Sunday, July 06, 2008

mcjoan: "The Dems and Truthiness in the FISA Debate"

mcjoan on Kos:
The Democratic establishment is out in full force now, providing justification for the crappy FISA Amendments Act that's about to become law. While they haven't learned how to fight like Republicans (who have redefined "compromise" to mean "capitulation") they've learned how to lie like them.
Case in point, Nancy Soderburg, who was Clinton's deputy national security advisor and an ambassador to the UN. She pens a truly deplorable op-ed in today's LA Times, in which she tries to rewrite not only the history of the Bush administration's lawlessness, but also this law.

I can't write a better take down of this nonsense than Glenn, so be sure to read his whole piece. But here's this part that's particularly salient:

It's notable because the political establishment is not only about to pass a patently corrupt bill, but worse, are spouting -- on a very bipartisan basis -- completely deceitful claims to obscure what they're really doing. This is what Soderberg says is what happened:

The Senate is dragging its feet because the compromise bill's opponents -- mostly Democrats -- want also to punish the telecommunications companies that answered President Bush's order for help with his illegal, warrantless wiretapping program. That is the wrong target.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the White House directed telecommunications carriers to cooperate with its efforts to bolster intelligence gathering and surveillance -- the administration's effort to do a better job of "connecting the dots" to prevent terrorist attacks. In its review of the effort, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the administration's written requests and directives indicated that such assistance "had been authorized by the president" and that the "activities had been determined to be lawful."

We now know that they were not lawful. But the companies that followed those directives are not the ones to blame for that abuse of presidential power.

I would really like to know where people like Soderberg get the idea that the U.S. President has the power to "order" private citizens to do anything, let alone to break the law, as even she admits happened here. I'm asking this literally: how did this warped and distinctly un-American mentality get implanted into our public discourse -- that the President can give "orders" to private citizens that must be complied with? Soderberg views the President as a monarch -- someone who can issue "orders" that must be obeyed, even when, as she acknowledges, the "orders" are illegal.

That just isn't how our country works and it never was. We don't have a King who can order people to break the law. I have no doubt that people like Nancy Soderberg are spending the July 4 weekend paying shallow homage to the Founding, all the while being completely ignorant of or indifferent to the principles they pretend to celebrate.

This line of thinking is not only patently false, it's absolutely dangerous. Political expediency has been put ahead of principle, which happens all the time in politics. Politicians are always going to be politicians and they are always going to be basing their actions on the next election.

In this case, it wasn't even smart strategy. There are basically three groups who care about this legislation--us, The Villagers, and the Bush/Cheney cabal. Voters aren't clamoring for the Democrats to cave--Bill Foster's win proves that. So in a valiant effort to appease The Villagers, they piss off the activist base. As usual.

But this time is different. This time it's the Constitution we're talking about, the core principles of our founding--separation of powers, rule of law, all those "quaint" phrases that have kept this country going for 218 years.

Now the phrase we get is "it's good enough." Literally, Nancy Soderburg says this bill is "good enough." Sorry, but some of us have slightly higher standards. One of the reasons the Republican establishment is about to be thrown out by the American people is because we're sick of being lied to. Dems should take that as a cautionary tale, and realize that we're just not that stupid.

That goes for our soon to be President, as well. We have a much better chance of continuing this battle, repealing this legislation, and having the information related to this program declassified with a President Obama than we do a President McCain, and I relish the opportunity to do just that.

That's why I'm supporting Obama fully in this election. He's got my vote. But truthy talking points are not going to fool us--we will not sit by while Dem leaders lie to us about what this bill does and and watch them confer the king-like powers on the office we hope he takes.

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