FISA: Waiting For A Vote?

Not to be too crabby, but how hard is it for journalists to state the obvious — that Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans are standing up for the rule of law and the constitution against a unilateral executive power grab and a CYA effort to cover the Bush/Cheney illegal domestic spying tracks? Apparently altogether too hard for some. Via NYTimes:

In clear defiance of the White House, the proposal from House Democratic leaders would not give retroactive legal protection to the phone companies that helped in the National Security Agency program of warrantless wiretapping. Mr. Bush also threatened to veto any such measure, should it reach his desk.

Brian Knowleton, who wrote this piece for the Times apparently couldn’t be bothered to deviate from the WH fax blast script. It’s that bad. Pamela Hess of AP (via WaPo), to her credit, gives her piece a bit more context and legal heft:

Democrats launched their own broadside in response. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Bush’s criticism was disingenuous.

"The president has said that our legislation will not make America safe," she told reporters. "The president is wrong, and he knows it."

The third-ranking House Democrat, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, called Bush’s comments "absurd and outrageous."…

The Democrats’ measure would encourage the judge to review in private any secret government documents underpinning the program, in order to decide whether the companies acted lawfully.

The administration has prevented those documents from being revealed, even to a judge, by invoking the state secrets privilege. That puts the companies in a bind because it puts off-limits evidence they might use to defend themselves.

Keeping that information secret is all about the Bush/Cheney Administration covering it’s own flank for illegal domestic spying in contravention of the FISA law. Notice how quickly the House Judiciary committee analysis and language on Bush/Cheney CYA via their manipulative use of state secrets to hide the ball has made it into the media narrative. Good for Dems.

McJoan suggests calling your own Representative — along with all the Blue Dogs (and includes numbers). I concur.

Take some time to make a few calls and ask for support of the rule of law and the Fourth Amendment, and that immunity not be given to the Bush/Cheney Administration and telecoms. While you are at it, do cast your vote for the Blue Dog who most needs a FISA wake-up call. While the House is still debating budget intricacies on the House floor, we should take the time to let them know that standing up for the rule of law is something we all think is important. Let’s get to work…

UPDATE: ACLU has some thoughts on this as well. And CongressNow has a bit on the potential for a "secret session" (subs. req.) that some GOP folks are pushing — but I haven’t been able to confirm anything with any leadership or other House Members or staffers on this. Also, there is a rumor that the vote may not happen now until tomorrow, but I’m also hearing much later this evening, too — so keep those phones ringing, gang. Stay tuned….

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