Last week, Barack Obama got an earful from liberals when he voted for the FISA bill, which granted limited immunity to telecom companies who allegedly (read: probably) engaged in the president’s warrantless wiretapping program. I understand the arguments. But I also suspect most of those who howled in protest never actually read the bill. If they had, they would have seen, as Obama himself did, that the FISA legislation also included substantial improvements over W’s Wild West wiretapping era. It strengthened Congressional oversight, streamlined procedures to make the whole process more workable (and circumventing it less likely), increased the role of the courts rather than leaving some decisions to the Attorney General, and enhanced independent oversight by inspectors general.
Today, the Bush administration threatened to veto another intelligence bill, one that has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Why? Partly because it improves Congressional oversight by demanding that ALL intel committee members, not just the chair and ranking member, get briefed on all secret operations. Vetoing a bill that helps Congress do its job on vital matters of national security — now that’s something to howl about.