Commentary Magazine


Contentions

FISA Deal

A deal to extend FISA has apparently been reached. Russ Feingold says the Democrats “capitulated.” As explained here, the telecoms, with some procedural hurdles, will get immunity for their actions in assisting the government. It is important to point out that in all of this horsing around there may well have been a gap in intelligence collection, leads lost, important calls missed. Who’s to blame? As this column explains:

House Democrats made a cold calculation in February when they allowed the foreign intelligence collection powers of the Protect America Act to lapse. They elevated the trial lawyers’ interest in a big payday over the public interest in aggressive information gathering against people trying to kill Americans. They figured, with enough bombast about the “rule of law,” few would notice that they were vesting our terrorist enemies overseas with unprecedented U.S. privacy rights.

And where was Barack Obama on this? Well, he was opposed to immunity, a position one of his key national security advisors openly condemned. As Obama advisor and former CIA agent John Brennan said:

My advice, to whoever is coming in [to the White House], is they need to spend some time learning, understanding what’s out there, identifying those key issues . . . They need to make sure they do their homework, and it’s not just going to be knee-jerk responses.

Ouch. But now the question is whether Obama will embrace the deal and add his objection to immunity for telecoms to the growingnever mind” list.