President Bush signed a 15-day extension of the Protect America Act Thursday, giving Congress a total of 195 days since the act was first passed in August to come to an agreement on the permanent reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It is time for the left in Congress to stop playing politics with FISA by pandering to their trial lawyer and Bush-hating base, and pass the changes that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV) says are necessary to protect out country.

While even the most partisan on the left admit FISA must be updated to protect our country, they continue to fight Rockefeller’s bipartisan FISA reform since it would protect the American companies that cooperated wtih the Administration after 9/11. The left in Congress made the Protect America Act changes they passed in August temporary to mollify their base that wants to punish anything and anybody associtated with President Bush regardless of the impact to national security.

Congress’ repeated pleas for extensions for debate of the bill make a mockery of their underlying argument that companies should be punished for cooperating with the government on intelligence before technicalities to surveillance laws are fixed. Technology will always be ahead of the written law. Does the left really want our intelligence community to go blind for 190+ days while the Congress dithers everytime technological changes outstrip current law?

Furthermore, US intelligence officers can not afford to be hampered by uncertainty of the law. Serious counterterrorism investigation take years and consume vast amounts of manpower and resources. By not passing a permament fix to FISA that includes immunity, Congress is disrupting the essential cooperation between the telecommuncation industry and intelligence services necessary to create good foreign intelligence.

To date privacy absolutists have been unable to point to any actual harm that individual Americans have suffered due to government surveillance. On the other hand, since the administration’s surveillance program has been adopted (a program a bipartisan panel of Congress was briefed on) the US has thwarted 19 known terrorist attacks. Congress needs to stop playing politics and pass permament FISA reform now. The clock is ticking…

Quick Hits:

  • Listening to President Bill Clinton in Denver, Colorado, ABC’s Jake Tapper couldn’t follow Clinton’s double speak when he said firts: “We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions ’cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren,” and then later added: “If you want every facility in this country to be made maximally energy efficient that will create millions and millions and millions of jobs, vote for her. She’ll give it to you. She’s got the right energy plan.”
  • The Wall Street Journal highlights an exchange on 60 Minutes where FBI agent and Saddam Hussein interrogator George Piro told CBS that even in 2003 Hussein “wanted to pursue all of WMD. So he wanted to reconstitute his entire WMD program.”
  • Honesty is breaking out all over the environmental movement as California Air Resources Board senior policy advisor Anthony Eggert recently admitted his commission was considering capping how many miles Californians could drive in order to meet the state’s carbon reduction goals.
  • After years of opposition from environmental groups, insecticide-impregnated nets are now helping to reduce deaths of children from malaria as much as 60% in some African countries.
  • The NFL is planting trees to offset the carbon footprint from the Super Bowl but is is cracking down on churces that show the game to their congregation on large screen TV sets.