We Win One
This emphasis on the Torture Regime in Washington and the demand for accountability can seem quixotic, I fully acknowledge that. The Congress isn't going to lift a finger and the Bush boys will obfuscate and indemnify and pardon their way to a long life outside of government, so saith the cynics. My take is that some fights are worth fighting no matter what the chances for success. In addition, sometimes by sticking together and making something an issue, you get results. For months and months it appeared that the Bush Administration would get blanket amnesty for the phone companies that aided them in their illegal wiretapping program. Between the Bush Dogs in the House and the forces behind Jello Jay Rockefeller in the Senate, it was a virtual certainty that immunity would be granted, shutting down all the lawsuits that sought the truth about how many Americans were spied upon, to what purpose, and for how long. There certainly didn't seem to be much stomach for a battle from the Democratic leadership, or really any politician in Washington.
But that's not how it worked out.
House Republicans are poised to shift their focus from national security to the economy, hoping to rally opposition to what they claim are Democratic plans to raise taxes amid the economic downturn.
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to announce Thursday that the House GOP floor emphasis will transition away from passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and earmark reform to "stop the tax hike."
Republicans pulled out all the stops on this one. Their noise machine called Democrats traitors who wanted to weaken America's defenses. They ran ridiculous ads that insisted a terrorist attack was just moments away if we didn't give the President this authority. Nearly every Republican voted in lockstep and was unified in their talking points.
And it didn't matter because people stood up in opposition, emboldening Democrats for the first time in years not to shrink from a fight on national security. Here's Glenn:
This is the first time in a long time that right-wing fear-mongering on Terrorism hasn't succeeded. Given that virtually everyone (including me) assumed that the Congress would ultimately enact the new FISA bill demanded by Bush, it demonstrates that smart strategies combined with intense citizen activism can succeed, even when the Establishment -- its lobbyists, Congressional representatives and pundits -- lines up in bipartisan fashion behind their latest measure. And it removes the Democrats' principal excuse that they cannot resist Bush's Terrorism demands without suffering politically.
There's a similiarly bleak picture on the horizon for those who want accountability for the Torture Regime. There's no bipartisan consensus on torture, but certainly an overwhelming consensus on not doing much of anything about it. Torture has yet to be discredited, and these revelations of torture being approved at the highest levels have caused barely a ripple.
But there's always a chance that some sustained citizen activism can turn this around. That's why we don't have telecom immunity right now.
One thing we can do is try and get ABC to ask some sort of question on this in this week's Democratic debate. They BROKE the story, after all, so they have a little connection to it. You can contact them here and demand that they follow up their reporting on torture by pushing it into the Presidential race. Contacting World News Tonight with moderator Charlie Gibson and ABC News Programming Specials would probably be the most helpful.