As I posted earlier, Republicans walked off the floor when Democrats refused to debate the FISA bill. Here’s Michele Bachmann’s statement about the GOP Walkoff:

American’s safety must come before partisanship

(Washington, D.C) Today, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) released the following statement after Democrats allowed the Protect America Act to expire:

“It is unconscionable that with America’s security on the line, the Democrats chose to spend Congress’ time on pointless partisan posturing. As a member of Congress, I serve no higher duty than to help keep our friends, families and loved ones safe. The Protect America Act has been a critical part of the effort to prevent, interrupt and foil terrorist attacks. Yet with it set to expire in just two days, the Democrats refused to work with Republicans to reauthorize it.

“The Protect America Act provides vital updates to the original 1978 FISA provision, allowing law enforcement and intelligence services to meet the threat posed by the enemies of today. For over six months House Democrats have refused to bring a comprehensive, long-term FISA bill to the floor.

“Even the Senate passed a bipartisan reauthorization bill. And the President cleared his schedule to ensure that terrorist chatter wouldn’t slip through the cracks while our intelligence officers awaited these important surveillance tools.

“But the Democrats were more interested in establishing commemorative weeks, honoring groups and taking cheap shots at Administration officials. About the most substantive thing they had planned for today were technical corrections to a 36-year-old fungicide bill. And so I joined my fellow House Republicans in walking off the floor today in protest.

“America’s safety must come before partisanship. Democrats need to work with Republicans to pass long-term FISA reform. I hope that today’s Republican action will help propel a FISA bill onto the floor so we can get back to the business of protecting the American people.”

If that isn’t bad enough, Democrats now are prepared to let the Protect America Act lapse:

President Bush said Thursday that failure to update the Protect America Act will “harm our ability to monitor new terrorist activities and could reopen dangerous
gaps in our intelligence.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in response, dubbed such talk fear-mongering. The president has every authority to continue needed eavesdropping under another law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), she said. Moreover, the authorities granted under the temporary surveillance law enacted in August will carry on for a year, she added.

To be blunt, Ms. Pelosi is feeding us a line of BS. The FISA appellate court ruled that the NSA had to get a warrant anytime foreign communications were routed through American switches:

The prelude to approval of the plan occurred in January, when the administration
agreed to put the wiretapping program under the oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The court is charged with guarding against governmental spying abuses. Officials say one judge issued a ruling in January that allowed the administration to continue the program under the court’s supervision. A ruling a month or two later, the judge who made it and its exact timing are not clear, restricted the government’s ability to intercept foreign-to-foreign communications passing through telecommunication “switches” on American soil.

The security agency was newly required to seek warrants to monitor at least some of those phone calls and e-mail messages. As a result, the ability to intercept foreign-based communications “kept getting ratcheted down,” said a senior intelligence official who insisted on anonymity because the account involved classified material. “ We were to a point where we were not effectively operating.”

Mr. McConnell, lead negotiator for the administration in lobbying for the bill, said in an interview that the court’s restrictions had made his job much more difficult.

“It was crazy, because I’m sitting here signing out warrants on known Al Qaeda operatives that are killing Americans, doing foreign communications,” he said. “And the only reason I’m signing that warrant is because it touches the U.S. communications infrastructure. That’s what we fixed.”

Simply put, Ms. Pelosi’s actions should enrage thinking people of all political stripes. It’s unconscienable to think that Congress would simply walk away from their responsibility of protecting the American people.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that the FISA Appellate Court ruling is idiotic. In their ruling, they effectively said that yes, even though a communication was from one foreign country to another foreign country, it wasn’t a foreign call because it went through a US switch.

The new 2008 Protect America Act would expand and update the government’s
ability to monitor technologies such as the Internet and cellphones. If the current law is allowed to lapse, the US will be unable to respond quickly to new terrorist threats, say Republicans and some Democrats, who are urging approval of a bill the Senate passed on Tuesday.

If the NSA has to resort to antiquated laws, then we aren’t doing everything that’s needed to keep us secure. That message should be the NRCC’s campaign theme from now until Election Day.

To do anything less than our utmost is unacceptable.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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