Thursday, August 30, 2007

Democrats want to protect America from the War on Terror

The Washington Post has a remarkably candid news story on the deep divisions in the Democratic Party between those who see terrorists as a threat to America and those who think that measures to oppose terrorism are an even greater and more pernicious threat: Terrorism Policies Split Democrats -- Anger Mounts Within Party Over Inaction on Bush Tactics.

The American Civil Liberties Union is running Internet advertisements depicting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) as sheep.

"Bush wanted more power to eavesdrop on ordinary Americans, and we just followed along. I guess that's why they call us the Democratic leadersheep," say the two farm animals in the ad, referring to Congress's passage of legislation granting Bush a six-month extension and expansion of his warrantless wiretapping program.

Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), who leads a newly created House select intelligence oversight panel, lamented, "Democrats have been slow to recognize they are in the majority now and can go back to really examine the fundamentals of what we should be doing to protect democracy."

Actually, maybe the division isn't between those who think the terrorists are our biggest enemy versus those who think George W. Bush is, but rather those who think that standing up for terrorists just to oppose Bush is political suicide versus those who don't care so long as they take out the Bush War on Terror:

Reid and Pelosi promised last week that they would at least confront the president next month over his wiretapping program, with Pelosi taking an uncompromising stand in a private conference call with House Democrats. When lawmakers return in September, Democrats will also push legislation to restore habeas corpus rights for terrorism suspects and may resume an effort to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But conservative Democrats and some party leaders continue to worry that taking on those issues would expose them to Republican charges that they are weak on terrorism. And advocates of a strong push on the terrorism issues are increasingly skeptical that they can prevail...

"The most controversial matters are the ones that people use to form their opinions on their members of Congress," said Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), who voted for the administration's bill. "I do know within our caucus, and justifiably so, there are members who have a real distaste for some of the things the president has done. But to let that be the driving force for our actions to block the surveillance of someone and perhaps stop another attack like 9/11 would be unwise."...

"If you just say you're standing up for civil liberties, the American people are with you, but if you say terrorism suspects should have civil liberties, it stretches Americans' tolerance," said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), who along with [Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee] Hastings represents Congress on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a human rights monitor. "It's a tough issue for us."

One of the most interesting things about this article is that it quotes and names so many Democrats (and one Republican, if in name only) as favoring habeas corpus rights for terrorists, shutting Guantanamo Bay, and restricting the ability of intelligence services to monitor international communications of terror suspects:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.)
  • Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.)
  • Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.)
  • Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (Va.)
  • Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.)
  • Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.)
  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
  • Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.)
  • Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
  • Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Tex.), chairman of the House intelligence committee
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
  • Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)
  • Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
  • Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus

  • And it closes with the most telling quote of all:

    "We can do this, but you have to keep in mind Republicans care more about catching Democrats than catching terrorists," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "They have spent years taking Roosevelt's notion that we have nothing to fear but fear itself and given us nothing but fear."


    Anonymous said...

    "Democrats favoring habeas corpus rights for terrorists"??

    Where did yiu get THAT notion? The Democrats support a strictly conservatizing constitional approach ---making sure that the Constitution is followed. Including habeas corpus rights, free speech, right of privacy ----all those rights and protections that we are trying to fight for in helping the Iraqui people establish democracy. Wouldn't make much sense to fight for democracy in Iraq and not fight for it here, now would it?

    stuiec said...

    Gee, maybe I got "THAT notion" out of the mouths of the Democrats.

    If anything, the habeas corpus and Guantanamo Bay issues will be tougher. In June, nearly 150 House Democrats signed a letter by Moran urging the shuttering of the prison. But Moran said last week that he no longer thinks he could muster the votes to pass the measure, even though the move is supported by former secretary of state Colin L. Powell, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Republicans appear to have won the argument with their accusation that Democrats want to import terrorists.

    A restoration of habeas corpus rights may have a better chance. Leahy said he will push the issue next month, and legislation co-sponsored by Conyers and Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is likely to move through their committees this fall.

    To be clear whose habeas corpus rights they mean, refer to the second paragraph of the story:

    The Democrats' failure to rein in wiretapping without warrants, close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay or restore basic legal rights such as habeas corpus for terrorism suspects has opened the party's leaders to fierce criticism from some of their staunchest allies -- on Capitol Hill, among liberal bloggers and at interest groups.

    You may not believe we are engaged in a global war against terrorists, but rest assured that the terrorists are fully engaged in a global war against us. Where in the Constitution does it say that the writ of habeas corpus extends to combatants captured in warfare, whether regular or irregular?