I doubt it's the Democrats' concern for freedom and civil liberties that drives their opposition to extending the Protect America Act. Rather, it's their failure to take the threat posed by global jihadists seriously enough.
Congress passed the Protect America Act in August, over much Democratic opposition, to authorize continued wiretapping under the NSA terrorist surveillance program. But the law is set to expire in January unless Congress votes to extend it.
Congressional Democrats are now balking at the proposed extension and are proposing revisions that the administration believes would impose unnecessary limitations on our terrorist monitoring and severely compromise our national security.
Democrats want the law revised to require the government to obtain warrants before eavesdropping on calls into this country from suspected terrorists overseas. Democrats have repeatedly mischaracterized the monitoring of these communications as "domestic spying," though the administration says that with such calls, it is targeting the overseas terrorists, not Americans. The administration insists Americans are never targeted without warrants and that it has already obtained some 100 warrants this year where Americans were targeted.
New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson said, "If I'm targeting you, I don't know who you're going to call next." Wilson argues that under the Democratic proposal, the government would need a warrant for every call because there's always a chance that the international caller could contact someone inside the United States. For the first time in our history, we'd have to get warrants to eavesdrop on terrorist calls or Internet transmissions coming from outside the United States into this country.
In this debate, Democrats would have us believe they are solely motivated by their concerns that the administration has run roughshod over Americans' constitutional rights. But despite seven years of Democratic squawking about President Bush's alleged executive power grabs, there is little, if any, credible evidence of civil-liberties abuses, domestic spying on citizens or harassment of political enemies by the administration.
It's true that the administration doesn't want to extend the full range of American constitutional civil rights to enemy combatant detainees and is in favor of tougher interrogation techniques against them to protect American lives and secure our homeland. But the last time I checked, the Constitution wasn't ratified to protect our foreign enemies or to make their job of slaughtering us easier.
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