"We have space on the calendar today for a politically charged fishing expedition, but no space for a bill that would protect the American people from terrorists who want to kill us"
--Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the minority leader, 2/14/08
"There is really no excuse for letting this critical legislation expire. I can assure you that al-Qaida in their planning isn't thinking about politics, they are thinking about hurting the American people again. I guess you got to come to the conclusion that there's a threat to America, or not a threat, I mean, evidently, some people just don't feel that sense of urgency. I do."
-- GW Bush, 2/14/08
- as explained by Richard Clarke, former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council,
"Let me be clear: Our ability to track and monitor terrorists overseas would not cease should the Protect America Act expire. If this were true, the president would not threaten to terminate any temporary extension with his veto pen. All surveillance currently occurring would continue even after legislative provisions lapsed because authorizations issued under the act are in effect up to a full year.
Simply put, it was wrong for the president to suggest that warrants issued in compliance with FISA would suddenly evaporate with congressional inaction. Instead - even though Congress extended the Protect America Act by two weeks - he is using the existence of the sunset provision to cast his political opponents in a negative light."
For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections.