While skeptics of enhanced intelligence-gathering tools attack as “fear mongers” anybody who suggests that the FISA reform legislation needs to be passed quickly in the name of national security, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton makes clear that politicizing the war on terror can and will be a bipartisan effort when it suits the political temper. Check out her latest ad.
Having passed something, members of Congress will go back home and tell their constituents that they did the right thing and addressed the critical security needs of our country. They simply won’t mention the complicated telecom issue, and act as if they took bold action. They’ll feel no sense of urgency to return the matter — which means that the private sector companies, whom the government has begged to join the homeland security effort, will be open targets for lawsuits … and good luck getting such cooperation from the private sector ever again.
The availability of cheap, disposable cell phones, the growth of the internet, and the emergence of a rapid and complex global telecommunications infrastructure that can route phone calls anywhere in the world has allowed a level of anonymity that terrorists have quickly learned to exploit to mask their plans and operations. This is the context in which the debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must be conducted.
The Majority Leader of the House Democrats summed up the rather mystifying position of his colleagues today when he stated on the House floor that they have no sense of urgency over the FISA wiretapping debate. One senses that Hoyer didn’t fully appreciate the irony of such a statement, considering how Congress has dithered on FISA reauthorization to the point where it is set to expire in a couple of days.
Yesterday, the Senate did the right thing by passing the Protect America Act and preventing our nation’s private sector national security partners from being left unprotected from frivolous lawsuits, today. It is now up to the House to recognize that without these partners our intelligence and national security communities will ultimately grind to a halt. The private sector brings to bear the innovation, skilled labor and hard work of millions of people every day in the name of our nation’s security.