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January 28, 2008

Morally Bankrupt
Posted by Michael Cohen

The Republican behavior on the FISA bill in the US Senate is utterly breathtaking - as Harry Reid notes below (via TPM) they are literally filibustering their own bill:

Mr. President, in my twenty years in Congress, I have not seen anything quite as cynical and counterproductive as the Republican approach to FISA. The American people deserve to know that when President Bush talks about the foreign intelligence bill tonight, he's doing little more than shooting for cheap political points - and we should reject his efforts....

The Republican leader filed cloture on this bill after it had been on the floor for just a few hours. He filed cloture after Republicans blocked every amendment they could from being offered and blocked all amendments from getting votes. In simple terms, this means the Republicans were filibustering their own bill. Let me repeat that. The Republicans were filibustering their own bill. In my time in the Senate, I can't remember this taking place....

This may be the cheapest political stunt in seven long years of Republican cheap stunts. Now, the Senate Republicans are now leading a filibuster on a 30-day extension of FISA legislation (and President Bush says even if it did pass he would veto it) knowing full well that this means the current provisions regarding surveillance, enacted in August, will expire on Friday. Republicans are taking this step at the same time, they have repeatedly claimed that without this "critical intelligence tool" the lives of the American people will be in mortal danger.

To give you a full sense of the almost stratospheric cynicism and corruption of Congressional Republicans check out these words from House Minority Whip Roy Blunt:

It goes without saying that if a terrorist like Osama bin Laden calls someone in the United States, we want our intelligence community to have both the tools and the authority they need to listen. But if this Congress does not act in passing a long-term fix to our nation’s intelligence laws, we no longer will be able to monitor or intercept as much as 70 percent of terrorist communications.

Since last August, the majority has had ample time to draft a responsible bill to ensure our intelligence agents can listen to terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda, but we still have yet to see a genuine attempt at a serious bill. If they can’t come up a bill that protects our nation in six months, what makes anyone believe an extra 30 days is going to help? Our national security is far too important for another temporary patch. We’ve had enough time for excuses – now is the time for action.”

Yet, at the same time, Senate Republicans filibustered every possible amendment to the FISA bill, which is the legislative equivalent of saying either you pass the President's version of the FISA bill or we will hold our breath until it happens. So one the hand Republicans say this is absolutely critical legislation, but yet they are more than willing to derail it and leave the nation vulnerable it the bill isn't written precisely to their specifications.

Of course, as we all know what's really going on here is that GOPers want the FISA bill to expire so they can use it as a political tool for attacking Democrats. The moral corruption of the modern Republican Party is truly complete. This raises "playing politics with national security" to a new level. But don't worry, now the GOP has a great talking point for the November elections.


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Actually, it is the Democrats who have the great talking point for the November elections. It is that Congressional Republicans do what George Bush tells them to do and say what he tells them to say.

If you're running against Republican officeholders and the incumbent Republican President's approval ratings are hovering around 30%, you want to associate them with him in any way you can -- all the time, on every issue. This kind of thing makes it easy.

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Actually, it is the Democrats who have the great talking point for the November elections. It is that Congressional Republicans do what George Bush tells them to do and say what he tells them to say.

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