The Senate resumes its consideration of intelligence legislation today, though thanks to Republican obstructionism, there will be a cloture vote on the very bad Intelligence Committee legislation to modify and extend the poorly named Protect America Act. Democrats are seeking to keep debate going so they can consider amendments that would end warrantless wiretapping and deny big telecoms like AT&T and Verizon retroactive immunity for their role in assisting the Bush administration spy on Americans.
Debate in the Senate will start after 2 PM. The cloture vote on the Intel bill will be at 4:30 PM. That vote will be followed by a cloture vote on a 30 day extension to the PAA. Senator Reid has put this forward to ensure that the Senate doesn’t have to resolve the legislative fight around the PAA under the gun of its sunset. Hopefully Democrats can muster enough votes to pass cloture on the extension, though President Bush has already threatened to veto a PAA extension of any length.
Glenn Greenwald has a great post this morning looking back at how the PAA was passed last August and how the country should hold President Bush and his Republican cohorts accountable for their irresponsible politicization of this legislative debate, at the expense of national security. Glenn writes:
This veto threat is one of the President’s most brazen acts ever, so nakedly exposing the fun and games he routinely plays with National Security Threats. After sending Mike McConnell out last August to warn that we will all die without the PAA, Bush now says that he would rather let it expire than give Congress another 30 days. He just comes right out and announces, then, that he will leave us all vulnerable to a Terrorist Attack unless he not only gets everything he wants from Congress — all his new warrantless eavesdropping powers made permanent plus full immunity for his lawbreaking telecom partners — but also gets it exactly when he wants it (i.e., now — not 30 days from now).
If the Democrats had even the slightest strategic sense and/or courage — just the slightest amount — this is a political confrontation they would be uncontrollably eager to have. Just imagine if they sustain the filibuster today and instead pass a 30-day extension of the PAA, and then Bush vetoes it, knowingly choosing to leave the intelligence community without the ability to Listen In When Osama Is Calling. It would be the height of political stupidity for Democrats to be afraid of that outcome….
The veto threat from the President is so unbelievably corrupt and manipulative that if our national press had even the smallest amount of critical faculties and understanding of the issues, that veto threat would be a major story. After all, how can the President possibly threaten the country that he will veto a law that he himself has claimed for months is indispensable for Protecting Us All?
Read Greenwald’s whole piece to get a good background going into today’s fights.
We haven’t won anything yet and we need to keep pressure on the Senate today. Send an email to your senators through CREDO’s action alert. You can also get the fax numbers for key senators to lobby at FireDogLake.
Cross posted at the CREDO Blog.