President Bush, meeting with governors today at the White House, reiterated the basic and persuasive arguments for Congress renewing federal authority for monitoring foreign electronic communications. His point about telecom immunity has received less attention than others:
[Such] lawsuits would require disclosure of information, which will make it harder to protect the country. You can imagine when people start defending themselves, they’re going to be asked all kinds of questions about tactics used. Makes absolutely no sense to give the enemy more knowledge about what the United States is doing to protect the American people.
We’ve reached the running-of-the-ads stage of the debate, the elevating of political pressure in a way that will surely be repeated come the fall elections. This video spot by the group, Defense of Democracies, is nonetheless a fair-enough piece, noting the Senate’s bipartisan passage of the legislation (S. 2248) and chiding House leadership for going on vacation instead of acting to extend surveillance authority. Which it did. One Minnesota congressman, Rep. Tim Walz, who’s criticized denounces the ad, cites his National Guard service, and lashes out at “fear-mongering.” Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy responds here.
In the White House press briefing today, Dana Perino discusses the “scare-tactic” line of defense and responds to the Washington Post op-ed, “Scare Tactics and Our Surveillance Bill,” by the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Perino:
The issue really right now between the House and the Senate, as far as I can tell, the biggest issue is retroactive liability protection, and in their op-ed they just had a passing glance to that issue. But it is one of the biggest sticking points, because at the end of the day if we don’t have the companies helping us, then we won’t have a program.
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