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Admiral McConnell isn't the only administration figure lukewarm on the Democrats' RESTORE bill. President Bush just issued his first statement on the bill -- sort of.
Unlike McConnell, though, Bush didn't actually mention anything about RESTORE. Instead, he repeatedly praised the Protect America Act, August's FISA revision that RESTORE somewhat scales back. The PAA "strengthened our ability to collect intelligence on terrorists overseas" and "closed a dangerous gap in our intelligence," Bush said. "Keeping this authority is essential to keeping America safe." While he didn't actually criticize RESTORE, the strong implication is that the bill is too restrictive for him, even though its provisions for authorizing surveillance on foreign targets are remarkably similar to those within the PAA.
Could, maybe, politics have something to do with the tepid response the bill is getting from the administration? Here's how a GOP aide outlined the party's strategy to the Baltimore Sun's Siobhan Gorman:
The GOP strategy is to "run out the clock," he said, adding that Republican Senate leaders and the White House are "100 percent on board" with that plan.
Republicans, the aide said, "don't mind having this fight." He added, "this is Democrat-on-Democrat violence. The [American Civil Liberties Union] hates it. Most of the members hate it, but they also realize that if they don't do it, they can be blamed in the future" for a terrorist attack.