Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history

"The most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history" is what Nancy Pelosi promised not quite 15 months ago.

And yet, here is just the latest scandal, this time with Pelosi center stage:

[Pelosi] has interceded on behalf of pharmaceutical company Amgen in an attempt to encourage expanded government purchasing of an HIV drug. Without her intervention, a change in Medicare rules was set to dramatically reduce the use of the same drug -- so her intervention meant the difference between a falling stock price and a rising stock price for Amgen. At the same time, she owns $500,000 worth of stock in Amgen, and the company employs two former senior staffers as lobbyists.

It's central to House ethics rules that a Member of Congress may not use his or her official position for personal gain. Ms. Pelosi was aware of her stake in the company. Rather than intercede on their behalf, it would have been more appropriate to divest her stake in the company. Instead, she used her office to push a policy that would fatten her wallet.

And while Pelosi was able to find time to keep her massive stock ownings profitable, the House utterly failed to find time to the keep the United States safe:

In the wake of 9/11, Americans were stunned to learn that our own intelligence officials had information on some of the hijackers even before the attacks.

Three years later, Congress created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to prevent similar gaps in intelligence gathering. Its nonpartisan director oversees 16 agencies and advises the president and Congress on how best to detect terrorist plots.

But now, when it comes to intercepting the communications of terrorists overseas, the Democrats' leadership in the House of Representatives has decided that his advice is optional.

The consequences of inaction are real: Last Saturday, the director of national intelligence, Adm. Mike McConnell, warned Congress that we have already lost intelligence information and that "our ability to gather information concerning the intentions and planning of terrorists and other foreign intelligence targets will continue to degrade because we have lost tools provided by the Protect America Act that enable us to adjust to changing circumstances."

Following the lead of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leaders of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives have prevented a vote on bipartisan improvements to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 — even though a majority in both chambers of Congress had indicated a willingness to support the updates and even though McConnell had been urging Congress to act on the revisions for nearly a year.

The House's lack of action meant that at midnight on Feb. 16, the nation's terrorist surveillance law expired. At that moment, intelligence officials who spend their days listening in on phone calls between terrorists overseas were legally barred from following new leads without first following outdated and cumbersome warrant procedures — even if neither caller is calling from within the U.S.

The consequences of inaction are real. Today, if someone in a previously unknown terror cell calls an eager new recruit in London, our agents will have to hang up the phone, apply for a warrant and hope for the best.

Shame on Nancy Pelosi. Makes you wonder if Congress's approval ratings can actually dip any lower.


ed. dickau said...

Are all you people a flock of sheep when it comes to FISA?

kazoolist said...

Ed, you run a blog called, *ahem*, "Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes" ... and who's a "flock of sheep" exactly?

On the FISA law, Congressman Moran's comment that "The current FISA law has worked well for over thirty years " is just silly. Technology changes. Rapidly. That a law that so heavily hinges on technology need not be updated for 30 years is ridiculous on it's face.

Equally ridiculous is the notion that a call starting from a foreign location and ending in a foreign location, but which happens to get routed through the US, needs approval from a court to be monitored. Addressing this problem is what Pelosi shamefully dragged her feet on.

There is a real threat out there, Ed. And no one's civil liberties are getting trampled on by making it not require court approval to listen to foreign to foreign calls.