The bad faith of the Dems on intercept program
...Sen. Leahy has no credibility on this issue and he certainly is not someone worthy of trust in pursuing this program through legislation with his record on leaking national security information. His whole premise is silly to begin with. To require the President to jump through hoops in a time of war to intercept the conversations of al Qaeda with its agent in this country is absolutely ridiculous. There is zero evidence that the program has been abused to snoop on political enemies.
All the same, one of the actions of the Bush administration that has long troubled me, and which has made it the target of withering criticism, was its failure to ask Congress to amend FISA when the program first began. The whole immensely damaging controversy would have been skirted if the administration, in the wake of 9/11, had simply worked with Congress to engage in this kind of surveillance within the framework of a revised law.
Why did that not happen?
We now have an answer: it can be found on page 238 of George Tenet’s new memoir. Tenet writes:
At one point in 2004 there was even a discussion with the congressional leadership in the White House Situation Room with regard to whether new legislation would be introduced to amend the FISA statute, to put the program on a broader legal foundation. The view that day on the part of members of Congress was that this could not be done without jeopardizing the program (emphasis added).
Is Tenet simply passing the buck by blaming Congress? I don’t think so, but since he does a lot of other buck-passing in his buck-passing memoir (see my analysis of it here), I can’t be sure. But Tenet has no particular reason to cover his tracks in this instance. For once, he had helped put in place an effective program.
If senior members of Congress of both parties rejected the idea of congressional action to amend FISA, the Judiciary Committee’s grandstanding now on this critical matter of national defense is even more disgraceful than it already appears.