The Democratic-led U.S. Senate, amid warnings of further attacks on the United States, approved a bill on Friday that would allow President George W. Bush to maintain his controversial domestic spying program.
The Senate defeated, on a 45-43 vote, a Democratic alternative, which would have placed tighter controls on the spying and provided for independent assessments of the attorney general's implementation of the measure.
Rather than taking action to limit the actions of the President and Attorney General- to bring those actions within the limits of the US Constitution- the Senate has written yet another blank check to the Bush Administration.
Why? Not because of some real and imminent threat to the nation. The real reason: the President threatened to call the Congress back into session, eliminating or shortening the members' vacations.
For at least another six months the Attorney General gets to abuse the Constitution by conducting wiretaps without warrants, without oversight of those wiretaps for as much as 120 days, and where the oversight will not be on the specific wiretaps, but only on the general procedure used to justify the wiretaps. In other words, no restraint except for the competency of the Administration to determine true threats (don't get me started) and the ethics of the Attorney General ("Houston, we have a problem!").
Abuse of the Constitution and power by this Administration has been widely documented. But equal blame falls upon the Democrats for allowing this to happen. They have given in to the politics of the moment, pursued their own electoral self-interests, and failed utterly to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" by strictly limiting the Bush Administration.
From the Washington Post
Privacy advocates accused the Democrats of selling out and charged that this bill gives the government more authority than it had under a controversial warrantless wiretapping program begun in secret after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Under that program, the government could conduct surveillance without judicial oversight only if it had a reason to believe that one party to the call was a member of or affiliated with al-Qaeda or a related terrorist organization. This bill drops that condition, they noted.
Democrats "have a Pavlovian reaction: Whenever the president says the word 'terrorism,' they roll over and play dead," said Caroline Fredrickson, Washington legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union.