There’s been lots of crowing over the expectation that a Guiliani nomination will split the Republican base, but won’t this achieve the same thing on the Democratic side? Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers
Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency.
[...] As the debate over the eavesdropping powers of the National Security Agency begins anew this week, the emerging measures reflect the reality confronting the Democrats.
Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, they remain nervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on gathering intelligence.
[...] A competing proposal in the Senate, still being drafted, may be even closer in line with the administration plan, with the possibility of including retroactive immunity for telecommunications utilities that participated in the once-secret program to eavesdrop without court warrants.
[...] Perhaps most important in the eyes of Democratic supporters, the House bill would not give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications utilities that participated in the eavesdropping. That has been a top priority of the administration. The temporary measure gave the utilities immunity for future acts, but not past deeds.
Spinelessness doesn’t really seem like much of an electoral platform, and the Democratic Party is going to have to draw a line in the sand somewhere if they expect to survive this interregnum looking any better than the Republican Party. Deciding to run away from Ben Franklin on this question doesn’t inspire me terribly.
Granted, one might argue that, in light of their generally dismal performance in running this country, this Administration needs all the tools it can get. However, whatever this Administration’s failings, setting up the machinery of a police state seems to come naturally to them, particularly when it comes to finding wholly amoral individuals to put into the very watchdog roles that we have relied upon in the past to limit the potential excesses of legislative mandates. Make them explain to all our legislators, if not the public at large, why they need these extended powers. Giving this Administration a blank check on surveillance is too, too dangerous.
I cannot believe that retroactive immunity is *still* on the table! Maybe I *do* live in Prickly City.
Later: Glenn Greenwald sees reason to hope — as Tim Grieve says, we’ll see.