There wasn’t an emergency last August when Congress was stampeded into passing the Protect America Act. There wasn’t an emergency last month when the two-week extension got passed. And nothing catastrophic is happening now that the PAA is lapsing. But as long as the president said there was an emergency and the Democrats acted like there was an emergency, journalists weren’t going to say otherwise. When both “sides” of a dispute agree on some point, most journalists will simply accept that point as valid and don’t dig any deeper.Great observations and I hope the Democrats in both the House and the Senate will read it because it contains some really sound advice for them.
Now that House Democrats are willing to forthrightly state that the expiration of the PAA isn’t a big deal — and act like it’s not a big deal — journalists suddenly have to do their homework and find out who’s telling the truth. And once they do their research, it’s not hard to figure out who’s got the better argument.
Sometimes, good policy is good politics. I think this is one of those cases. If the House leadership capitulates to the president in the next few weeks, it will reinforce the impression that the president was right all along, and we really do need to sacrifice Americans’ privacy in order to fight terrorism. If, on the other hand, House Democrats refuse to enact legislation that undermines judicial oversight or the rule of law, it will cause journalists to write stories like this one, that dig deeper into the arguments of each side. Since in reality, the argument for eviscerating FISA is built on little more than distortions and alarmist rhetoric, that heightened scrutiny will only help those who believe in the rule of law.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
CATO and FISA
The Washington Times quoted someone from the CATO Institute in their piece on FISA this morning. Now I have the CATO blog in my blogroll and while they are certainly right wing I often find myself agreeing with them unless we are talking about economics. I decided to head over to CATO and see what they were saying about FISA. I found two posts by Timothy B Lee, the fellow quoted by the Times. The first, FISA Confusion, is where the Times got the quotes for it's article. Go read the entire thing, a lot more information than given in the Times article. The second post is a reaction to the Times article, Even the Washington Times Says Bush Is Wrong about FISA.