More on the FISA debacle

Yes, too many Democrats gave in to Bush, but the 2008 contenders did not. Can the Constitution wait for a new president?

Published August 6, 2007 5:22PM (EDT)

Glenn Greenwald breaks down everything that's wrong with the FISA bill -- and some Democrats' capitulation to it -- here. (As Frank Rich noted Sunday, the invaluable Greenwald did the same thing with Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack's "Springtime in Iraq" New York Times Op-Ed last week.) I wrote about FISA briefly on Saturday, focusing on how the White House blocked efforts by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell to compromise with Democrats on some oversight provisions. But I don't think we can say enough about this debacle, or the Democrats whose support made it possible. I find myself focusing on netroots favorite Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who gets a lot of credit for standing up to the Bush administration on Iraq; why did he capitulate on FISA? In his statement about why he supported the bill, Webb deferred to his intelligence committee colleagues, quoting Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Mikulski about why they deferred to the Bush administration. That's an awful lot of deference to a team that has lied to Congress and the American people routinely since they took office. (Maybe more disturbing: John Kerry and Barbara Boxer not voting?)

But as people rail against Democrats, it should also be noted that all the 2008 presidential candidates who had the chance voted against the bill. Meanwhile, I got an e-mail from the John Edwards campaign this morning, trying to raise money around Hillary Clinton's refusal to join him and Barack Obama in rejecting donations from lobbyists at YearlyKos this weekend. I'd have preferred to see Edwards come out swinging against the FISA cave-in first thing Monday morning, but there's still time. I think. It is exactly six years to the day since Bush got the harrowing Presidential Daily Brief, "Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S." and continued with his month-long Crawford vacation -- and then had the gall to depict Democrats as soft on terror in the next two elections. Are Democrats still so cowed by the way the GOP used 9/11 against them that they're afraid to protect Americans from government spying? Are Americans still so cowed they don't care? I hope the political fallout from the FISA debacle proves otherwise, but I'm not sure yet.

By Joan Walsh

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2008 Elections