Thursday, January 18, 2007

Finally, the President is being forced to fold his bad hands

Remember that old chestnut, the "terrorist surveillance program" that allowed the President to eavesdrop on any telephone conversation in the United States, at any time, with no oversight by a judge or any other body? Well, that's history. Here's how the President defended it before:

"The terrorist surveillance program is necessary to protect America from attack."

"[I]f the attempt to write law makes this program -- is likely to expose the nature of the program, I'll resist it ... Why tell the enemy what we're doing if the program is necessary to protect us from the enemy?"

(both from the President's press conference of January 26, 2006)


Amazingly enough, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has passed new rules that, according to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, "have met administration concerns about speed and agility when it comes to responding to bits of intelligence where we may be able to save American lives."

Gee, you don't think this announcement has anything to do with Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy getting ready to have hearings on the consitutionality of the warrantless wiretaps, do you? Doesn't this smell just a little bit like when the Justice Department re-filed charges against Jose Padilla when it became clear that the terrorist allegations against him were going to blow up in the government's face in court?

We're seeing a consistent pattern now. When the illegalities of the President's behavior are going to be brought to account, he and his administration back down. The President and his administration has been using the cudgel of 9/11 to bluff the Congress and the American people into surrendering our liberties. Now, finally, the President's bluff is being called, forcing him to fold. We can only hope to see more folding in the coming months.

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