Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When Is A Compromise Not A Compromise?

I'm scratching my divine head over the great victory Steny Hoyer has achieved by forcing the Republicans to compromise on the changes to the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Security Act). Remember all the furor over the warrantless wiretapping of Americans, over massive data-mining operations and over the retroactive immunity promises to the telecoms who participated in that? It would seem logical to expect the compromises to be about those three topics, would it not?

Yet Glenn Greenwald quotes the right-wing organ, the Washington Times, as saying this about the Hoyer's compromise:

The most important benefit of the agreement is that it grants retroactive liability protection to telecommunications companies who responded to the federal government's request for emergency help after September 11. . . . The legislation, which would sunset in 2012, also ends the foolish practice of requiring judicial (or formal attorney-general) authorization to monitor communications between terrorists overseas if their calls are routed through a switch located in the United States.

So what was the compromise? Where is that great Hoyer victory?

The more I read about it, the more the great Hoyer victory seems to be over the Democrats. To quote the august Washington Times again:

If the House vote is any indication, political fallout from the legislation will unify Republicans and deeply divide the Democrats - not unlike the presidential primaries which just concluded. In the House, Republicans voted 188-1 in favor of the bill, while Democrats voted 128-105 against it. Left-wing blogs like Talking Points Memo and DailyKos are furious with members of the House Democratic leadership like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes and members of the Blue Dog Coalition for supporting the bill.

Ok. So the Democrats voted 128-105 against Hoyer's great compromise, but only one Republican didn't like the compromise? How extremely fascinating! Who is it that Hoyer was fighting here but his own party.

He managed to cave in to the Republican minority. Now, that's a great victory, indeed. Unless you like the Constitution and stuff.