Yesterday, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) considered returning surveillance legislation to the Senate without retroactive immunity provisions for telecom companies that cooperated in the government’s controversial warrantless wiretapping program, another whistleblower came forward with evidence that the federal government indiscriminately intercepted millions of calls from a major wireless phone provider.
Resisting pressure to resolve the surveillance debate as quickly as possible, Congressional Democrats continued to call on the president and telecom companies to cooperate with their investigation into the unlawful program. Yesterday, three chairmen of the House Commerce Committee sent a letter to their colleagues presenting evidence that “a major wireless carrier allowed a third party, known as the ‘Quantico Circuit,’ access to all data communications in its network.” Wait a minute. Isn't FBI headquarters in Quantico??
Meanwhile, Rep. John Boehner (R-Oh.) expressed frustration that the FISA debate may not be resolved by the time Congress recesses next week. Continuing the long tradition of using fear to push through legislation, Rep. Boehner said Friday that “Al Qaeda is not going on Spring Break next week.” I’m sure the residents of Daytona Beach are thrilled to hear that!
In a statement released today, Rep. Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed that “the only thing…keeping intelligence officials from having every tool they need to monitor and disrupt terrorists is the Democratic House leadership, which has repeatedly delayed action and is now poised to go on a second vacation without revising the law.” Of course, something tells us that the situation is not so cut and dry.
This administration and its allies have routinely accused Congressional Democrats of obstruction based on their refusal to advance controversial judicial nominees, their calls for accountability in domestic surveillance programs, and their demands for adherence to international standards in interrogation procedures. We see it a bit differently. Seems to us, Congress is finally exercising its constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities by refusing to rubberstamp President Bush’s broad attempts to expand executive power.