FISA

FISA….Andy McCarthy, after saying it would be “unconscionable” for House Democrats to let last year’s FISA extension lapse on Friday, stares into the abyss:

Well it looks like the unconscionable is about to occur. I am hearing from several sources that the House is planning to recess on Friday without taking up the Senate bill. That would mean the lapse of our surveillance authority at midnight….President Bush has to keep pounding this, as does Sen. McCain. This is not politics, folks. For grown-ups, this is life and death.

Look, if it’s that important, there’s a simple answer: pass the bill without telecom immunity. Then come back and introduce immunity in a separate bill. If you’ve got the votes for it, fine. If not, too bad. I’m against immunity myself — though hardly hellbent on the subject — but whichever way the vote went, in the meantime we’d have the FISA extension and surveillance could continue normally.

But that’s not on the table. The supposed grownups in the GOP are, apparently, perfectly happy to play around with “life and death” if it’s in the service of a bit of demagogic brinksmanship over telecom immunity. Why?

NOTE: “FISA extension” is shorthand for the Protect America Act, which passed last November and extended (i.e., changed) the then-current FISA legislation in various ways. PAA sunsets on Saturday if a new bill isn’t passed, but the original FISA legislation will stay in place.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation