The bill allowed surveillance of foreign targets outside the United States, without court authorization, who were communicating with other foreigners outside the United States. The myth of the legislation is that it would have the government listening in on your conversations. Not at all. As Heritage explains it, the Protect America Act "has nothing at all to do with domestic wiretapping and has only an incidental relation to Americans' communications." Domestic wiretapping actually requires judicial authorization.
So President Bush gives Congress a little grief because they're keeping the intelligence community from having these key tools they want and need. I, for one, would like to see Congress doing little things, like funding the troops (the war supplemental), giving the intelligence community the tools it needs (FISA), and not buying into summertime gimmicks (gas-tax holiday). These are issues the president addressed in the press conference that were made to look like a blame-shifting joke.
What do reporters think the president should be discussing instead? One reporter asked the president: "You've expressed frustration with Congress. ... Are you frustrated? Are you angry? And do you have any real hope of being able to work with this Congress this year?"
This year? Not as long as everyone else in the Rose Garden wants to talk about feelings. Real issues on the campaign trail? Not when we're distracted by fireworks and drama. These are serious times. They call for serious people. Believe it or not, love him or not, the president is one of them. His fellow D.C. public servants ought to join him.
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