Sunday, August 5, 2007

Pelosi To Conyers and Reyes--Revisit the FISA Bill As Soon As Possible And This Time Do It Right.

I don't know what to make of this, but Nancy Pelosi has written a letter concerning the "interim" FISA bill passed just yesterday.

August 4, 2007

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Silvestre Reyes
Chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
H 405 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Conyers and Chairman Reyes:

Thank you for your leadership on matters affecting the security of the American people and the protection of the liberties that define our country.

I know that your committees have been working diligently on a proposal by the Administration to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). I also understand that your work has been hindered by the Administration’s refusal to provide all of the documents you believe are relevant to your consideration of the proposal.

Tonight, the House passed S. 1927, a bill approved by the Senate yesterday, which is an interim response to the Administration’s request for changes in FISA, and which was sought to fill an intelligence gap which is asserted to exist. Many provisions of this legislation are unacceptable, and, although the bill has a six month sunset clause, I do not believe the American people will want to wait that long before corrective action is taken.

Accordingly, I request that your committees send to the House, as soon as possible after Congress reconvenes, legislation which responds comprehensively to the Administration’s proposal while addressing the many deficiencies in S. 1927.

Thank you for your attention to this request and for your service to our country.

best regards,

Nancy Pelosi
In related news, Michael Isikoff of Newsweek is reporting that last week the administration served a secret search warrant on a former justice department attorney who is known to have opposed the President's Domestic Surveillance Program. It is rumored that the attorney is suspected of leaking the existence of the program to The New York Times in December 2005.

When somebody at the water cooler tells you that the President must pursue the leaker because merely telling the American people of the existence of a possibly unconstitutional program is helping the "enemy," you might remember the following quote from Al Gore's book The Assault on Reason.
(T)his intricate clockwork mechanism of American Government has always depended on a "ghost in the machine." The ghost animating the Constitution's machinery is not holy;it is us, all of us, the proverbial "well-informed citizenry. We may be endowed with individual rights by our Creator, but we act to protect those rights and govern our nation with the instruments of reason. page 51
How can we citizens be a "well-informed citizenry" if the Congress passes secret laws, creating secret Courts to oversee secret activities that might violate the Constitution? How can we keep our Democracy alive if the Executive is clearly going beyond what has been authorized by Congress apparently bypassing the secret court altogether? How can we protect our democracy if the Administration is executing secret search warrants on people whose only crime is to have informed us, the electorate, that our constitutional rights are being violated? Disclosing a program that violates the United State's Constitution might justify the application of something that could be called a whistleblower's defense.

Good luck, Nancy, we will be watching.