Admin Officials Criticize Dem Bill, Dems Criticize Back

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You knew that the administration wouldn’t like the House Democrats’ new surveillance bill. And indeed they don’t. This afternoon, Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell released a statement criticizing the bill, saying that “we are concerned that the proposal would not provide the Intelligence Community the critical tools needed to protect the country.”

They focused on the bill’s requirement for warrants to precede surveillance and the lack of retroactive immunity for telecoms as two particular areas of “concern.”

They also don’t like the two-year sunset period set out for the bill, saying that the “uncertainty created by a short sunset does not provide the stability needed for intelligence operations.” And that congressional commission to investigate the program? They don’t like that either, saying that it would only “redo the extensive oversight done by the intelligence committees in Congress over the past two years.”

They conclude:

“We remain prepared to continue to work with Congress towards the passage of a long-term FISA modernization bill that would strengthen the Nation’s intelligence capabilities while protecting the constitutional rights of Americans, so that the President can sign such a bill into law.”

And what do the Dems have to say to all this? Here’s a statement just out from House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) and House intelligence committee Chair Silvestre Reyes (D-TX):

“The Administration, which has refused to even attend negotiation sessions between the House and the Senate, has now apparently launched another round of scare tactics and falsehoods. The American people expect government officials to wrestle with these difficult issues and reach common sense solutions that protect Americans from terrorism and preserve our civil liberties. Unfortunately, the President’s advisors seem more inclined to issue ‘my way or the highway’ press releases concerning a bill the Administration hasn’t even read. The Congress will continue to give this issue the careful consideration it deserves and we hope the Administration will change course and join us in this effort.”