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Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Of The House Of Representatives, had a decision to make last week. Should she bring the new FISA bill to the floor for a vote, where it would certainly pass and be signed into law immediately by President Bush, or should she prevent the bill from being voted upon, thereby allowing the Protect America Act to expire, weakening our country's ability to gather intelligence against foreign terrorist groups like Al Qaeda ?
It seems obvious that Pelosi should have chosen the democratic way and allowed the vote, but she didn't. Now Congress is on vacation and our intelligence capabilities are diminished. The question is, why would Pelosi do that ? The outward sticking point for Pelosi and pals is that they resisted giving telecom companies immunity from lawsuits for providing information to the government about Al Qaeda. Dozens of such lawsuits have been filed already, and granting retroactive immunity for these companies would kill them. If it sounds odd to you that companies would be sued for helping the government fight Al Qaeda following 9/11, it sounds odd to me as well.
If any of you think Pelosi didn't allow the vote due to 4th amendment concerns, you haven't been paying much attention. If the Democratic Congress was concerned about the 4th amendment, they would't have passed the Protect America Act to begin with, the new FISA bill wouldn't have passed the Senate, and they wouldn't have pushed for the recent 21 day extension. If the new FISA bill was a 4th amendment violation, so were all of those things. No, this wasn't about the Constitution at all. This was about something much more important to the Democratic leadership, something apparently more important than national security even...
You see, the number one contributor to Democratic political campaigns is trial lawyers. These are the very same trial lawyers who are looking to score some very big bucks by suing those telecom companies. From a Bob Novak column, called Torts And Terrorism, comes this:
Amanda Carpenter, a Townhall.com columnist, has prepared a spreadsheet showing that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in the telecommunications suits have contributed $1.5 million to Democratic senators and causes. Of the 29 Democratic senators who voted against the FISA bill last Tuesday, 24 took money from the trial lawyers (as did two absent senators, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama). Eric A. Isaacson of San Diego, one of the telecommunications plaintiff's lawyers, contributed to the recent unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd, who led the Senate fight against the bill containing immunity.
It's as simple as that. Monkey lawyers pay, monkey Congress do. Democrats know they have weakened our intelligence capabilities. One Democrat who is definitely in the know, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, warned his party colleagues of that very thing:
“What people have to understand around here is that the quality of the intelligence we are going to be receiving is going to be degraded.” (Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Floor Remarks, 02/14/08)
The Democratic leadership didn't care. They didn't care about us as a country. They just didn't want to alienate their biggest contributors, the lawyers (No wonder Obama, Hillary, and Edwards are all lawyers). This isn't a condemnation of the entire Democratic party, only the leadership and the majority view. The minority moderate Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, supported the new FISA bill, which is why it certainly would have passed when combined with near unanimous Republican support.
Thanks for nothing, Nancy Pelosi. You put special interests first, and our country second.
Enjoy your vacation.