PAA Expires and America is Still Here

Courtesy the Brian Beutler blog, White House FISA lies. Yep. More.

George Bush has released a myth/fact sheet. It’s actually pretty hilarious. For instance, one might think that people at the White House understand that a myth/fact sheet works by introducing a widely believed myth (say, that a frog will allow itself to be cooked to death if you heat its water to a boil) and then dispelling that myth with the relevant fact (a frog will, in fact, leap out of the water–or attempt to–when the temperature climbs too high).

But one would be wrong. For instance:

    MYTH: If any new surveillance needs to begin, the FISA court can approve a request within minutes. In the case of an emergency, surveillance can begin immediately and FISA approval can be obtained later.

FACT: Reverting to the outdated FISA statute risks our national security. FISA’s outdated provisions created dangerous intelligence gaps, which is why Congress passed the Protect America Act in the first place.

If the claim in the myth is, in fact, inaccurate, then the fact should read: “The FISA court can not approve a request within minutes, and emergency surveillance can not begin immediately.” Or something. But, of course, the “myth” is true, and, as you can see, the “fact” is a rather large heap of irrelevant bullshit.

George W. Bush is sixty-two years old, the president of what is supposed to be a model nation of modern liberal democracy and he approved this message. Bush sent out one of his sycophants  Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell to make the administration’s case and at least his argument had a small measure of honesty about it. PAA must be passed as per the Senate version of the bill with immunity for the telecoms that broke the law not because of legitimate concerns over national security, but because the administration wants to protect them from liability, i.e. responsibility for their actions, FISA Fight: How predictable was this?

    NPR: Mr. McConnell, the Bush administration says that if the Protect America Act isn’t made permanent, it will tie your hands, intelligence hands, especially when it comes to new threats. But isn’t it true that any surveillance underway does not expire, even if this law isn’t renewed by tomorrow?

MCCONNELL: Well, Renee it’s a very complex issue. It’s true that some of the authorities would carry over to the period they were established for one year. That would put us into the August, September time-frame. However, that’s not the real issue. The issue is liability protection for the private sector.

One Bush apologists tried to take the bull by the horns and admit this was the case and it was important because in the future the telecoms will not cooperate if not given immunity. Well, not so. As alway the telecoms can be compelled with the proper legal notice to cooperate with government law enforcement officials.

 Attacks in Baghdad fall 80 percent: Iraq military 

 In the six weeks to the end of 2006, an average of 43 bodies were found dumped in the city each day as fierce sectarian fighting threatened to turn into full-scale civil war.

That figure fell to four a day in 2008, in the period up to February 12, said Qanbar, who heads the Baghdad security operation.

Only four bodies a day. That sound you hear is the swoosh of right-wing bloggers packing their bags to move to this Bush created paradise in the Middle-East. There is plenty of empty housing available,

[   ]…The CLCs number some 80,000 mainly Sunni Arabs. Qanbar said Baghdad was working on compensating victims of mistakes by the Iraqi army and multi-national forces in Iraq.

While Iraqi and U.S. officials laud the security gains, humanitarian groups say it is still too early to encourage around 2 million refugees who fled Iraq to return home.

“The plight of Iraqi refugees will end with national reconciliation,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, told reporters during a visit to Baghdad.

The escalation may have opened up yet another wave of problems, Awakening to New Dangers in Iraq 

Much of the recent decline in violence in Iraq from record levels of 2006 and early 2007 can be credited in large part to the emergence of sahwa, or “awakening,” groups. These groups, essentially Sunni Arab militias, are comprised of tribes and former insurgents who turned against Al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist militants long before the surge was even proposed in late 2006. These sahwa groups then received material support from the United States, which has politically empowered tribal sheikhs and former insurgent leaders who now enjoy de facto control over wide swathes of Anbar province and Baghdad neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, what has been extolled as a central “success” of the surge has also exacerbated existing political divisions and fomented new political cleavages in an already fractured and fragile Iraqi body politic. Newly empowered sahwa leaders are challenging each other, traditional Sunni Arab political parties, and the Iraqi government.

To what is probably everyone’s relief one Republican blogger caught a later flight so he could stay long enough to solve the whole survival strategy issue should a gunman appear on your campus – throw your Dell laptop at them.

The war and the recession: a connection? by  Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.)

But the two issues are linked. Withdrawing from Iraq will not turn the economy around, but the billions of dollars that would be saved could certainly defray the cost of an economic stimulus package, lessening the likelihood of ensuing inflation.

Accurate assessments of the war’s cost are not available, but the figure is most likely between a trillion and one and a half trillion dollars. What if that money were available for dealing with health care demands, public infrastructure underfunding, and the like?

I’ve been avoiding most of the daily frays. Barack? Hillary? Anyone want to try and connect the dots that should be connected.

According to the right-wing Heritage Foundation web site’s countdown clock we’re all supposed to be dead or at least mortally wounded as of midnite last night when George Bush let PAA run out without an extension. For those of us that have managed to survive thus far give yourselves a big pat on the back.