As much as Steny Hoyer and other Democratic leaders have tried to spin the new version of the bill up for a vote today in the House, the New York Times is right when it writes Congress Makes a Bad Deal on Wiretapping:
As we expected, and feared, Democratic and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives announced a deal today on a new bill that will expand the president’s powers to spy on Americans without bothering to get a warrant.
It will also give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that participated in President Bush’s unlawful wiretapping program after Sept. 11, 2001.
As we also expected, those who negotiated this bad deal are saying it strikes a balance between the needs of the intelligence community and Americans’ civil liberties.
Balance? Only if you consider it balance to tip the scales heavily toward letting the government spy on its citizens whenever it wants and away from the public’s privacy rights.
“It is the result of compromise, and like any compromise is not perfect,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a rather strained press release that tried to explain why he agreed to this bad deal. . . .
Go read the rest there. The new bill includes supposed cover for those representatives who have said that they oppose telecom immunity, but the "bad deal" is just that: political cover.
Tim Walz had a bad vote last August on the PAA, was justly criticized for that vote, and by the fall voted for the RESTORE Act. Though under an onslaught of an expensive television ad buy by the Defense of Democracies this February, he voted against allowing telecom immunity in the roll call vote taken on March 14, 2008.
He should stick to those guns and show the same political courage again. Call and email Tim Walz's offices and ask him to vote no on this bad deal. Constituents should call 1-800-TIM-WALZ; the Washington DC number is (202) 225-2472. Constituents can email Congressman Walz here.
For more on the not-so-grand compromise, read the ACLU's This Spade is a Spade: FISA Deal Is Bunk, McJoan at FISA Fight: Capitulation Reached, Think Progress's New wiretapping bill dubbed ‘repugnant’ and ‘a capitulation, and Glenn Greenwald's George Bush's Latest Powers, Courtesy of the Demcoratic Congress.
Update: A reader calls our attention to the WaPo's pro-bill editorial A Better Surveillance Law. We're not buying it.
And a note to readers: Emailing us with questions directed to Tim Walz will not get the Congressman's ear, since Bluestem Prairie is an independent blog kept by an individual.
We're neither on the congressional payroll nor an employee of or consultant to the campaign, and we won't act as your personal messenger service to either office. Direct your queries to the staff at the appropriate offices.