Sunday, July 29, 2007

Take It Back, Cheney!.... Trial Lawyers Rule!

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont recently teamed up with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter to assist Al Qaeda in the secret conduct of its activities. Leahy is the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and is widely respected among leading Democrats for putting politics ahead the nation’s security. Senator Leahy has done his utmost to obfuscate, delay, and thwart the administration’s efforts in intelligence gathering around the world. In a statement fraught with legalistic jousting over the power of the executive versus the power of congressional legislators, Leahy ignored the one single component most vital to freedom, the right of perfectly healthy American citizens to remain alive.

Cant liberal interpretations of FISA (the Foreign Service Intelligence Act) have been a crucial part of the inheritance left by former Attorney General Janet Reno and Leahy has been a willing heir. Anyone listening to the Vermont Senator’s rants will hear Patrick Leahy declaiming his protection of “ordinary American citizens” from warrantless wiretaps a la J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s and 1970s. In the interest of personal privacy, and in deference to Mr. Leahy, knowing and grateful wireless users are no longer shouting into their phones in public places to reveal their most intimate secrets.

Senator Leahy’s anal-retentive interpretation of FISA is outmoded as much as the term “wiretap” itself. We’re no longer in Kansas, Mr. Leahy, and packet-switched communication between two terrorists located in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran or anywhere else in the world are routinely bounced around the globe in such a way as to pass through “domestic” telephone airwaves. Given the tone-deaf indifference of the Democrat controlled Congress to America’s safety, and its preference for soothing elevator music instead of leadership, it’s appropriate that the Bush administration is asking for some modernization of FISA.

President Bush has already screwed up by agreeing to seek warrants under the FISA provisions. Talk about giving them an inch. Leahy now jacks everyone up by stonewalling the process of modifying and streamlining the FISA process. When it comes down to picking up intelligence about a gas attack on a city subway line or an explosion aboard an aircraft, yesterday’s warrant for intelligence may be about as useless as yesterday’s breakfast.

Could it be that the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, never recovered from vice-president Cheney’s rebuke of him in June of 2004? Noble indignant Democrats were stung by Cheney’s retort to the Senator and duly sniffed the air like the blue bloods they are. But for most of us, Cheney restored a tone of reality to an unfettered Democratic Party flight toward a nostalgic sixties-style fairyland.

“Fuck yourself,” Cheney told the silver-haired super-lawyer

My sentiments exactly. But Leahy’s petty resentments seem to have taken over from that point onward. Leahy voted against reauthorization of the Patriot Act in 2006, and for any other anti-terror proposal coming out of the Bush-Cheney White House ever since.

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