Democrats in the House have elected to let a bill known as the Protect America Act expire. President Bush declared that if the PAA, which expands the government's ability to conduct warrantless surveillance not only on suspected terrorists but also on American citizens expired, we would be subject to an attack that would make 9/11 "pale by comparison." The threat that America will suddenly be "blind" if the PAA expires is patently false, since any ongoing surveillance of suspected terrorists would by law continue for a year after originally established, even without the PAA being renewed.
The United States already has the authority and the tools it needs to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires warrants that can be granted retroactively if the government feels it needs to act immediately.
In a recent interview National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell admitted to the real purpose of the Protect America Act: "The issue is liability protection for the private sector."
The renewal includes an amendment, shamefully passed by the Senate but now held up by the House, that grants retroactive immunity to telecom companies that knowingly granted the National Security Administration illegal, warrantless access to your phone records, your e-mail, possibly even your Internet searches. If these companies are granted immunity from the 40-plus pending lawsuits against them, the scope of their and, more importantly, the government's lawbreaking may never be known.
Expanded executive power to spy on Americans without oversight and regardless of the Constitution and the rule of law, not the desire to "protect America," is what President Bush is seeking with his Orwellian-named bill.
Detroit's hip-hop mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, may have shed his symbolic diamond ear stud for his second term, but just as a leopard can't change its spots, it's obvious he hasn't changed his errant ways.
He and his paramour have not only cost the citizens of Detroit a $9 million settlement over the unjust firing of some police officers, but perjured themselves as well. An Olympian recently lost her medals not because of her lifestyle, but for committing perjury. This is only part of the high living the entitled mayor has cost the city.
After a week in hiding, he and his wife, under the cover of his church, ask "to be left alone to work things out." Christine Beatty is thrown under the bus and resigns. Another long-time friend who owes $10,000 in back taxes is appointed in her place. Now his lawyers want some of the more explicit messages deleted by the text-message provider. The mayor doesn't get it. Hopefully, Detroiters will.
I firmly believe that anyone who wishes to follow President Bush should be required to pass sanity, lie detector and sobriety testing. His will be a tough act to follow.
William B. Moran