Starting in the early morning hours of Sunday, terrorists worldwide could take solace in the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies would have to jump through all sorts of hoops to listen in on their private phone conversations.
How did this happen? First a FISA court ruled bizarrely, that terrorists have a right to privacy. Well, maybe not a right to privacy, but something similar enough that the government has to demonstrate probable cause and get a warrant to listen in on them.
Those judges should be sacked.
The problem was "solved," briefly, by the Protect America Act, which effectively overruled this silly ruling. I put the scare quotes around "solved," because the Congress, in its less-than-infinite wisdom, put a six month expiration date on it. That deadline was pressed further back when Congress passed a 15-day extension. It was that extension which expired Sunday morning.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed compromise legislation with the President's blessing. The idiotic House leadership decided that they owe the trial lawyers the opportunity to sue the telecom companies who cooperated in good faith with U.S. intelligence agencies in the wake of 9/11, so they spiked the bill. Make no mistake, the bill would pass the House if it were brought up for a vote.
The bottom line, Democrats cannot be trusted with national security. Democrats protest that nothing bad is going to happen, but that's not what the Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said on Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: So just to summarize this, how — would you say that the country is in great — greater danger now of terrorist attack because this law has expired?
MCCONNELL: Increased danger, and it will increase more and more as time goes on. And the key is the — if you think about the private sector global communications, many people think the government operates that.
Ninety-eight percent of it is owned and operated by the private sector. We cannot do this mission without help and support from the private sector. And the private sector, although willingly helped us in the past, are now saying, "You can't protect me. Why should I help you?"
Chris, could I just read something I think is very important for the American people to know? This issue of liability protection — what I'm going to quote from is the Senate report when they debated the Senate bill for improving this law, if I could.
This is with regard to private sector immunity. "Indeed, the intelligence community cannot obtain the intelligence it needs without the assistance of these companies. Given the scope of the civil damage suits and the current spotlight associated with providing any assistance to the intelligence community, the community was concerned without retroactive immunity the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with a lawful request from the government in the future without unnecessary court involvement and protracted litigation."
That's the issue. We go back into protracted litigation and debate, as opposed to being dynamic.
Remember, McConnell is not a political animal. He's an intelligence professional. His only dog in this fight is protecting America and the Democrats have de-fanged him.
For further information, I encourage you to read the following items: