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Thursday was supposed to be a day when the House Of Representatives worked on the updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has already passed the Senate. The existing bill, the Protect America Act, passed last august, expires at midnight on saturday, february 16th. Rather than working on anything so mundane as protecting americans from terrorists, the House Democrats decided instead to vote on contempt charges for White House officials Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten for not appearing before Congress on the Democrats fishing expedition investigation into the White House firing of U.S. attorneys. Minority leader John Boehner led Republicans in a House walkout in protest. Boehner said:
"We have space on the calendar today for a politically charged fishing expedition, but no space for a bill that would protect the American people from terrorists who want to kill us...Let's just get up and leave."
A few words about the so-called investigation into those U.S. attorney firings, which has been going on for over a year now. Those attorneys SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT. He appoints them and he can fire them, as presidents regularly do. For example, Bill Clinton fired 92 of the 93 U.S. attorneys, including some who were investigating BILL CLINTON. I can't tell you what a big investigation there was into that. Oh wait, yes I can tell you. There WASN'T any big investigation into that. But somehow, when Bush fires 9 U.S. attorneys, THAT is a big deal, and was done for some dark machiavellian political reasons. There isn't any evidence, but shoot, who needs evidence to conduct a witchhunt ? Not the Democrats. Since they took control of Congress in 2006, investigating all things Bush has been Job One.
Back on topic, Congress has had SIX MONTHS to pass a permanent terrorist surveillance bill, and both sides of the aisle claim to want to get it done (one side even means it). But here we are on the eve of the bill's expiration, and nothing has happened yet. I guess the high drama of watching baseball star Roger Clemens deny HGH and steroid usage is more important to the House than our national security. Maybe next week Cirque Du Soleil can testify before the House regarding highwire safety regulations, or Paris Hilton can testify about what it's like to be born filthy rich (apparently, "it's hot"). Enquiring minds want to know.
So, after twiddling their thumbs for all this time, and after attempting to kick the can down the road by passing a 21-day extension of the terrorist surveillance bill, which the Republicans shot down, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said this:
"The first step must be reconciliation of the two bills...If the president wants to work together on that -- we have been trying mightily to get the administration to engage."
Let me translate that for you. Bush backs the version of the bill that the Senate has already passed. His position is crystal clear on this subject. Always has been. The sticking point here is NOT Bush, it's NOT the Senate - it's Pelosi and company. So naturally, Nancy has to make it SEEM as if it IS Bush, because partisanship is what matters most. I can't wait for president Barack Obama to come along and change all this nonsense. Yes we can ! Oh, brother.
What Pelosi's Pals want to do is strip telecom immunity from lawsuits out of the bill. In other words, if a telephone company cooperates with the government and provides phone records for international Al Qaeda suspects, the ACLU should be able to sue the pants off that telephone company, enriching lawyers, protecting the 4th amendment, and protecting Al Qaeda, er, I mean, the people. The White House insists it may need private sector cooperation with the government for future terrorist investigations. Someone over at the White House must be living in that place known as the REAL WORLD.
Congenital liar Harry Reid (D-NV) also tried to blame it all on Bush, by saying:
"Your [Bush's] opposition to an extension is inexplicable..Nonetheless, you have chosen to let the Protect America Act expire. You bear responsibility for any intelligence collection gap that may result."
Is that rich, or what ? The House has had all this time to pass the bill, at the last minute they decide to vote on something else, and Reid doesn't think the Democrats bear any responsibility for it. Good thing we don't count on old Harry the Senate Majority Leader for leadership or anything. Unbelievable.
Here's one final strange, self-contradictory comment from Pelosi:
"We are trying to pass a bill that protects the American people and protects the Constitution...We know the president has the authority to do everything he needs to do to protect the American people in the interim."
Mrs. Pelosi, I have a question. If the president has "the authority to do everything he needs to do to protect the american people" already, why would there be a need for you to "pass a bill that protects the american people" at all ? Hmmm ?
Someone's pants are on fire.
You can read an Assocated Press story about this pathetic fiasco here.