say his name is in the No column.

If there is anything more nausea-inducing than the Democratic leadership’s complete capitulation to Pres. Bush’s Constitution-busting wish list, it is the self-serving narrative they spin of “improving FISA” and “firmly rejecting” unlimited executive power, and “compromise.”

“My constituents are saying ‘don’t cave in’,” announces Jane Harman, after she caves in.

“‘There is no inherent authority of the president to do whatever he wants. This is a democracy,’ Nancy Pelosi said, announcing her support for the bill” that gives the president the authority to do whatever he wants.

“… [T]he telecommunications companies ‘come out of this with a taint’ for their actions and should not receive immunity,” declares Pelosi, as she agrees to a bill that gives the telecoms immunity for their actions.

“To be clear, this is not the bill I would have written in an ideal world,” Steny Hoyer says, with a sigh.

“However, in our legislative process, no one gets everything he or she wants,” he adds, as he gives the president everything he wants, and more.

“Different parties – often with deeply competing interests – come together here to produce a consensus product, where each side gives and takes,” Hoyer lectures us, about the most one-sided piece of legislation to come down the pike in recent memory.

“It’s bad enough,” Glenn writes:

watching the likes of Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel and a disturbingly disoriented Nancy Pelosi eviscerate the Fourth Amendment, exempt their largest corporate contributors from the rule of law, and endorse the most radical aspects of the Bush lawbreaking regime. But it’s downright pathetic to see them try to depict their behavior as some sort of bipartisan “compromise” whereby they won meaningful concessions:

“When they saw that we were unified in sending that bill rather than falling for their scare tactics, I think it sent them a message,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “So our leverage was increased because of our Democratic unity in both cases.”

Not even the media establishment and the GOP can refrain from mocking this pretense they’re trying to peddle. What’s amazing is that they’re actually as devoid of dignity as they are integrity.

Digby’s salty language hits the spot

:

Roy Blunt and Steny Hoyer are practically tongue kissing on the floor right now and congratulating each other on their mutual fabulousness in negotiating the rape of the constitution this morning. It’s quite a love fest.

Glenn passes on the very disturbing news that Barack Obama is supporting this piece of constitutional fish wrap:

“After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act. “Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

This is the same doublespeak we got from Nancy Pelosi. This — “Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people.” — is technically true, but only because the bill changed FISA to give the president the powers he wants, minus the accountability he does not want. In other words, the House has enshrined the president’s entire illegal warrantless surveillance program in law, called it “FISA,” and now has the chutzpah to claim that the bill “restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance.” Steve Benen notes that the Bush administration got significantly more than it had asked for, and provides some cold comfort:

Looking over the final roll call, most House Dems voted against the measure, while House Republicans were nearly unanimous in their support. Specifically, among Dems, 128 voted against it, while 105 voted for it. Among Republicans, 188 voted for it, and just one (Illinois’ Tim Johnson, whose work I’m not especially familiar with, was the lone GOP lawmaker to break ranks.) Plenty of Dems spoke out forcefully against the bill, but the one quote that stands out most for me came before the debate began. Sen. Chris Bond (R-Mo.), who negotiated with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on the legislation, told the NYT, “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get.” [The extra words are the Times‘s error, not Steve’s.] When the White House, which isn’t exactly known for its timidity when making demands of Congress, gets more out of a negotiation that it expected, it’s a safe bet it’s not much of a “compromise.”

John Cole, acid humor in top condition, gives us photographic evidence of this “canary’s got the cat” moment. Alex at Martini Revolution congratulates Pelosi and Hoyer “on passing the Nuremburg Defense into US law. Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) has the final word on the Nuremberg Defense (via Glenn):

“I’m not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I’m sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do,” Bond said.

One Response to ““It’s Christmas at the White House””

  1. Chief says:

    Integrity. Obviously Pelosi et al do not have, have never heard of it.

    Bobby Kennedy had integrity. He was prosecuting organized crime as the Attorney General and it was these same criminals that delivered the vote that got JFK in the White House.

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