Bloggers hammer the Democrats over anticipated wiretapping concessions to the White House and scratch their heads over reports that a White House leak dried up an intel lead on al-Qaida. Also, right-of-center bloggers rank the conservatives they love to hate.
Concessions stand:Fearing the dreaded "soft on terrorism" label, congressional Democrats are expected to grant wider wiretapping powers to the Bush administration. In August, Congress passed legislation that was good for six months and Democrats vowed to crack down on the administration's powers when it came up for renewal.
The news feels like the final straw for some bloggers fed up with perceived weakness among House Dems. Brilliant at Breakfast wonders what hope liberals have "when our own side is perfectly willing to turn this into a police state. … Every time the Democrats in the Senate and House cave on an issue like this, they reaffirm the stereotype that they are simply not tough enough." Shakesville's Mustang Bobby calls on Democrats to grow a backbone."Most of the American electorate is so tired of the fearmongering … that they'll respect the Democrats a hell of a lot more if they took the stand that there are some things more important than scoring political points."
While grudgingly spotting Republicans' points for their "willingness to fight for their side," the Huffington Post'sCenk Uygur says it's time to start opposing the re-election of those unwilling to push for change: "[W]e have to pursue a new tack. The long road of primary fights for the next decade or two until we clear the losers out of this party. The people trained and encouraged to lose by their consultants."
But not so fast, saysSalon's Glenn Greenwald and others. In a lengthy analysis, he finds the legislative situation both "more complicated and less depressing" than made to appear. For starters, he says, the bill would require the Bush administration come clean about all post-9/11 surveillance conducted sans court order. It also grants no amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms or executive branch officials. "The real problem," he says, is the "wretched, principle-free, administration-revering Democratic faction on the Senate Intelligence Committee."
At the Carpetbagger Report, Steve Benen sees hope in the bill's support from civil liberties proponent Rep. Jerold Nadler and calls the measure "a big step in the right direction." DailyKos' "pontificator" issues a call to arms: "We need to fight for this House FISA bill. It is not over. The Democrats have not capitulated. At least not yet. If we give up now under the false (and lazy) impression that it is all over, we will be doing everyone a disservice. The game is afoot, and we are players."
Mystery leak: The private SITE Intelligence Group has lost access to al-Qaida's Internet communications after an Osama Bin Laden video it sent to the White House was downloaded by various intelligence agencies and leaked to the media, thereby alerting al-Qaida to its security breach.
Liberal bloggers are quick to point fingers at the Bush administration. MyDD's Jonathan Singer holds the news up as "a clear example of the Bush administration's lack of regard for the sensitivity of the material that they had on hand." The Liberal Avenger says, "the Bush administration just threw away yet another opportunity to gain the upper hand in the fight against al Qaeda." Hot Air's Allahpundit isn't sure what scares him more: "the mind-boggling idiocy of whoever leaked the tape to the media, the possibility that people like SITE and Laura Mansfield might be further ahead of the terror curve than the feds, or the thought of Al Qaeda super-hackers baffling western techies with their Internet fu?"
TheDaily Mail's Don Surber has an interesting take on what makes the leak so problematic: "While this is being portrayed as a leak that cost the American military its chance to monitor al-Qaeda, it seems to me al-Qaeda just lost its communications. And a smart fellow, upon learning his communications network was compromised, would start using it to send fake stuff to put the U.S. military on wild goose chases."
Others find the whole affair just a bit fishy. Captain's Quarters' Ed Morrissey is reserving judgment until more facts are known. In the meantime, "Let's not forget that the destruction of the Obelisk network will have created difficulties for AQ, too. It will have increased their reliance on human couriers for messaging. The U.S. may have wanted to force AQ into using those in order to finalize a position on AQ leadership, or on other management assets in the terrorist organization." This might be a wise move. Finally, the Jawa Report's Rusty Shackleford persuasively argues that SITE was not the actual source of the video. The Sept. 6 date stamp on the White House's transcript of the video implies the government had the footage before SITE sent it over. "Apparently, our intel guys are better than we thought," he says.
Read more about the leak.
Right rankings: Right Wing News asked conservative bloggers to rank their "least favorite people on the right." The winners (or, um, losers)? Presidential candidate Ron Paul (23 votes) and Pat Buchanan (18 votes). Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan gleefully observes that he's tied with Ann Coulter and wonders at the implications of the list: "[It's] almost a data point in the unraveling of the right. One day, we'll ravel again. Will Clinton bring us all together?"
William Teach at Pirate's Cove shares his ballot. Even less than Ron Paul, he dislikes "The Paultards." Fellow voter Granite Grok compares his list with the results: "[S]ome of those responding have listed some of my FAVORITES of the right as well. Such is the non-comformity of the 'right' side of thought ... "
Read more about the poll.