Tuesday, October 9, 2007

To The DemCave!

Updated

The New York Times is reporting that the Democrats are expected to grant the White House broad powers to extend the warrantless wiretapping program that they gave them back in August.

Bush administration officials say they are confident they will win approval of the broadened wiretapping authority that they secured temporarily in August as Congress rushed toward recess, and some Democratic officials admit that they may not come up with the votes to rein in the administration.

As the debate over the N.S.A.’s wiretapping powers begins anew this week, the emerging legislation reflects the political reality confronting the Democrats. While they are willing to oppose the White House on the conduct of the war in Iraq, they remain nervous that they will be labeled as soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on intelligence gathering.

So the Democrats would much rather be seen as being soft on the Constitution and civil liberties than they would on terrorism because heaven forbid that the GOP will run a nasty political ad next year accusing them of being buddies with Osama bin Laden?

Here’s a news flash, Democrats: they will anyway. When it comes to exploiting fear and terrorism for their own good, it doesn’t matter what the Democrats do or where they stand; the GOP still come after them like a banshee in heat. Just ask Max Cleland. So why don’t they just stand up for the Constitution and for once get some backbone? Most of the American electorate is so tired of the fearmongering and the right-wing terror-campaign bullshit that they’ll respect the Democrats a hell of a lot more if they took the stand that there are some things more important than scoring political points.

If sacrificing some of the rights we’re supposed to be fighting terrorism for is their way of staying in power, then they don’t deserve to be in power in the first place.

Update: Glenn Greenwald says it the revised law being introduced today may not be as bad as the NY Times article portrays it. It will include several provisions that the Bushies will not like, including a requirement that they “reveal to Congress the details of all electronic surveillance conducted without court orders since Sept. 11, 2001, including the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program.”

As Glenn notes, this may all be a smokescreen to placate the progressives…

[b]ut there seem to be some genuine opportunities — with a smart and energized campaign — to try to exert influence on this process to ensure more positive outcomes. For that reason, declaring defeat and “full capitulation” in advance — as the NYT article does today — seems premature.

If the Democratic Congress capitulates yet again, there will be plenty of time and opportunity for all sorts of recriminations. I think it is quite encouraging that much of the “netroots” is now devoting its energies and resources not to supporting Democrats, but to opposing Congressional Democrats who merit defeat.