Cliff May

A bill to restore that authority passed the Senate by a solidly bipartisan 68-to-29 majority. A bipartisan majority in the House would almost certainly vote in favor of the same measure but Speaker Nancy Pelosi – for more than two months – has used the power of her office to stop members from casting their votes yea or nay.

Why would she do something so irresponsible? Groups on the left, important to the Democrats in this election season, demand that foreign terrorists abroad be given the same privacy protections enjoyed by American citizens here at home.

This policy may already have cost American lives. In at least one instance, U.S. officials labored for nearly 10 hours to get legal approval necessary to conduct wiretaps to help them locate three American soldiers kidnapped by al-Qaeda combatants in Iraq. The soldiers were not successfully rescued.

"We are extending Fourth Amendment (constitutional) rights to a terrorist foreigner ... who's captured a U.S. soldier," Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell complained to a congressional committee during a legislative battle over this same issue last year.

Also in the mix: Trial lawyers are suing telecommunications companies that cooperated with intelligence officials immediately after 9/11/01, allowing them to “mine” data for patterns of terrorist activity. If the trial lawyers – the biggest donors to Democrats – succeed, they will reap billions of dollars. They also will teach the private sector never again to assist government efforts to identify terrorists. The Senate bill would protect the telecoms from these laws suits.

Almost two dozen moderate Democratic House members sent Pelosi a letter saying that until this measure is passed, America’s national security will be “at undue risk.” But that was months ago. Since then, with few exceptions, Democrats have been keeping their mouths shut.

Is worrying about nuclear terrorism fear mongering? After the suicide-bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and again after the truck-bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, most politicians exhibited not fear but complacency. They did nothing serious to anticipate or avert the next terrorist attacks. The consequence was the atrocity of 9/11/01.

Nancy Pelosi and those following her lead appear to have learned nothing over the years since.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.