Bush wins: Senate votes to expand warrantless surveillance (MORE: HOUSE PASSES BILL AS WELL)

***scroll for updates***

The WaPo publishes this shocker:

The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government’s terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.

The 60 to 28 vote, which was quickly denounced by civil rights and privacy advocates, came after Democrats in the House failed to win support for more modest changes that would have required closer court supervision of government surveillance. Earlier in the day, President Bush threatened to hold Congress in session into its scheduled summer recess if it did not approve the changes he wanted.

Well, that’s one way to get what you want ;)

The legislation, which is expected to go before the House today, would expand the government’s authority to intercept without a court order the phone calls and e-mails of people in the United States who are communicating with people overseas.

As currently written, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act already gives U.S. spies broad leeway to monitor the communications of foreign terrorism suspects, but the 30-year-old statute requires a warrant to monitor calls intercepted in the United States, regardless of where the calls begin or end.

At the White House, where officials had voiced concern about that requirement, a spokesman praised the Senate vote and called on House leaders to quickly follow suit. The legislation will “give our intelligence professionals the essential tools they need to protect our nation,” spokesman Tony Fratto said.

Cut and runner Harry Reid wasn’t too happy with the outcome:

“My Republican colleagues chose to rubber-stamp a flawed administration proposal that fails to provide the accountability needed in the light of the administration’s past mismanagement of key tools in the war on terror,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

“Civil liberties groups” aren’t happy, either:

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.

Jules Crittenden responds accordingly:

Actually, when the president says “terrorism” they roll over and lose.

So, like, I wonder if this means now that Democrats are complicit in helping Bush “violate the Constitution” by giving him his way on being able to wiretap – without warrant, in extraordinary circumstances – a phone call in which a terrorist from Al Qaeda could be on?

I’ve not been able to find the roll call on this vote but I’d love to know what Senators – in addition to Lieberman – voted with the Dems on this one. Rest assured that the Dem frontrunners – La Clinton and Senator Obama – did not vote with the majority.

Now the question is: Even with the WH “strong arming” the House, will the House, under the leadership of Nancy “power grab” Pelosi, be the stumbling block?

And speaking of power grabs, a special committee has been formed to investigate the vote controversy that erupted on the House floor a couple of nights ago. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was apologetic, but Pelosi was not. No surprise, there.

Sat PM Update: Bad news for the moonbats:

The Democratic-controlled House tonight approved and sent to President Bush for his signature legislation his intelligence advisers wrote to enhance their ability to intercept the electronic communications of foreigners without a court order.

The 227 to 183 House vote capped a high-pressure campaign by the White House to change the nation’s wiretap law, in which the administration capitalized on Democrats’ fears of being branded as weak on terrorism and on a general congressional desire to proceed with an August recess.

Which Democrats helped in passing this bill?

Democrats facing reelection next year in conservative districts helped propel the bill to quick approval. Adding to the pressures they felt were recent intelligence reports about hreatening new al Qaeda activity in Pakistan and the disclosure by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) of a secret court ruling earlier this year that complicated the wiretapping of purely foreign communications that happen to pass through a communications node on U.S. soil.

Looks like La Pelosi couldn’t keep her caucus contained. Should we thank Rahm Emanuel for the conservative Democrats he brought to the table last month? Heh. In any event, here’s what Pelosie had to say about the bill’s passage:

The House Democratic leadership had severe reservations about the proposal and an overwhelming majority of Democrats opposed it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measure “does violence to the Constitution of the United States.”

But with the Senate already in recess, Democrats confronted the choice of allowing the administration’s bill to reach the floor and be approved mainly by Republicans or letting it die.

If it stalled, that would have left Democratic lawmakers, who have long been anxious about appearing weak on national security issues, facing an August spent fending off charges from Mr. Bush and Republicans that they left Americans exposed to terrorism threats.

Despite the political risks, many Democrats argued they should stand firm against the president’s initiative, saying it granted the administration far too much latitude to initiate surveillance without judicial review. They said the White House was using the specter of terrorism to weaken the privacy rights of Americans and empower Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, an official Democrats say has proved himself untrustworthy.

Well, while Democrats often won’t vote in favor of a bill in spite of the fact that it would help protect us from terrorism, they will vote for it for two reasons: 1) politics and 2) they wanna go on their summer recess. Good move, Mr. President.

More reax to the news here. The left is reacting predictably, of course.

By the way, here’s the roll call on that Senate vote (thanks to ST reader spree).

Related: Michelle Malkin is liveblogging the late night House session.

Moonbat of the week: “Harto”

Didn’t have one for the week before, believe it or not, but we’ve got a live one for this week >:)

In response to my link to his post at the Democratic Daily blog about the revelation that TNR screwed up big time with their ‘military blogger’ Scott Thomas, blogger Hart Williams writes:

Your thesis is laughable — that an “internal investigation” reported through a blogger who claims “insider connections” to know the outcome of the investigation before any official information has been released.

Oh, and it clears the Army and discredits Private Beauchamp (who you didn’t believe was a real person when Goldfarb began this witch hunt on July 21?

Sure. THAT’s credible.

Your question is a rhetorical monstrousity. The only persons who “believe” that way are the straw men you’re obviously trying to set up. So let me ask YOU a question:

Since you want to ignore the various ‘military lies to us’ scandals, WHY did you decide to endanger the life of a soldier fighting in the sandbox? Because you didn’t like what he said? Is THAT “supporting the troops”?

