Birds of a Feather, Slackers, and Unintended Consequences

vultures.jpgIt’s one thing to be a slacker, it’s quite another to carp at someone doing a great job while you are slacking. We’ve been at war now almost five years, and congress has been seriously slacking.

It’s easier for most of them to criticize President Bush and score face-time with the media than to actually do the job their constituents elected them to do. So we have a strange amalgam of Republicans and Democrats, all on the President’s back for failing to do his duty correctly when they haven’t created the legislation needed to protect Americans and to enable federal agencies to protect us.

It runs the gamut: from lack of action on border protection, to lack of enabling legislation to handle terrorists captured in this new type of war, to lack of legislation to enable needed surveilance programs, and to lack of funding. Instead we get circus committees grilling the dutiful federal employees caught in the terrible catch-22 of trying to protect us with one arm tied behind their back.

The senate voted for border security before they voted against it and then they pontificated on civil liberties while terrorists can still easily infiltrate the US. They berate the President for treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, however they haven’t created any legislation for treatment of detainees in this new type of war after five years. Creating legislation is their prime job and not only are they failing miserably at it, they are doing worst by trying to deflect the flames from themselves to the president.

The legislation they do create tends to be grandstanding, like the flag ammendment, like the border fence they voted for then voted against funding for. Sometimes it has unintended consequences, like the one Nancy Pelosi carped about today. She berated the President along with Harry Reid for charging Americans evacuating Lebanon for passage. She did it even though she supported and voted for the legislation that made it so. The Federal branch executes the law, it doesn’t make it. Some say it’s better that we have no legislation rather than poorly crafted law, and it seems that’s all we get nowadays.

Details from VOA news:

There was also criticism Tuesday that Americans being evacuated are being asked to sign a form agreeing to compensate the U.S. government for costs.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says any such requirements should be waived considering the situation in Lebanon.

“This is not anything that the State Department foresaw a day before it happened, much less Congress foreseeing a year or so in advance,” said Ms. Pelosi.  “The number of people involved here, the nature of the hostilities, are such that the urgency demands that these people be evacuated and they not have to pay their fare out.”

White House spokesman Snow told reporters the requirement for evacuees to agree to compensate the government was part of U.S. law having been approved by Congress in legislation authorizing spending on foreign relations spending.

House Minority Pelosi says Congress never intended that Americans would be impeded or have additional worries trying to escape a dangerous situation because of a requirement to repay the government.

Then we come to the consequences of inaction. It’s been almost five years since 9/11 and while congress created The Patriot Act early on, they still haven’t created legislation that enables the NSA and other security agencies to act with the speed needed in today’s world of mobile phones, internet chat rooms, anonymous IP’s, and terrorist blogs.

At the same time Senator Arlen Spector brings Attorney General Gonzales in for regular beatings over the NSA surveillance program that’s successful in protecting us from terrorists, as we see below from a Fox news Article:

The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility announced earlier this year it could not pursue an investigation into the role of Justice lawyers in crafting the program, under which the National Security Agency intercepts some telephone calls and e-mail without court approval.

At the time, the office said it could not obtain security clearance to examine the classified program.

Under sharp questioning from Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, Gonzales said that Bush would not grant the access needed to allow the probe to move forward.

“It was highly classified, very important and many other lawyers had access. Why not OPR?” asked Specter, R-Pa.

“The president of the United States makes the decision,” Gonzales told the committee hearing, during which he was strongly criticized on a range of national security issues by Specter and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the panel’s senior Democrat.

Last week, under a deal with Specter, Bush agreed conditionally to a court review of his antiterror eavesdropping operations.

What’s sadly hilarious about this is that sitting on Arlen’s right during these sessions is Senator Patrick Leahy, who has been known to leak national secrets. After the near-treasonous revelations not just of programs but of tactics in the war on terror by the New York times is it any wonder that President Bush is leary of granting clearance to political committees right now?Â

The consequences of inaction on surveillance, the inaction on border protection, and the inaction on terrorist detainee law clearly could be dire for all of us. So the congress is failing in job one while tarring the single branch of government that is doing it’s best to protect us with shackles on. As the war heats up, isn’t it time to question that?  Maybe it’s time for a changing of the guard, if the not the guard-whackers. I’m going a step futher — maybe it’s time for a changing of the guard on both sides of the aisle.