Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, February 15, 2008

US House of Reps calls President's bluff!

Who knew?

After posting my blog yesterday, hoping the US House of Representatives would stand up to President Bush's vociferous threats that our national security would be endangered (not true) if they did not renew his, some would say anti-constitutional surveillance legislation, Protect America Act - they did! They stood up! They not only stood up but they adjourned for a week!

Who knew?

President Bush threatened that he would cancel his trip to Africa to make sure the law was pushed through the House. Psych! He's already on his way to the dark continent and the Act has not been renewed.

*Someone* in the House must have had a spine transplant, checked the polygraph or actually did some research proving the president was lying before giving him another rubber stamp.

Here's the deal: part of that legislation would provide retroactive immunity to phone companies and others who may have broken the law while spying on American citizens. President Bush wants to rush the renewal through to protect corporations following what they thought the government ordered them to do - illegally.

Part of the courage to stand up to the president came in reaction to, once again, the US Attorney General saying he would not honor House contempt of Congress subpoenas for former Bush adminstration members Harriett Mier, White House counsel and Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, for refusing to testify about the firing of U.S. Attorneys.

Many of those US Attorneys fired by the Bush administration say they were released because they were not biased enough in favor of the Republican party and the Bush administration's political agenda. US Attoreys are supposed to be unbiased in their job.

Now, what "horror" would befall us if Bush's "Protect America Act" lapses?

Nothing that would endanger our security.

The Justice Department itself reports that our government would retain all the powers it had before August under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law of the land that remains current. It requires the government to obtain court approval for surveillance done on U.S. soil or against U.S. targets.

Classified orders allowing the monitoring of international telephone calls, e-mail traffic and other communications under the Protect America Act are normally valid for a year; they wouldn't expire before August, 2008.

Those orders cover terrorist groups or telecommunication providers in their entirety. More, Democrats insist new groups, phone numbers and other information can be added to existing orders.

However, individuals and businesses who broke the law spying on American citizens would not be immune from legal action retroactively, from the beginning of the original Protect America Act.

Speaking of retroactively - the previous FISA allows law enforcement to have judicial surveillance permission granted retroactively. That is, if I'm law enforcement and believe that there is an imminent threat, I can go ahead and wiretap or whatever is necessary while the judicial process (a judge approves the surveillance) is taking place. When permission finally comes through, it protects the law enforcement officer(s) from the moment I instigated the surveillance.

Likewise, if law enforcement is too busy responding to the threat to submit the papers, they can submit the request after their work with the threat is completed.

The reason this is so important?

When the judges know what is going on and why, it is to make sure that there are no abuses of surveillance by law enforcement. It's in line with the constitutional idea of checks and balances.

The Bush Act provides for "warrantless" surveillance so judges do not have to be notified.

We have plenty of laws already on the books to provide for protecting us against any threat - and it is a conservative argument that begs for fewer laws, not more. But it is believed that Bush wants to have enough legislation that gives him complete authority to do anything he wishes, which is why he is accused of establishing an "imperial presidency" with Dick Cheney.

No checks or balances. Former White House counsel John Dean contends in his book, Broken Government, that the Bush administration has destroyed all three branches of government - legislative, judicial and executive - through fomenting fear and insisting on such legislation as unnecessary as Bush's Protect America Act.

FDR said it all: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Don't fall for fear mongering. A real leader doesn't instill fear; he or she empowers you to deal appropriately and confidently in your best interest with whatever may be a threat to your welfare, health or survival.

Check out the facts of anything someone says who is trying to manipulate you and mess with your mind by trying to scare you into doing what they he or she wants you to do.

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