Instead, this is the result:
Privacy advocates accused the Democrats of selling out and charged that this bill gives the government more authority than it had under a controversial warrantless wiretapping program begun in secret after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Under that program, the government could conduct surveillance without judicial oversight only if it had a reason to believe that one party to the call was a member of or affiliated with al-Qaeda or a related terrorist organization. This bill drops that condition, they noted.
Democrats “have a Pavlovian reaction: Whenever the president says the word ‘terrorism,’ they roll over and play dead,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Washington legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, predicted that the bill's approval would lead to the monitoring of ordinary Americans by the National Security Agency, which conducts most of the government’s electronic surveillance. “If this bill becomes law, Americans who communicate with a person abroad can count on one thing: The NSA may be listening,” he said.
Did Reid not even think of trying to prevent cloture, or otherwise using Senate procedural hurdles as roadblocks? And, as blogger Corpus Juris has said, where’s Reid’s You Tube moment on this?
Senate and House Democratic leadership had to know Bush was going to pull out all the rhetorical stops on this, and that Rove was likely to try to spin this for political gain. So why didn’t they have an advance counter-marketing plan? Here’s some possible talking points:
“Democrats want to TOTALLY protect Americans, including protecting their privacy.”
“Democrats have a better bill.” (And why they didn’t actually have one lined up a week ago, I don’t know)
“We know that Americans don’t want to surrender their privacy and other rights.”
Instead, Democratic Congressional leaders demonstrate that all too often, they are still being reactive rather than proactive. I think it’s about time for Skippy to repost his “no money for Democrats” post.
The House, I hold no hope for. I’m afraid that having gone halfway down the road with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell before Bush pulled the rug from under them, and having seen the Senate cave, the House will too.