The ad attacking Tim Walz for standing firm on the RESTORE Act looks to be even more shady in light of new information reported by the Owatonna People's Press. Investigations by reporter Jeff Cagle reveal that the ads are not sponsored by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, as we had thought yesterday, but by a new group formed just last week, Defense of Democracy. However, the two entities do seem to be related in terms of shared staff.
Wise said the group was formed last week in response to the House's refusal to bring up the bill.
Now, that impetus makes targeting Walz specifically to be very dicey. Walz voted against the temporary extension of the PAA, as he wanted to bring the issue to the floor rather than to punt before the Presidents Day break:
Today, Congressman Tim Walz voted against a 21-day extension of the “Protect America Act” because he believed America’s national security needs were too pressing to kick the decision down the road yet again. The Protect America Act, which passed in August, is temporary legislation that modernizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to account for new intelligence-gathering technology in the fight against terrorism. President Bush and Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle failed in the last six months to produce a permanent bill that adequately balances national security needs and civil liberties. At the end of January, the temporary legislation was extended by 15 days through procedural maneuvering. Today’s vote on an additional 21-day extension represents the second attempt by Congress to delay action on these important national security issues.
“The American people are demanding that Democrats and Republicans work together in Washington, DC to change the priorities and get things done,” said Walz. “I can not in good conscience support another band-aid to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that just keeps kicking tough decisions on this issue down the road for consideration another day,” said Walz. “National security is too important. Let’s fix the bill now and not wait any longer.”
In August of 2007, Walz supported the Protect America Act that made temporary changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to give leaders in both parties time to develop needed, long-term reform that brings accountability to the process and respects individual civil liberties. In October of 2007, Walz wrote to the Chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees urging them to make needed changes (click here to read the letter).
“In my classroom, when I was a teacher there were clear due dates for every homework assignment and there were consequences for not turning it in on time. Congress assigned itself the task of updating FISA by the end of January, and today that important responsibility has been left unfinished,” said Walz. “I urge my colleagues to forego the scheduled congressional recess next week and to go back to work on a bill that protects America’s national security interests.”
We think Walz is correct on this one: the attack is coming because he's a Democrat and because of his stance against granting retroactive immunity, not because of a concern for imminent danger.
Cagle closes with Walz's observations:
Bush has promised to veto any bill without retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies.
Walz expects the House to bring up the issue again this week. The only difference is that they want to modernize FISA to safeguard civil liberties.
"If [Defense of Democracy] really wanted to try and educate me on this, they would put out factual information on this and not blatantly lie," Walz said.
KEYC-TV has more in Congressman Walz Strikes Back, notably outlining what the problem is:
The debate over renewing and modernizing the act is over balancing privacy and personal liberties with surveillance methods
Target update: Other Freshman Dems targeted that we know of so far: Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy (CT); Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes (NH); Jason Altmire (PA); Ron Klein and Tim Mahoney (FL); Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell (AZ); Jerry McNerney (CA); Melissa Bean (IL); Joe Donnelly (IN); Nancy Boyda (KS); Michael Arcuri and Kirsten Gillbrand (NY) ; Steve Kagan (WI).
Update: While we were in scenic Courtland, Minnesota, admiring Sage Elizabeth--a truly beautiful baby girl--Minnesota Central was hard on the trail of DoD, finding its blog. All the dots are connected; as we concluded, DoD is a spin-off of FDD. MC had found evidence that the ad in running against Altmire. In Massachusetts, another blogger reports seeing an ad attacking an unnamed congressman in Connecticut in Tag Team: Right Wing & Telecomms Take on Congress.
We're thinking it might be freshman Chris Murphy.Left Nutmeg reports it's Joe Courtney.
Second update: A reader from New Hampshire notes in our comments section:
They are also running this against Carol Shea-Porter here in New Hampshire.
I looked at their website...non-partisan, my Aunt Fanny! Can't anything be done to shut down these liars, or to at least require that each of their ads be vetted by some truly non-partisan group before it can be aired?
Monday update: We have posted more on the ad; read the Ron Amundson remix script here.