Or are you still laboring under the delusion that we’re “spreading democracy” and that endangering MY son because you don’t have an exit strategy, refuse to discuss an exit strategy, and would rather be right and watch more of our soldiers die than admit that this war has been a disaster and end it?

Must be amazing to know it all. Kinda makes you like God, don’t it?

Naw. It’s not about being a “know it all” (we leave that to the Democratic ‘leadership’ in Congress) – it’s about knowing how to spot liberal demagoguery that people try to pass off as being the ‘real truth’ a mile away. Careful, Hart. Yours and the left’s transparency on ‘supporting the troops’ is starting to show.

Kinda sad when people who claim to ‘support the troops’ in reality are hoping that the negative stories they read about the military are true, and furthermore go out of their way to try and spin them as true, even when it turns out they’re not. These same types of people want us to give accused murderers here at home the benefit of the doubt, but don’t extend that same courtesy to the men and women who put their lives on the line so they can have the right to spout their idiotic, troop-hating nonsense.

Scratch “sad.” It’s actually sick. Very sick.


More on the Democrats politicizing of the Minnesota bridge collapse

Captain Ed has done some investigating on some accusations prominent Minnesota Democrats (and others) have been making with regards to funding and inspections on Minnesota bridges in light of the I35W bridge collapse, and finds them wanting:

Yesterday, Senator Amy Klobuchar blamed the collapse of the I-35W bridge on a lack of highway funds — even though the 2005 highway bill increased federal funding to Minnesota by 46% over its five-year span. Apparently realizing that line of argument wouldn’t hold, Rep. James Oberstar accused MnDOT of being too cheap to use advanced technology for bridge inspections. He left out of his accusation that the technology hasn’t proven itself for that purpose:

On the House floor Friday, U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., accused MnDOT of turning down an opportunity to use a $200,000 high-tech inspection technology on the bridge that might have detected a fatal flaw. …

“Technology can discover microscopic cracks not visible to the naked eye and then measure their propagation and do the same with bridges,” he said on the House floor. “The Minnesota Department of Transportation was offered the opportunity to use that technology and I am disappointed that the state rejected the opportunity to use that technology to test the structural integrity of the bridge that collapsed.” …

John Schadl, Oberstar’s spokesman, said the congressman mentioned the incident because he is frustrated by the lack of investment in new technologies, at both the federal and state levels. But Oberstar does not know whether the company’s system would have detected any fatal flaws in the bridge.

“Nobody knows if this technology would have prevented this tragedy,” Schadl said.

Precisely. And do you know why nobody knows it? Because we don’t know why the bridge failed yet. We don’t know whether this system works as promised, either. Why can’t our Democrats in this state wait to find out what actually happened before leaping to conclusions as to what could have prevented it — especially on the floor of Congress?

Because it’s so much easier and politically convenient to throw out accusations you can’t substantiate at the time in hopes that either something will stick, or at the very least in hopes that people will remember more the seriousness of the allegation rather than whether or not it actually turned out to be true?

Busted: Scott Thomas Beauchamp claims bebunked by Army internal investigation, TNR’s credibility takes severe hit

Confederate Yankee has the details. In summary, he writes:

Let’s look at that once more: “members of Thomas’ platoon and company were all interviewed and no one could substantiate his claims.”

Presumably thorough, in-person interviews of all of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, and Beauchamp’s platoon within Alpha Company by military investigators, and not one of those soldiers could confirm Beauchamp’s stories as told in The New Republic.

Note that the investigation didn’t just stop by stating that the claims were uncorroborated; Col. Boylan states categorically that Beauchamp’s allegations were false. Not a lot of wiggle room there.

It appears that the proverbial ball is now in The New Republic‘s court. It will be interesting to see what their next move will be.

Lawhawk writes:

TNR has a lot more to worry about since they claim to have substantiated matters with a bunch of anonymous sources. If they want to stand by the story, they’re going to have to do more than provide anonymous sources. They’re going to have to name names – who supposedly corroborated these stories for them and how did they come by such knowledge. How is it that TNR was able to obtain this information and the US Army, who interviewed members of Beauchamp’s unit, was not.

They’re now on vacation, which doesn’t make this any easier for them. Perhaps hoping that things will blow over in the interim will not make this go away either. ScottScam is a stain on the publication, one on par with the Stephen Glass incident. They should have known better and it will be interesting to see how they respond to the latest email from the US Army on the matter.

Franklin Foer, editor of TNR, has stood by this story, knowing full well that the facts were running against him. He’s claimed that the magazine had vetted the story before publication and its reexamination of the story found corroboration other than the relocation of the dining hall incident from Iraq’s FOB Falcon to Kuwait’s Camp Buehring, a not insignificant matter, even though it was passed off as such.


TNR’s credibility was seriously in question already. This revelation damages it even more in the eyes of people who are more interested in truth. Those who are only interested in being told only what they want to hear about our military in Iraq – even if what they’re being told is an outright lie – will remain defiant and outright indignant even in the face of the obvious deception that has been perpetrated by TNR. Once more, I’ll ask:

If conservatives and members of the military are so awful, why do liberals continually have to either make up or at the very least embellish stories about them? I mean, shouldn’t the material they have on us be so voluminous that there’d be no reason to make up or embellish stories?